Draft, trade, free agency? Older vets, players in their prime, young guys with potential?
How about a plan that would allow us to win now, while building for the future?
Draft Drummond and Lillard. I am still hopeful that we can get both. If you don't think this is possible, simply mentally insert "Leonard" when you read Drummond or "Marshall" when you read Lillard. Pick up a wing player with the #41. I liked Will Barton early in the process because I liked his potential watching him at Memphis. Now it looks like he'll be gone by then, but we'll just roll with that (again, use some mental insertion).
Trade S. Williams to a cap or exception team along with the #40 and cash. His $3.1 million is annoying for our cap-situation, but it's not like it is bank-breaking. Williams is actually an OK player. So basically a team gets a bench player for free, minus the cap-hit, plus a prospect in a deep draft.
After renouncing rights to our incumbent free agents, excluding Batum, we'll have about $20 million in space.
Sign Steve Nash to a two-year deal starting at $9 million. Sign Ray Allen to a two-year deal starting at $4 million. Both get a player option in year two. There is debate over whether these guys will go for the money or take less to play for a championship. This represents an alternative for them as well.
Claim Elton Brand or Brendan Haywood off amnesty if they are available (probably Haywood, possibly Brand) for $3 million. Brand is the more talented player, has a shorter contract, and provides veteran leadership, so that's who I'd prefer if given the choice. Haywood is bigger though.
Then we could use some or all of the rest to re-sign Hickson. Batum could be re-signed going over the cap.
We could still use the room exception ($2.5 million). Marcus Camby could actually be a good fit if he was willing to come back to Portland. I also would like to see Freeland come in, but his playing time probably wouldn't be what he would want with this team. Under these circumstances, trading his rights might be more likely. We'll just roll with the ol' faithful Przybilla for the minimum right now.
Our roster would look something like this:
Center would be a bit of a committee effort with Drummond developing and Brand and Hickson both a little undersized (though both are long and strong). This could be a trade upgrade (Hickson, Smith, Freeland rights for Gortat?). The lineups might need to be changed a bit, Brand would have a hard time compensating for Nash and Allen's subpar perimeter D.
This would be a nice mix of savvy old vets (Nash, Allen, Brand, Thomas, Prz), guys coming in to their primes (Aldridge, Batum, Matthews, Hickson) and rookies or very young players (Lillard, Drummond, Barton, Williams, Babbitt, Smith).
So you get a contending team for now. Maybe enough to get past OKC, maybe not. But the young guys would get that playoff experience, and that would be invaluable. Not to mention they would get to apprentice with some of the wisest craftsmen around. And if we get knocked out in the playoffs, perhaps that bitter loss will be just enough to light a fire.
What do you guys think? Good plan? Bad plan? Good plan but impossible to pull off? What would you want to change, or what would need to be changed to have it work?