Coming off an incredible season, in which they made a run in the Western Conference Playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers had a nice free agency.
The Portland Trail Blazers have made significant additions in free agency, which includes signing Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli and re-signing Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard.
The franchise signed forward Evan Turner to a four-year, $70 million contract. Turner was the sixth man last year for the Boston Celtics and averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Turner could be inserted alongside a starting lineup that features Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee. Despite the fact that Turner has not lived up to his second overall draft pick status, he is a good ball handler that likes to get his teammates involved. He’s also a versatile defender.
Turner could also fill the void of the third option on offense behind Lillard and McCollum, something that the Blazers have desperately needed.
Another newcomer for the Trail Blazers is former Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli. He signed a two-year deal worth $15 million. Ezeli is a good pick-and-roll defender that can also rebound the ball and provide inside scoring. The center averaged 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season for the Warriors.
“I can see the foundation of something really, really good starting over here,” Ezeli said during his introductory news conference. “I think there’s a bright future with this team.”
Retaining Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard was on the to-do list for the Trail Blazers as well. As a restricted free agent, Crabbe signed a four-year $75 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets but the Blazers matched the offer to keep the shooting guard in “Rip City” for the next four years.
Crabbe had a career season last year, averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 helpers per game.
“I’m very happy to be staying with Portland and continuing to build on our recent success,” Crabbe said. It’s an exciting time here in Rip City and I’m already looking forward to next season.”
Leonard, on the other hand, did not receive an offer sheet from a different team. The Trail Blazers went ahead and re-signed the restricted free agent big man to a four-year, $41 million contract.
Leonard averaged 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game with the team last season.
“This is the product of a lot of hard work and time,” said Leonard. “I feel like I have found a new gear mentally and physically and really am excited for the next four years. The future is going to be bright for this team.”
The team is stacked in terms of their frontcourt with Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh, and the addition of Ezeli – so a rotation problem could occur for head coach Terry Stotts.
The Portland Trail Blazers shocked most of the basketball world when they made the playoffs last year as the 5th seed and upset the Los Angeles Clippers in six games.
With key additions like Turner and Ezeli, along with the upward development of Crabbe and Leonard, they should find themselves as playoff contenders once again with an improved squad from last year.