NBA Free Agency: Nene and Other Possible Signings for the Portland Trail Blazers

Tyler WardAnalyst IJune 17, 2011

NBA Free Agency: Nene and Other Possible Signings for the Portland Trail Blazers

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 23:  Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets walks off the court following a 97-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 23, 2011 in Denver, Colo
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    It's my favorite time of the year: The NBA Draft is right around the corner and free agency is about to begin. I'm just as excited as Ralphie when he is anticipating the Red Ryder BB Gun as a gift in the famous movie The Christmas Story.

    Every year, there are many speculations regarding free agents and their possible destinations. So it's my turn to do that now on the options the Portland Trail Blazers should explore.

    The Blazers' biggest needs center around the point guard position, along with frontcourt players.

    Simply put, current point guard Andre Miller is getting old and is past his prime. He can still run around the court, but it is hard to envision him leading the Blazers to a championship. The back-ups are also iffy, as Patty Mills and Armon Johnson occupy those slots.

    But the frontcourt is the biggest problem. Currently the Blazers have LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby and Jarron Collins under contract for next season. Former No. 1-overall pick Greg Oden is set to become a free agent. Other than that, they really have nobody.

    In order to win in the West, a team must have a good frontcourt. And if the Blazers want to win a championship now, they need to dig into their pocketbooks and find somebody.

    There are quite a few players that should help the Blazers contend for the championship right now, and the front office needs to look into making some moves this offseason.

    NOTE: I do realize that there is a very small possibility of the Blazers acquiring some of these players, but give me a break—this is all for fun. They should look into it, but the chances are slim to none.

Joel Przybilla, Center

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 02:  Joel Pryzbilla #10 of the Charlotte Bobcats takes a free throw against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on March 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Bobcats 120-80.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    I can't express enough that the Blazers need a back-up center. Marcus Camby, although still a good player, is getting old and could very well retire before the start of the season.

    Greg Oden is also set to become a free agent, and if he signs elsewhere the Blazers will be in deep trouble as far as the frontcourt goes.

    This is where Joel Przybilla comes in.

    Przybilla, who signed with the Blazers prior to the 2004-05 season, is a very quality back-up and could be a starter on a good number of teams.

    The center does lack an offensive game, but he is a very good rebounder, which is something Portland needs to get through in the West. Not only is he an excellent rebounder, but he is also one of the top offensive rebounders in the game, averaging at least two per game in five out of roughly six-and-a-half seasons.

    Przybilla was traded at the trade deadline to the Charlotte Bobcats last season that sent Gerald Wallace out west.

    The Blazers need to think about acquiring the big man, as he can definitely help on the defensive side of the ball.

Rodney Stuckey, Point Guard

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    I know I may catch some harsh words for this, but Rodney Stuckey could become a very solid player one day, and it all depends on which team he signs with. He could definitely flourish in Portland, especially if he has Andre Miller to mentor him.

    There are a few problems regarding Stuckey, as many consider him to be a "hot head" that has somewhat severe attitude problems.

    Many people say he doesn't pass the ball enough and shoots the ball way too much. It has also been said Stuckey never really cared about his job with the Pistons and disliked the franchise.

    Sounds like he's on the way out as the Pistons hope to find someone else.

    Stuckey will be entering his fourth season this year, which will probably be with a new team. Over the last three years, he has stayed very consistent, averaging around 13 to 16 PPG and 5 assists.

    The point guard lacks discipline, which is something the Blazers can help him with if Miller is on the roster.

    In my opinion, he could become a very good player one day and could definitely approach that status if he goes to the Blazers.

    The Blazers should definitely look into acquiring the former Eastern Washington standout.

Nene, Center

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 21:  Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets takes a shot against the defense of Andrea Bargnani #7 of the Toronto Raptors at the Pepsi Center on March 21, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by d
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    This could very well be out of the Blazers' league, but anything can happen—maybe a Brandon Roy swap via sign-and-trade? However, I doubt that it would happen simply because of the salary problem.

    Regardless, Nene is one of the best centers in the league and is perhaps the most sought-out free agent on the market this offseason.

