Last night, after the draft, I played GM in my head; for a very, very long time. I’m sure many of you did the same thing. I wanted to come up with the most realistic possibilities for adding to this team sometime this July. That’s what this fanpost is about. Who could we possibly be targeting? What is the most likely scenario to unfold? Will we do anything at all?
To answer that last question, yes, we will do something. As you’ll find, it’s near impossible to know what the Front Office is thinking and what their plans are. What I know for sure is that they do have plans. As of right now, we’re looking at about 8 million in cap space this summer. Combine that with all the young, cheap, attractive talent we have and it doesn’t take a prophet to see something is brewing. On top of that, next summer is when Roy and Aldridge will get extended to max deals, meaning we’re not going to have cap space again for a very long time. Again, we ARE going to do something big this summer. It’s really our last chance to add to this team before it’s set for the long haul (barring any major trades, which is completely possible of course). And oh yeah, KP and Nate have both talked extensively about their "Free Agent List" and wanting to add veterans to the team. Take note, WE ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT THIS SUMMER!
Now, before I continue, let me setup some assumptions that I’m working under. Because we have so much flexibility, anything is possible this summer and I won’t be surprised if KP and crew do what no one sees coming; they usually do. That said, I want to break down our team needs and decide who is most likely to be brought in; under the following assumptions:
1. The goal of Blazer management this summer is to build a team that can contend for a title THIS YEAR without doing anything to break up our core, which is something both Nate and KP have mentioned several times. I’m going to assume that our core is made up of Bayless, Roy, Rudy, Batum, Aldridge and Oden. Anybody else on the roster is and should be available for the right price.
2. Steve Blake will not be the starting PG on opening night. Further, Patrick Mills will play in Europe for at least another year or two. Obviously, we are getting another PG. Essentially everyone on this site whose opinions I respect, including Dave and Ben, feel like an upgrade at PG is inevitable. If you don’t buy into this, fine, but I’d bet a lot of money that we are going to bring in a big name PG, so that’s what I’m assuming for the purpose of this post.
3. Blazer management will use a combination of both our non-core talent AND our cap space to add to this team. As you’ll see further along in this post, using the combination of these two assets can provide at least 2 big-name players. The goal of this fanpost is to come up with the most likely two names the Blazers are targeting this summer and attempt to explain how this will be possible, taking into account the salary cap implications at every step of the way.
4. Paul Allen is willing to pay the luxury tax between 2010 and 2015 as long as the team has a realistic chance at winning a championship. By realistic, I mean that the Blazers are one of the top 5 contenders going into each year.
Alright, now you’ve seen my assumptions and we can get started. I warn you though, if you strongly disagree with any of the above 4 statements, stop reading. Otherwise, continue onto our PG targets….
As mentioned in the assumptions, one of the big name targets the Blazers will go after this summer is going to be a PG. Barring some type of shocking trade, I think the Blazers are targeting one of the following 8 targets, listed from most to least likely (A lot like Ben's draft picks board, only for PG):
1) Kirk Hinrich
Pros: Chicago is known to be shopping him around so he could probably be had on the cheap. He wants to come to Porltand. He's a tough veteran leader who shot the three at 41% last year. He can play off-ball when needed as shown by his play with Derrick Rose, something important with Roy in the backcourt. He doesn't need to put up a lot of shots to be effective and is a good distributor. Plays adequate defense, substantially better than Blake. He's 28 years old.
Cons: His assist numbers dropped last year, but that's most likely a case of Derrick Rose becoming the PG. Other than that though, he's a perfect fit for this team.
Notes: I'm not saying he's the best player available. I am saying he's the best player available that fits our team's needs.
2) Mike Bibby
Pros: An unrestricted FA who isn't going back to his team. The hawks have brought in Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague, I doubt Bibby is going back. He is a veteran with swagger that knows his way around the playoffs. He shoots the three at 39% and is a good floor general. Is 31, paving the way for Bayless to take over after a couple years.
Cons: He's not really great at anything. He's an all-around solid player, but not a star.
Notes: I really like Bibby for this team and don't understand why more people aren't talking about him around here. I don't think he's the first choice, but I'm sure we could sign him if we decide he's our man.
3) Jason Kidd
Pros: A solid veteran who has been there before. You know what you're getting. Could help mold Bayless as he's notorious for liking to mentor the young guys. Shot 41% from three last year. Is the ultimate floor general who can rebound and rack up assists. Doesn't need a lot of shots.
Cons: He's 36 years old. With age comes deterioration of talent, sometimes quickly. You just never know with the older players.
Notes: Kidd's only behind Bibby on this list because he's 5 years older. If the team trusts that he's healthy and thinks Bayless is closer than people realize, this could be the guy. He sure fits our needs.
4) Steve Nash
Pros: Last year Nash shot 44% from three point land and averaged 10 assists per game. The guy still has incredible offensive ability. Is effective in the open court or the pick and roll. A hungry and highly competitive veteran.
Cons: Plays no defense. None. Is turnover prone, which Nate hates. Is 35 years old. Is expensive.
Notes: We could probably get him in a trade if we wanted to. Turnover numbers could be partially the fault of the uptempo offense run in Phoenix, although assist numbers could be inflated by this too. Blake isn't a good defender either, so we're not really losing that much on that end of the floor. He would take this team to the next level, making us terrifying offensively. Not at bad fourth option to have eh?
5) Andre Miller
Pros: Solid veteran player. Good distributor who's efficient offensively. Good defensively.
Cons: Can't shoot the three. Might shoot the ball too much to come to Portland.
Notes: While Miller is a nice option, I just feel like better ones are available. I can't see management dishing out significant assets (Cap room or players) to get a 33 year old guy whose never won anything and can't shoot from deep.
6) Ramon Sessions
Pros: Is likely available after the Bucks drafted Jennings. Will not be outrageously expensive. Only 23 years old so he fits in with our core. An efficient scorer who distributes well and can defend.
Cons: Can't hit the broad side of a barn from outside. Doesn't provide that veteran presence.
Notes: While I really like him as a player, I'm not sure he fits. He would only stunt Bayless' growth, and for a guy who can't shoot, I'm not convinced he's worth that price with so many other options.
7) Devin Harris
Pros: A 26 year-old all-star with some swagger. A good scorer, distributor and defender. A very good player.
Cons: Can't shoot the three. Has been rumored to have some attitude problems; while I can't verify this, you never want to hear this about a target, especially knowing that KP and Co have consistently strayed from these types. Would probably be very expensive to trade for.
Notes: Unless we can get him in a steal, I don't think he's coming to Portland. The price would be too high for a guy who can't shoot and might not fit in the locker room or on the court (him and Roy both shoot quite a bit).
8) Mike Conley Jr.
Pros: A 21 year-old kid who has yet to reach his potential. A solid player who can shoot, score efficiently and play solid defense. Best friends with Gregory.
Cons: There is no way Memphis gives him up after taking Thabeet. He still has so much room to grow, that his cost would likely be too high. On top of that, his assist numbers aren't that great which is of some concern.
Notes: If we could somehow get him on the cheap, I'd be all for it. I'm a logical person though, so I know that is unrealistic. I can't envision a scenario where we get him, at least not this summer.
So there it is, 8 PG's who the Blazers could realistically be targeting. For reasons already mentioned, I think the top three guys are a cut above the rest. I'm confident in saying that the PG the Blazers will bring in this summer will be either Kirk Hinrich, Mike Bibby or Jason Kidd. I would be happy with any of those three guys, but deep down I hope for (and think it's going to be) Captain Kirk.
Now notice that in the PG list above, I put a premium on three point shooting. I guess that could be another assumption I've made: the organization does not want to waste assets on a guy who can't shoot the three. The question at the core is whether or not this team can win a title without a PG who can stroke it. I'd say yes, but I'd also say that with Roy on this team, it makes too much sense to go after someone who can wax. Thus, everyone in the top three can shoot. Plus, they're very attainable and it's not hard to see why they are the most realistic options.
OK, explain how this is going to work...
So now we've narrowed it down to three PG's. Getting any one of those guys is going to require some combination of our cap space and/or our non-core trade assets. I believe Hinrich could be had for something like Outlaw/Blake. This would leave our cap space to sign that 2nd big-time player I was talking about earlier. Or, let's say we go with Bibby and use all of our cap space on his contract; we still have a lot of young assets available to trade away and get another player, possibly in a sign-and-trade. There are an infinite amount of options available, but basically, I'm sure we can acquire 2 impact veterans this summer without giving up anyone in our core.
Step one is complete. We got our big-time starting PG, using either our available trade assets, our cap space, or some combination of the two. With the rest of what's left, I think we're going to target a game changing forward. Whether that forward is a SF or a PF depends ENTIRELY ON MARTELL WEBSTER. If management thinks Martell is going to be ready and effective come opening night, I think we target a PF and let Webster/Batum grow as players we are molding for the future. They are both more than adequate starters in my opinion, especially if we add an impact PG and PF to the team. Now, in the case that KP doesn't believe Martell to be the answer at that position for whatever reason, watch out. I think we go for gold and get a big name starter who can change games. This allows the ‘Graph and Cunningham to fill our backup PF role and allows Batum to grow into his eventual role. IT ALL DEPENDS ON MARTELL...
Let's say Martell isn't ready to go and KP is determined to get a SF. Who would the team target?
1) Ron Artest
Pros: Brings scoring, toughness and defense. Could rub off well on the rest of the young guys. He has what it takes to win. Shoots 40% from three. Very attainable; if we want him then he's ours.
Cons: Puts up too many shots. Isn't very efficient on the offensive end.
Notes: While Artest gets a bad wrap, I really think he's a good guy. If you grew up in a Queens ghetto, people would think you had an attitude problem too. Bottom line is that he competes hard and wants to win. I think he can really excel on our team, but we only get him if he can be convinced to play a more complimentary role on offense. Getting him makes us an immediate contender.
2) Tayshaun Prince
Pros: The ideal SF for our team. Insanely long, so he can be Batum's mentor and teach him the right way to play. Is a great defender. Plays well without the ball, is an efficient scorer, and can hit the three. I love this option.
Cons: Not many except for the fact that he could be hard to pry away from the Pistons.
Notes: If there's a way to get him without giving up a core guy, and still getting the PG we want mind you, then we do it. I'm just not sure that's plausible, otherwise Tayshaun would be above Artest on this list.
3) Luol Deng
Pros: An efficient offensive weapon who can play defense too. Only 24 so he fits in with our core. Doesn't need the ball in his hands.
Cons: Might have already peaked. Shot is still questionable. So is his contract and the price we'd have to pay to get him.
Notes: I am kind of indifferent towards Deng. I'm not sure he's that big of an upgrade over Batum, especially two years down the line. The only way I see him coming over is in a trade where we also get Hinrich.
4) Josh Howard
Pros: A big, bruising player on both ends of the court. A veteran who can hold his own against anyone.
Cons: Shot 35% from three last year. Has some character concerns, although I believe these to be overblown.
Notes: In the right situation, Howard can be a game changer. I just feel that if we want a bruising SF who likes to shoot, we'll go get Artest. If the price is right though...
5) Hedo Turkoglu
Pros: A veteran who can really affect a game and has proven to be consistently clutch.
Cons: Can't play defense. Overrated offensively. Not that efficient from the field last year (41% from the field overall, 36% from three point land). Will most likely command a lot of money. Needs the ball in his hands to be effective.
Notes: I think Hedo is a solid player but vastly overhyped. I don't think there is any way KP would add this guy to the team.
6) Caron Butler
Pros: Very good player on both ends of the floor. A really cool guy who would help on the court and in the locker room.
Cons: Not a very good 3 point shooter. Will probably be hard to get from Washington.
Notes: My gut tells me the price is too high for a guy who isn't quite the perfect fit. If we go after a SF, it won't be Butler.
7) Trevor Ariza
Pros: Good young player who can really play some D. A decent offensive game coupled with good upside and the ability to develop a stroke makes him attractive.
Cons: He's a L*ker. And he's going to get resigned.
Notes: I like Batum better anyway
8) Gerald Wallace
Pros: A solid player who can really score and rebound. Brings a lot of toughness.
Cons: Can't shoot the three.
Notes: I just don't see much interest there. We could have had him at the last deadline. If we didn't want him then there's no reason to want him now.
9) Shawn Marion
Cons: Sorry but no.
Notes: Absolutely not.
Once again, there is a big difference between guys 1-3 and everyone else. Assuming the team decides an impact SF is needed to replace an unhealthy Martell, any of these top 3 guys would be huge. I believe that if the Blazers bring in a SF this summer, it will be either Ron Artest, Tayshaun Prince, or Luol Deng.
Notice that, just like the PG's, I placed a lot of emphasis on being able to shoot the rock. Maybe too much, I don't know. I just think you want to surround Roy with guys who can really spread the floor or you aren't fully utilizing his capabilities. Plus, it just so happens that the guys who would fit the best also seem the most attainable.
Pair any of the three PG's with any of these three SF's and you start to see what a HUGE splash the team could make this summer.
Finally, let's assume Martell is perfectly healthy and team thinks he's gonna be great. We already used about half of our available assets to grab a starting PG. We're set at SF. The only place left to go is getting an impact PF to create a premier frontcourt group. On to the bangers...
1) Brandon Bass
Pros: A perfect fit on our team. A banger who can score efficiently, rebound and defend. UFA.
