The Portland Trail Blazers cannot be accused of pinching pennies over the past few seasons, as they have the NBA’s fifth-highest payroll in 2017-18 at just over $122 million. While the Blazers have spent money, you can question whether they’ve done so wisely, inking role players that likely maxed out their abilities during an incredible, surprising season to major, long-term money.
Their backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are both on max deals through 2021, locking up at least $50 million in cap space through then (going to $60 million in 2020-21). Evan Turner was handed a deal that pays him between $17 and $18 million through 2020 and Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard combine for over $20 million, and this was after they dumped Allen Crabbe’s $20-plus million deal on the Nets over the summer.
The problem Portland finds itself in is making any improvements to the roster with their cap situation, which leaves them vulnerable to their top star being frustrated with their status as a slightly above .500 basketball team. Lillard has been with the Blazers since the start of his career and has always been loyal to Portland, but he did recently have some questions for owner Paul Allen about the direction of the team and their commitment to going for a title.