Now that the Blazers have retained Batum, signed the euros and rookies, and added Jared Jeffries and Ronnie Price, the 2012-13 Roster is taking shape. The roster stands at 14 players. That's more than enough to start the season but there are still plenty of question marks and 1 roster spot open.
- Who will start at center? Leonard, Freeland or another player?
- What will our 2nd unit look like?
- Will Freeland play center as well as power forward?
- Will Claver play small forward and power forward?
- What position(s) will Jeffries play?
- Who will back up Batum? Babbitt, Claver, or Jeffries?
- Who will spend time in the D-league? Barton, Claver, Freeland, Smith, Leonard?
The biggest question for me is: Where will veteran leadership and depth come from?
A winning team can bounce back from discouragement and losing streaks, respond to runs with runs of their own and close out games by holding onto leads. They also have the depth to maintain leads and ride out injuries to rotation players. The Blazers need leaders that will convey consistency and resilience to our young players and it can't all come from the coaching staff. Some players must lead by example. Aldridge may develop into a leader but he can't do it alone. We have 5 rookies and 4 players with 3 yrs or less of NBA experience. New additions Jeffries and Price are our most experienced players with 10 and 7 yrs, respectively. Neither is a proven winner, leader, or mentor.
The last thing I want to see is a transition from the FrailBlazers to the TrailBabies. As I see it, The Blazers need a veteran center who is willing to play a limited backup role and be a mentor and a leader for our young bigs. This is a tough position to fill. Ideally, we would sign players with a lot of experience but not so old that they are a defensive liability; players who are talented enough to contribute and challenge the young guys, but without the ego to demand playing time that will take away from their development. Perhaps most importantly, the Blazers have just under 4.7 million left to spend under the salary cap. This limits the kind of free agent talent we can recruit, but is still more than some teams can spend. Unfortunately, most veterans that would meet the criteria are the ones who seek small roles on championship contenders, not mentor roles on lottery teams.
With that said, here are the players I think the Blazers might consider to fill out the roster:
Joel Przybilla 7-1 C, We all know and love him. He was once the heart and soul of the team. His Twitter account says "currently retired" though that may be temporary like last season. He can show Leonard and Freeland how to improve their footwork, positioning, rebounding, and shot block timing. More importantly, he can teach them how to manage their emotions without backing down from anybody. Yes he's slowed down by injuries and maybe he'll stay retired, but I believe his heart is still with this team and he said he's never had more fun than last year(go figure). If we could get 8-10 mins a game from him for the vet's minimum, he would really help us on and off the court.
Nazr Mohammed, 6-10 C, He's 35 and comfortable being a role player. In his prime, his strengths were toughness, defense, rebounding, and shot blocking. He was a role player for OKC most recently. He can still contribute but his leadership is a question mark.
Sound off in the comments section about these or other players you think would work for the Blazers.