NBA Rumors: 5 Proven Players the Portland Trail Blazers Must Target
Can you blame them?
In this strike-shortened season they have seen Brandon Roy retire, and Greg Oden do all but announce his retirement (although can we really call it a retirement?). They had Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews show up looking like they hung out with Boris Diaw all break and a locker room corroded with team turmoil, all of which has led to a sub-.500 record and their coach being fired.
Now they are faced with a pivotal offseason, which, thanks to recent wheeling and dealing, has brought them tons of salary cap space this summer and potentially two lottery draft picks.
Re-signing Nicolas Batum should be a priority and, with many options to choose from, bringing in a veteran presence would help turn this rebuilding project into a reload.
Here are a few veteran players who can help turn Portland back into Rip City.
1. Deron Williams
With all the salary cap room they will have to spend this summer, why not go after the biggest prize in this year's class?
The New Jersey Nets, who helped put the Blazers in the position they are in, may have inadvertently set point guard Deron Williams on a silver platter for Blazers.
We know the Dallas Mavericks are very much in the mix for him this summer, but they have an aging superstar with not much else secure next summer and have to wait another year to see if they can bring Dwight Howard to Texas.
Then there's his current team, the Nets, who have now traded their (potential) 2012 lottery pick for a player known for his high-flying, high-energy play who is now entering his 30's. Also, they will have to spend a lot of money to keep Brook Lopez, who rebounds as well as most of the guards in the NBA and is all of a sudden becoming the next Greg Oden.
Now with all their cap space, he can add the Trail Blazers to his list.
In Portland, he can play with one of the premier power forwards in the NBA in LaMarcus Aldridge, an up-and-coming small forward in Nicolas Batum (again, assuming they re-sign him,) a legit 2-guard in Wesley Matthews (again, assuming he gets back in to shape) and either two potential lottery picks and/or another veteran presence.
This scenario has to be something both sides will consider.
2. Rajon Rondo
It's no secret Danny Ainge is willing to trade Rondo.
The Celtics are still going strong, but if they don't get out of the second round this year, will they ever again feature the Big Three?
A combined age of 105 (that really makes them sound older than they really are) and with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen both free agents this summer, the Boston Celtics are an early playoff exit from blowing this team up and making Rondo a casualty.
If the Celtics do choose to start rebuilding this offseason, what better package for the Celtics to acquire than a deal centered around first-round draft picks in an attempt to rebuild?
If the Blazers miss out on Williams, pursuing Rondo should be next in line as it would immediately make the Blazers playoff contenders.
With his reasonable contract the Blazers could continue to go shopping to add other free-agent pieces, turning their situation around very quickly.
3. Roy Hibbert
Hibbert, now an All-Star center, is due for a big payday.
It might get really big because if DeAndre Jordan is worth about $11 million a year, one can only imagine how much money his agent is going to be asking for.
Being a restricted free agent, the Blazers, who will be well under the cap next season, will have to throw an offer that will make Jordan's contract look reasonable so that the Indiana Pacers will have to think twice about matching it.
(Over)paying for Hibbert makes sense, though, he would be a great fit for Aldridge and giving them a strong offensive/defensive combo in the post and the most formidable front-line north of Los Angeles.
This move would enable them to match any offer Batum might receive and still allow them to keep their two draft picks or move them for a point guard to create a contender quickly.
Hibbert would also help erase the memory and move on from the Greg Oden era.
4. Chris Kaman
For better or worse, Chris Kaman is one of the best available centers this summer. Not spectacular by any means, but he is a legitimate starting center and alongside Aldridge would form a dangerous frontcourt.
Despite being able to play both positions, adding a center like Kaman (or any other center) is big for Aldridge's game, as he is more suited to play the 4-spot.
There he doesn't have to worry about defending bigger guys, and adding another big man gives opponents someone else to worry about offensively. It takes some of the post-scoring load off him.
Kaman fits the bill and being an unrestricted free agent makes him a likely possibility. Although, if a deal for Kaman doesn't work out they can try to deal for one of his current teammates.
5. Emeka Okafor
I don't think any Blazer fan would be running up and down the streets with news that their favorite team just traded for Emeka Okafor, but how about a golf clap?
He would be a great fit in Portland, and with just two years left on his deal at a reasonable salary (see Andrew Bogut's contract) there are not too many better centers who might be available to them.
Okafor would be a strong defensive presence in the post, in addition to being a great rebounder who can protect the basket. He could give them what Greg Oden was supposed to give them. With opposing teams focusing in on Aldridge, Okafor can contribute offensively—better then you might think.
With David West being the best player he has played alongside in the post, and after toiling around in Charlotte much of his career with little to no help, give him the chance to play alongside a star forward and see how much his numbers improve.
Plus, on a team looking to cut money, the Blazers will be armed with two draft picks, and acquiring Okafor might come fairly cheap.