Can Portland GM Kevin Pritchard Strike NBA Gold Once Again This Offseason?

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IApril 13, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 19:  Head coach Kevin Pritchard of the Denver Nuggets reacts during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 19, 2005 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.   The Nuggets won 119-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

The mystery that surrounds the General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers changes with the seasons.

When the NBA draft, NBA offseason, and NBA trading deadline draw near, all the attention about the Portland Trail Blazers immediately becomes focused on him, and eager eyes impatiently watch to see what Portland's "wonder boy" will do for his next trick.

Since becoming the Blazers' General Manager in the 2006 NBA Season, Kevin Pritchard has made a name for himself.

Instead of Bob Whitsitt, the infamous Blazers GM who screwed the franchise over with his happy trigger finger, Pritchard is known for his uncanny abilities to spot potential, and to barter his way through trades to get what he desires.

During the 2006 NBA Draft, his first at the helm, Pritchard orchestrated a mirad of trades that ended with Portland receiving the draft rights to LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and Sergio Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him in the draft, but Brandon Roy, whom many analysts claimed to be injury prone, is a two-time All-Star and should be a lock for an All-NBA team this summer.

LaMarcus Aldridge has blossomed into a bruising power forward who should become an All-Star as soon as next season.

In the 2007 NBA Draft, Pritchard took advantage of his lottery-winning No. 1 pick, and drafted Greg Oden out of Ohio State University.

Oden missed his entire first season after going through microfracture knee surgery, and his rookie season has been somewhat plagued with injuries, but Oden has shown glimpses of consistency and greatness. Make no mistake, Oden was and still is the right pick.

Pritchard also bought the draft rights of Rudy Fernandez from the Phoenix Suns, a move that will go down as one of the most ill-informed decisions made by the Suns franchise.

In the 2008 NBA Draft, Pritchard again pulled out his magic wand, and traded for the rights to Jerryd Bayless and Nicholas Batum. Bayless has not played as much as he and Blazer fans have hoped for, but he is the point guard of the future for the Blazers.

Batum, the unknown Frenchman, has burst onto the scene this season, and has proved to be a draft steal for Portland.

Now with the NBA offseason quickly approaching, with the 2009 NBA Draft right behind, it comes time to wonder what tricks Pritchard has up his sleeves for this year.

The Portland Trail Blazers did not make a high-profile trade at this year's deadline. Pritchard did send PF Ike Diogu to the Chicago Bulls for PF Michael Ruffin, but this trade was only to create more cap space for the offseason, as both players have expiring contracts, and Ruffin is slated to make less money than Diogu this season.

However, mulitiple sources, including ESPN, confirmed that Portland and Detroit talked extensively about a deal including Sergio Rodriguez, Travis Outlaw, and Tayshaun Prince. The deal was not finalized however, most likely due to Detroit's position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Make no mistake, Portland has defied all the odds this season. They are the youngest team in NBA history to win 50+ games, though moves most likely will be made this offseason.

Concerns surrounding Portland have stated that the Blazers have big needs at the starting point guard and backup power forward positions. First of all, the Blazers have a great player at the starting point guard position in Steve Blake.

He has developed into a legitimate starting point guard this season. The problem at point guard lies with Sergio Rodriguez, who has struggled with inconsistency all three years of his young NBA career.

Most likely, Rodriguez will not be a Blazer after this season. Jerryd Bayless will be the future starting point guard for the Blazers, no question. The Blazers still need a gap filled at backup power forward.

Channing Frye, the Blazers' current backup power foreward is not what Pritchard saw in him. He is an extremely soft player who would much rather play the mid-range jumper game than take the ball inside and do the dirty work. His contract is expiring, so look for him to be out of a job this summer.

The Blazers can address their needs through trades and the draft. If the Tayshaun Prince trade is revisited again this summer, Pritchard should take full advantage of it. Trading a trio of Sergio Rodriguez, Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw for Prince and a first-round pick would do wonders for both teams.

Detroit is in a rebuilding mode. Their core of players is growing older, and they need a vast amount of young talent, and fast. Portland needs stability at the small forward position as Outlaw has been inconsistent this season.

A Prince/Batum one-two punch at the small forward position would be dynamite for the Blazers.

To address their needs at power forward, Pritchard could package the Blazers' two first-round picks (including the one they would receive from Detroit in the Prince trade) to trade up in the draft.

There are a wide array of NBA ready power forwards in this years draft. The head of the class are forwards Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe, Jordan Hill, and DeJuan Blair.

Portland will most assuredly not be able to nab Griffin as he will more than likely go first. If Greg Monroe is available, Pritchard should eat him up. If not, Jordan Hill would also be a good pickup.

There are many routes that Kevin Pritchard, the Blazers' "wonder boy" can take en route to a huge offseason. My advice doesn't stack up too well against the analysts of ESPN or the Blazers' front office, so if my picks do not happen I would not be heartbroken.

If one thing remains clear, it is that somebody will be Pritch-slapped this coming offseason.

We just don't know who...yet.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.