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A **Revised** Plan for the future

A Plan for the Future **Revised**

 

As I said in my first post, it was just a rough draft, since I posted it, it has received over 350 comments thanks to Dave putting it on the main page. I have read each comment and suggestion, and knowing that my ideas are not always the best I decided to see if maybe there is a better plan for the future of this team.  This revised plan will include; updated salary cap info from Storyteller and others who pointed out some flaws in my original post, and many different player movement plans that people have suggested.  Hopefully it will not be as long as the last one, and hopefully it will be as well received.

 

I. Salary cap for the 2009/2010 season

            Before we go any further, we need to assess the team’s salary cap situation, as it will effect every decision that is made from this point. For this post, I am going to use an assumed salary cap for next season, the number I have chosen is $57.3 million.  I chose this number because it seems to be the most quoted by NBA writers when talking about projecting next years cap. The luxury tax has always been between $12-13 million more than the salary cap, the actual number is determined by an insane formula that I can’t go into, because I really don’t understand it, but if you would like to read about it, you can at, http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q16.  If we use the higher end of the assumed amount, ($13 million) that would put the luxury tax threshold at $70.3 million.

            The Blazers have committed $50,567,802 in payroll next season, but that is not their cap number.  As pointed out by ptldplatypus, and confirmed by Storyteller, there are cap holds which reduce the actual salary cap space the team has to sign free agents. Those holds are $933,500 for the Blazers #24 pick in the 2009 draft, $824,200 for Petteri Koponen, $824,200 for Joel Freeland, and $4,264,761 for Channing Frye.  Adding in those hold you will get $ 55,744,779, which is exactly what Storyteller shows on his website, http://www.storytellerscontracts.info/resources/08-09salaries.htm. Leaving the Blazers a projected $1,555,221 in cap space this summer.  What that does not include is the Blazers Mid-level exception, or Bi-annual exception.

            The Blazers have some options to gain more cap space, they can renounce their rights to players or exceptions if they choose. For example they can renounce their rights to Channing Frye to free up his cap hold of $4,264,761, giving the team a total of $5,819,982 in possible cap space.  To use that space the team would need to renounce their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, which they might not want to do. This is because the mid-level exception this last year was $5.585 million, and the bi-annual was $1.91 million.  Those can be split up to sign more than 2 players, but they can not be added together to sign one player. The team could also renounce its rights to Freeland or Koponen to gain $1,648,400 additional space, but I don’t see them doing it.  So for the purpose of this plan I am going to say the team will renounce it’s rights to Frye, giving them $5,819,982 in possible cap space if they also decide to renounce their exceptions. In the player acquisition section below I will detail how we will trade for, or sign a player(s) and if the team would have to renounce their exceptions or not.

           

II. Player decisions for the season ending in 2009.

In the last post I detailed specifics about letting some players go, and signing both Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to extensions.  For this post I will simply say the team will sign them both, Roy for $88 million over 5 years, and LaMarucs for $50 million for 5 years. If you care to read my reasoning behind those salaries, or how I came up with those numbers, you can read the original post here, http://www.blazersedge.com/2009/5/8/869802/a-plan-for-the-future.

 

III. Trades and Free Agents

Instead of detailing one specific plan this time, I am going to give a few options that others have suggested.  The ones I have picked to detail, were picked because they could be supported by other sources and possible, (meaning no LBJ or Kobe trades will make it) and because a deal could be made for the player(s) that seems reasonable to all parties. 

The first trade I would like to discus, we’ll call it Plan A, is with Detroit for Tayshaun Prince.  This was suggested by many people, who felt the Blazers needed and upgrade at the SF more than at the PG. The general feeling was Steve Blake could hold down the fort at the point for now, but the trio of Outlaw, Webster and Batum could not produce enough for this team to compete for a championship next year or in the next few years.  Looking at, http://www.motownstringmusic.com/, it is clear they are willing to deal Prince if they get value in return. The Pistons will be under the cap, but have some big holes to fill, with Wallace and AI both apparently leaving.  In fact only Hamilton, Prince, K. Brown, Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell, R. Stuckey, and Will Bynum are left from their rotation.  So they will need some players, and they believe Joe Dumars will be aggressive in free agency and in the trade market, specifically trying to move both Hamilton and Prince for younger, possibly cheaper talent. 

