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Quick: PA OK's Afterburners

Jason Quick is reporting that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has given General Manager Kevin Pritchard at least the green light, if not the mandate, to improve the team over the summer.  Quick himself indicates that such a command is nebulous by nature, as theoretically it's the job of every General Manager to improve the team.  But the sentiment reads, "No more waiting.  The window is opening.  Make sure we're ready to jump through."

What does this mean for the team's off-season plans?

First of all, it looks more likely than ever that the draft will be a minor part of the Blazers summer unless they plan to risk a massive move upwards in the draft order.  "Make sure the team gets better this summer" isn't congruent with "Make our best move acquiring a rookie with the #24 pick."  Moving out of the first round entirely is a strong possibility.  Think second-round picks and cross your fingers that one or more can earn a roster spot.

Second, we've been saying for more than a year that moves will be made this summer.  Moves are going to be attempted this summer, that's for sure.  The only conceivable contingency that could leave the team's rotation unaltered come fall is an utter lack of reasonable trading possibilities.  In other words, if we see the same lineup fielded next year it will indicate the Blazers went with their third or fourth option at best.  It's not impossible but it's not likely.  Know that anyone with persistent questions surrounding them is available, if not gone.

Keep a strong, strong eye on veteran point guards (as if you haven't already) and either great scoring or great all-around small forwards.  Given the recent chatter about Martell Webster still not being all the way back, don't bank on him being a solid bet at small forward come fall.  Assume at this point the Blazers have one true small foward, that being Nicolas Batum, and a bunch of other guys filling in.  Approaching the issue from that angle may give you a clue as to possible Portland moves.

Finally, discard some of the financial constraints under which the team has been operating over the last few years.  The Blazers aren't likely to cross the luxury tax line this early, but they will probably have to following the re-signing of the core players.  They will be looking to use the money they've budgeted between now and that time to make the biggest impact possible.  They're not likely to go in the middle.  Depending on who is interested in doing business they'll either spend as little as possible on targeted, cheap veterans to get them through the next year or they'll be willing to blow a significant amount on the acquisition they think will take them to the next level both now and later. Between the young talent and the possibility of cap space, if Portland is going to make a splashy move, this will be the time to do it.

--Dave (