The Portland Trail Blazers have entered a critical offseason. After moving on from head coach Terry Stotts, Portland is ready to begin a new coaching era with former Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups running the show.
However, a coaching change isn't the only new challenge for the Blazers. Not only do the Blazers have to focus on keeping the face of their franchise, Damian Lillard, happy, but they also have to find a way to retain Norman Powell.
Powell, who spent the first five years of his career with the Toronto Raptors, was traded to the Blazers midway through his sixth season. As Powell was putting up a career-high of 19 points per game during a rather disappointing season for the Raptors, Toronto's front office sold Powell while his value was at its highest.
The young veteran didn't match his Toronto production in Portland, but he was still quite valuable to the Blazers. In 27 games, Powell shot 44-percent from the field and 36-percent from three while putting up 17 points per game.
With a player option attached to his contract, the Blazers were hoping Powell was willing to run it back with them for the 2021-2022 NBA season. However, Powell told Yahoo Sports he planned to decline the option and bet on himself in free agency.
Has that shied Portland away from trying to retain the young veteran? Not quite. According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, bringing Powell back remains the top priority for the Blazers this offseason.
"The Blazers’ top free agent priority is re-signing Norman Powell, whom they acquired at last season’s trade deadline. The emphasis on retaining Powell comes from data that shows the starting lineup of Lillard, McCollum, Powell, Covington and Jusuf Nurkic last season had the NBA’s fourth-best net rating among starters, behind Brooklyn, the Clippers and Philadelphia."
The Blazers have a lot of question marks this offseason surrounding guys like Lillard and CJ McCollum. While they're unsure what the future holds regarding those two at the moment, it seems the Blazers are going to try and go all-in on bringing the 28-year-old Powell back in the mix for next season.