Fans in Detroit seem to willing to trade Prince for Gerald Wallace of Charlotte, or a player of his caliber. (http://www.motownstringmusic.com/2009/4/22/849010/next-seasons-roster). Charlotte seems to have been open to trading Wallace for a few years now, and while getting Prince in return would be a possible talent upgrade, they have far more needs to solve, and precious little cap space to do it in.  The Bobcats are sitting at $66,877,077 next year, without their exceptions or lottery pick holds added on. With the lottery pick alone they will be right at the luxury tax line, however they also have a few players they can renounce to give them some more space.  Both Raymon Felton and Sean May are RFA’s this offseason coming off their rookie deals.  Now they appear to want to resign Felton, if he can be had for a reasonable price, but May is a long shot to stay, and even longer to stay with a deal approaching his hold of $3,680,200.  If we take that off then they sit at $63,186,784 before their draft pick and exceptions. So they are way over the salary cap, and pushing the luxury tax threshold no matter how you look at it. 

The Bobcats need scoring, especially if they are going to trade away their top scoring option in Wallace. They also need a shooting guard, and possibly a point guard if they don’t resign Felton. They could use a true 7 foot center, but otherwise their frontcourt depth is pretty sold with Okafor, Boris Diaw, and DeSagana Diop. They also have Vladimir Radmanovic and Nazr Mohammed who are both useable, but not really rotation quality players.

The only reasonable deal I could come up with would bring Prince to Portland, while sending Outlaw, Webster, and Bayless to Charlotte, and Wallace to Detroit.  Detroit would also receive Portland’s 1st round pick in the 2009 draft. For Detroit it is a straight swap of Prince for Wallace on the court, Wallace is younger, and more of a scorer, which they need. Their contracts are about $1 million apart, and Wallace is signed for 2 years longer than Prince. Detroit would maintain its cap space to sign a free agent like Boozer, so I see them willing to do this. The 1st round pick they get from Portland, #24 overall will also help them either move up in the draft, make a trade, or pick up a player on a cheap contract who can be useful to them next year.

For Charlotte, they get 3 possible answers to 3 of their biggest concern areas for a player who they have tried to give away at times.  Portland might also be willing to throw in a 2nd round pick, which would give the Bobcats another chance to pick up a player on the cheap.  Barring further moves, Webster would be their opening day starter at shooting guard, since they have been using a two pg line up at the end of the season with Augustin and Felton playing heavy minutes with little known Dontell Jefferson backing them up on a 10 day contract. Outlaw would also start for them at SF, with Wallace gone, their only other option is Radmanovic, and Outlaw is obviously the better choice.  Bayless would compete to start if Felton wasn’t resigned, if he is resigned, Bayless can still provide scoring off the bench as a combo guard, behind Webster.  That is 3 rotation players for 1, plus Outlaw is someone who can win you one or two games all on his own, something they just don’t have on that team.

         For Portland the deal is obviously to get Prince, who will turn 30 next season. At 6-9, 215 lbs, he is the best available starting small forward on the market for Portland. Getting him would be a coup, to end all coup’s. Prince has averaged 13+ ppg over the last 5 seasons, shooting 46% for his career, and 37% from 3 for his career, (40% 3pt in 2009). But forget me trying to explain it, lets have an “expert” do it,

 

Prince's year-to-year consistency is pretty amazing, as he put together his fourth consecutive season of near-identical production and played all 82 games for a fifth straight season -- his string of 354 straight starts is the league's longest, and would be about a hundred games longer if it included playoff games. The biggest change was a decline in 3-point attempts, which was a bit mysterious since he shoots them at 36.5 percent for his career, and the result was a bit of a dip in his TS%.

At both ends, Prince is an extreme low-mistake player. He ranked fourth among small forwards in turnover ratio; more amazingly, he had the second-lowest foul rate in the league even though the Pistons used him as their primary defensive stopper (see chart). Looking at the foul-rate leaders brings this into sharper detail -- it's four guys who never play defense and Prince. Combining those two thoughts, he had only six offensive fouls last season -- an amazingly low total for a mid-teens scorer.

