Portland Trail Blazers: 5 Offseason Moves the Team Should Make
Fast forward to the 2011 NBA offseason and the Blazers are entertaining a middling roster with myriad injury and personnel issues. What changes can be made to assure the Blazers make their way deeper into the playoffs?
Rip City should look forward to these five roster moves as ways their beloved team could thrust themselves into the spotlight in a Western Conference that is slowly seeing their stars age in Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
Paul Allen and the ownership team at Vulcan should take note, because if the Blazers want to make it past the first round of the playoffs—a feat they haven't achieved since 1999-2000—they should listen up, take note and prepare for some big roster changes for 2012.
Sign Joel Przybilla
Przybilla is an unrestricted free agent who was traded by Portland to the Bobcats this year when the Blazers acquired Gerald Wallace. He's a 31-year-old veteran who is not only a fan favorite in Portland, but an absolute banger in the low post.
What Joel lacks in finesse and offensive game he more than makes up for on the defensive shot blocking and rebounding end of the floor. The Blazers are old, weak and injury-prone in the frontcourt and Przybilla will be cheap enough to pick up in Portland.
Trade for OJ Mayo
The Blazers need a legitimate, alpha dog scoring threat to back up LaMarcus Aldridge on the offensive end. Memphis has been trying to trade Mayo since last year's trade deadline and came very close to shipping the guard to Indiana.
In that failed trade, Memphis was so hot to get rid of Mayo that they were willing to part with him for Josh McRoberts and a first-round pick.
Portland could offer Wesley Matthews for Mayo, Ishmael Smith and a first-round pick. I'm inclined to believe the Grizzlies would jump at the chance of getting Matthews even if they had to part with a first rounder.
Mayo's reputation has been soiled in Memphis as the young star has struggled to come off the bench with grace. In Portland, Mayo could be the No. 1 guy at the guard spot, allowing him to flourish and dissolve any ill will.
Trade Gerald Wallace
Though the Blazers had their eye on the defensive stalwart for years, Gerald Wallace doesn't seem to fit into the long-term plans of the Blazers. His skill-set duplicates that of Nic Batum and unless it's true that coach Nate McMillan is thinking about playing Batum at shooting guard, there's just not enough space on the roster for him.
The Spurs would seemingly be in contention for one last year with Tim Duncan and the Blazers could add some veteran depth in Jefferson and a sneaky hustler in the front court with Blair.
Trade for Andrew Bogut
In the days leading up to the NBA draft there was word circulating that the Bucks had become wary of the former overall No. 1 pick over concerns of his injured elbow.
In reality, Bogut's time off last year was due to a freak accident and a rushed healing time back to the court. If given time, Bogut could return to his 2009-10 form in which he was averaging a career-best 16 PPG and 10 RPG.
The Blazers will have to part with their first round draft pick from the OJ Mayo trade and Marcus Camby, a valued veteran but even more valuable trade chip as his $11.7 million contract comes off the books next summer. Teams will be calling for Camby and the best the Blazers are going to get is Bogut.
Trade or Cut Brandon Roy
Blazer Nation is divided on Roy, and it's easy to see why. There is a side that thinks Brandon Roy can come back to contribute and perfrom much in the way he did during Game 4 of the Blazers' playoff series against the Dalls Mavericks.
However, the other side thinks his knees are too much to overcome. The history of the NBA tells us that unless you're Grant Hill, connective tissue doesn't regrow and even then, you need the magic of the training staff in Phoenix to keep you on the floor. Brandon Roy is never coming back to his 2008 form and his contract is a cap killer.
Word around the league is that Roy is fairly untradeable, but with the right amount of charm, first round draft picks from previous trades and cash, Portland could get a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers to use their trade exception from LeBron James to absorb Roy's contract.
The only other option for removing Roy's salary from the roster is to use the Allan Houston Rule on him. The rule allows Portland to cut him and pay his salary without having it count against the luxury tax or the salary cap. No matter what, for the Blazers to succeed they will need Roy out of the Rose City.
The 2011-2012 Portland Trail Blazer Roster
With the moves outlined in this scenario, Portland's roster for game one of the 2011-2012 season would look like this:
Starters: Ray Felton, OJ Mayo, Nic Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andrew Bogut.
Bench: Patty Mills, Armon Johnson, Nolan Smith, Jon Diebler, Richard Jefferson, Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, DeJuan Blair, Chris Johnson and Greg Oden.
Tell me that's not a team that wins 50 games and makes it to the Western Conference Finals? With Mayo, Smith, Batum and Aldridge, Felton could run the break just as easily as he could slow things down and let the two tall towers in LA and Bogut bang it out, a-la the Memphis Grizzlies.
With veteran leadership from Felton, Aldridge, Bogut and Jefferson, the Blazers would contend on both ends of the floor while being able to adjust their pace to their opponent's game with young legs.