In addition to tendering a Qualifying Offer to center Greg Oden, the Portland Trail Blazers announced on Wednesday that the team has extended a $1.2 million Qualifying Offer to reserve guard Patty Mills as well. The offer to Mills makes him a restricted free agent and gives the Blazers matching rights.
This is a flexibility play. Qualifying Mills comes at a small cost if he accepts and allows the Blazers to either bring him back on a one-year, low-dollar deal or enter into sign-and-trade scenarios with other teams if there is interest in his services. Had the Blazers elected not to tender Mills a Qualifying Offer, he would have walked as an unrestricted free agent.
This move could mean that the Blazers either believe he has a future in Portland or that he has the potential to achieve some level of trade value down the road. Mostly, it signals that Owner Paul Allen's obsession continues unabated. We're now one step closer to Allen building a museum next to the Space Needle to house his Patty Mills game-worn jersey collection.
Extending the Qualifying Offer doesn't necessarily guarantee that Mills will be on the opening day roster, as Portland's backcourt is obviously crowded with new starting point guard Raymond Felton and reserves Nolan Smith and Armon Johnson all battling for minutes at the point guard position. Should Mills receive a solid offer from another NBA team in free agency, there's a good chance Portland would let him walk given the crowded point guard situation and the overall amount of salary the team has already committed.
Jason Quick of The Oregonian offers this quote from Blazers president Larry Miller.
"Patty helped us out last season,'' Miller said. "We will give him the opportunity to come to training camp and make the team.''
Mills averaged 5.5 points and 1.7 assists in 12.2 minutes per game last season.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter