It's amazing what a difference six months can make.
It was just over six months ago when the Portland Trail Blazers played their last NBA regular season game. It was a loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz, which left the Blazers ten games under .500 and eight games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The loss also meant that Portland had ended the season riding a seven-game losing streak, going 4-10 in the final month of the season.
It was safe to say that the lockout-shortened season had been a disaster for the Blazers.
Portland's all-star, LaMarcus Aldridge, had been sidelined for the final eight games due to season-ending hip surgery. Offseason pickups Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford were both giant busts, Nicolas Batum's future with the team was in question due to contract issues and there wasn't anything close to a long-term center on the Blazers’ roster. Then to make matters worse, the team was without a GM or head coach and had been f...