Kevin Pritchard Smells Blood During NBA Off-Season
The NBA Draft Lottery has passed, and the Los Angeles Clippers have won the Blake Griffin sweepstakes.
What does this mean for all 30 NBA teams? It's time to start pre-draft workouts.
Now specifically what does this mean for the Portland Trail Blazers?
The most glaring needs on the roster are a starting point guard who can create their own shot, and create shots for others, a backup power forward who can hold the fort while LaMarcus Aldridge rests and a starting small forward who can be another scoring option.
Earlier in the season, before the trading deadline, espn.go.com had been reporting trade rumors that the Portland Trail Blazers were talking extensively with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The specifics of the proposed trade included Portland sending backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez, backup power forward Channing Frye, and a 2009 draft pick to Milwaukee for their backup point guard Luke Ridnour and starting small forward Richard Jefferson.
Had this trade been finalized, there would be no doubt that the Blazers would have been able to secure a second-round date with the Los Angeles Lakers.
So, how should Portland go about addressing their needs?
The need for a solid backup power forward stands out amongst all others with the Trail Blazers. Channing Frye was able to bring size to the Blazers' front-court, but his style of play was completely incompatible with the Blazers' offense.
On the first team, LaMarcus Aldridge brought his rapidly developing post game, and was able to confuse defenders with an array of moves. His ability to spin past his defender and finish at the basket coupled with his sweet touch from mid-range proved to be a vital component of the Blazers' offense this season.
On the second team, Channing Frye brought his one-sided play to the mix, setting up for mid-range jumpers. This would work fine when his shots were falling, but it also put him out of position for grabbing boards. Even though Frye is a class act and is definitely the most articulate speaker on the Blazers, I would expect that his contract is not renewed.
There are a couple ways the Blazers could go about this need. One way would be through the NBA Draft.
Although this year's edition of the NBA Draft is about as deep as a puddle on a sidewalk, there are still some talented players the Blazers could acquire with their 24th pick.
Jeff Pendergraph, a talented power forward from Arizona State University, is basically a carbon-copy of LaMarcus Aldridge. He can work his way through the paint, but also post up for a mid-range or fade-away jumper. His long arms give him an automatic defensive advantage, plus he runs the floor almost as well as the L-Train.
ESPN's Chad Ford has the Blazers picking UCLA's Darren Collison with their 24th pick, but I am not convinced that Portland's biggest need is at the point. Jerryd Bayless needs to be given more time, and he can become the Blazer's future point guard.
Another way the Blazers can address their need at power forward would be through the free agency.
Even though he is older and on the decline, the Blazers could go after Detroit's Antonio McDyess in the free agency. He is a seasoned veteran with several years of playoff experience. His style of play also fits the Blazers' offense.
Moving on the Blazers' need at point guard, it is without a doubt that Sergio Rodriguez will be traded this off-season, we just are not completely sure where to. Don't get me wrong, Sergio stepped up his game in the last few weeks of the season, but he was never consistent. If anything, he was consistently inconsistent.
Like I mentioned before, Chad Ford of ESPN has the Blazers selecting UCLA point guard Darren Collison with the 24th pick. Collison is quick and has many great leadership qualities, as well as penetration and defensive abilities. This pick could not hurt the Blazers, only help them.
Collison most likely would not start if he was drafted, but he would be able to provide an impact when he would be on the floor with Brandon Roy, as he would be able to handle the ball and run the offense, letting Roy play off the ball.
A trade rumor on espn.go.com stated that the Portland Trail Blazers had talked with the Phoenix Suns about the possibility of trading for Steve Nash. The deal reportedly would involve Portland sending Travis Outlaw, Jerryd Bayless, and a second round draft pick to the Suns for Nash, and their fourteenth pick.
Again, I would hope that the Blazers have more faith in Bayless, but if they must do it, they should go for it.
So, for solving the power forward and point guard needs, the Blazers could use a combination of trading for Steve Nash and picking Jeff Pendergraph or signing Antonio McDyess, or a combination of picking Darren Collison and signing Antonio McDyess.
As for the starting small forward position, this poses a rather large question mark. If the Blazers do make the aforementioned trade with the Suns, they could use that 14th pick to draft Earl Clark from Louisville, but I am not sold that a rookie can provide that immediate of an impact unless your name is Blake Griffin.
There have been talks about going after Grant Hill in the free agency, which would not be a bad option, just not the best. I believe the best option would be to revisit the Ridnour/Jefferson trade talks.
With this trade, the Blazers could nab some veterans, which would be a welcome sight no doubt.
As always, the possibilities are virtually endless.
If one thing is clear, it is that next season will be most intriguing for the Portland Trail Blazers.
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