It turns out Portland went after a big fish in free agency after all. How close the Trail Blazers came to reeling him in, though, is unknown—just like how we would have fit on a team already featuring multiple ball-dominant scorers.
According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, Portland was among the teams that targeted DeMar DeRozan in free agency before the four-time All-Star was acquired last week by the Chicago Bulls.
DeRozan garnered interest from several other teams early in free agency, such as Philadelphia, Portland, Phoenix, Golden State, Boston and New York.
DeRozan reportedly never seriously considered signing at a discount with a contender. Bereft of cap space and armed only with the taxpayer's mid-level exception—which they've still left unused—the Blazers attempted to add DeRozan via sign-and-trade, per Bleacher Report.
Portland, Phoenix and Philadelphia would have needed to add DeRozan through intricate sign-and-trade scenarios, thus slowing their pursuits.
What Portland would have sent back to the San Antonio Spurs to sweeten the pot for a sign-and-trade is unclear. Chicago eventually acquired him that way, surrendering a first-round pick to the Spurs as well as Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu for salary-matching purposes.
The Blazers missing out on a free agent target wouldn't be especially noteworthy if it weren't for their seemingly passive approach to upgrading the roster so far, an especially vexing decision considering Damian Lillard's mandate for change—or else.
DeRozan would have been a tough fit in Portland, his ball-dominant tendencies, lack of three-point range and sweeping defensive deficiencies compounding the team's existing problems.
But change for the sake of change, with hope springing from the unknown it creates, might be exactly what the Blazers need as they face an organizational crossroads. Maybe Portland's supposed interest in DeRozan means Neil Olshey and the front office is more open to it than their actions so far and all recent momentum suggests.