On July 1st the floodgates will open. It will be a free for all battle for teams to chase coveted free agents and try to resign their own before other teams can snag them. The Blazers have six players entering the fray, three of them restricted. The Blazers will no doubt let Kaman and Roberts walk (though if they strike out on an upgrade at the backup point, they may eventually resign Roberts). Gerald Henderson is probably also out the door, as his cap hold would take away precious dollars that could be spent on luring a big name free agent. Crabbe and Harkless are likely to return, and will surely be matched. Meyers Leonard is the mystery man, no telling what the Blazers do with him.
Suffice to say the Blazers will be looking for an upgrade at center, power forward, and backup point guard, their weakest positions. But, who should the Blazers look at in free agency. Who can help this young team take the next step towards becoming a contender.
Al Horford – Unrestricted Free Agent
At 30 years old, Horford is older than the young Blazers core. After 9 years in the NBA he is past his prime, which goes against the grain of Neil Olshey’s plan to build this team out of young players who haven’t reached their best years yet. But, for a good stew you have to add some pepper. Horford could bring some needed veteran presence, and help Portland stretch the floor and play better ball at the rim.
Why the Blazers sign him: Why not, he is an all-star center who can anchor Portland’s frontcourt, and be the third scoring option the Blazers so badly need.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: His age doesn’t fit with Neil Olshey’s youth movement. He opts to resign with Atlanta or elsewhere.
Hassan Whiteside – Unrestricted Free Agent
Whiteside has the potential to be a dominate big man in the NBA. He is a crazy shot blocker who brings great intensity to the defensive end of the court. That said, his attitude and antics on and off the court maybe good enough reasons to stay away from him. He could prove toxic to Portland’s chemistry. On the other hand he has stated that he wants to turn over a new leaf, and what better place to do so than Portland. At 26 he is still young enough to turn things around and make a place for himself.
Why the Blazers sign him: Whiteside’s potential is sky high. He has the makings of an elite big man in the NBA.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: The Blazers decide his behavior issues aren’t worth the risk of contaminating Portland’s chemistry.
Dwight Howard – Player Option
Dwight Howard is a gamble for whoever signs him. At 30 he is a ghost of his all star self. That, his questionable off court behaviors, and his ego, make him a liable cancer. If gotten for the right price he could shore up the Blazers lack of a rim protector and a third go to guy. But, he would have to take the back seat to Lillard and probably McCollum…and chances are he won’t like that.
Why the Blazers Sign him: The Blazers miss out on Horford and Whiteside and decide to cut their losses by signing Howard.
Why the Blazers Don’t sign him: The Blazers don’t believe he will check his baggage and ego at the door and play backseat to Lillard and McCollum.
Festus Ezeli – Restricted Free Agent
The backup big man from Golden State is a defensive weapon of mass destruction. The same cannot be said for his offense, but he could be the dirty working rim protector the Blazers are looking for. He is however, a restricted free agent, meaning the Warriors would likely match any offers. Even so, he would cost a pretty penny, more probably then Portland would be willing to pay for a bench player.
Why the Blazers sign him: He is a defensive Behemoth who can help Portland under the rim. Portland decides to start him.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: The Blazers would probably want him to come off the bench, and he would cost too much for that role. Though they may extend him a poisonous offer to stick it to Golden State.
Ian Mahinmi – Unrestricted Free Agent
Mahinmi is one of, if not the most underrated big man in the NBA. At 29 years old he fits the Blazers youth movement, and brings a defensive skill set the Blazers are missing. That said, if signed he will definitely need to practice free throw shooting with Plumlee this summer. Mahinmi is the guy that will dig deep and get the dirty work done.
Why the Blazers sign him: Mahinmi is a young underrated big man who has great potential and could do good things in Portland. Plus Olshey has a penchant for signing underrated players.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: He Is an offensive liability.
If the Blazers opt to keep Plumlee and Davis at center, and seek to improve at the 4 over Meyers Leonard, the following guys may be options.
Marvin Williams – Unrestricted Free Agent
Though he is really a stretch three, Williams has proved he can play meaningful minutes at the power forward position last season with the hornets. His versatility allows him to guard multiple positions, and his 3pt shot would stretch the floor for the Blazers. Also, he has been exceptional on the defensive end. Last season he was the only player to lead his team in both 3 pointers and Blocked shots. The downside is he is not exactly young. An 11 year vet, he has some mileage on him, still he is only 29, and has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Why the Blazers sign him: Why not? This guy has everything the Blazers are looking for. Olshey might even bee line right towards him come July 1st. He opens up the Blazers offense stretching the floor ehile also upgrading things on the defensive end. Win/win situation.
Why they don’t sign him: He holds out for too much money or Olshey is blind.
Pau Gasol – Player Option
On the older side of the fence at 35, Gasol could bring a veteran presence to a young blazer squad. He could help stretch the floor and provide some relief from Lillard and McCollum offensively. He could also help protect the rim. It’s up to Olshey’s tastes on this one. How old will you go?
Why the Blazers sign him: He stretches the offense, provides help under the rim, and is a veteran presence.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: He is too old and removed from Portland’s youth movement.
