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The Portland Trail Blazers deserve an A for effort throughout the 2012 NBA offseason.
The team has snagged general manager Neil Olshey away from the Los Angeles Clippers, they offered Roy Hibbert a max contract in the opening hours of free agency, and they've approached both Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson regarding the vacant coaching position—both have removed themselves from consideration.
Hibbert didn't work out, as the Indiana Pacers matched Portland's offer, but the re-signing of J.J. Hickson and additions of rookies Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard will provide size inside next season.
The team has lost guards Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, but they were finally able to lock up Nicolas Batum after they matched a four-year, $46 million offer by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Batum's future looks bright, but at this point, it looks as if this team's ceiling goes as high as Damian Lillard's.
Lillard was the No. 6 pick in June's draft, and so far, he’s looked like a stud, winning co-MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Take any exhibition games with a grain of salt, but his shooting touch, scoring ability and surprising court vision should help fans in Portland feel good about their core group moving forward.