The Portland Trail Blazers need to cut Pat Connaughton and allow him to pursue a professional baseball career.
According to HoopsHype.com, the Portland Trail Blazers had the second-highest team payroll in the NBA this past season ($119.7 million), with nothing to show for it but the eighth seed in the West and a first round playoff sweep.
That being said, the Blazers — who are projected to be over the luxury tax line next season — are in desperate need of some cap relief this summer. The first order of business should be cutting the three non-/partially-guaranteed contracts on their payroll: Pat Connaughton, Festus Ezeli and Tim Quarterman.
The Blazers cannot afford to keep Connaughton, whose $1.47 million is non-guaranteed next season. While Connaughton is a high-character player gifted with spectacular athleticism, a solid outside shot and an overall great feel for the game, the Blazers have no need to keep Connaughton tucked away in their crowded backcourt — especially when he already has one foot out the door.
Per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun, Connaughton, a former high-level collegiate pitcher, has continued to foster his relationship with the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, which drafted him in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
Connaughton just recently came clean about having second thoughts concerning his future in the NBA, in which case he’d still have a professional baseball career on which to fall back. According to Meoli, the Orioles would surely welcome Connaughton were that to happen.
Connaughton is a spectacular basketball player. Unfortunately, he was put into a position with limited opportunity. Although the Blazers should be expected to trade some of their bigger contracts like Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless or Allen Crabbe, it would be mutually beneficial to the Portland Trail Blazers and to Connaughton if the latter chose to pursue a career in professional baseball.
The Blazers are holding Connaughton back and vice versa. It’s time to come to terms with the fact that Connaughton would be better off throwing three strikes than shooting three-pointers.