New deck chair occupant

There's Trail Blazers news today. The hapless Portland team has acquired Gary Payton II for next season, which could add some much-needed defense. Payton has bounced around the league, most recently playing about 15 to 20 good minutes a game for the Warriors. He's sorta-local to Portland. His dad and namesake was a legend on the hardwood at Oregon State, and Junior was a Beaver for a couple of years as well.

The Blazers are also signing up Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic for a few more years. They're doubling down on Nurk, although he's no all-star. And they're sticking with Anfernee Simons to play alongside Damian Lillard in the backcourt. "He's the future," yada yada yada.

With that as the roster (along with the mystery-man draft pick) and Chauncey Billups learning how to be a coach on the Portland dime, I'm having trouble seeing greatness coming out of this group. They'll probably wind up in the play-in tournament and get not-very-far. 

Which makes you wonder. Damian Lillard is two weeks away from his 32nd birthday. He took all of last year off, essentially, but still you wonder how much is left in his tank. If he's going to the winners' circle, it had better be pretty soon. And the team's personnel moves are showing no urgency whatsoever. Dame wants to play with Kevin Durant, but it's hard to see that happening here.

Ah, me. Anything's better than last season, but my advice to Blazer fans is to go ahead and make other plans for next May and June.

UPDATE, a few hours later: Oh, and I forgot to mention Jerami Grant, doh! That makes for a stronger lineup. But deep-playoff better, with Billups at the helm? Seems unlikely.