The key player Damian Lillard failed to successfully recruit to Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers have had a rather quiet offseason amid all the Damian Lillard trade rumors, re-signing Norman Powell and then bringing in a few role players to provide support for their starting lineup. Lillard recently addressed free agency and acknowledged some disappointment in not being able to get their top targets.
One of those targets was apparently Kelly Oubre Jr. Lillard reached out to Oubre with a recruiting pitch at the end of the regular season, but he wasn’t able to convince the swingman to take the taxpayer mid-level exception with the Blazers, which is worth under $6 million in the first year.
“It wasn’t anything deep other than would he be open to it, and he said he was,” Lillard told The Athletic. “I liked Oubre as a complement to other guys I thought we would be able to get. We didn’t get them.”
Oubre wound up signing with the Charlotte Hornets on a two-year deal worth over $26 million after spending last season with the Golden State Warriors. While playing with Lillard on the Blazers would have been fun, it’s hard to turn down that kind of difference in money. Oubre was hoping to get even more money in free agency, but the market wasn’t there for him to get a monster contract.
Portland will now essentially be running it back in 2021-22, unless there’s a big surprise move coming this offseason. Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter and Zach Collins are gone, but the starting lineup is intact and the bench has some new faces in Cody Zeller, Tony Snell and Ben McLemore.
Lillard hasn’t requested a trade and currently isn’t expected to, though things could change. It also doesn’t look like CJ McCollum is going anywhere. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is confident in his core, so we’ll see what happens.