The Portland Trail Blazers have had a very active offseason, an offseason that has included trades, the NBA Draft, free agent signings and a renamed stadium. Some of these moves and changes have been more publicized than others. One that I feel has been a little overshadowed has been the signing of Mo Williams.
Free agency has been very tough for the Blazers. A lot of people talk about how Portland is too small of a city; there is nothing to drive these young talented basketball players to this city. The Hedo Turkoglu situation was talked about for a long time; he passed on Portland because his wife didn’t want to live here. On the other hand, Jamal Crawford signed a contract with the Blazers a couple years ago as a very established role player and sixth man.
Was free agency this year a success?
I would say, absolutely yes. I am talking purely the free agency aspect of the offseason. The two big names that signed contracts with Portland are Dorell Wright and Mo Williams. These two are just what the Blazers needed to boost their bench and add veteran leadership to this team. I was ecstatic about both of these signings but there was some negative backlash with the Williams signing.
After drafting CJ McCollum and signing Earl Watson, the fans and media thought that the Blazers had settled out the backcourt rotation. McCollum figured to get a significant amount of time at the point guard and shooting guard positions.
When Williams was signed, there seemed to be mass-hysteria about how many minutes McCollum was going to lose. There were articles written by Portland media members, the message boards lit up and the water cooler talk was cursory towards Neil Olshey.
That is a complete offseason, nothing else to talk about reaction. And in my opinion, completely wrong. Williams is a former All-Star. Portland fans have been confused for a few years just how come Turkoglu wouldn’t sign to play in our fine city, yet they do not celebrate an All-Star coming to town? Confusing to me.
Williams will be a perfect addition to this team. Can anyone tell me who led the league in minutes last year? Damian Lillard. Do you know who is the new cornerstone to this franchise? Damian Lillard. If I were running this team, I would do anything I could to let Lillard get a break. Yes, drafting McCollum was a part of the solution but he is unproven and rough when it comes to running the point, especially in the fast paced game of the NBA.
The addition of Williams needs to be lauded and may go down as the second best move General Manager Neil Olshey has made (second only to drafting Lillard). Williams bring a scoring boost off the bench that the Blazers desperately missed last season, along with leadership and tenacity that will hopefully rub off on the younger back court that the Blazers are betting on for the future of this franchise.