5 Moves Portland Trail Blazers Must Make as They Continue to Rebuild
The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the busiest teams at the March 15 trade deadline this season, and while the players insist they are still trying to win games heading into the playoffs, the team has surely entered a stage of rebuilding as we approach the finish line of the 2011-12 NBA season.
With positions that need to be filled throughout the entire Trail Blazers organization, this summer could prove to be one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.
If the right moves are made, the team could become competitive again right away, and a deep run in the playoffs could become a very real possibility as early as next season.
Make the Lottery
You never want to see a team tank a season.
That being said, watching a team fail to reach the second round of the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year doesn't show any production, either.
Trading away two starters in Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby makes a deep playoff run a near-impossibility, and with the acquired pick from New Jersey not guaranteed this season, landing in the lottery might be what's best for the future of the organization.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have primarily built through the draft and are widely considered the team that will likely come out of the West this year.
The Blazers tried this once, however, and while it didn't pan out in the mid-2000's, it's time to try the draft again and hope the right decisions are made this time around.
Find a Big Man
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft to fill a blatant hole at the center position.
Five years later, they're still searching for their center.
Oden's time with the Blazers has finally come to an end, Marcus Camby is also gone and the team finds itself with 39-year-old Kurt Thomas and 32-year-old Joel Przybilla making up one of the oldest center tandems in the entire NBA.
Following the deals made before the March 15 NBA trade deadline, the Trail Blazers have opened up the roster drastically and find themselves $23 million under the cap heading into free agency this upcoming offseason.
With big men Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez on the market, there's no reason Portland should sit back and watch them get snatched up. Both of these players are restricted free agents, however, and will likely be retained by their current squads this summer.
If the free-agent options don't work out, building organically through the draft could be the plan with a number of big-man prospects beginning their transition to the NBA this summer.
Find a Point Guard
Portland hasn't had a steady point guard since the days of Damon Stoudamire, and its postseason troubles may be a result of not having a consistent floor general year after year.
Although Raymond Felton has performed decently as of late, it's tough to imagine he will find himself back on the roster next season.
Although the upcoming NBA draft is considered to be one of the deepest drafts in quite some time, its focus on big men has left the point guard position one of the more shallow positions to choose from.
If you're the Trail Blazers, obtaining a point guard this summer might have to come in free agency.
The pipe dream of Deron Williams is out there, and with so much money to offer, it doesn't hurt to make a run. Realistically, however, Portland probably doesn't stand a chance against the Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Lakers of the world.
Players such as Aaron Brooks, D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich are likely more attainable, and finding the right guy could help turn around a franchise that has so many question heading into a very important summer.
Find a Coach
Nate McMillan found himself as another casualty of the Portland Trail Blazers trade deadline extravaganza, being let go halfway through the season.
McMillan has been replaced by interim head coach Kaleb Canales, but it doesn't appear as if the 33-year-old replacement will remain permanent beyond this season.
Canales has sparked an energy on the roster, due in part to his willingness to play some of the younger reserves who saw minimal time under the guidance of McMillan.
Energy, though, can only take you so far.
The team must find a leader who can mold the youth, utilize the leadership and help lead the team beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
Find a General Manager
At its most fundamental level, most businesses need a general manager to operate successfully, and the Portland Trail Blazers are proving to be no exception.
A GM search has been off and on for nearly the past year, and while there were a number of candidates' names floating around, none of them have worked out this season.
Owner Paul Allen has let the Blazers operate without a general manager for 10 months now, and heading into an offseason where the team has money to spend and draft picks to choose, it's going to need someone to take charge and start making decisions right away.
While the roster and coaching staff are at the forefront of most discussions, the front office needs to be addressed in order to help shape the entire organization during the rebuilding stage it has found itself in this season.