Prince's other defining characteristic is his ability to handle the ball and find open men. He ranked eighth among small forwards in assist ratio; combined with the low turnovers, only LeBron James had a better pure point rating among small forwards.

At 6-9 with long arms, Prince is an imposing obstacle for offensive players to shoot over. He's smart enough to take advantage of his length by playing an extra step off his man, knowing that he can still react in time to bother the shot because he's so long. He almost never gambles on D, finishing with the fourth-lowest rate of steals per minute among small forwards; instead he forces opponents to go over the top of him. For his efforts, he was a second-team All-Defense pick for a third straight season.

Offensively, Prince takes a lot of long 2-pointers off one or two dribbles. He's very good at knocking down jumpers at the end of the shot clock and has no trouble getting his shot off, but it's not necessarily a high-percentage look. He rarely drives to the basket or gets to the free-throw line, though he can be very effective posting up on the right block against shorter wings.

Prince also excels at running the left wing on the break and swooping in for dunks, though Detroit rarely runs. And although he's 6-9, he handles the ball very well for his size and can be used as a point forward. – John Hollinger

 

            So yea he is basically the perfect small forward for the Blazer’s system. To make this trade happen, the Blazers don’t need any cap space, since their outgoing and incoming salaries match within $300k. This trade would leave the Blazers with Prince and Batum at the small forward position, which in my opinion is the best case scenario. This not only defines their roles, but leaves some time possibly at the 3 to get Roy and Rudy on the court together against some teams. I don’t think many fans of the Blazers can say getting Prince would be a bad thing, but I know there are some who will think this deal gives up too much for him, and you may be right.  However to get a lot you have to give up a lot, and I would be willing to do this in a heart beat.

            As for the deals impact on the Blazers salary cap, it adds $261,646 to the Blazers payroll for next year, but it also eliminates the cap hold for the Blazers 1st round pick, ($933,500), leaving them with a possible $6,491,836 in cap space, before their exceptions.

            Along with this trade, the Blazers would still need to fill a few holes, and make some decisions on players. They must decide if they want to keep Sergio or not.  By trading Bayless, it gives all the back up time to Sergio at the point, unless further moves are made.  There are a few options in the free agent market for point guards, Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Raymon Felton, Ramon Sessions, and Andre Miller are all unrestricted or restricted free agents.  Of those, Kidd is rumored to want to stay in Dallas, and they want to keep him, to read about that go here, http://www.dallasbasketball.com/fullColumn.php?id=1588, and Mike Bibby appears to have found a home in Atlanta, which is far enough under the cap to resign him. That leaves Felton, Sessions and Miller, all of whom could fit the Blazers, but for different reasons. Felton is rumored to want a big payday, but he has not played his way into one. He is a 40% career shooter, who shot 41% last year. From distance he is even worse, 29% last year, and 32% for his career, and he is not the defensive stopper many want either, but don't take my word for it, from ESPN;

Felton is a pure point guard by size, but doesn't quite have the pass-first mentality that coaches tend to prefer. Being jerked between the 1 and 2 the past couple years probably hasn't helped any, nor has his erratic shooting from distance. And on drives to the rim, he tends to just double-pump and hope he gets bailed out by the ref rather than seriously trying to finish the play.

Defensively, it was hard to judge Felton since he was playing out of position. He seemed to get caught up in screens off the ball a lot, probably because he had rarely defended wings before. On the ball he was adequate, if hardly exceptional.

Felton is the classic, decent player that looks good on a bad team, and the Blazers should stay away. 

            Andre Miller, at 33 is on the downhill side of his career, he is a much better player than Felton, shooting 46% for his career, and 47% last year. His 3point shot is still nothing to write home about, he does have one fan that wants in pdx, http://thehoopdoctors.com/online2/2009/05/could-andre-miller-be-wearing-a-blazers-jersey-next-season/. Miller is not a defensive stopper at the point, in fact he is no better than Blake, but no worse either.  On offense Blake out shines him on 3 point percentage, but the rest belongs to Miller, including his ability to run the fast break. But he will come at a cost of over $8 million most likely.

