Most Important Free Agent for the Portland Trail Blazers to Sign This Offseason

Michael DulkaContributor IApril 10, 2013

APRIL. 9, 2011; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford (11) drives to the basket on Houston Rockets small forward Chase Budinger (10)  during the fourth quarter at the Rose Garden. The Rockets won the game 94-89. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout this up-and-down season, the Portland Trail Blazers have proved they aren't far away from competing at a playoff level. They are a strong offseason away with the continued development of Damian Lillard and their starting core. 

Their depth has been a huge problem, and they need to add reinforcements. One player they need to sign is Chase Budinger, who is currently with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although Budinger is a restricted free agent, the Blazers need to do whatever they can to make sure he's playing for Rip City next year. 

The three-year NBA veteran returned last month from a knee injury that cost him the majority of the season. So far this year he's played in 17 games, averaging 9.2 points in 21.4 minutes per game. He's been inconsistent, but that's to be expected following so much time off. 

While Budinger isn't a big-name free agent, he can add a lot to this Blazers team for not so much money. Budinger is making $885,120 in the final year of his rookie deal. 

The Blazers should be able to steal Budinger away from the Timberwolves by giving him a nice raise without paying too much. 

The Timberwolves have a bunch of money committed for next year and have a big decision to make on center Nikola Pekovic. That should eat of most of their cap and leave Budinger open for other teams. 

The Blazers have a lot of financial restrictions based on their cap situation. With heavy contracts for LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, the Blazers need to find role players for cheap. Budinger is the perfect option for that. 

The 6'7" small forward would help to improve the Blazers' three-point shooting. The team is currently ranked 20th in the league, shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc. Adding Budinger would give them a pure shooter who would make life so much easier for Lillard. Budinger can work on spot-ups or off screens.

Instead of having to fully rely on the streaky-shooting Batum, the Blazers could put out a lineup with Wesley Matthews and Budinger alongside Lillard to maximize their shooting potential. This lineup would help space the floor for Aldridge to work down low. 

Budinger also runs the floor extremely well and would look great next to Lillard. Here is a video that includes multiple run-outs for Budinger:

As you can see in the video, Budinger is also capable of taking defenders off the dribble. He's not the quickest guy on the court, but forcing defenders to respect his shot allows him some space to blow by people. 

While adding Budinger wouldn't necessarily take the Blazers to the next level, he's the type of player they need to start adding to the roster. With a solid core of Lillard, Aldridge and Batum, they must find cost-effiecent guys who can impact games and take pressure off the Big Three. 

Budinger adds shooting in addition to his overall scoring ability, something the Blazers desperately need from their bench. Signing him this offseason would be a strong move by the Blazers front office.