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Blazers’ roster overhaul to appease Damian Lillard begins

Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard and Zach Collins

The Portland Trail Blazers have a hefty task ahead of them in building a formidable team around Damian Lillard over the offseason, and the team has already begun this task with one notable move.

As noted by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Blazers elected not to extend the $7 million qualifying offer to Zach Collins.

The 7’0″ center is just coming off of one injury-riddled season, where he underwent ankle surgery in December to repair a left medial malleolus stress fracture. He wound up missing the Blazers’ recent Western Conference playoff run as a result of this season-ending surgery.

In late June, Collins agreed to yet another ankle surgery, which was his third such surgery in the last 10 months.

With Collins’ status for opening night of the 2021-2022 season up in the air, the Blazers have decided against triggering the qualifying offer in his contract and thus, he will now become a free agent for the first time in his career.

The former Gonzaga star has already been linked with moves elsewhere ahead of the upcoming free agency period.

One recent report noted that the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and New Orleans Pelicans are all expected to show a notable interest in signing Collins this week. All of these three teams have a key need for a versatile big capable of alternating between the power forward and center positions — and Collins is one who can fit such a role.

For now, the Blazers will look elsewhere for a versatile center over the upcoming free agency period. Considering that Lillard’s long-term future with the Blazers is still uncertain, the team’s front office will be under notable pressure to surround their superstar point guard with a team capable of pulling off a deep playoff run in the Western Conference next season.