Portland Trail Blazers Make Progress on Draft Day, But More is Still to Come
No, the Blazers did not manage to land Arizona State sensation, or 2009 Pac-10 player of the year, James Harden (far right).
He was selected third in the draft by Portland's once interstate rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle Supersonics.
Blazers fans have become accustomed to drooling over what trades general manager Kevin Pritchard will make on draft day, which amazing prospects will he miraculously manage to score, which teams will be Pritch-slapped.
This year's draft, for the Portland Trail Blazers, was not about finding that young, talented player, the missing piece to the puzzle.
This year's draft was about making minor adjustments to an already potent roster.
The Blazers needs were simple: Cut away any deadwood necessary in order to sign free agents, or trade for players to fill the holes at starting point guard backup power forward.
Today, Pritchard was able to slightly fill some of these goals.
By selecting Victor Claver with their No. 22 pick, the Blazers will be able to generate some more cap space, as Claver will most likely be kept overseas for the next two to three years.
Now what would a NBA draft be without a trade orchestrated by Pritchard? A boring one no doubt.
Today Portland agreed to send backup point guard Rodriguez, the rights to the 38th pick, power forward John Brockman from the University of Washingtocash considerations to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for the rights to the 31stn, and pick, power forward Jeff Pendergraph from Arizona State University.
This trade will work wonders for the Blazers.
First off, it helps to clear out the log jam at the point guard position. Jerryd Bayless now knows that the Blazers coaching and management have faith that he can be their full-time backup point guard, instead of having to catch garbage minutes from Rodriguez.
Second, the trade will help to fill the hole at backup power forward.
Jeff Pendergraph, standing at 6'10'', is pretty much a carbon-copy of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers' starting power forward. He can shoot the mid-range jumper well, but can also score from the low post. He is a tenacious defender, and his large wingspan helps him to block many shots.
I still can't help but feel like there will be more to these trades that we as fans haven't seen yet.
Leading up to the NBA Draft over the past few weeks, it was reported that if the New York Knicks selected Jordan Hill, a power forward from the University of Arizona, that they would most likely take part in a sign-and-trade deal that would send power forward David Lee to Portland.
This deal could be a possibility. Could Pendergraph be a player involved in this proposed trade? We cannot be certain yet.
Also, there have been trade rumors spreading about the Blazers looking to make deals for either Kirk Hinrich, a point guard for the Chicago Bulls, or Devin Harris, point guard for the New Jersey Nets.
I would think that the Hinrich trade has more validity to it than the Harris rumor. Why? Because Devin Harris is a young, talented point guard, the building block for the New Jersey Nets.
The Nets have found long-term replacements for departed All-Star shooting guard Vince Carter in Courtney Lee, whom they received in the deal that sent Carter to the Orlando Magic, and in Louisville's Terrence Williams whom the Nets drafted with their 11th pick.
Why would the Nets be looking to trade one of their three cornerstone players when they are undoubtedly in a rebuilding phase?
Kirk Hinrich is pretty sold on the idea that Chicago will be trading him to Portland. But at what price to the Blazers?
The Bulls used both of their draft picks this year to select power forwards James Johnson of Wake Forest, and Taj Gibson of USC. Perhaps Chicago was preparing to include one of these two power forwards in a deal to help fill the gap at power forward, except that "hole" seems to have been filled.
When the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick last year, Hinrich was moved to playing backup point guard.
Because they did not draft one of the many talented point guards in this year's draft, Portland very well could have to return the favor by sending Chicago one of their own point guards, which could be either Steve Blake, Jerryd Bayless, or Patrick Mills, whom the Blazers drafted with their 55th pick.
By trading Sergio Rodriguez, Bayless has been assured of holding the backup point guard role, so logically the Blazers would either move Blake or Mills to nab Hinrich.
There also is the free agency to consider. There are many possible scenarios that could unfold in the following months leading up to the 2009-'10 regular season.
One thing is certain, and that's Pritchard certainly isn't done yet.
Rest assured Blazer fans, KP still has a few tricks left up his sleeves.
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