Lets go back in time for a second here.
It's nearly one year ago. The Blazer's just hit free agency with a great young team and one year with a ton of cap space before the rookie contracts start to end and the cap space goes away for the foreseeable future. There's only one problem... we don't have nearly as much cap space as we expected to. We thought we would have the space for a max contract and the ability to sign whoever we wanted, but Darius Miles and the Grizzlies saw to it that it wouldn't happen.
Well, it turned out there were two problems. The second problem was that there just weren't many marquee free agents out there. The biggest names were guys like Shawn Marion, Ron Artest, Hedo Turkoglu, Trevor Ariza, Ben Gordon, Andre Miller, and David Lee. There's some good players in there, but nobody that knocks your socks off to complete a championship team... still the Blazers had needs...
Both the PG and SF positions were being staffed by committee with some good fillers and role players, but nobody looking like a solid championship level starter. The SF position in particular was a major hole as Outlaw played his best as an undersized PF, Webster was questionable coming off his year long injury, and Batum hadn't shown the offensive prowess to be an asset near the end of games. Outlaw usually closed games simply because we desperately needed another dangerous crunch time scorer that could create his own shot on the floor, to take some pressure off Roy. At PG, Blake was at least usually dependable in crunch time or we could go with a Roy/Rudy back court with Roy handling the ball. Backup PF was also a need, but it's hard to spend big free agent bucks on somebody you know is going to be a backup.
Still, the space was going away whether we used it or not so we better at the very least get a tradeable asset out of it...
Now, there could be (and at the time certainly was) plenty of argument about whether Hedo was the right guy, but at the very least, the was a solid argument for him. He's a long time successful starting SF that is capable of handling the ball in crunch time (he was the primary crunch time ball handler of the Eastern Champs). The only PF worth even near $10 mil/yr range was David Lee, and he and LMA just wouldn't be able to coexist (keeping in mind we were two deep with stud centers at the time). PG seemed "good enough" with a dependable guy to cover for now and an exciting up and comer in Bayless.
We know what happened. We gave our best possible bid to Hedo, but thanks to Darius, Toronto as able to out bid us. We lost out on our guy and had to settle for the following:
- A true very-near-all-star-quality PG in Andre Miller with a significantly better contract (3 yr/$21 mil, with team option on the third year vs 5yr/$52 mil for Hedo) to plug our second biggest need
- A continued opening at SF for Batum 2.0 to step in to and settle the SF pecking once and for all while filling our biggest need... without any additional cost at all. I'm not sure I'd trade Batum for Hedo for the rest of this year, even if contracts didn't matter and we got to trade back for the future.
- With the PG and SF positions shored up, we were able t trade a couple of our guys for Marcus Camby to fill in for our injured centers and clear up some of the roster redundancy
...and to think, this all wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for Darius Miles and the Memphis Grizzlies.