Cons: Might want to be a starter somewhere. Slightly undersized at 6'8".
Notes: I think we can assure him enough minutes. Besides, if we pay him enough, he'll come to the Rose City. Do we really want to is the question...
2) Antonio McDyss
Pros: A proven veteran who could bring a ton of experience and toughness. Solid in all areas of the game. Comes incredibly cheap.
Cons: He's 34 years old. More of a stop gap to give time for ‘Graph and Cunningham to develop.
Notes: An attractive option for all parties involved. A real possibility.
3) Leon Powe
Pros: A solid banger who isn't going to command a huge contract. Actually fits our needs very well.
Cons: I'm not sure.
Notes: If the Blazers can't grab one of the guys listed above Powe, this could be a great, cheap pickup. I would be very happy with him filling our backup PF role for years to come.
4) Carl Landry
Pros: Another really solid banger who fills a void nicely.
Cons: Might become slightly expensive for his contract.
Notes: See my notes on Mr. Powe.
5) David Lee
Pros: An incredibly efficient offensive player who can also rebound. Only 26 years old. Has been rumored as coming to Portland for a long time, although this probably means it won't happen.
Cons: Defense disappears at times. Might command more minutes than the Blazers have to offer, along with a fat contract (of which he should give D'antoni a cut).
Notes: I like him, and I do think he'd work in Portland, but I just don't see it happening.
6) Chris Wilcox
Pros: Good production, lots of energy, fills the void.
Cons: Too expensive.
Notes: Who knows, maybe the team'll pony up if management really likes him.
7) Tyrus Thomas
Pros: Young, super-athletic, a lot of upside.
Cons: Not polished in any part of the game. Has been rumored to have a big ego and off-putting arrogance about him.
Notes: Just doesn't sound like a Blazer. Doubt he'll want to backup LMA either. Only way this happens is in some kind of large deal with Chicago.
8) Lamar Odom
Pros: A really good player who likes candy.
Cons: Plays for the L*kers, who will resign him.
9) Drew Gooden
Pros: A solid, productive veteran who could fill a role at a nice price.
Cons: The thing hanging from his chin. Whenever I hear his name or see his face, I immediately think of the washed up homeless guy across the street from me who thinks he should be an NBA player.
Notes: I don't know, I just can't see this guy in a Blazer uniform. Just an opinion that is based completely on gut-feeling and lacking any factual support.
10) Jason Maxiell
Pros: Like Bass, this guy would be perfect in just about every way.
Cons: There is no way Detroit gives him up. No way.
Notes: We can dream can't we?
11) Carlos Boozer
Pros: A very good player who would help us tremendously.
Cons: He is grossly overpaid, has the last name "Boozer", and happens to be one of my least favorite players in the league.
Notes: No way.
While I listed 11 players as "PF Targets", only pay attention to the first 6. What you should take from this list is that there is Brandon Bass and then everyone else. If management decides they want a big-time player at the backup PF spot, they'll pay Bass. Otherwise, they might just try to fill the role cheaply with McDyss, Powe, Landry or Wilcox. I'm beginning to like the latter of these two options better.
Notice that a new wrinkle has been thrown into the equation. If the Blazers use half of their total asset-pool on a PG and deem Webster to be completely healthy, they will surely go after a PF. What if they decide they don't want Bass though? That changes things. They can either take one of the cheaper guys to fill the backup 4 spot and leave themselves some extra cap room for added flexibility going forward OR they can use that extra bit of space to go after a less expensive SF as well. Meaning a big-time PG and role players at SF and PF. I'm not going to get into that simply because it opens up a pandoras box of possibilities and I doubt anyone is still reading anyways.
Throughout this post, I've broken down the different options we have available to us this summer at the PG, SF and PF positons. Only a few of these options are realistic, and these are the players I think the Blazers have the greatest chance of acquiring:
Through the process of uncovering which players could be in Blazer uniforms this summer, I had to answer some questions regarding the intentions of the organization. These questions could be argued effectively to prove all of my conclusions wrong:
- Would the Blazers take on a PG that isn't a good 3 pt shooter? (I say no)
- Does management feel that Webster will be fully recovered and effective by the time the season starts? (I have no idea...sure?)
- Is backup PF a position the team wants to fill with a big-time player or some combination of cheap free agent/draft picks? (Cheap FA)
*Note that the answer to question 2 could cause major variance to question 3. If the team decides it can't trust Webster and wants to use some flexibility to fill the position with a star, the team won't have the money to go after Bass. They'll HAVE to settle for a cheap FA or commit to one of the 2nd rounders, which might be better anyway. If, however, the team decides Webster is ready and they want to give him a shot because they feel he can succeed (as I do), then there will surely be some money to go after an expensive PF like Bass. Or take the cheaper route and save some money for later (2010 trade deadline?).
Essentially, what I'm hypothesizing is that the Blazers will land either Kirk Hinrich, Mike Bibby or Jason Kidd. Whether through trade, free agency or S&T, the Blazers will still have plenty of assets after acquiring one of these guys (either money under the cap or young talent that can be traded in a S&T deal for another coveted player). Let's say the move to get a PG happens first, for the sake of simplicity. With this guy, whoever he is, I think there are 3 options.
#1: Pair him with a star SF (Artest or Prince)
#2: Pair him with a star PF (Brandon Bass)
#3: Pair him with a solid PF (Powe) and see how things play out, taking some cap room into the season.
I don't mind any of these options. The answer to question 2 above will determine what happens. It all lies with Martell as I've already mentioned.
Of course, maybe we're going after Rubio and Turkoglu in which case I'm completely wrong. That is certainly possible given that no one can ever seem to figure out what moves KP is going to make.. Regardless, though, there's no way we stand pat. We're ready to win now. We have a lot of cap space and flexibility this summer. This will be the last summer that can be possible for a very long time. Something has to happen. The most glaring need is at PG. After that, there are uncertainties at starting SF and backup PF. This isn't rocket science. Things are going to happen with at least 2 of those positions. I can't wait to see what they are.
And one final note...
I haven't mentioned this yet, but throwing Joel Pryzbilla into some kind of trade significantly changes the opportunities the team has. I know, I know. Who's going to back up Joel? Do you realize how important Joel was last year? Are you a complete idiot? These are all valid questions. Nonetheless, throwing Joel into a trade, for say, Hinrich, gives the Blazers some incredible options.
This probably isn't smart as I don't think it's necessary. I'm just mentioning the impact trading Joel could have. I say acquire Hinrich with a straight across trade that doesn't really affect our cap space. Use our cap space and possibly an additional asset or two to sign and trade for Ron Artest, or just sign him as a FA, straight up if possible (I'm sure the guys could create enough room to sign their target here, whoever it may be).
My dream scenario has us using all of our cap space along with Travis Outlaw, Steve Blake and Martell Webster (although preferably not) to acquire Kirk Hinrich and Ron Artest. This makes us championship contenders right away and doesn't close our long-term window. On top of that, it's entirely plausible.
That line-up is flat out filthy. Even if you don't agree with or particularly like my dream, hopefully you can see the plethora of options available to the Blazers this summer. If you haven't already, create your own dream and then patiently wait for KP to crush it into pieces. But until he proves otherwise, In KP I trust . I cannot wait until next year. Go Blazers!
This is why I love BlazerEdge. In a matter of hours after I originally post this, a couple of intelligent opinions poke some holes in what I thought was a fool-proof plan.
MadBlaze opened my mind up to the idea that really, Bass isn't worth that much more than a guy like Powe or Landry. Thus, I now have a new dream scenario that involves Powe instead of Bass. This puts less pressure on our cap and makes the idea much more realistic.
T Darkstar put up a great post explaining why all is not lost if our cap space isn't used this summer. He actually makes a very intriguing argument as to why it would be beneficial to hold onto until the trade deadline. I can't say I disagree with that train of thought. With that being said, this post simply remains a list of realistic possibilities for the Blazers IF they choose to fill some needs this summer. Darkstar's insights should not be forgotten though...don't panic if we don't use all or any of our cap space before the season starts.
After reading alot of comments in a couple of different threads tonight, there are still a couple of points I'm not ready to concede. I think Hinrich is a great option that can be had for a reasonable price. I also love the idea of Artest more and more as I think about it. Realizing that Bass is probably an overpriced version of Powe (for our team's needs) opens up some other options. I'm willing to put all those other options toward signing Artest, if that's the guy KP&CO want. If not, then I'm sure there's a good reason why and I'd trust that. I'm sure the team will put their eggs into the basket of choice #1 and go after him HARD.
Again, however, my big epiphany is the fact that going through to the deadline with some flexibility could be nice. We might have a chance to make a huge steal and we'll have an opportunity to see more of some players who are question marks, allowing management to make better decisions.
But please God, give me Kirk Hinrich. If only Captain Kirk is on that court opening night, I would be content. Especially with all the assets still at our disposal, allowing BEdge to debate potential trades for another 6 months :)