            Ramon Sessions might be obtainable, more so than any of the other guards on this list, which is why I choose to add him in Plan A.  For some Milwaukee perspective on Sessions read this article by Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/42640872.html. Here is what he has to say specifically about Sessions and the Bucks decision to match or not,

 

Sessions is doable as one of the two hardest pieces to find, the other being the centerpiece big man the Bucks have if Andrew Bogut stays healthy. If packaged with incentives like a Joe Alexander, the Bucks could move Luke Ridnour's expiring $6.5 million contract to clear space for Sessions. But with a potentially high lottery pick, they could be better served if a rookie point guard with more up side - a Brandon Jennings or an Eric Maynor, for example - fell their way.

These are the unknowns going into the summer, although one thing is clear:

The Bucks got themselves into this jam by freely matching contracts and re-signing players to the point that they tied themselves down with a lot of unmovable paper. They'd be better off building around their one long-term contract - Bogut - with flexible deals that would actually allow Hammonds and Skiles the chance to go get their kinds of players.”

        It sounds to me that Milwaukee might be willing to part with Sessions by not matching an offer sheet, but they would be even more willing if they received some salary cap relief in return.  Milwaukee is at $71,035,835 in projected salary next season, which includes a cap hold for Charlie Villanueva who is coming off his rookie deal. The Bucks will have to trade players or not resign Sessions to stay under the luxury tax threshold, which is why they tried so desperately to unload Richard Jefferson at the trade deadline. 

            At 6-3 190lbs, Sessions has the build that KP likes, and the body to play defense, even if he hasn't become great at it yet. He shoots 44% from the floor, and is a good FT shooter at 80%, but he is not a good 3 point shooter. He makes his living in the lane, which is what many here have asked for in their starting point guard. He sees the court like Sergio does, which is very well, but he scores and rebounds better that Steven and Sergio, and gets a few more steals and blocks too.  Here is ESPN's scouting report,

As if it weren't obvious from the assist totals, Sessions has outstanding court vision and is a pass-first guy who likes to drive and dish. He's neither a great athlete nor a great shooter, but he rebounds well for his position and made surprisingly few mistakes for a rookie point guard. Defensively, he appears to have the size to guard the position but may be challenged to stay in front of quicker guards.

            While Sessions is not worth the full mid-level exception, (some where around $5.858 million) he is worth alot, but because of the Arena’s rule, the Bucks can offer him more than anyone else, if they choose to go into tax hell. However their owner has said he will not, so unless he has a change of heart, it looks plauseable that the Blazers, or another team could pick up Sessions this summer. I would offer Sessions a 5 year deal for $25 million, if I was sure Milwaukee wouldn’t match. That could be done with part of the Mid-level exception or by renouncing it and using the resulting cap space, I don’t think it would matter either way.  If the Bucks were to match that offer, they would be over the luxury tax threshold by almost $10 million next year, unless they could trade Jefferson or Redd, which would be a huge gamble for them.

            If the Blazers are convinced that Sessions is their guy, and that Milwaukee will match any offer, they would have to try and make a sign and trade offer that appeals to the Bucks. The Blazers could offer some salary relief by signing Reaf or Ruffin to a partially guaranteed contract, then trading him to Milwaukee in exchange for Sessions, who would have been signed as well, (I don’t really see that happening.), or adding a second round pick or two, which would be cheap for the Bucks to sign.  Unfortuately if the Bucks want to keep Sessions and let Charlie V. go, there is nothing the Blazers can do to outbid them. 

            My feeling it that Milwaukee’s brass, (Hammond and Skiles) want to get out of salary cap hell, and get some more flexable deals, for players who can play. Basically they want to move from where the Blazers were 3 years ago, to where the Blazers are today, in terms of their salary cap picture.  To do that, they will have to let Sessions walk, and maybe Charlie V. too, unless they can get a taker for Michael Redd or Richard Jefferson this summer or next season before the trade deadline, which means signing Ramon Sessions for $25 million over 5 years is a very real possiblilty.

            To sign Sessions, lets say the Blazers renounced their Mid-level exception, with Sessions salary at $5 million that would reduce the Blazers possible cap space to $1,491,836. The Bi-Annual exception for this year is $1,990,000, so more than the left over cap space, which makes it highly unlikely that the Blazers would renounce it.  Instead they would look to aquire a veteran power forward to back up LaMarcus. The names I used in my first post would all require more than the $1.9 million the Blazers would have to offer, accept for Joe Smith. There were concerns that he was more willing to return to Cleveland then move on to another team though. 

