Apparently, Brandon Roy's curious semi-retirement is coming to a close. Months of rumors have made Roy's return seemingly inevitable, but his path back to the NBA became all the more real with Adrian Wojnarowski's report for Yahoo Sports detailing Roy's free-agent suitors:
As ex-Portland Trail Blazer Brandon Roy plans his comeback to the NBA, the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves have emerged as serious suitors to sign the former All-Star guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Roy's recovery from chronic knee problems has been recently spurred by undergoing the platelet rich plasma therapy procedure that Lakers star Kobe Bryant popularized with NBA players, sources said. The blood spinning procedure gave profound relief to the knees of Bryant, Tracy McGrady and baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
The Golden State Warriors have also expressed strong interest with Roy. The Warriors' general manager, Bob Myers, was Roy's agent with the Wasserman Media Group.
Any Roy return would fall on incredibly thin ice; his injury situation is quite a bit different from—and quite a bit more severe than—the ailments that limited Bryant and McGrady, and nearly every night out would seem to be built on a foundation of wishes and crossed fingers rather than expert medical advice. Much of what we know about Roy's injuries made retirement seem like a perfectly reasonable option, and yet less than a year later, he's already knocking back on the NBA's door.
That said, if Roy really is committed to returning to the league, no written word is likely to change his mind. Our collective doubt and worry aren't likely to do much good, as this decision ultimately rests with Roy, his family, his doctors and those who know far more of the relevant details than we do.
What is within our reach, however, is an understanding of how Roy—supposing his return is indeed inevitable—might fit in with each of the teams that have reportedly been coveting him.
I find it hard to believe that the Bulls would be on this list were it not for Derrick Rose's injury, and in that light, the addition of Roy makes a fair bit of sense. Perhaps a Rose-less Bulls team would put more pressure on Roy to create than is optimal, given his physical limitations, but that Chicago would desire his services following its playoff struggles is no surprise whatsoever.
Defensively, even a fully healthy Roy wouldn't be ideal for Tom Thibodeau's system, but I suppose Chicago might make do if it felt it were getting enough from him offensively to offset the defense. If any team in the league can absorb Roy's defensive limitations in stride, it's the Bulls. The only question is if Roy really has it in him to be the makeshift anchor Chicago's offense clearly needs.
Oh, the power of a blank slate. The Mavericks' involvement in the Roy sweepstakes seems to be—in part, at the very least—out of desperation, as Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban cobble together free-agent alternatives. Deron Williams is Dallas' Plan A, B and C, and though it's certainly possible that the Mavs consider Williams and Roy the tandem backcourt of the future, the committed pursuit of Roy seems far more likely and sensible in the case that they need to fill out their roster on the fly sans Deron. The Mavs have positioned themselves for considerable turnover, and in the case that they wind up with Roy, things may have gone quite wrong in the earlier stages of free agency.
Darren Collison is a nice player, but realistically, he needs a playmaking complement in order to fully maintain control of Indiana's offense. Paul George, for all his talents, just doesn't provide that bit of service. George Hill does, in spots, but the more help the Pacers can get for Collison, the better.
Of all the listed possibilities for Roy, I see the most sense in this one. Indiana is flexible enough that Roy wouldn't have the weight of an offense on his shoulders, and yet vulnerable enough to allow Roy to take over a good chunk of the ball-handling responsibility. Such worrisome injuries require a particularly delicate balance, and although the Pacers may not be an especially deep club, the division of labor in their starting lineup defaults to an ideal balance.
The Wolves did have some success last season in pairing Ricky Rubio with other ball-handlers, but Roy is a far less deferential player and a significantly more focused scorer than the Luke Ridnours that Rubio is used to. If Rubio were the kind of point-guard prospect that would need to be brought along slowly, I could see some sense in adding Roy as a pair of training wheels. But Rubio came into the league at a dead sprint, and while he still has much to learn about the operation of a half-court offense, there's no question that the Wolves should want the ball in Rubio's hands as much as possible—both to progress along the learning curve and give them the best chance to win on a nightly basis.
Because pairing Steph Curry with another ball-dominant guard worked so well last time.