While it is premature to say much before even the first summer league game, what will the Blazer's active roster look like on opening day?
As of this minute, and barring any further Kevin Pritchard intervention or injuries, there seems to be a consensus that the Black Unit will consist of Blake, Roy, Webster, Aldridge, and Oden. And the buzz is Bayless, Fernandez, Outlaw, Frye, and Pryzbilla constitute the White Unit. Makes sense. That leaves LaFrentz, Rodriguez, Diogu, Batum, and perhaps Koponen vying for the remaining two roster spots.
It sounds like the Blazers are very high on Diogu, as everyone seems to expect him to be a tougher inside presence than Frye--a really good option for Coach McMillan to have on the bench. He also has his rookie contract player option at the end of the year, and the Blazer's have to play him or trade him to get any value. These two considerations suggest the Blazers have to be thinking of him for the 11th spot. if this happens, it leaves only one spot for which LaFrentz, Sergio, and Batum (and maybe Koponen) must compete. Now the problems begin.
Does Sergio get the final slot? He has a player option at the end of the season as well, so again will have to get some playing time, or else he is gone. He has more experience than Koponen (and Bayless), so perhaps he can play his way into the 12th slot or even onto the White Unit?
A constant drumbeat out of summer camp is how much better Batum is than anyone thought. He can shoot much better than was believed; he is as fast as Webster; he can already defend. The only knock reported is he will be pushed around until he bulks up. Sounds like Batum might already be one of our 12 best players, in which case you have to expect to see him on the active list sometime. Still he seems like a good candidate for the inactive list and to be spending time in the Development League.
If the Blazers sign Kopenan, no one expects him to take too much time away from Blake or Bayless, but would he be good enough for the final spot? The Blazers have seen sufficient development to give him a real look for a spot on the team, but that is a far cry from being the 12th guy even if he is ready for an NBA contract now. If the Blazers give him an offer, do we expect he will be on the inactive list and playing in Idaho?
Finally, while he isn't on the short list of our best player, LaFrentz can still play, is useful in the locker room, and one can never have too many big men, so does he merit the 12th slot? Or does the addition of Diogu reduce him to practice and insurance against injuries to one of the other big men? My guess is LaFrentz starts the season on the inactive list if he is not traded first.
This makes me think that Rodriguez and Batum will be fighting for the 12th and final slot come fall. Sergio will really have to come back turn heads in the fall, or he is toast. It's a mean business.