An OregonSportsNews.com panel of writers that includes Casey Mabbott, Anthony Burrola, Kyle Boggs and Ryan A. Chase takes a roundtable approach to some of the key free agency questions facing the Portland Trail Blazers this summer, including who should be the top target.
Casey Mabbott: Why not kill two birds with one stone, and snag a couple of Utah Jazz players? I would like to see the team make a big move for either Al Jefferson or Mo Williams. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith are the sexy picks right now that will carry huge contracts and not fit the team on paper or on the court. Jefferson is a big body and defensive presence that could work with a 60-40 playing time split with Meyers Leonard and help mentor the young big. Williams is an unselfish, albeit injury prone, player who can fill time at the point or as a combo guard, as he has ample experience at either slot. A backcourt of Lillard and Williams and a frontcourt of Aldridge and Jefferson and Batum at small forward could create an overnight contender in Portland. If Jefferson isn't interested, make a move for DeJaun Blair, an unselfish 110% effort guy that the team should have drafted when they had the chance in 2009.
Anthony Burrola: If I had a magic wand that made it rain and was Portland GM Neil Olshey, I'd look to get beefier. Hickson was great but is undersized. Aldridge still needs an enforcer down low, so it's tempting to go for a big-sized big name, but I'm not certain. I'd probably shell out money on a guy like Andre Iguodala, since the league is getting smaller and an athletic wing like Iggy, although not doing much to solve the outside shooting of the Blazers, gives them depth at the wing that can make life difficult for division rivals Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and possibly get thrown at Chris Paul and Steph Curry. With Batum and Iggy guarding the perimeter, and little Wesley Matthews bodying up guys in a pinch, I pay for that depth and go cheap on a shot-blocking big like Emeka Okafor. Did I just try to have my cake and eat it too? Whoops. Hey, the magic wand
Ryan A. Chase: If reality was not a factor, I would like to see Portland get Dwight Howard to create a starting lineup that matches up against almost anyone in basketball. That said, there is almost zero chance of Howard winding up in the Rose City, so the player that Portland should pursue is Nikola Pekovic of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is restricted, and obviously Minnesota and Portland have had ... interesting ... restricted free agent discussions in recent years. But if Portland can pry him away (perhaps because Minnesota is giving a new max deal to Ricky Rubio), he is a force in the middle that can easily replace Hickson's numbers and take some pressure off of Aldridge.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter