NBA Free Agents 2012, NBA Rumors: Portland Trail Blazers Free-Agent Odds

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIMay 23, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012, NBA Rumors: Portland Trail Blazers Free-Agent Odds

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    After a truly head-scratching season for the Portland Trail Blazers where they appeared to be a lower seeded playoff team, they shifted the tides by trading Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, bottoming out for a draft pick in the process.

    The Trail Blazers' management will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason regarding free agents.

    Despite looking like a team in the running to make the playoffs at times last season against competing teams like the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns, the Trail Blazers' management made moves that hinted at a rebuilding process in Portland.

    In the month of April, the final month of the regular season, the Trail Blazers only won four of 14 games and ended the season on a seven-game losing streak.

    A lot of questions need to be answered this offseason as far as what players with expiring contracts will return next year.

    Here are the odds of return for every Trail Blazer with an expiring contract.

Hasheem Thabeet

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    Last season's stats: 1.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game

    Hasheem Thabeet came over from the Houston Rockets via the Marcus Camby trade and continued to be a player who does not make much of a difference on the court.

    That being said, Thabeet is 25 years old and is a very raw basketball talent who still has room to improve.

    At 7'3" he has the size to be an elite shot blocker in the NBA if he can find the right coaching staff to put him in a good situation. Despite being a few tweaks away from potentially becoming a good defensive player, Thabeet is a long way away from becoming a solid player on the offensive end.

    Since the Trail Blazers decided to release former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden this past year, they’re in the market for a new big man.

    If the Trail Blazers have confidence that they can coach Thabeet up and mold him into a capable NBA player, I could see him making a return to Portland.

    In Thabeet’s exit interview with the media, he said he enjoyed working with the Trail Blazers’ coaching staff and would welcome a return to the team.

    Odds of return: 73 percent (Get it? 7'3"...73 percent...alright I'll stop).

Joel Przybilla

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    Last season's stats: 2.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game

    Joel Przybilla has had a lot of trouble staying healthy lately. After rupturing the patella tendon in his knee in 2009, Przybilla’s production has dropped.

    Despite his struggles with knee problems, Przybilla has had a productive career in the NBA as a member of the Trail Blazers.

    In February, the 7’1” center was being courted by the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks, but, instead of choosing to join any of those three teams, Przybilla said that he followed his heart by returning to Portland.

    Przybilla could probably be retained by Portland at a low price once again if there is any interest from the Trail Blazers to keep him.

    Considering the fact that the Trail Blazers released Oden, including the fact that Hasheem Thabeet, Craig Smith and J.J. Hickson are all free agents as well, Przybilla would be a good insurance option for them to make sure they have enough frontcourt depth next season.

    Przybilla also brings a veteran presence and loves his situation in Portland, so unless he retires, I can certainly see him returning.

    Odds of return: 90 percent.

Craig Smith

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    Last season's stats: 3.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game

    Craig “The Rhino” Smith didn’t get many minutes for the Trail Blazers last season, but he was certainly productive in limited time.

    Despite averaging just 9.9 minutes per game, Smith averaged 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

    Smith spent most of the season buried on the depth chart behind LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him look for other suitors in free agency this offseason to gain a more prominent role.

    Smith would be a solid fit on a contending team looking to add frontcourt size. Adding a guy nicknamed “The Rhino” would certainly address any size problems for other NBA teams.

    Odds of return: 20 percent.

Johnny Flynn

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    Last season's stats: 4.5 points, 3.3 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game

    Johnny Flynn came to the Blazers with Hasheem Thabeet in the trade with the Houston Rockets.

    Although Flynn didn’t exactly "wow" anyone with his stats, he did show flashes of being a solid player when given the opportunity. For example, he had 18 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in a game against the Utah Jazz.

    He had a steady rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, starting 81 games and averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game.

    However, Flynn simply hasn’t been the same player after undergoing hip surgery.

    He also found himself in a really bad situation in Houston, being buried behind Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic on the point guard depth chart.

