This post was initially published in The Cliff Notes by CSN contributor Cliff Gibson.
We’re 25 games into the 2021-22 NBA season, a pretty good measuring stick for what kind of team you have. Unfortunately, what the Portland Trail Blazers have is a carbon copy of the past few years – defensively inept, unable to stay healthy, and seriously lacking a coach who can make in-game adjustments on the fly.
At 11-14, the Blazers are (at best) an 8-seed getting swept out of the playoffs. Realistically … they’re closer to a lottery team. Which is why once the Blazers hire a GM to replace the recently-departed Neil Olshey (good riddance, you piece of garbage), he or she should strongly consider the best thing for this franchise is a total rebuild.
Of course, to that general manager, I offer a bit of advice:
Get rid of Chauncey Billups. He wasn’t the right hire to begin with and it’s clear he isn’t right for this team now. Buy him out and let him go at the end of the year. Surely a 30-win season will be enough to justify that. Besides, he’s an Olshey hire … and the more of those Portland can get rid of, the better.
Set Dame free. Let him know what the plan is and that he will forever be remembered as the greatest Blazer of all time. Let him go after the NBA title he deserves in a place that’s ready to win. Soften the blow with a rendering of what his statue outside the Moda Center will look like.
Trade CJ for picks. Whatever picks you can get. They’ll come in handy down the road and ease the pain some fans might feel about his departure. Remember, you’re building for the future, and a 30-year-old McCollum isn’t part of that plan.
Build around a core of … Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, and Greg Brown (and Nurk, if you can convince him to stay). Trade those who don’t want to be part of a rebuild (most of the rest) or play out the rest of their existing deals. Mold Ant, Nas and Greg into cornerstones and find talent that will maximize their strengths and help where they are weakest.
Hire Becky Hammon. She should’ve been the choice when Billups was hired but I would’ve been shocked if Olshey had hired a woman to that position. (Good riddance!!) Hammon was taught by the best coach in the history of the game (Gregg Popovich) and would be tough enough to handle the task of rebuilding. She’s perfect for Portland.