Trail Blazers coach says team is focused on growth, not contending, despite high payroll
The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the youngest teams in the NBA, and they are led by superstar Damian Lillard. This offseason, they signed and re-signed a core of younger players, including C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli.
With those and other moves, the Blazers spent $290 million this offseason, which shows that they are willing to spend a lot of money in the coming years to keep that core. Despite those large salaries, head coach Terry Stotts is focused on development, not contending for a championship. Per ESPN’s Zach Lowe:
“We are probably not going to make the quantum leap the salaries might indicate. As a coach, you take the money out of it. We just want to grow.”
The leader of that growth is point guard Lillard, who has grown into that role over his four years with the franchise. After the departure of his four starting teammates, his stats jumped to 25 points, 6.8 assists, and 4 rebounds last season, which earned him All-NBA Second Team honors. After many analysts predicted a significant drop in the wins category, the Blazers stunned everyone and made it to the playoffs in 2016, where they beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
Even if the growth and development takes longer than expected, the Blazers aren’t in a rush by any means. But when the get there – watch out NBA.