6 easy steps to ...... improvement

Following up on KVin2's post, "6 easy steps to the playoffs" - nice post by the way - I propose an alternative direction in six steps.

Step 1. Agree to a trade with Houston (effective after 7/1) - the rights to K. Papanicolaou and a second round pick to the Rockets for Thomas Robinson.

From Yahoo Sports

The Rockets are targeting teams with the cap space to absorb Robinson's contract. The Rockets are trying to cobble together a package that could include assets such as a trade exception, a draft pick or non-guaranteed contracts that they can be unloaded, sources said.

In Papanicolaou, they get a young foreign player who doesn't count against their cap, and who they could sign after Howard signs, or leave over in Europe for another year.

Step 2. Agree to a trade with Washington (effective after 7/1) - trade Thomas Robinson, Joel Freeland, and the #10 pick in the draft for Emeka Okafor and Washington's #3 pick. Washington has over $27 million tied up in Nene and Okafor in 2013/14. Shedding Okafor's contract along with the salary slot for the #3 pick, Washington clears over $10 million of salary. They go into the year with a lineup of Wall, Beal, Ariza, Robinson and Nene, and a huge amount of cap space. They give up the right to get a Porter or Bennett in exchange for what they might get at #10 - maybe a Len, Muhammad, Zeller, or Gobert, but for the chance to see what Robinson can do, and shed a ton of money - maybe.

Portland uses up their cap space to get a defensive, rim protecting center - maybe not the first choice, but still priority number 1. In addition, they move up to the top three in the draft.

Step 3. Cleveland is dying to take Otto Porter in the draft, but also know he might be gotten a little further down. They would love to drop down a few spots (not many), and pick up an asset. Cleveland takes Noel Nerlens with the first pick in the draft, and after Orlando takes Ben McLemore, Washington takes Porter. After July 1, Portland includes Cleveland in their trade with Washington/Houston, with the Cavs getting Porter and Meyers Leonard, and Portland getting Nerlens.

Step 4. Renounce or waive the rights to everybody - Maynor, Hickson, Pavlovic, etc.

Step 5. Execute Houston, Washington, Cleveland trade(s).

Step 6. Use their exception and veteran minimums to sign Eric Maynor, EWilliams and Jermaine O'Neal.

Portland's lineup going into 2013/2014:

Lillared / Maynor

Matthews / Barton / EWill

Batum / Claver

Aldridge / Oneal

Okafor / Nerlens (later in the year) / Oneal

Portland accomoplishes priority #1 for next year and the future. Okafor gives them a true, defensive center for 2013/14, and in Nerlens they get a young, cheaper center solution going forward. They fail at significantly improving their bench - adding a nice wing would have been good. However, they would go into 2014/2015 with their COTF healthy and in place, and they would lose Okafor's $14 million contract freeing up money for free agency, which they use to sign a big time wing.

Have read in a couple of places now that the Salary Cap might be around $60 million next year. This gets Portland to about $60.4 million, so its close.

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