The Portland Trail Blazers had a wild season, starting off poorly and finishing hard after making a key trade deadline move to improve the roster. Adding Jusuf Nurkic changed the outlook of the team, as they finally had a low post scorer to compliment the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Blazers snuck into the playoffs with a 41-41 record and were eliminated in four games by the Golden State Warriors. Where do they go from here?

Portland’s own free agents

The Blazers will enter the offseason with only three players that have non-guaranteed players, Festus Ezeli, Pat Connaughton, and Tim Quarterman.

While they are likely to keep Connaughton and Quarterman since they have rookie-scale contracts, the Blazers have already confirmed that they will not retain Ezeli.

The injury-prone big man was brought in for his size and length to protect the paint but was unable to play any games this season for Portland, dealing with major knee injuries. The Blazers will decline his $7.7 million team option to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. Portland could use the cap relief since next season McCollum’s salary will go from $3.2 million to nearly $24 million. They also invested $186 million on Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner, and Allen Crabbe for over four years, and the three role players underperformed all year.

Possibly clearing some cap space

Portland’s offseason goal will perhaps be to clear some more cap space. At this time, their payroll is projected to be $132.9 million in guaranteed total. The Blazers could try to unload some of their role players to create cap room to fall under the luxury tax threshold because approximately $133 million for an average team is far too much to pay.

The Blazers don’t have much flexibility to do anything else during free agency. They are likely to return with the same core and hope that the addition of Nurkic would get them more wins next season. They are basically strapped unless they can somehow dump Turner and Leonard’s lucrative contracts. Otherwise, the growth of the team has to be their backbone especially the development of Lillard and McCollum.

The draft

The Blazers have the NBA draft to look forward to at least, where they are going to have three first-round picks this year. They could look to construct through the draft and acquire possible steals. Other than that, the Blazers don’t have room for maneuvering. They can ride the same roster or completely blow it up.