8 Players Portland Trail Blazers Must Target

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IMay 21, 2012

8 Players Portland Trail Blazers Must Target

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    We all know what a disappointing season it was for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    After being considered one of the up-and-coming teams only a few years ago, the Blazers have certainly taken a few steps back.

    Part of the problem was bad management, and part of the problem was poor performances by the players.

    But the biggest issue was just plain old-fashioned bad luck, the kind that Portland has in abundance.

    So rather than go down the list of bad issues that have plagued this team, let's instead focus on the good.

    Portland has a lot of money coming off its books, the team likely have two lottery picks and it has a very good power forward to build around. 

    While the future does not look as bright as it did a few years ago, there are still loads of teams that would gladly trade places with Portland.

    That being said, the Blazers need to be smart this offseason and target the right personnel.

    Here are eight players that should be targeted by Portland.

Steve Nash, PG

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    There are three things that have been missing from Portland that must be resolved immediately.

    One, the team lacks direction.

    It doesn't quite know if it wants to be an up-tempo team, a defensive-minded squad or a half-court group.

    Two, the team lacks leadership.

    Since Brandon Roy walked away, the team has struggled to find a leader. LaMarcus Aldridge is not a vocal leader, and neither is anyone else on the roster.

    Three, the team lacks excitement.

    In 2008, there was a feeling around Portland that something big was about to happen. This had everyone talking, from the punk-rock girls cutting hair at Bishop's, to the yuppies eating sushi in the Pearl.

    But the air was sucked out of this excitement, and now the Blazers are a distant second behind the local soccer team, the Timbers, in the fans' minds.

    Signing Steve Nash solves all of these problems.

    Nash, though aging, still is an elite point guard.

    Moreover, he would immediately bring excitement to this team and energize the fanbase.

    He also is a true point guard that makes everyone better. And if the Blazers are able to sign him, they would strengthen their squad in the full-court, allowing Aldridge and Nic Batum to get out and run.

    They also would strengthen their half-court offense, as Nash is a very good outside shooter, allowing the Blazers to go inside-out with Aldridge.

    True, Nash won't be around forever, but there is no reason to think that he couldn't sign a three-year contract and help this team become a playoff contender.

Andre Miller, PG

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    I know. Been there, done that.

    But the Blazers' biggest need right now is a point guard that can find open teammates and score a little bit, and Miller fits that bill.

    I still think that Nash is the better target, but let's call Miller Plan B.

Eric Bledsoe, PG

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    Eric Bledsoe, a first-round pick out of Kentucky a couple years ago, burst into the collective minds of general managers this playoff season for his performance against San Antonio.

    Bledsoe is blessed with incredible quickness and excellent athleticism.

    He also is only 22 years old and has not even scratched the surface of his potential.

    That being said, the Clippers really want to bring back Chauncey Billups, and it's hard to imagine how they are going to keep so many guards happy in Los Angeles.

    Bledsoe might not get dealt, but with this year being a very weak point guard crop in the draft, Bledsoe should have some excellent trade value.

    So what would it take to pry him loose from the Clips?

    If the Blazers end up with two lottery picks, the second could be on the table, especially if it falls around 11 or 12.

D.J. Augustin, PG

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    D.J. Augustin is a flashy point guard, capable of setting up teammates and getting hot in his own right.

    That being said, it's hard to see where he fits in Charlotte's plans.

    Last year, they drafted Kemba Walker in the lottery, and he definitely showed signs of promise.

    With so many other holes on their roster, they would be wise to choose one or the other, and Augustin, who is a restricted free agent, seems the odd man out.

    If Portland offers over $5 million per season, Charlotte likely will let him walk.

    Augustin could fit nicely in Portland, and could benefit from a change in scenery.

    He also is just 24, so he could be a bargain if he figures out his game.

Jeremy Lin, PG

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    Okay, so this year the hype certainly outweighed the substance when it came to Jeremy Lin.

    We were subjected to countless terrible puns, and the New York media machine made Lin an overnight sensation. In fact, Lin was a back-to-back Sports Illustrated cover boy for goodness sake!

    That being said, he is a very good player.

    His ability to see the open man and play the angles makes him an up-and-coming NBA point guard.

    He averaged 15 points and six assists for the season, and those numbers certainly will go up with regular playing time.

    In Portland, he could become a poor man's version of Steve Nash, and Aldridge would be his Amar'e Stoudamire.

O.J. Mayo, SG

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    In addition to a point guard, the Blazers really need to get themselves a consistent scoring shooting guard.

    Wesley Matthews is a good player, but he has way too many ups and downs.

    He is a good defender and probably is better suited to coming off the bench.

    With this draft not exactly teeming with talented shooting guards, and the free agent pool even weaker, the Blazers need to be very picky in getting their scorer.

    O.J. Mayo is a restricted free agent, but the Grizzlies have obviously fallen out of love with the once rising star.

    His minutes have been cut drastically, and last year he did not start a game for the Grizzlies.

    But Mayo can score in bunches, and at 24, he is just beginning to scratch his potential.

    The Blazers could elect to draft a shooting guard, but only Bradley Beal appears to be an elite talent, and he might not be there when Portland goes on the clock.

Andris Biedrins, C

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    We learned one thing about the Blazers over the past few years.

    LaMarcus Aldridge needs to be paired with a big man that can rebound, play defense and block shots.

    Marcus Camby was the ideal pairing. Once he left town, however, Aldridge struggled without an adequate helper up front.

    Andris Biedrins isn't exactly a sexy pick, but he is an underrated talent.

    For some reason, he fell out of favor in Golden State, and last year he had career lows across the board.

    But just three years ago, he averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds.

    And at 26, it's not like his skills have diminished. 

    A change of scenery would do him some good.

    So what will it cost?

    Golden State probably just wants to get rid of him and his contract ($9 million this year plus a $9 million player option the next year).

    A sign and trade for Jamal Crawford could be a good option, provided Crawford goes along with it.

JaVale McGee, C

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    JaVale McGee could potentially be the perfect fit for Portland.

    He is big, athletic, and has tremendous leaping ability.

    Paired with Aldridge and an up-tempo point guard, you could really see Portland becoming an exciting team again.

    So why is McGee an option?

    Sadly, McGee is kind of a knucklehead. He makes bone-headed mistakes on almost a nightly basis and seems to not know exactly where he is at times.

    That being said, he is only 24, and with the right mentors, he could develop into an All-Star.