The Portland Trail Blazers have significantly reshaped their roster this summer after coming off a trip in the Western Conference finals last season.

The Blazers lost almost half of their 2018-19 roster with Seth Curry, Mo Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Jake Layman, Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard going to another team via free agency or trade.

Still, Portland has built a pretty much formidable team by adding Kent Bazemore (trade), Hassan Whiteside (trade), Mario Hezonja (free agency), and Anthony Tolliver in a series of transactions.

They also have drafted intriguing prospects in Nasir Little and Anfernee Simons, and re-signed Rodney Hood to a team-friendly deal (two-year, $11 million).

But where do the Blazers exactly rank in the pecking order of teams in a very loaded Western Conference?

The Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Rockets have massively bolstered their lineups with their swing-for-the-fences moves. The Nuggets are expected to organically improve with Nikola Jokic and Jamaal Murray.

And how about the defending West champs, Golden State Warriors?

The Dubs will continue to be a force in the conference as long as they have the best sniping duo in the league: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Moreover, people don’t even realize how much of an impact D’Angelo Russell would bring to the Warriors next season.

The West is stacked with title contenders, and that would make the road to prosperity for the Blazers even tougher moving forward. This status quo would remain unless the Neil Olshey makes another game-changing move down the road.

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The time is now

The Blazers front-office understands there’s this small 3-4 year championship window they need to capitalize on, especially with Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum right in their primes. And with the way the league has transformed this summer, it’s going to be a mad race towards the championship.

In the Woj & Lowe podcast on ESPN, Sr. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski and Sr. NBA writer Zach Lowe discussed the next step for the Blazers in order for this team to really contend for the title next season.

“If there’s another team that should make a Utah-liked let’s go for it move, it’s Portland because they have Lillard and McCollum squaring their prime. They are one move away from being really, really good,” Lowe said in the video about the Blazers’ current status.

Wojnarowski and Lowe agreed that the Blazers could be in talks for All-Star power forward Kevin Love once the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to go full-on youth-movement.

“To me, one of the interesting questions about them is they are going to be a team that is talked about with Kevin Love. When Cleveland inevitably crosses the road and realizes there’s no reason we need Kevin Love on the team…Portland’s name is going to come up because if you put a playmaking screen center who can shoot next to Dame and CJ, that’s a problem,” Lowe said on the possibility of Lillard-McCollum-Love Big Three in Portland.

Love, 30, will enter the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension he signed with the Cavaliers in 2018. He’s due to receive $28 million next season and an average of $31 million over the next three seasons.

Unfortunately, Love hasn't been healthy the last three seasons. Last year, a foot surgery limited the forward to just 22 games, in which he averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds a game.

Another player who was linked and will continue to be linked with the Blazers is All-NBA big man Blake Griffin. The former Oklahoma Sooners star is coming off a career year, averaging 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from the 3-point area.

Like Love, Griffin is 30 and earning over $30 million per season. He will pocket $34 million this coming year, $36 million in 2020-21 and $38 million in 2021-2022.

Griffin’s connection with Olshey - the general manager who drafted him in 2009 - has become the starting point of speculation that the Blazers are in play for the high-flying big man. The Blazers were also one of the teams in the hunt for Griffin before the Clippers sent the All-Star to the Pistons in 2018.

The trade assets

In the same podcast, Wojnarowski pointed out the Blazers really have the assets in place to make a big move.

“Portland has been in search for that third star, that third impact player. Zach Collins, who is another player they love, they thought who is going to be an impact player… they have pieces now.

“If you are a team that is looking to move an All-Star level player, a veteran player somewhere…you just have Simons, Collins, Little. Those are the players you want to easily part within Portland, but now they are starting to have the pieces and you develop the pieces to be able to get that third player," Wojnarowski said.

Wojnarowski added he’s isn’t expecting the Blazers to make a move before the season starts, believing that huge trade may happen around January or on the trade deadline.

The Blazers indeed have amassed a nice collection of young talents/trade assets. But another thing they can use in future transactions is Hassan Whiteside’s $27 million expiring contract. Team looking to unload long-term contracts like that of Love and Griffin would find Whiteside’s contract along with a combination of young players and draft picks an intriguing package to consider.

For now, the Blazers will stand pat. They will stay patient. They will play through the season until the trade buzz sounds off again in February.

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