Started out as A Semi-Plausible “Re-Tool” Scenario and then my mind began to wander. If only...
PG: With the emergence of Goran Dragic, the Houston Rockets begin to take trade offers for Kyle Lowry. Given that few teams have both a need at PG and attractive trade assets, the Blazers offer of Wesley Matthews, the #11 pick and a 2015 1st Rounder turns out to be the best Houston can get.
SG: A combination of a late season standings shuffle, bouncing ping-pong balls, and Beal slipping nets us the best SG in the draft at #6.
SF: We resign Batum at the new Aron Afflalo standard of 5 yrs, $43 mil
C: Not interested in the knuckle head McGee and wanting to preserve their cap-space for the following summer, the Blazers simply re-sign HIckson (3yrs, $6mil) and Prysbilla (1 yr, $2 mil) to man the C spot, using 2nd Round DP Jae Crowder as the backup PF.
Coach: Wanting to get back to basketball and intrigued by the draft day deals, the Blazers coax Jerry Sloan out of retirement with a lucrative offer. Somewhere in Portland, Ben Golliver honks uncontrollably out of pure excitement. Canales returns to an assistant position but with more influence and prestige.
Bradley Beal emerges as ROY candidate with a sweet stroke and surprisingly developed handles. He’s complemented perfectly by the elite defense and creating ability of Lowry. With the improved guard play the Blazers once again make the playoffs. However, the inability to control the boards or protect the paint along with the offensive struggles of the second unit prove to be their downfall. They lose a hard-fought 6 games series in the first-round (again) but successfully make Portland an attractive place for free-agents.
After the departure of Steve Nash, the Suns have a terrible season in 2013. The one bright spot is Marcin Gortat who expands his offensive role and back to the basket game. With little faith in the Suns organization and realizing that he could nearly double his salary, Gortat excercises his ETO. The Blazers, with about $13 mil in cap room, throw all of it and the kitchen sink at Gortat. The prospect of being overpaid with a team as talented as the Blazers and the league’s best fanbase is too attractive to pass up. Gortat signs for 5 yrs, $65 mil.
In addition, the long forgotten and frustrated Joel Freeland makes the journey from España, signed using one of the salary cap exceptions. In conjunction with Hickson, the Blazers have one of the longest, most athletic backup frontcourts in the league. This also allows Crowder to move to 3 spot, a better fit for him in the NBA.
Half way through the previous season, Brandon Roy begins to feel the need to return to basketball. He finds himself watching more and more of the Blazer games, especially to watch the new SG who reminds him of himself. At the end of the season, Brandon Roy asks if he could join the staff as a skills coach for the guards secretly hoping to mentor Bradley Beal. They form an instant bond and the improvements in Beal’s game over the offseason are palpable.
With the size of Gortat and Freeland the Blazer’s shore up their rebounding and interior defense. In addition, Gortat’s surprisingly developed back to the basket game and mid-range jumper provides the perfect complement to LA. The Blazers thrive with 5 offensive weapons in their starting line-up who all play solid to elite defense. With Roy’s help, Bradley Beal builds on his rookie campaign becoming a legitimate #1 option and closer.
However, the bench of Smith, EWill, Crowder, Hickson and Freeland have difficulties scoring and the offense stagnates whenever the second unit checks in. Riding the most well-rounded starting unit in the game, the Blazers make a deep playoff run, but eventually the weak bench does them in. They’re swept in the WCF by the now mature Thunder.
After two dissapointing seasons with the (insert contending team that could use a PG), the now declining Steve Nash is not offered a contract extension. Becoming even more of a defensive liability but still with above average play making, Nash decides to take less money and a diminished role for a shot at a championship and to finish his carreer close to home. He signs for 2 yrs at one of the salary cap exceptions.
Having nearly tasted ultimate success, Paul Allen gladly opens his wallet signing Lowry and EWill to lucrative contract extensions using Bird Rights.
With a full season under their belt, the starting unit develops a tighter chemistry exceeding even the lofty expectations. Nash turns out to be the perfect fit in the second unit. Surrounded by 4 energetic defenders and no longer facing starting PGs, hiding Nash defensively turns out to be relatively easy. Previously, the bench was constructed of too many athletes with not enough skill. With Nash running the point, these weaknesses turn into strengths as the finishing ability and speed compliment the play making of Nash to form the fastest, most efficient bench in the league. The Blazers go 10 deep and wear out their opponents on a regular basis.
With some long over due luck, the Blazers survive the entire season with only a few minor injuries and end in a virtual tie with OKC for the #1 seed. Debates about which rivalry is better, OKC-POR or MIA-CHI, become regualr occurances. They eventually meet in the WCF for the second year in a row in one of the greatest playoff series in history. The Blazers win game 7 on the last play as Aldridge blocks KD’s layup away from the back board.
In the finals, the Blazers meet the defending champs, Miami Heat. Surprising the world, the Blazers win an easy 5 game series. Wade and Lebron dominate but the length and depth of Blazers overwhelms the still top-heavy Heat. Sloan and Nash win their long deserved championship and the lasting image on the front-page of newspapers everywhere is Roy and Aldridge embracing in a sea of confetti and fans at the center of the Rose Garden.