    Flynn hasn’t had much of an opportunity to prove his worth in the NBA thus far, and his hip surgery was certainly a setback.

    If he gets the opportunity next year to man the point guard spot with Nolan Smith, there’s a good chance he could be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year.

    Odds of return: 75 percent.

Nicolas Batum

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    Last season's stats: 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

    It’s hard to believe that Nic Batum has already spent four seasons in the NBA when you take into account that he’s still just 23 years old.

    In a weak free-agent class this offseason, Batum will likely be one of the most sought after free agents by teams looking to improve their rosters.

    Batum is a young, athletic, two-way player who can make a difference by knocking down open threes and by playing lock-down defense on opposing stars. He’ll be coveted by many teams and will likely be offered a hefty contract.

    Since the Blazers seem to be in a tweener-rebuilding phase, it will be interesting to see if they make an aggressive attempt to resign Batum for what will likely be a large dollar amount.

    The advantage the Blazers have in this situation is that Batum is a restricted free agent, meaning Portland has the right to match any offer extended to him.

    Ultimately I think the Blazers will decide to keep Batum because he has a lot of potential, but they have to be careful not to pay him like a premier, star player if he’s just going to be a solid starter moving forward.

    Odds of return: 88 percent.

J.J. Hickson

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    Last season's stats: 8.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game

    J.J. Hickson had a fantastic month of April with the Trail Blazers. However, it was mostly because LaMarcus Aldridge was shut down due to injury, leaving Hickson the bulk of the playing time.

    That being said, Hickson notched six double-doubles in April and averaged 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in 10 starts with the Trail Blazers.

    Hickson is just scratching the surface of his NBA potential and is still just 23 years old. He has a lot of time to improve.

    But, it’s difficult to see where Hickson fits on this Trail Blazers team with LaMarcus Aldridge as the starting power forward.

    Portland could potentially move Aldridge to center moving forward, but I don’t see that being a viable option with the plethora of tough centers in the Western Conference.

    Hickson has reportedly said that he would love to re-sign with Portland though, so that’s a good early indication of where he’ll play next season.

    Odds of return: 85 percent.

Jamal Crawford

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    Last season's stats: 14.0 points, 3.2 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game

    It appears extremely unlikely that Jamal Crawford will return to play for the Portland Trail Blazers next season.

    This shouldn’t concern Trail Blazers fans because Crawford has been on an evident decline.

    In a game on the road last season against the Phoenix Suns, Crawford reportedly told Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, as well as Suns announcer and former player Eddie Johnson, that he “needs to be here in Phoenix.”

    Openly telling an opposing coach that you want to play for him on his squad next year certainly isn’t going to endear you to your teammates.

    Additionally, Crawford’s points per game numbers have declined every year since the 2007-2008 season he spent with the New York Knicks.

    Crawford's shooting percentages from the field and from beyond the three point line (38.4 percent and 30.8 percent) were also down considerably last season when compared with the season before (42.1 percent and 34.1 percent).

    I don’t see Crawford returning to Trail Blazers because of the mentioned antics and the fact that the Trail Blazers are trying to get younger.

    At 32 years old, Crawford doesn’t fit the bill.

    Odds of return: 10 percent.

Raymond Felton

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    Last season's stats: 11.4 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game

    Raymond Felton’s numbers last season for the Trail Blazers were very disappointing when compared with his stats in New York under offensive guru Mike D’Antoni the year before.

    Even so, Felton has struggled by his usual standards in a Trail Blazers uniform.

    It’s hard to see the Trail Blazers bringing Felton back, considering how poorly he played for them a year ago. Felton may want, and need, a change of scenery to get back to his old form.

    Early rumors are speculating that if the New York Knicks end up re-signing Jeremy Lin, which is a high possibility, they could potentially be in the market for a veteran point guard like Felton.

    It makes sense when you consider that Baron Davis’ career, as well as Mike Bibby’s career, could both end this offseason.

    Odds of return: 15 percent.