It's the phrase that has become the unofficial motto of the Portland Trail Blazers. Fans are sick of hearing it; it's as worn out as a holey pair of grungy underwear. Did that last description turn down the corners of your mouth and make your stomach churn? Good, because that is how this four-word phrase makes players and fans feel—dirty, disgusted, grotesque.
It's like that bitter taste in your mouth when you first wake up in the morning, that stench coming from...okay, okay—do you get my point? It's not good, and it's high time we rid ourselves of such a trademark.
To improve this offseason the Blazers need to fill job vacancies in the following two departments: center and point guard. Then, if there is time, we could add some bulk at shooting guard or one of the forward positions as well. Gee, sounds like a lot of empty slots, huh? Not really, considering the core is already in place.
LaMarcus Aldridge is doing a great job as the All-Star-caliber big gun, while Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews are doing just fine in their supporting roles. Brandon Roy, though he has lost a step or two to injury, is still one of the most solid second-string guards in the league and will bolster our bench at that position.
But if you look at our two bookends—Marcus Camby and Andre Miller—they are aging past their primes, plus they are quickly approaching the end of their contracts with the Blazers. Both players still have go-juice left, but the tank is less than a quarter full. It's a scenario that prompts Portland to go shopping.
Let's begin with the draft. The Blazers have picks No. 21 and 51—not exactly something you will get as excited about as you did in 2007, when Portland won the first overall pick. However, just beneath the Blazers' first-round option is a player hovering around the mid-teens that may be a prefect fit in Portland.
Donatas Motiejunas is a 7'0” forward/center from Lithuania, but he is definitely not your average seven-footer. Not only is he an established low-post banger with a deadly hook shot, but he also possesses the rare ability of a guy his size to shoot the outside shot, even extending as far as three-point range. His passing abilities are also surprisingly good for someone playing the 5 position. The experts say his potential is limitless.
While honing his skills on basketball courts in his native country, his dad always told him to imitate only the best player to come from Lithuania, one-time Trail Blazer Arvydas Sabonis. He did—and his game is shockingly similar. We can only imagine what the Blazers could have done if Sabonis had come to Portland in his prime.
Blazers, here's your chance at redemption: Drop your 21st and 51st picks and perhaps a throw-in player or future draft pick with cash and pick up the 13th or 14th selection. Draft Motiejunas and cross your fingers that you will be able to watch the resurrection of Sabonis right here in the Rose Garden.
The free agent market is sketchy—mainly because we don't know what the NBA and the Players Union will do to end their disagreement. Things could change effecting how teams sign and trade. Nonetheless, there are a couple players the Blazers ought to target.
Leandro Barbosa is a proven vet who would make a nice backup point guard on most any team. He will bring experience and maturity to a team lacking such. Aaron Brooks is another fellow that Portland may want to look twice at. Though a bit younger than Barbosa, Brooks still has a dominant game that could give Portland a spark off the bench.
Either one you choose, you get a solid player at the 1 position who would be a dazzling reserve or a solid starter.
Let's throw a final name into the mix: Kyle Korver. This guy can shoot the daylights out of any opposition. He commands defenses to pull away from the basket and show him some special attention. This would give LaMarcus Aldridge some room to work down low.
Plus, Korver will provide that gunner Portland needs—a player coming off the bench that can prevent those long scoring droughts that have killed the Blazers in the past. How this may change the role of Rudy Fernandez is up to your imagination.
As for Andre and Marcus—keep 'em if you can't find a game-changing deal, but by all means don't be afraid to shuffle your cards if an All-Star is offered (a la Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Steve Nash?).
If Portland can't make big changes to its roster, transforming it into an instant contender, Blazers fans will be muttering that same disgusting, dirty four-word phrase that has become a curse. But hey, if the Blazers can't get anything significant done this offseason, that's okay, because there's always next year!