How Should Blazers Fill Last Roster Spot?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

How should the Portland Trail Blazers fill their final roster spot?

Now that the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to sign Chris Kaman, many fans believe Portland should either re-sign Mo Williams or acquire another guard with the last open spot on the roster. Reports of Portland talking to players such as Steve Blake and remaining in contact with Williams support the idea.

However, not many people have noted the Blazers' lack of depth at the small forward position. Starter Nicolas Batum is backed up by Dorell Wright and Victor Claver, both of whom were underwhelming last season. Should Blazers GM Neil Olshey and his staff consider an upgrade at the position?

Here's a look at some of Olshey's options now that the big question -- Kaman -- has been resolved.

Sign a point guard: This idea has been thrown around on Blazer's Edge quite a bit, and it is a good idea. The Blazers do have two young guards in Will Barton and CJ McCollum, but neither is a natural point guard option.

Assuming the coaching staff wants one of the two young guards to become a point guard, the Blazers could see how Summer League plays out and sign a point guard if Barton and McCollum don't show sufficient ball-handling and passing skills. There are still a number of budget options available on the free-agent market, including Blake, Aaron Brooks and Beno Udrih. Usually, some of those cheaper point guards are available later in the summer.

If the coaching staff isn't ready for either Barton or McCollum to handle the point duties, Olshey would likely be better off signing a point guard with the last roster spot soon. If Williams didn't return and Olshey used the last spot elsewhere, Damian Lillard would be left as the only point guard on the roster.

Sign a wing or small forward: Again, the only probable way this happens is if either Barton or McCollum develops "point guard skills," or if Portland opens up another roster spot with a trade. If that happens, Olshey must decide what he wants out of a back-up small forward: defense, scoring, or a mix of both. Here's a look at three options that are out there.

  • PJ Tucker, PHX: Tucker grew into his role as a starter for the Suns last season. He is a solid defender and can score if needed. Last season, he averaged about 10 points, 7 rebounds, and a steal per game. Three-point shooting is always important in Stotts's offense, and Tucker can do that. He shot 39% from deep last season.
  • Francisco Garcia, HOU: Garcia came off the bench for the Rockets last year and provided valuable minutes in his role. He is similar to Blazers forward Dorell Wright in the sense that their biggest threat on offense is their long-range shooting. Garcia is also a decent defender off the bench. Last season, his first full one with the Rockets, he recorded about 6 points, including shooting 36% from deep. Garcia is also known to be a good presence in the locker room. He would be a great addition to the Trail Blazers' roster.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu, NOP: Aminu was a part of the blockbuster trade that sent star guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles. Aminu is not known for his long-range shooting but is known to be a very good defender and rebounder. He averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, but only shot 29% from the three-point land. If he can develop it this summer and throughout the season, Aminu would be a great fit in Portland.

It remains to be seen whether those names would be willing to sign in Portland for the Bi-Annual Exception of $2.1 million. Fit-wise, though, all are intriguing options for Portland should they choose to sign a small forward.

Trade or waive a player to create an extra roster spot: Trading or waiving a player would be an excellent way to create a roster spot if Olshey believes the roster needs both a guard and a forward. Waiving a player, however, does not provide salary cap relief. If Olshey chose to go with this route, the most likely candidate to be waived would likely be Victor Claver (a low salary and a lack of productivity through two seasons). Trading Claver or Joel Freeland to a team with open cap space could free up a spot if Olshey wanted to add both a cheap point guard and a wing.

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