Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey has given the impression that Portland will be active in the buyout market, and will look to fill the remaining roster spot with a player who can help the Blazers down the stretch and in the playoffs. But, the move will be dictated by fit and roster weaknesses. If they do so, the Blazers will look to have it done by March 1st, the last day a player can be signed and be eligible to play in the playoffs.
Olshey may also opt to leave the roster spot open. He might have good reason to do so. As it stands the Blazers are $8million into luxury tax with a bill of about $13million to foot. The Blazers do have approximately $1.4 million left in their MLE.
If they choose to sign a player out of the buyout market, they will do so for the veterans minimum, which varies according to how many years the signed player has been in the NBA. Filling the last roster spot would cost the Blazers $2+ million more in taxes.That is expensive for a 3 month rental.
If Paul Allen were alive, that probably wouldn’t be a big deal. With his sister Jody in charge, who knows. Olshey will likely only risk it, if he thinks he can get a player who can help the Blazers get to the second round. A tall order.
If Olshey, were going to sign a player, there are a few of who could definitely help the Blazers. Yet, we have seen what has happened with the addition of Hood. It has thrown a wrench into the gears of Portland’s structure. There too many players and not enough minutes. Adding another player may further discombobulate things.
Still, the Blazers could use an upgrade at backup center or guard. Another prolific shooter or a post presence could help them. Here is a list of players the Blazers could go after in the buyout market, in order of how they will help the team.
10. Zach Randolph
Randolph was waived by the Mavericks shortly after being acquired from Sacramento in a deadline trade. He fell out of the Kings rotation due to a youth movement, but had been averaging 14 pts, 6 rbds, and 2 assts a game. He would be a veteran presence, and help upgrade the Blazer at one of their weakest positions.
That said, Randolph had his first stint in Portland during the Jail Blazers era. He has had numerous run ins with the law and continued problems with drugs. He was most recently arrested for possession of Marijuana. That said, he is not the roughest of riders anymore.
Still, do the Blazers want to bring back that commiserable influence after spending years ridding themselves of the negative image they carried for over a decade. Probably not.
9. Carmelo Anthony
The Blazers went after Anthony a few summers ago. Lillard and McCollum pitched the Blazers hard. Talked up Carmelo, claiming he would make them instant contenders. Fast forward two years later. Carmelo couldn’t make it with the Thunder or Rockets. He got traded to the Bulls before the deadline and has since been waived.
Does he still make sense for the Blazers? How better can he make them? He averaged 13.4 pts and 4 rbds before being benched by Houston. He seems to make teams worse rather than better. Could he have the opposite effect in Portland. Not likely. He is at the end of his career and continues to decline. He could offer Portland 14 pts off the bench, maybe. He has been linked to Los Angeles who opened a spot, seemingly to reunite him with his buddy Lebron. He has talked about retiring soon.
8. Michael Beasley
Beasley was waived by the Clippers after he was traded there from the Lakers. He could fit in well in Portland. He could offer a body down low and can shoot the three. He is shooting a lowly 17% from the arc so far this season, but is a career 35% shooter from deep. A change of scenery could bring that number back up.
He averaged 7 pts, 2 rbds, and 1 ast with the Lakers, in limited playing time. He isn’t much of a needle mover, but could be another offensive piece for Portland.
He has had his own troubles with the law and like Randolph would fall into the bad boy category the Blazers are trying to distance themselves from. Though, maybe the Blazers could use some fire and attitude.
7. Ben McLemore
The sixth year shooting guard was waived by the Sacramento Kings to make room for a trade at the deadline. He is a 41% shooter from the arc, something the Blazers covet. He has seen better days though, playing just 19 games this season, and averaging 3.3 points. He can still be serviceable to Portland, but he would cause further upheaval in the minutes war within the Blazers rotation.
6. Robin Lopez
Lopez has yet to be bought out by Chicago, but he could be a good candidate for the Blazers. He played for Portland in their last iteration as a semi contender. He played well averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds a game. He was a big presence in the paint, tearing down boards and blocking shots.
He would be a solid backup to Nurkic, but would have to take minutes from Meyers Leonard and Zach Collins. A good risk to take? We will see. It probably won’t materialize anyways as it appears he will remain in Chicago the rest of the season.
5. Milos Teodosic
The Blazers are comfortable with Seth Curry, and often use Evan Turner as their backup guard. But, if Portland wanted to upgrade, Teodosic would be a great fit. He is a better ball handler and distributor than either Curry or Turner. The 2nd year guard out of Serbia would help get Portland’s bench offense moving better. He isn’t a big scorer, but he is a damned good outlet. He is probably headed back overseas as is.
4. Wayne Ellington
Ellington, recently traded by the Heat and on the way to being waived by the Suns, so that he can join a contender, would be a good fit in Portland. Yes, they just traded for Hood, but the more shooting the better. And, Ellington would bring it. The man with the golden arm is a 37% career shooter from deep. He would definitely be able to come in and help Portland.
That said, it appears Detroit is ready to snatch him off the table once he is waived. So, it looks like a no go for Portland.
3. Marcin Gortat
Marcin is in the winter of his career. He is not the young shot blocking, rim protector he used to be. His play has declined, but he still has a little gas left. Enough to join a contender and play off the bench. He has been linked to Golden State, and would probably fit in well there. Maybe get a ring before he hangs it all up.
If he ended up in Portland, he would be a solid for veteran leadership and good influence on Collins and Meyers, not to mention Nurkic. He is averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes a game. Though his numbers aren’t what they used to be, he can still be a defensive presence under the basket.
2. Enes Kanter
The Blazers tried to steal the big man away from the Thunder a few years back, and were unsuccessful. Now, after just being waived from the Knicks after they failed to find a suitable trade for him, he is up for grabs. He has been linked to Boston most heavily, and his name has come up in rumors surrounding Golden State and Houston.
Kanter would instantly make Portland’s bench better. He would be give the Blazers another scoring option and rebounding help on the bench to relieve a bit more pressure from the starters. He averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds a game with the Knicks this season. The issue is Kanter wants to start. Not sure if the Celtics will let him, while the Rockets and Warriors have starting centers in Capela and Cousins. If Portland is as aggressive as they claim they will be in the buyout market, they can get him.
Morris would make Portland better than any other buyout candidate. He could provide an upgrade on both ends of the floor at PF over Aminu. He is versatile and can guard several positions. He is a 33% shooter from deep and a 51% shooter overall. He averaged 11 points and 5.6 rebounds a game this season. But has been out because of a neck injury. He has been cleared to play.
Morris is not however known for his well mannered ways. He is emotionally driven and dogmatic. He might instantly bring back reminders of the jail Blazers era. Like Rasheed Wallace he wears his emotions on his sleeve and is apt to get called for technical fouls. Maybe though, the Blazers could use a little edge.