There has been a flurry of recent posts (must be our off-season already) on Blazers Edge about the players we should target via trade, free agency, and/or the draft. After Dave's fantastic player articles, I'd like to take a look at what we already have on the roster to work with moving into a very important summer.
I'd like to get the pulse on my fellow BEdger's opinions regarding our current roster. Here are the things I'd like to hear about (feel free to answer one or more of the questions in the comments below). Bonus points (recs) are awarded for non-obvious choices with well thought out responses.
1. If a current player were traded, the loss of which player would most want you to turn to the streets and riot like Vancouver after a NHL Finals series (aka, who is your favorite player)?
2. Who would you most like to see gone? This could be because of a bad fit, duplication of style/abilities, attitude, upside, age, contract, whatever...
3. Who on the current roster has the most upside for improvement, and more specifically, who are you most excited to watch develop (again, bonus points for non-obvious answers)?
4. Ok, I lied, there is one non-current roster question. If you could pick just one (fairly realistic) player for the Blazers to acquire via draft, free agency, or trade this summer who would it be and why?
Alright, I suppose I'll throw my answers out there to get things moving.
(1) I'm going to go with Aldridge as the player I'd least like to see traded. I think the popular answer is likely Lillard, and I can't disagree with that. That said, I think we all are seeing in these playoffs what happens when a team trades away an All-Star in their prime.
You can never predict someone going down, especially someone as durable as Westbrook has been, but don't you think the Thunder would have loved to have retained Harden for this last year of his rookie contract? I bet if you gave them a do-over, they would trade Ibaka instead (maybe for a competent defensive center and amnesty Perkins) and never look back. If you can help it, never trade a dollar for 4 quarters.
I think it would be extremely difficult to replace Aldridge's consistency, scoring ability, versatility, defense, and poise. We definitely have a youth movement going on, but if Olshey can make some power moves (like he's shown himself capable of), I hope that we can find a way to extend our time with LMA and figure out a way to be competitive with him, because if we don't and are forced into a trade, I think we will miss him dearly.
(2) I'd love to see us figure out a way to sign and trade Hickson. There are enough teams under the cap to make this a bit of a long shot, but I'm crossing my fingers (maybe Miami?). I know it's been beat to death, but with our more pressing needs (chiefly a defensive center and scoring off the bench) and limited cap room, I don't think we can afford him.
I also wouldn't mind trading Mathews if we could fill a more immediate hole. I love his effort, grit, and leadership, but his physical skills are mostly duplicated (and surpassed) by Batum, and if we are ever going to make the jump to contender, I feel as though we absolutely need Batum to become the player we've all been hoping for. I simply think it will be too tall a task to find two All-Star caliber players that aren't currently on the roster if Batum never gets there. Ugh, that last sentence was depressing.
(3) I am very excited to continue to watch Barton develop. I have similar hopes for E-Will if he's brought back, but being a Blazer fan pretty quickly gets you pessimistic in regard to injury prone players. I think that Barton can become a similar type player that Jamal Crawford was for the Clippers this year. When he's on, Barton is a ton of fun to watch. I hope he works to improve his consistency and control this summer and that we see an improved player next season.
(4) This one is easy. I pick
Lebron. Oh, I said realistic. Ok, I'm going to go with Omer Asik. Obviously, several dominoes will have to fall for this to happen, beginning with Dwight Howard deciding to leave the bright lights of LA for Houston. While not a high volume shot blocker, Asik is the defensive presence that we need. Here is one look at his defensive impact. I think Asik is one of the few players we have a (small?) chance at acquiring that could give us a pretty big boost in defensive efficiency. Coupled with the development of a hard working and motivated class of rookies, we could make the jump to a respectable defense next year if we were able to pull this move off.
If you stayed with me this long, I salute you, and I hope to hear some opinions in the comments section from the most (basketball) educated, interesting group of fans in the NBA. Also, here is a poll. Everyone likes polls, right?