I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that Hedu had jilted the Blazers and I think Pritchett and his underlings will ultimately do so as well. Sometimes the best deals are the deals that came close that never happened. This is one of those in my view for a number of reasons. I think the Blazers got tunnel vision and locked in on Hedu for the veteran help he wouldl provide and playoff experience, but the price for 50 milllion or more was out of bounds for a 30 - 31 year old player who is peaked and ripe for the decline that so many free agents in all sports do when signed just as they have peaked. There is no where to go but slide downward. Further, Hedu was never a superstar, just a solid piece of a puzzle. Unquestionable, Hedu will bring all the things said of him regarding his ball handling abilities for such a big man, a player willing to take big shots (I'll never forget his incredible lucky banked 3 ball against us this year as the game ended), and solid high teens scoring., but with suboptinal defense. That is NOT the player you pay 50 million dollars over 5 years, even if he may have 5 years at that level, Most players starting such contracts at his age don't deliver the goods at that level for more than 2 - 3 years, after which the team is stuck with an overpaid player for a while and the problems that creates beyond the salary cap. LaFrenz is a case in point. So is Rashad Lewis in Orlnado, the very reason that Hedu became a free agent. He would have made less that Lewis who was rediculouslyl paid to bolt the Sonics, never being a player worthy of such. Sure he is a deadly shooter, but there is so much more to this game. Here are other reasons we should be happy Hedu is off to Toronto.
1. He wasn't the most pressing need. We have Roy and Aldridge for end of game scoring. I suspect that Webster and Ferandez will continue to develop and also be willing to take the big shot. Fernandez is there now for such.
2. The real needs are a starting point guard who has the ability to garner more assists per game, has a little daring and dash to his game, has excellent foot speed (including shuffling laterally), high level defense and an ability to take it to the hoop with aurthority as well as have a decent outside shot. Of these attributes, Blake has the latter, but not even a mid range jumper. It is a 3 or nothing, rare completion at the hoop, mediocre defense solely because of lack of foot speed at the level of the best, and his excellent assisst to TO ratio is because of his lack of daring and dash all the real top PGs have in the NBA. Look at Tony Parker, Chris Paul, and Devon Williams. They have the total package. Blake has so little of this. The position is our most pressing need and the names that keeping popping up are not the answer in my view. Hinrich is a step above Blake, but is really quite similar except for a better defender and probably might get to the hoop a little better, but I wouldn't pay him anywhere near the Hedu money either. Andre Miller is one I would take a chance on to the level of packaging Travis and Blake for him, but he is at best maybe a bit above the middle of the pack of PGs in this league and is 33!. Felton from Charlottle is not even worthy of consideration. Calderron is not likely available, and his defense is also suspect. He guy I wish the Blazers would really go after in a trade mode, at the level they pursued Hedu is Devon Harris of New Jersey. He is young enough and a real evolving star. I would give Travis, Blake or Bayless and another to get him, but that might not be enough. I thnk Bayless has much of what I listed that Blake doesn't have. He takes it to the hoop with absolute authority and fearlessness. I would hate to stiffle that. I also think he has the mid-level and outside shot, but was always looking over his shoulder, about to be ranked. McMillan is anything but an "attaboy" type of coach. Why else does he carry the name Sarg? Bayless has the footspeed to become a very good defender of other greasy slick PGs. The only concern I have is whether he can ever gain the PG mentality, as his is that of a SG to this point, but he has the work ethic second to none. I think folks like Bayless with make it happen. He will not relent in his pursuit of excellence, which is a reason I would give him time and be patient.
3. What happens with Webster iand Batum if Hefu were to have come? Webster is almost the same as a first year player by age, and has a world of potential, as does Batum. I would FAR prefer to watch these two very athletic rising stars develop and push each other than be stiffled by the presence for 5 years of Hedu being here. My fear is that we would give away one of them and watch a replay of when we gave away Jermaine O'Neal who we were told was outplaying the starters regularly in practice, but Dunleavy wouldn't give the young guy a chance. So what do we do, we get an aging, past prime vet in David and watch O'Neal blossom as we thought he would in no time. What a mistake. I don't want a replay with Webster of Batum. Hedu's presence would have force it or at best prevented their development.
4. How about Rudy? We hear both sides of his being not excited about his coming to no big deal. I am one to know that Rudy has far more to offer than the 3 ball offense we saw last year. Unleash him. Let him go. He has more basketball and court saavy than maybe any other Blazer. Let him play. Hedu would have taken some of him minutes if not Websters or Batum's.
5. What does the $10 million per year do when Oden, Webster and Rudy's contracts are open to resigning? With Brandon and Lamarcus up to huge contracts very soon and the others following, where is all the money available to these, likely deserving players who have been here from the get go, loyal to the core. Hedu is prostituing himself to the highest bidder, using us in his negotiations with Toronto it appears. Teams that can't play players their due becuase of some bonehead contracts made to older players previously always seems to causes dissention.
6 Our second need wasn't what Hedu broght either. It is a backup banger to Lamarus. Aldridege. I know Lamarus doesn't like to be called soft, but he is. He can play much tough, because we have all seen it, but he chooses so often to start the game with plays called for him where he settles for his beautiful jumper, which if he makes, he stays with to my lament, because he does have an excellent inside game as well. Further, starting with the jumper sets the tone for him and the Blazers for settling for the easy way out. The Millsap in the draft was Blair, but since they passed on him (so did about everyone), I would assume they beleive that Perdergraf at 6;10" offers even more of what 6;10: Channing Frye didn't. I was so disappoint that Channing didn't come at the beginning of his past year as he ended the prior year which would have been just what we needed. I think that Perdergraph will be just what we need for that backup PF position. If they think not, go after Paul Milsap. What an overachieving smaller power forward. He did it throughout college and hasn't let up while at Utah. If not him, and the Blazers are not willing to chance it on Perdergraph, there has to be others for that need that could be traded for without spending anything like what they threw at Hedu.
7. We would have given up our rights to Joel Freeland and Petteri Kopponin as I understand it. That is trashing two former first round picks. Are we to view Victor Claver as throug away too? I understand that Joel has the big body for a PF, runs the court well and has some offense. What's up with him. I know little about Kopponin. Maybe hie is a lost cause, but they are both still so young and some don't develop for much longer. Travis is a good case in point, and he has only developed his jump shoot.
3. We may have kept Travis after all. He game is so terrible apart from his Kobesque jump shots. He has no basketball IQ, not willingness to pay the price to prepare for the seasons by coming into camp in top notch shape, has no defense and hasn't heard about rebounding, and we keep hearing that McMillan wants to use him at power forward. That has tto be for being able to outquick his opporent PF offenseively, but he is an embarassment for his lack of motivation to play tough and rebound.
Well, that sums up how I see it.
Thank you Hedu for jilting us.