Blazers Sign Batum's offer sheet. After a couple weeks of drama building up, the Blazers did what they said they would do all along. Batum was cornered into telling everyone he wanted to go to Minnesota in order to get a larger pay check. His contract has also been reported to be less than originally thought. The rumor mill claims that Minnesota offered some assets for Batum that include Derrick Williams and some picks, but Paul Allen was not going to let him go for anything. Batum's agent shows just how bad he is (creating feuds), and good at the same time (getting Batum a large paycheck). Batum is now the second highest paid player on the team. Batum will need to step it up considerably and hopefully a new coach will get Batum more involved on offense. Whether or not Batum is over paid will be dictated by how he plays in the future. Remember he is only 23.
Blazers sign veteran point guard Ronnie Price. I understand the sentiment by getting a guy who knows Lillard and has played with Matthews, but Price may not even be better than Nolan Smith and this point in his career. Price brings defense primarily with his high steal rate and his unbridled love to foul. His offensive game however is not good. He is a poor outside shooter and has trouble handling the ball under pressure. His turnover rate and assist rate are one of the worst in the league. This move is all about creating team chemistry and making sure Lillard and Matthews are comfortable in the locker room and on the floor. Good news is it is only a one-year deal at the minimum allowed so it is nothing to sneeze at.
Blazers get assets in return for Felton and Thomas? From the Blazer's perspective Felton was not worth anything and Kurt Thomas did not fit our team anymore with so many young guys. The Blazers turned Felton and Thomas into Jeffries, 2-Greek players, a 2nd round pick in 2016, and Cash to aid in paying Jeffries contract. I like Olshey's thinking in creating more assets in order to look towards something bigger, and not sacrificing more cap space to do so.
The coaching search continues. From all the reports around the league it seems like the Blazers are interviewing nearly every coaching assistant around the league. Olshey wants a coach who is as much of a teacher as he is a coach because of how many young players are on the roster next season. It is much too early to speculate on the Blazers top choices, but the most reputable assistants are Brian Shaw and Mike Malone. There is also a possibility Kaleb Canales is the coach next season. Look for a head coach to be chosen by the Beginning of August.
The Presidental Vacancy. Larry Miller resigning certainly came as a surprise, however it was not met with disappointment. Miller had no Basketball expirience and was purely with the organization to be Paul Allen's puppet. The Presidential spot will probably not be filled until after a coach is hired, which in itself could be a recipe for disaster if the president ends up clashing with the coach that has already been hired. It has been reported that Phil Jackson may be interested in the position, but with that many egos in the organization it could turn out to be a dangerous move - just as much as it could be a genius move. That being said, don't expect a decision anytime soon.
Summer league better to watch than the regular season? This years summer league may end up being one of the most exciting summer leagues in the history of the team, especially after such brutal basketball at the end of the regular season. Watching Damian Lillard, Myers Leonard, and Will Barton may just be the medicine needed to get over the awful hangover from last season. Damian Lillard may end up being one of the best point guards in the history of the team (not hard to do). Myers Leonard shows flashes of what he can be, and Will Barton may end up being one of the best 2nd rounders ever in team history, assuming he gains some weight. While all of these things are exciting to watch also keep in mind it is summer league and enjoy it while you can.
Roster almost set - Depth Chart isn't. Blazers currently have 14 players under contract with one roster spot left to fill. Olshey would not commit to saying whether it would be a center or not, but I fully expect the Blazers to look at several big men to shore up some minutes in the event that injuries occur (which we know can happen). Big men that are floating around include Jerome Jordan and Nazr. Even though Aldridge hates playing center, he maybe forced in that position for good reason; Blazers have no one else as him down low. The other starting big man spot will be a fight between Freeland and Hickson. Freeland has more size, but likes to play the high post, while Hickson is smaller and likes to play down low. Freeland is the more established player, but Hickson brings more athleticism and energy. It will be something to keep your eye on as training camp comes along.
Don't be surprised if Babbitt gets less minutes than he was getting last season. I fully expect Victor Claver to beat out Luke Babbitt for the backup SF spot. Babbitt's minutes will be very limited at PF too, playing behind at least Freeland and Hickson. Claver has the tools to be a much better rebounder and is much more athletic than Babbitt, as well as a good shooter. Matthews has the SG spot locked down for now, but in the next couple of years I fully expect him to be moved to the bench and replaced with one of our own players, a player through free agency, or a trade.