    He would be one hell of an addition to any team in the NBA and would help the Blazers become one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Nene is in the prime of his career and as of now, he can only get better.

    The addition of Nene would immediately make Portland have one of the best frontcourts in the league. Like Nene, LaMarcus Aldridge is also in the prime of his career and they could make a formidable duo.

    Although, the center's contract would be massive and I doubt that Portland would even give a thought into signing Nene, but anything can happen.

    Only time will tell, but we already know that Nene would be one hell of an addition to an already good Blazers team.

Rasual Butler, Shooting Guard

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Rasual Butler #45 of the Chicago Bulls gets his first playing time and basket as a member of the Bulls against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center on March 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Hawks 94-76. NOTE
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Blazers are absolutely loaded at the shooting guard and small forward positions, but I expect that one or two of those players will not be on the team at the start of next season.

    There are multiple reasons the Blazers should look into signing Rasual Butler.

    In the regular season, Portland ranked 21st in the league in three-point percentage (34.5 percent) and was the lowest out of the 16 playoff teams.

    Butler is considered a three-point specialist, something the team definitely needs as it lacks a resident specialist.

    There are a few quality three-point shooters on the roster like Nicolas Batum, Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez, but none of them are considered "specialists."

    Also, Butler's contract will come particularly cheap and could help the Blazers with cap space. With a low salary, that gives the Blazers the ability to spend a good amount on another player without losing much money initially on the signing of Butler.

Chuck Hayes, Center

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Chuck Hayes #44 of the Houston Rockets dunks the ball during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on December 20, 2010 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    As a player, I love Chuck Hayes, simply because he does not let his height disadvantage get to him. Standing at 6'6", he is by far the shortest center in the league, but his ability to scrap is among the top in the NBA.

    Hayes is a fierce competitor that is willing to line up alongside Dwight Howard, Chris Kaman, Nene and others any day of the week.

    On the floor, he is an excellent player. His offensive game isn't the greatest in the world, but he did have a healthy 7.9 average in about 28 minutes per game. He also grabbed an astounding 8.1 rebounds per game, which is exceptional for a player of his size.

    Hayes also shot 52.7 percent from the field and 66.2 percent from the line. He also dished out 2.7 assists per game, which isn't horrible for a big man.

    He is definitely a player that can change a team and he will be a great addition to any of the 30 teams in the league.

    However, one obstacle is that he may demand a decent salary and it is unclear how much money the Blazers will have to spend in free agency.

    But if they have the ability to sign Hayes, the front office should go for it.

Aaron Brooks, Point Guard

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 30:  Aaron Brooks #0 of the Phoenix Suns in action during the NBA game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at US Airways Center on March 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Thunder defeated the Suns 116-98.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This is one of the most far-fetched scenarios, but Aaron Brooks is still a player the Blazers should explore.

    The point guard is one of the fastest players in the league that can get up and down the court in a matter of seconds, it seems. He is also a very capable three-point shooter, which the Blazers currently lack.

    Rumors have been swirling that the Suns will more than likely re-sign Brooks to eventually supplant the ever-aging Steve Nash at the point guard slot.

    But there is not a 100 percent chance this will happen, which means any team has the ability to add him to their roster.

    Brooks will likely command a decent salary, but he is still a player that could help out the Blazers.

    He would benefit the Blazers simply because the point guard slots are iffy at best. As said before, Andre Miller is only getting older with diminishing skills and Patty Mills is set to become a free agent.

    So they definitely need help, and Brooks could be the savior.

Brian Scalabrine, Small Forward

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: Brian Scalabrine #24 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center on March 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Hawks 94-76. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agree
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Just kidding.

Carl Landry, Power Forward

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Carl Landry #24 of  the New Orleans Hornets dunks over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    If Portland could somehow steal Carl Landry away, it would be a great fit for the Blazers.

    Like Chuck Hayes, Landry is a scrappy player that is a quality rebounder. For a power forward, he has an above-average offensive game that could relieve pressure on LaMarcus Aldridge.

    For New Orleans last season, Landry averaged 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 26.4 minutes per contest. Per 48 minutes, he would be averaging a healthy clip of about 20 points and nine rebounds per game.

    That's not that bad for a former second-round selection.