            If Smith does resign with Cleveland, there are still a few options that could be available to the Blazers. Antonio McDyess be an option, he made just under $800k last year, is still productive, averaging 9.6ppg and 9.8rpg in 30mpg for the Pistons.  Just a few years ago as a back up for Detroit he averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds in only 21 minutes per game. He shoots a high percentage from the floor, and plays good position defense.  For me, these two are the first two free agent power forwards I talk to, and my guess is McDyess will not be asked to return to Detroit as they are going in a different direction. For Plan A, we sign Antonion McDyess for the full Bi-annual exception, 2 years just over $4 million in total.

 

           

            So if Plan A was to come to life, the Blazers would look like this:

            PG: Sessions $5,000,000 – Blake $4,000,000

            SG: Roy $3,910,816 – Rudy $1,165,320

            SF: Prince $10,324,380 – Batum $1,118,760

PF: LaMarcus $5,844,827 – McDyess $1,990,000

C: Oden $5,361,240 – Przybilla $6,857,725

 

To fill out the roster, I would still try and convince Joel Freeland to come over and compete for the back up PF spot with McDyess, and provide depth at the position.  He may not win it, but I think he needs to be here to develop any futher

  I would also pick a pg like Darren Collison with the one of the team’s 2nd round pick, and sign him to a 2 year deal, with the 2nd year being unguaranteed. I would also either sign one of the other 2nd round picks, or pick up a veteran on a minimum deal that isn’t expecting too much playing time, but can provide some insurance incase of injuries, like Quinton Ross.  These signings would fill out the roster, and give valuable back up options incase of injury or just for practice. It would also leave the Blazers with 14 players leaving the 15th spot open like KP likes to do. 

2009-2010 Roster – salary

1. Brandon Roy - $3,910,816

2. LaMarcus Aldridge – 5,844,826

3. Greg Oden – 5,361,240

4. Teyshaun Prince – 10,324,380

5. Ramon Sessions – 5,000,000

6. Rudy Fernandez – 1,165,320

7. Joel Przybilla – 6,857,725

8. Nicolas Batum – 1,118,760

9. Antonio McDyess - $1,990,000

10. Steve Blake 4,000,000

11. Sergio Rodriguez – 1,576,696

12. Darren Collision – 442,114

13. Quinton Ross - 771,123

14. Joel Freeland – 824,200

(Darius Miles) – 9,000,000

Total Team salaries: $58,187,200

 

Plan A, provides flexibility by keeping the 15th roster spot open, it provides roster balance, with defined roles for everyone. Even though Nate will say every spot is an open competition, you can tell just by looking at the roster who the starters are, who the bench players will be, and who will be looking good in a suit for the better part of 82 games. This plan also provides something that my first did not, it gives some of our more talented but younger players a role model to watch and learn from. Prince should be able to teach Batum how to play fantastic defense, while still providing a boost on offense. Blake can teach Sessions how to control an offense, and not let it control you, and McDyess can teach LaMarcus how physical you have to be to become an All-star in this league. There is a very healthy mix of veterans and young players that should be very successful.

As for the future after the 2009-2010 season, Plan A actually would reduce the amount committed to players verses my original plan. The total salary committed to 2010-2011 season is $60,118,224, which is before any draft picks of that year, it is also with out Steve Blake or Sergio, they would have to be resigned if the team needed/wanted to keep them. That summer is also when Greg Oden would be need to be extended, and it is the last contract year of Joel, Prince, and McDyess.  Blake may be able to be resigned as the back up point for around his current salary or maybe even less. Joel and Prince could also be extended prior to that point to prevent them from being unrestricted free agents. 

 

IV. Conclusions

Once again I ask you to pick apart this plan, because it is only my first, second,  observation about what we should do. There are bound to be inconsistencies, and other problems that come up that I didn’t think about. Do we need another wing? Do we need to bring in a defensive coach to upgrade a defense that was middle of the pack last year? Is there something else we should do with the #24 pick? Should we even trade anyone? Can a starting line up of Sessions, Roy, Prince, Lma, and Oden bring Portland a championship?  Is this plan any better than the last? I look forward to your thoughts Blazersedge.

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