The Blazers are at a crossroads right now. They've got 1 star, and 2 decent players. They've got tons of cap, but are a small market. Everyone's got a different way that they think we can turn it around. I'm gonna give you the three ways i see it. The players may not be exact, but the ideas are pretty much set in stone.
Way 1:The Teardown - This idea hurts the most, it is the conceding of defeat. The realization that two year rebuilds in the NBA don't happen without acquring a star through FA or the draft. The teardown requires the disheartening trade of LMA. But it makes sense, Aldridge right now can net us ALOT in return, especially if sent to the right team.
How would i go about a teardown, how about trading LaMarcus Aldridge amd Wesley Matthews to Cleveland for Tristan Thompson, Cleveland's 1st round pick this year, next years as well. (Maybe top 5 protected), and Luke Walton, and maybe we could even get another top 14 or so 1st rounder out of them.
Why Cleveland would do it is obvious, Aldridge is a legitimate star, and it would seem that Irving is as well. Aldridge and Matthews combine for around 20 million in cap space and the Cavaliers have 18 million in space. Walton and Thompson combine for about 11 millions. Cle would have Varajao, Aldrdge, Irving, Matthews, and 9 million in cap space to build around. That's a very solid core going forward.
(this is all taking current draft position into account of course (@ pick #4)
The Blazers do it in order to kickstart the rebuild off on the right note. They will have at pick #4 the option of either Robinson, MKG, or Drummond. Whichever one falls. They can then pick at presumably the 7th and 11th slot. That's alot of draft picks, AND they get Tristan Thompson who's a nice prospect as well. They take on Walton's contract because they're rebuilding through the draft, and cap flexibility isn't really an issue within the next 2-3 years.
The Blazer's could come out of it with, Thomas Robinson, Jeremy Lamb, Tristan Thompson, and Damian Lillard. Or whatever set of draftees you can think of. I would retain Batum with this strategy, as he's extremely young still. The one other positive, is that with Aldridge gone, next year the Blazers will be getting a VERY high pick. And probably a pick in the early 20's from Cle.
Way 2: The Homerun/Strikout - This approach is more about building AROUND Aldridge. There will be risks involved, and there will be large salaries given out. But I see this as the offseason to do it. Why? simple because we have the cap-space, and unless we sign a bunch of 1 year contracts won't have it again next year, as well as we can exceed the cap to match Batum. There's alot of fear out there about loss of cap flexibility, but to be honest, i have no idea why. Having all the cap in the world isn't gonna help a small market team like the Blazers. Even with lots of big contracts, Aldridge will still have trade value, although i don't feel his value will ever get much higher than it is at this moment. And Batum for anything under 9 mil will make a contending team salivate.
in this scenario, i like the trading of the picks idea. I like trading the lottery picks & S. Williams for Lowry and Houstons pick. This idea is nice because the salaries are a wash, meaning the Blazers maintain a large amount of cap space. Though i wouldn't mind Houston throwing Budinger or C. Lee into the deal, diminishing cap space slightly.
with that pick from Houston, a player like Tony Wroten could be worth the risk, or Moultrie/Meyers Leonard/John Henson player to help the inside.
With that out of the way you come into free agency having fixed your point guard spot, and we'll say you grabbed a big for some inside rotation help.
now you offer Eric Gordon a toxic 12.5 mil or so offer and hope there's no match. After that going for the best defensive minded center you can find. resign Hickson and that's your roster. Oh and if you can, resign Pryzbilla. Also an attempt at a backup 4 who can play some D would be good.
Lowry / Smith
Gordon / Wesley / Elliot
Batum / (veteran of any sort?) Babbitt
Aldridge / Hickson / (Henson?)
Pryzbilla / A. Gray / (or Leonard?)
i think that you can contend with that roster. It may not win it all immediately or ever. But that roster can get you to the 2nd round, possibly further, depending on your propects panning out.
Way 3: Wishing Upon A Lottery Star - I call it this because, that's basically what you're doing. I think unless you just DESTROY the team around him, Aldridge is gonna get you out of the top 5 in the lottery every time. This strategy i have seen presented two ways.
1) Sign Dragic, Asik or player of that caliber. Keep the picks, and use them on whomever the person's favorite guy is. This is the epitome of wishing on a lottery star. As you've given Aldridge more talent to work with, but probably not enough to get out of the 1st round. Barring Dragic or Asik, or one of the 2 picks becoming stars.
2) Don't sign anyone, maintain flexibility for lopsided trades and future FA's. The first part is unreliable and dreaming up a miracle. Lopsided trades are rarely noticably lopsided at the time, and trades are rarely all that lopsided in general. The 2nd part makes sense, maybe next years FA crop will be better, I don't know, i haven't looked that far ahead. BUT this is still Portland, we're presumably gonna still have to overpay players to come here, and star caliber players, are probably still not gonna willing waltz on over to portland.
I don't really support these ideas, but they are there. There is a chance they work out, it would seem though, when the numbers are run.
Between picks 6-15
That there <1% chance of landing a 1st tier star. (Kobe, Pierce, Nash)
and that there is approximately 12.5% chance of landing a 2nd tier player (Iguodala, Deng, Noah). Which wouldn't be that bad, except a tiny handful of those players actually make a big impact before their 3rd year in the league. At which point, i assume after years of probably mediocrity. LMA will not resign, putting us back at square 1.