The free agency period of the NBA is heating up, and it looks like we are going to see 4-5 major contenders emerge. Most of the major free agents have "verbal commitments" or look to be leaning somewhere, and as a serious Blazer fan, my emotions have been up and down over the past few days. On one hand, it looks as if we will probably land the free agent that KP, Nate, and every other member of the Blazers top brass has coveted for months now, Hedo Turkoglu. I have been up and down on him, especially because of his price tag, but overall I think it is a move that we have to make, and really, the only move left to make. Hedo will keep our team amongst the top 4-5 teams in our conference, but Im sad to say that might be it.
The optimist inside hopes that Turk and Oden develop a similar bond to the one Hedo had with Dwight, and that Hedo can spur some development in our franchise Center. Hedo is a good shooter, and no doubt makes our team much, much better. The optimist in me also hopes that B Roy, LMA, Rudy, Martell, Bayless, Batum, and every other young player we have each make another step and our team just organically improves that much more from last year. While I think B Roy is getting close to maxing out, I still think he is 2 years from entering his prime. I think Lamarcus has the potential to make the biggest jump and really catapult himself into one of the elite PF's in the league. Everyone else is a wild card, but we should see something from at least a few of them.
Now for the bad news. With what has transpired over the past few days, we could have a rocky road ahead for many years to come. The L*kers just got better with Ron Artest. A LOT better. I have read posts on here wondering about chemistry, Ron going crazy, etc. etc. Dont kid yourselves, this guy just took less money than he could have got elsewhere because he wants a ring, and is willing to do anything to get it. With Phil Jackson at the helm, he will mold a team that will most likely dominate the West for the next 3-4 years, and they are actually pretty young. Artest is a BIG upgrade over Ariza, and now gives the L*kers the best perimeter defense in the NBA. Not to mention a ridiculous front line of Odom, Gasol, and a now healthy Bynum. Not only that, but the Spurs look to be in contention for the next 3-4 years as well with their addition of Jefferson and Denver didnt get any worse. So it looks like we will be the 4th best team in the West for the foreseable future unless we get some MAJOR development from our young guys, which could happen. But that is a big IF. The other option is trading some more of our players to vault into contention, but I'm afraid it will probably involve more than just Travis & Blake to get the kind of impact player we will need. People we really like such as Rudy or Nic would probably be sent packing as well : (
Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando will be strong as well assuming they keep their pieces intact (LBJ could leave and Boston has some aging stars).
So while we all relished in the development of our young team this year with all of our young talent and quality players, calm down. I'm sure many of us were salivating at the thought of the perenial powers like Phoenix and San Antonio getting old, or the Lakers somehow falling apart, but things just got a lot harder. Just mute the radio next time you hear people yapping about our Championship window opening up in the next year or two. I still think we will have a good 4-5 years of possible championship contention, but with what has happened we might have to wait a while.
All in all, I am just glad that we have such a good team but I can't say that watching all of our rivals poaching borderline All-Stars for mid-level-exception money makes me happy. Why cant all GM's be idiots like Chris Wallace?