The New York Knicks are obviously in a major rebuild mode so it was expected that they would make a big splash in free agency by making at least one major free agent signing, but they are continuing to lose out on the big players like LaMarcus Aldridge that they wanted. Sure, signing center Robin Lopez and shooting guard Arron Afflalo will help, but those aren’t the types of moves that make them a playoff team in a weak eastern conference. The Knicks were interested in some big name players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe, and DeAndre Jordan. However, for some reason those players just didn’t seem to have the same level of interest in joining the Knicks. In fact, Aldridge strangely cancelled his scheduled meeting with New York altogether. At least New York is trying to get better, but unless they can lure some big name players to their team then they probably aren’t going to be a contender really soon. I have confidence in Phil Jackson to get the job done, but unless he gets some more talent to work with then the process will take a lot longer.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been able to compete fairly well in the western conference the past few seasons as they have made the playoffs 5 out of the last 7 years, but it appears the days of winning for Portland might be coming to an end after losing tons of key players in free agency. The Trail Blazers are never really active in free agency as they tend to be one of the most frugal teams in the league, but it was clear that they were probably not going to make much of an effort to retain the key guys on their team like LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. However, that decision to let those types of players go will really end up hurting the Trail Blazers going forward. The Western conference keeps getting better, but it is hard to picture Portland being much competition with everything they’ve lost this offseason. Losing Aldridge to the Spurs obviously hurts the most since he was the heart and soul of their team for several years and his ability to score will be missed a lot. Also, with Matthews departing then the Trail Blazers will lose their identity which is to shoot 3-pointers and he was consistently one of the best in the NBA at doing that. Losing Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo to the Knicks in free agency won’t hurt as much, but those guys were certainly key contributors for Portland last year. Lopez brought a consistent physical presence to the Trail Blazers and now they’ll need veteran center Chris Kaman to replace that style of play next season. Portland did make a nice addition to their depth by getting Al-Farouq Aminu from the Mavericks in free agency, yet I believe they overpaid him with a 4-year/$30 million contract and I doubt he will make much of an impact. Keep in mind that Aminu has only averaged 6.4 points per game so far in his NBA career. At least the Trail Blazers still have star point guard Damian Lillard on their team, but they will have to somehow get some more talent to replace the key players that they lost if they even want to think about competing in the crowded western conference next season.