    The possible addition of Landry could help the Blazers in more ways than one. He would help them contend for a championship right now and would fill a viable need in the frontcourt.

    Not to mention, Portland would have a great offensive combination if it decided to put Landry and Aldridge on the court at the same time. A few teams wouldn't be able to contain both of them, so either player could potentially score a good amount of points.

    Again, the contract remains a concern, but anything can happen.

Goran Dragic, Point Guard

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Goran Dragic #2 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center on January 14, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 115-111. NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This scenario only works if the Blazers do not re-sign Patty Mills this offseason. 

    Dragic is not a prototypical starter in the NBA and I really can't see him starting for any of the 30 teams. But he could potentially be one of the best back-ups in the league, if given ample playing time.

    Dragic is more of a pass first, shoot second-type of player, which could benefit the Blazers as they have a few quality shooters. He also has the ability to score in bunches and could easily score 20 points off the bench in a game.

    The point guard shouldn't come at a hefty price either, which is what Portland wants since Brandon Roy's contract is humongous.

    Having Dragic as the back-up point guard would definitely be an upgrade over Mills and Armon Johnson.

Aaron Gray, Center

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31:  Aaron Gray #34 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Quinton Ross #3 of the Washington Wizards at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Wizards defeated the Hornets 96-91.  NOTE TO USER: Use
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Aaron Gray isn't the best center in the world, but he is a quality back-up that could blend in well with the Blazers.

    Gray does hold a player option, but if he opts out, Portland should look into adding him to its thin frountcourt.

    The big man is a very skilled rebounder, averaging 4.2 rebounders in 13 minutes per game, which comes out to about 15 per 48 minutes.

    He is not the most offensively gifted big man in the NBA, but he has great defensive abilities. With such a big frame, he is able to gobble up rebounds like they're candy.

    Perhaps the biggest positive of adding Gray is that his contract would not come at a significant price, which is something the Blazers should explore.

Kenyon Martin, Power Forward

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03:  Kenyon Martin #4 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates after scoring a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA basketball game at Staples Center on April 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Even though it's also one of the unlikeliest scenarios, the addition of Kenyon Martin would be a great move.

    The Blazers are scary thin in the frontcourt, but Martin could help them in that department. Throughout his career, Martin has been a quality scorer and rebounder and, not to mention, he could be one of the veteran leaders on a fairly young Blazers team.

    K-Mart may not be the best teammate in the world, but he is great at amping up his team before games. He is also a very athletically gifted athlete and was once considered to be a "freak" at his position.

    The former first-overall selection, however, has had injury issues in the past, which could flare up any minute. The Blazers, of all teams, should be weary of injuries, especially since they practically had to babysit Greg Oden for the last four years.

    Martin had a tremendous salary last season, but that should certainly decrease by a lot with a new deal, as he isn't getting any younger and his skills are slowly declining. I can only see K-Mart getting a contract worth $6-8 million per year.

    Don't get me wrong, Martin could still be a force in the NBA, but he has been derailed by injuries in the last few years, which could be a significant problem. If he managed to stay healthy, his signing could become a downright steal.

    Also, what would be better than signing a player from a division rival? Not much.

Daequan Cook, Shooting Guard

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 30:  Daequan Cook #14 of the Oklahoma City Thunder puts up a shot during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Thunder defeated the Suns 116-98.   NOTE TO USER: User expre
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    See Rasual Butler.

J.J. Barea, Point Guard

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Jose Juan Barea #11 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There are a lot of rumors swirling around J.J. Barea and where he could potentially sign. There is a great possibility that Barea could re-sign with the Mavericks, as he would not want to leave a championship team.

    But it's always fun to think about the possibilities.

    The Blazers could use Barea, although he would come at a hefty price.

    I don't know if Barea would be a back-up or a starter with Portland, but I'm sure he would play well no matter if he came off the bench or started the game.

    Barea, although considered short at 6'0", can dice through defenses exceptionally well and is a very good passer. He is one of the best in finding the open man when you think there isn't enough time to pass the ball.

    He showed this postseason that he could eventually become a starter in this league and teams are currently salivating at the thought of adding the point guard.

    The Blazers should too.