I'm sure in the coming days, weeks, and months you're going to see an abundance of these types of posts from nearly everyone that's a regular BlazersEdge visitor. So I suppose I wanted to share a few of my ideas of what the team could do to improve this off-season before these types of posts are beaten to death with the same old stuff.
It was staggering watching how much better the Spurs were than the Blazers. What's even more staggering is that I'm not too sure what the Blazers can do to close that gap. It seems they're dead-set on keeping Batum and Matthews on the team which nearly destroys the possibility of making a big-time trade.
So, where do they go from here? As you could probably assume by the title and the introduction in this post, I'm going to list a few ideas below. Keep in mind that I'm ignorant to what the cap situation is right now. So don't jump my keister if you're a Blazers salary cap expert and I suggest a free-agent who you know is going to be too expensive.
Idea #1 - Move Wesley Matthews to the bench. Since it seems that Wesley isn't going to be traded, it would strongly benefit the team to have him as a 6th man.
It's been a long time since Portland has had a reliable sixth man. Travis Outlaw was probably the last one, and Wesley could provide what Travis did, except he'd add energy, defense, and toughness.
One negative about moving Wesley to the bench is I don't know how the Blazers could bring in to fill his starting spot. However, Wesley would drastically improve the bench, so I feel like it would be a great move to make him a 6th man.
Idea #2 - Trade CJ McCollum. He had almost no impact on the Blazers success this season. I'm sure that the hope in Rip City is that he'll become the next Jason Terry, but I'm not so sure that he will. Maybe they could flip McCollum for a starting caliber shooting guard, which would then make Wesley Matthews a 6th man as I mentioned before. However, I don't know if there's that many teams that are salivating over the idea of acquiring CJ McCollum.
Idea #3 - Go after Marcin Gortat. I'm not too sure what the demand in the free-agent market will be for Gortat, but the idea here is to improve the bench and maybe improve the starting lineup.
Gortat probably won't accept a contract from anyone if he's not guaranteed a starting spot. Sign him, and move Robin Lopez to the bench. Then Lopez can fill the role that they wanted Thomas Robinson to fill this past season as a high energy big guy that knocks people around and crashes the glass hard.
With Gortat in the starting lineup, you'll get a lot of the same things Lopez provided. He's a good rebounder, a decent shot blocker, is more athletic than Lopez, and is a bit of a better scorer.
Idea #4 - Find a suitable backup point guard. If all of my previous ideas come true, we'll have Matthews and Lopez coming off the bench. So you don't need a scoring guard like Mo Williams.
Idea #5 - Get something, anything in exchange for Thomas Robinson. They can still sell that he hasn't found the right situation yet, and that he has a lot of upside on the right team. If they can get a scoring power forward in exchange for him, great. But just get something.
Maybe bringing Channing Frye back to Portland wouldn't be such a bad idea. Again, adding more fire power to the bench. Sending Thomas Robinson and Dorrell Wright to Phoenix in exchange for Frye may be a decent idea.
Idea #6 - If all else fails, go after Luol Deng. If Portland is not able to get done any of my previous ideas, then make a run at Deng. Again, I don't know what he'll be asking for, and I don't know if he'll want to come off the bench which is what he would do if he signed with Portland. But if he agreed to to do it, it would definitely be a big deal.
Idea #7 & MOST IMPORTANT! - Damian Lillard has to learn how to play defense. As everyone knows it's pretty much a guard driven league now. If the Blazers are going to have any success in the later rounds of the playoffs in the future, they'll probably have to go through either Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, or Russell Westbrook. Of course those guys can't be completely stopped, but you can make them work. And Lillard definitely wasn't able to make Tony Parker work for anything.
My hopeful Portland Trail Blazers 2014-2015 season lineup...
C - Marcin Gortat
F - Nicolas Batum
G - Damian Lillard
G/F - Wesley Matthews
C - Robin Lopez
F - Channing Frye
G - Kirk Hinrich, Greivis Vasquez, or Shaun Livingston