Jared Sullenger – Restricted Free Agent
At 6-9 he is a stretch player who can guard multiple positions. Defensively he can help the Blazers around the rim. Offensively he won’t do much to stretch the floor. He makes this list mostly because his age, 24 fits the Blazers youth movement, and his physicality and versatility are hot commodities. That said, he is a restricted free agent and Boston will likely match any offers.
Why the Blazers sign him: Neil Olshey Rumpelstiltskin’s the Celtics and steals Sullenger. Sullenger is a physical presence that is always valuable. He does the dirty work, cleaning up shop.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: The Celtics call take backs. Sullenger does nothing to stretch the Blazers offense and offers another physical body to get tangled in the lane along side Plumlee and Davis.
While the Blazers will focus on a big man and a backup point guard, Neil Olshey might see an opportunity for improvement over Aminu that’s too good to pass up. Here are some guys that he might look at.
Kevin Durant – Unrestricted Free Agent
Who wouldn’t want this 27 year old all star with a chip on his shoulder. He could instantly make the Blazers better, offering a third offensive option that will unlock the Blazers offense. He will be costly and will most likely take a short contract to stay with OKC, and become a free agent next year when the NBA cap will skyrocket. But, Neil Olshey may not be able to resist the temptation of luring Durant.
Why do the Blazers sign him: He’s Kevin Durant.
Why don’t the Blazers sign him: It would prove costly. The Blazers would have to give up more than they should or could to get him. Plus he probably won’t even look Portland’s way.
Harrison Barnes – Free Agent
This young athletic 24 year old might get cast aside in the chase for Kevin Durant. He will be costly and has been inconsistent, but he is versatile and has a keen 3 point shot. Perfect for Stott’s type of play.
Why the Blazers sign him: He is an upgrade over Aminu. Fits into Stotts style of play. Championship experience.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: Too expensive. If the Blazers sign him they won’t have the space to upgrade at other spots and fulfill needs.
Chandler Parsons- Player Option
Parsons is an iffy risk. He came back from knee surgery last year and played serviceable minutes, but hasn’t been the same player. He may take his option to stay with mavericks another year and make a better case for free agency in 2017 when the cap will raise.
Why the Blazers Sign him: Parsons is the whole package at small forward. He can do a bit of everything
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: They don’t want to take the risk that he won’t get back to his pre injury self.
Luol Deng – Unrestricted Free Agent
At 31, Deng is on the older side of Olshey’s youth movement, but he is a consistent starting small forward, which is hard to find. Not sure how much better he’d do then Aminu, but he is definitely the better player in the present. Though the Blazers are smartly about the future.
Why the Blazers sign him: He brings a needed veteran presence. He has a consistency not many small forwards have.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: Again, he is past the young age demographic of the Blazers core. He is past his prime.
Evan Turner – Unrestricted Free Agent
The young small forward was key to Boston success last year, and may fit well with Portland’s younger base. He’d be an improvement over Aminu, but costly meaning the Blazers won’t able to fulfill other needs if they get him.
Why the Blazers signs him: He’d be a better three than Aminu, who can move to the four.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: They decide to resign Harkless and don’t want log jam the pos They opt to spend money on a big man.
Kent Bazemore – Unrestricted Free
Freaky athletic, getting Bazemore would be like getting another Harkless, just a more expensive one. But, he’d fit well with the young Blazers.
Why the Blazers sign him: His athleticism is a rare commodity in the NBA. He fits the age demographic of the Blazers young core.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: He is a near carbon copy of Harkless.
The Blazers made a trade at the deadline to bring in Brian Roberts an improvement over Tim Frazier. Still, Roberts is a free agent this summer, and the Blazers will probably let him walk, and look to upgrade the backup point guard position once more. Then again Roberts may return if the Blazers strike out.
Jeremy Lin – Free Agent
Jeremy Lin is a proven backup point guard. He was a starter who was fading away, but found his niche again in Charlotte. He is rumored to have already been wooed by Houston. But, if the Blazers can get him, Damian Lillard can relax on the bench without worry. Lin can be the guy to run the Blazers second unit.
Why the Blazers sign him: Lin can immediately shore up the need at back up point guard, and ensure that the second unit will run better.
Why the Blazers won’t sign him: He asks for too much money, or wants go somewhere where he can start.
Matthew Dellavedova – Restricted Free Agent
A physical get under your skin kind of player who can run the offense and add some defensive spice to the second unit. Dellavedova has a special brand of energy that can only come from being an Aussie.
Why the Blazers sign him: Dellavedova is a rare player. He has a tenacity and get under your skin play that fits the Blazers to a T.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: He is a restricted free agent and the Cavalier’s will match.
DJ Augustine – Unrestricted Free Agent
If the Blazers miss out on Lin and Dellavedova, DJ Augustine is a good fall back guy. Off of a solid season in Denver, he will be looking for a new team. He would be a good fit in Portland’s second unit, leading some fast break small ball.
Why the Blazers sign him: They miss out on Lin and Dellavedova and take the next best thing.
Why the Blazers don’t sign him: He wants too big a payday or would rather stay in Denver and vye for a starting spot.
Nice article Craig. That covers a lot of the discussed options. Do you have a personal feeling of which way the Blazers go one way or the other?Reply
I’m sure they are going to hedge their bets and throw contracts at either Horford or Whiteside. Personally though, I’d love to see Marvin Williams and Matthew Dellavedova wearing the pinwheel next year.Reply
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