Although the Blazers have some nice players, I don't think they have a tremendous amount of assets to work with in making the team better this off season. Will Cho have the fire power he needs to get the speed, rebounding, size, and shooting (is that all? phew!) that he thinks this team needs? Or will he instead be forced to whittle some sticks together, send some smoke signals to the heavens, and hope that Greg Oden and Brandon Roy's respective returns to the battlefield will help this team finally put it together and get past the first round? Let's rank Blazer assets. If my novice memory serves me well they look something like this:
1. Lamarcus Aldridge: There are few players in the league more attractive than LMA. Obviously, you're not going to deal him. Period. But it's nice to know he's there, right? Stud. And just think: he's under contract for several more seasons. Ahhhh. That's a nice, warm security blanky of a thought.
2. Nic Batum: He's on a rookie scale deal and has tremendous "upside". That makes him a nice asset in the value department, but not much of mover in the salary department. Perhaps as part of a larger trade--say--with Camby, for instance, you get something you like without taking back too much dead weight salary in return. He is also ideal for swapping with teams who have high lottery picks. I like this idea. I think Nic is nice but does not have star potential, therefore Cho should look to move him for perimeter upside. Wallace has a couple good years left, no?
3. Wesley Matthews: He worked his tail off and got payed. Then he worked his tail off even more and was the only Blazer to rep at all star weekend when he did whatever he did in the rook/soph game. Sorry, I forgot to watch. Hmm. Anyways, like Nic, Wesley is known for D and so/so offensive upside at his position. We've seen him guard bigger guys and we've seen him try and pressure Jason Kidd, with varying levels of success. He's going to work, and he's not going to be afraid to take shots in big moments. He's also going to get a few steals when you need them most. His contract is NOT modest, but hardly unreasonable should his growth continue. Is he an attractive piece for another team? I think he would be terrific in Golden State, thanks for asking. They want D. They like 3s. Overall however, I don't see many teams wanting to take on his salary unless they REALLY like his potential. Cho COULD trade him for upper lottery talent ala Marty-for-Babbitt (just a better version of that on both fronts) but I'm not sure if/how that could work salary-wise.
4/5. Gerald Wallace/Marcus Camby: These dudes are great. They offer experience, heart, and leadership. None can deny the impact a player of their quality can have on a team's growth and professionalism. Unfortunately, they don't have a tremendous amount of basketball left to play. Wallace is closer to prime years than Camby, but Camby is an excellent rebounding center--always a big market for that. I assume Cho will be looking for seekers but that there will be few. Young teams want young players who sell tickets. Championship level teams covet these types of players but generally have little young talent they are willing to send back in return, picking up valuable vets as FAs instead.
6. Paul Allen's (thinning) wallet: He's shown the willingness to spend money and acquire late 1st round picks. Unfortunately, that's NOT likely to land a high impact player but could prove to be quite handy in deepening the bench. His great wealth WILL be essential in retaining the bench warming services of this great Blazer, however:
7. Greg Oden: Why so low, you say? If the Blazers were to get GO with the QO (cute, eh?), wouldn't he make a sweet chip to send out for a player in that 9 million range? I don't think so. It seems to me teams will be quite reluctant to rent a rehabbing center for a half season. He's coming off of micro-fracture surgery and barely played any basketball over the last 4 years, after all. How effective can he be? Even at his size and skill--not very. Fall 2012 will be the beginning of his dominance (I guess). If the Blazers sign him to a long term deal this summer I'm sure they will foolishly hang on to him until he breaks down again. Sorry to be so drab. Just keepin' it real.
8. The 21st pick in the 2011 NBA draft: Meh.
9. Rudy: I still think Rudy has some value. He's cheap and really fun to watch. His shooting % is weak but not so bad that teams won't be tempted to predict a resurgence in that area if he were to play in the right system--say--New York or Chicago. Cho could send Rudy out for a banger at the end of the bench, for instance. Who could argue with that? If we've learned anything about the Blazers the last few seasons, it's that they will never--EVER--have too many bigs.
10. Andre: Oh! Tenth?! How can you disrespect Andre? I love Andre, but please stop talking about him. Let's not let other teams overhear our affection for Andre, lest they come clamoring for him with their so/so prospects and weak draft picks. I would weep if Andre were traded, especially since the returning value would be less-than-half as awesome. Dre's finger-malt-liquorin' dimes, kool-and-the-gang, mellow interviews, gum-chomping outbursts, and playoff 3 point shooting are too beautiful to part with. Deal?
So overall, I think Mr. Cho has his work cut out for him. He's going to bring back Andre and Greg for next season and hopefully work some magic elsewhere, acquiring one of the few perimeter guys in this draft who can figure into the Blazers' plans long term. He will also acquire the services of someone over 6'8" and heavier than 240 lbs who can use their body to physically move other players out of the way while they grab the orange ball as it bounces listlessly off of the side of the rim. Yeah--when your team shoots this bad, you need a guy who can do THAT.
PS- Brandon is not an asset, he's a permanent fixture. Let's just try and appreciate what he can do rather than bemoan his physical shortcomings.
How do you rank the Blazer assets? What would you add/subtract/correct on this list?