Ick-Snay on the Edo Turkoglu-Hay: Who Should Portland Go After?
In only two days, the city of Portland went from having an emotional high to an energy-drink induced crash.
It was reported that the Portland Trail Blazers and free agent small forward Hedo Turkoglu had agreed to a five-year, $50 million deal in principle.
Then, Turkoglu made an about-face and sprinted for Canada.
By renouncing the rights to Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, and Carlos Delfino, the Toronto Raptors were able to offer Turkoglu about $3 million more than Portland had originally offered.
Portland could have matched this offer had Kevin Pritchard renounced the rights to the Trail Blazers' two Euro-stash players: English power forward Joel Freeland and Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen.
However, the reason Turkoglu decided to sign with Europe was not solely because of money.
The city of Toronto has a much larger Turkish population than Portland.
The flight from Toronto to Istanbul is much shorter than the flight from Portland.
Also, Turkoglu's wife made it perfectly clear that she preferred Toronto over Portland.
There is also the economic factor to consider due to Canada's economy being much better than the United States'.
But, when you're making $50 million, why would that economy matter so much?
I personally was looking forward to seeing Hedo Turkoglu in a Trail Blazers' uniform.
I was looking forward to seeing Kevin Pritchard dispose of either Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster to make room for him.
I was looking forward to having another scoring option in the starting lineup to help take the pressure off Brandon Roy.
Tough cookies. What's done is done.
The silver lining on this cloud is that Portland still has around $9 million to use this free agency ($10 million if Pritchard releases his Euro-stashes).
With Turkoglu out of the picture, who should Portland focus on signing?
It certainly hurts the Blazers that players like Ron Artest and Trevor Ariza have found new homes. It was reported that Portland had some interest in Ariza.
Looking at the small forward class, a few notables are still up on the board.
Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Marvin Williams, Linas Kleiza, and Grant Hill are all currently unemployed.
Odom could be an option for the Blazers. He's looking for $6-8 million per year, so the Blazers could afford him. Odom doesn't need to start, and he can play both the three and the four.
If Portland does not move Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster this offseason, Odom could be signed to backup LaMarcus Aldridge. I'm just not certain if the fans would approve of a Laker coming to Portland.
Marion is getting older, along with Odom and Hill. His numbers are dropping, which is expected for a player his age. He also has a reputation for being difficult. I'll mark that as a negative on Kevin Pritchard's check-list.
Williams has as much raw talent as any other forward on Portland's roster. Like Outlaw, he has been inconsistent throughout his career.
I don't think Portland would gamble on him.
The Blazers drafted Kleiza in the first round of the 2005 draft, but traded him to Denver. Kleiza's stock rose tremendously around the deadline. He's physical, which is one thing the Blazers desperately need. He can also score.
The Blazers could go after him as he would help take scoring pressure off of Roy and Aldridge.
Hill has been labeled as injury prone and for good reason. However, he played all 82 games this past season. The only Blazers player to do that was Joel Przybilla.
Hill is 36, but he still is one of the fastest small forwards in the game. His jump shot isn't pretty, but he isn't afraid to drive to the hoop, something coach Nate McMillan tried to get Travis Outlaw to do all season long.
Hill also has one of the best free throw percentages in the game.
I would say that Portland should go after either Kleiza or Hill. Hill could be a quick-fix, allowing Nicolas Batum to fully develop into the starter we know he will be. Kleiza could start as well, but Hill would be able to help mentor Batum.
What about at power forward?
It has been reported that Portland would be prepared to offer all their cap space to sign David Lee from New York, but there have been concerns over available playing time for Lee.
If Portland wanted to use less than half their cap space on a power forward so that they could make an offer at a point guard or use the rest in a trade, they could go after Drew Gooden.
In ESPN's John Hollinger's words, "you'd be hard-pressed to find a more effective reserve big man on the market."
At point guard, the options are slim.
Andre Miller doesn't fit in with the Blazers as they need a traditional point guard.
Jason Kidd will return to the Mavericks.
Raymond Felton is restricted and the Bobcats look to keep him.
Mike Bibby will stay with the Hawks.
The only real option the Blazers have is to go after Milwaukee point guard Ramon Sessions, but the Bucks can match any offer the Blazers give him.
They also will have more cap space to do it now that they have the contracts of Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson off their belts.
The best option Portland has at adding a bona fide starting point guard to their team would be through a trade.
Here are some scenarios.
Danny Ainge can deny it all he wants, but I am pretty certain that the Celtics are looking to trade Rajon Rondo. Portland could be a buyer as Rondo still has a rookie salary.
Boston is looking to be proactive in the free agency. With Stephon Marbury's salary coming off the books for them this summer, the Celtics would have roughly $300K to spend.
If they could trade Rondo for cash, I am sure Ainge would pull the trigger.
Another guard the Blazers could trade for is Chicago's Kirk Hinrich.
He did not have as productive of a season as he's used to, but do you think any former starter would play behind Derrick Rose?
In order to clear up some roster space, Portland could deal Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw to the Bulls for Hinrich. This deal would do two things for the Blazers.
One, it would help to clear the log jam at the small forward position, allowing Portland to go after a small forward in the free agency.
Two, it would give Portland an upgrade at starting point guard. Hinrich can shoot, pass, and defend pretty well. He would help the starting lineup well.
The trade would also help Chicago rid themselves of a disgruntled former starter, and give them a point guard who isn't opposed to playing backup and with a smaller salary.
The Milwaukee Bucks have stated that they wish to trade point guard Luke Ridnour.
Portland could be a buyer.
Ridnour played high school ball in Blaine, Washington, right on the border between the US and Canada. He played his college ball at the University of Oregon.
He's a Northwest guy, so I don't see why he would be opposed to playing in Portland as the only other Northwest team, the Seattle Supersonics, whom he was drafted by and played for five seasons with, and moved to Oklahoma City.
Portland could trade Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw to the Bucks for Luke Ridnour and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute's contract could be payed off with trade exception money, and thus the Blazers would have one less small forward and an upgrade at the point.
These possible trade scenarios sum up what Portland could do this offseason to nab a point guard.
Of course, I am not a GM, nor will I likely be one.
There are probably some options that I do not know of.
One thing is certain.
Portland is in a better situation because Turkoglu did not sign with them. Portland can now use their money more wisely, and they could nab two free agents instead of one.
The possibilities are unlimited.
I know that I am about as impatient as a small child on Christmas morning, and I am sure some of you Trail Blazers' faithful are as well.
Let's hope Kevin Pritchard can work his magic this offseason.
The players and fans deserve some more good times.
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