I wrote most of this before the playoffs started, but I never got around to editing it and posting.
Before the playoffs distort the reality of the just completed regular season I wanted to take a look at how this team can improve, personal wise for next year. There are some interesting free agents this year, and the new CBA not withstanding, I wanted to look forward, past the upcoming playoffs and see what is out there that could help the team.
Looking at the Blazers there are a few clear facts, LMA, Roy, Wallace and Wesley will be here for the foreseeable future, Coach Nate is going to be here as well, all other players have some question marks. The biggest question for the Blazers is what to do with Greg Oden, I strongly feel they should resign him to a multi-year contract, but this post is not about Greg so for this purpose only, lets assume Greg is resigned for at least next year and plays a back up role for at least half the season.
I am also going to assume that no big trades happen this off season, no Camby for CP3, or D. Williams plans will be found here. I am looking at plausible deals that can be done, and mostly through the UFA and RFA markets.
The Blazers are strong at the 2 guard, power forward, and small forward spots, the have good, but aging players at the point and center spots, and their bench is just this side of horrible with Batum the only one currently producing above the average NBA player. I believe Miller and Camby have one more season in them at least, and with their contracts being pretty decent, it is worth it to me to keep them on the team unless the blockbuster trade is offered by the Nets or Hornets.
This leaves us with the current Blazers bench, Roy's contract combined with his performance over the last month, (sub.40% FG, sub 30%3ptFG, defense like a sieve) make him untradeable. But one has to believe that he can use this off season as a time to retool his game, and provide something off the bench next year. Batum has shown an ability to come off the bench and still be aggressive over the last month of the season once Wallace was put into the starting lineup, average 16.5ppg on +50% FG since the change. In the playoffs will see if he can continue this ability under increased pressure, but it seems we may have found a place for him.
That leaves Rudy, who for the second season has failed to shoot above 40% from the field, and has forgotten how to hit the 3 point shot, his main weapon on offense. Rudy has come alive a bit as a play maker, but it hardly cancels out his defensive short comings, and his offensive offense. Rudy may be happier in Portland than he was last year, but he still needs to be traded.
Patty Mills and the rest of the bench, are all possible trade fodder as none of them have shown the ability to contribute on a consistent level.
My main target to help the bench would be Aaron Afflalo of the Denver Nuggets, AA is a hard nosed defender, who can hit the three, and is aggressive off the bench. At 6'5" he is another wing the Blazers could pair with Wesley, Batum, and Wallace to form an incredible defensive rotation. AA is an RFA this off season, and who knows what Denver's plans are, they should be rebuilding, even with their playoff run, because they need a star unless they are ok with playing in the first round. If the Blazers came with a strong offer to AA, who is coming off of his rookie deal the Nuggets might not want to invest so much in a role player when they are looking for a star.
A signing like this would help solidify the Blazers bench for the future and give them some additional offensive and defensive chops.
There are other options available this summer if the Blazers wanted to bring in a guy like Jamal Crawford, to play the back up point slash scorer off the bench, or big men Carl Landry and Ronny Turiaf could be had as well. All 3 of these players would add depth to a Blazer club that sorely needs it. However they won't be the only one looking for players like this and they only have the exceptions to offer, (unless the new CBA takes those away) so getting one would be great, but it is very likely that they might not be able to get any.
So now before game 3, lets here your thoughts on what this team should do to improve next year.