Salutations fellow Blazer maniacs. Below is my proposal of a successful off-season for the Blazers. In case it's not clear, I think my (and most everyone) has expectations or goals, which are:
- Blazers make the playoffs in the 2013-2014 season
- Have enough talent that the 2014 Blazer team could be considered top-4 in the West (i.e, contenders)
- Develop or acquire more defensive talent, especially at the Center position (this will help achieve goals 1/2)
I believe that the following is the most realistic, lowest-risk scenario that could help us achieve these goals:
- Portland drafts and/or trades down to draft either Steven Adams or Gorgui Dieng.
- Portland moves Joel Freeland (either by trading down in draft) or paying someone to take on his contract
- Portland makes a go at Tyreke Evans in free agency. ~10M/4 years
- If unable to acquire Evans, offer J.J. Reddick ~7M/4 years
- Sign Jermaine O'Neal to Vet Minimum.
- Retain Eric Maynor with MLE (if you want a third PG)
- Out of cap-room, fill out the bench with some veterans: Antwan Jamison, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Keynon Martin, etc
With the best case scenario end lineup being:
Bench: Matthews, Barton, Claver, Jamison, <2nd round picks at roster spots 13-15>
The three-headed dragon (aka, Bang Gang)
This philosophy would be similar to the 90's Bulls who, after Cartwright, had the deadly trio of Bill Wennington, Luc Longley and Will Perdue. These guys were basically 18 fouls on-tap - but were overall solid defenders, capable rebounders - all had very limited offensive game.
I believe that this is the best and lowest risk solution for the Blazers. Why?
- With 3 centers, you have more redundancy in case of injury
- Adams and Leonard would compliment each other (Adams being stronger defender, Leonard better on offense) and O'Neal would be, hopefully, a solid contributor and mentor
- The Blazers are not significantly financially invested into anyone at this position (allows flexibility)
Most importantly, with play in the NBA going smaller, this would allow the Blazers to field a large lineup when needed, but go small (see: LMA playing 5) in late game situations
My #1 concern with acquiring someone like Gortat, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee is that they won't fit into the league meta against a lot of teams - and also, being poor free-throw shooters and lacking range, they won't be playing late in the 4th quarter or overtime.
Late game rotation:
Lillard, Matthews, Evans, Batum, Aldridge
But who plays 6th man?
Blazers have two options with their normal, day-to-day lineup. Either:
- Start Evans, use Matthews as first player off the bench, replacing Lillard at the 4-6 minute mark of 1st quarter.
- Start Matthews and have Evans go for the '6th man of the year award'
Either option is viable - no, Matthews wont win 6th man of the year award, but he'll still be playing 25-30 minutes a game and scoring 14 or so. Evans is big and quick enough to guard most SF's, so a Lillard/Matthews/Evans wing is viable. At all times, however, either Lillard or Evans is in the game, running the show.
Who starts at Center?
I would give the nod to Leonard, depending on how his defense and rebounding progress in the off-season. My second choice would be Jermain O'Neal. Sub him out 5-6 minutes in. Run O'Neal a max of 20 minutes a game, with Adams/Leonard having about 15 minutes each. If Adams or Leonard play consistently well, play them more.
Is LMA happy?
He asked for a 7 footer to defend in the post, he got 2. (Adams and O'Neal). Hopefully their defense rubs off on Meyers.
Any last moves?
- Hire Lionel Hollins to coach. I like Stotts, but we need defense!
- Sign Joel Pryzbilla as the 15th man, or, ideally, bring him in as a coach. Or just pay him to sit on the bench with the Blazers. Why? It's Joel, that's why!
- Ensure that Voodoo Donuts or a beer company sponsor the Rose Garden.
Thoughts, feedback, opinions? I can't see a better case scenario than this. I would almost even do this over having Dwight Howard. (Yes, I'd choose Tyreke Evans over D-12, the dude is a bum)
Thanks for reading!