Portland Trail Blazers: Why the Blazers Will Turn It Around Next Season

Kristian WinfieldCorrespondent IIIMay 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers is fouled by Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 103-92.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

For Blazers fans, season's end brings incredible relief.

With major roster changes, injuries, setbacks and endless inconsistencies with on-court performance, Portland dropped from a team with high expectations and playoff promise to one begging to be broken apart.

Factor in the speedy start to a shortened season, Brandon Roy's retirement and yet another Greg Oden "setback," and you've got a team headed straight for disaster.

And it wasn't just a disaster the Trail Blazers got. Better yet, as the Oregonian's Jason Quick beautifully said, "An epic failure prevailed." Portland finished off the season 28-38 (.424), coach Nate McMillan was fired 43 games into the season, and the chemistry that the Blazers so strongly claimed had disintegrated.

Murphy's Law had kicked into full gear.

Yet amid the darkness that was this terrible season, a single ray of glimmering light shines through: the offseason.

Outside of Portland's core group of guys including LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, budding guard Elliot Williams and newly acquired J.J. Hickson, there are gaps to be filled.

Many believe Jamal Crawford, in search of a looser offense, will opt out of the final year of his contract with Portland, and Raymond Felton, coming off his worst ever statistical season in the NBA, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

Subtract their combined $12.6 million from Portland's payroll and factor in Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn's $8.5 million and the Blazers are flirting around with $15.5 million going into this summer.

But that's not all.

In what's been considered a relatively strong draft, Portland holds both their lottery pick and the newly-touted Brooklyn Nets' top-three protected pick. And if the draft lottery holds the order in tact, the Blazers would come away with the No. 6 and 11 picks in the draft, as well as two second-round picks.

Essentially, Portland holds the keys to change the direction that the franchise is headed in. It's been widely reported that they'll pursue ex-Rockets point guard Goran Dragic, and with the right draft picks and free agent signings, the Rip City Revival can go into full effect.

If they can finally find someone willing enough to take the vacant general manager position, the Blazers could return to the scene and make some noise in the Western Conference, once again.