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Signings and Free Agency Buzz

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That's a lot of signings and none involve the Blazers. The two names that have been mentioned in rumors recently with the Blazers are Andre Miller and Brandon Bass.

Chris Broussard of ESPN writes regarding Andre Miller...

Executives around the league believe Miller will get a three-year, midlevel deal from some team, but that club remains a mystery right now. If Miller wants to play for a one-year, midlevel deal, a return to Philly is possible, but it's doubtful he'll settle for that and doubtful they'll offer more.

Before free agency began, a prevailing thought was Portland wanted Miller. But the Blazers, citing his terrible 3-point shooting, poor defense and age, have almost no interest in him.

Real GM's Alex Kennedy writes with regard to Brandon Bass...

"We've narrowed it down to about two or three teams," said Bass's agent Tony Dutt. "Orlando has shown a lot of interest, Detroit is another option, and Portland is up there as well. We're expecting something to get done in the next couple days."

People keep asking what I'm hearing about free agents.  Here's what I'm hearing.... that's right: crickets. The free agency buzz around this team right now is quieter than it's been the entire offseason. I wish that wasn't the case as much as anyone but I'm not going to fabricate free agent signing rumors or trade scenarios simply for the purpose of discussion.  

Let's stop and take a step back and think about the Hedo pursuit and what that signaled.  
  • First, it showed that the Blazers were willing (eager?) to spend their cap room on an impact player, one that would potentially transform the look of the team over the next year or two and make them a serious championship contender.  
  • Second, it was consistent with Pritchard's repeated statements that he likes his players and is looking to tweak the roster rather than effecting an overhaul.  
  • Third, it showed that the Blazers prioritized a transformative, experienced player over either a new starting point guard or a banger frontcourt player in their list of team upgrade needs.  
I think those lessons give us a good idea how the rest of this offseason could play out.  First of all, I do not believe the Blazers see any of the free agent point guards as significant upgrades over Steve Blake.  If they went after Jason Kidd they sure didn't make it known.  Ditto for MIke Bibby.  If they truly want Andre MIller, it doesn't seem like they have much serious competition for his services.  Unless they can pull a rabbit out of a lopsided trade hat, I am having a hard time figuring out where they will find a new starting point guard at this juncture.

In terms of the Bass rumor, my first inclination is to believe this is Bass's agent using Portland (and its cap space) as leverage to increase the offers from Orlando and Detroit.  While Portland's fans and a number of bloggers have been all over Bass for months, his is not a name I've heard buzzing at all.  That doesn't mean it's not happening, it would just come as more of a surprise than most moves. Bass is a very nice player but he's not a transformative player and he's not likely to have a large role.  For those reasons I think you probably won't see Portland pay the premium it would take to get him to Portland. Overpaying for Brandon Bass, a backup frontcourt player, is not the value play. It also doesn't seem like the consolation prize that Kevin Pritchard would be satisfied with if his goal this offseason was acquiring a player like Hedo Turkoglu. 

Waiting on a premier player to get dumped by a team looking to cut costs would seem more likely.  The alternative to a free agency signing that Kevin Pritchard is weighing right now (aside from a lopsided trade, which I've discussed previously) is bringing the entire core of a 54 win team back intact and choosing to fight the cap space question another day.  With the news that the cap and luxury tax line could fall drastically next season plus a weak free agency crop overall (the only truly transformative player left is Lamar Odom... do you expect to see him in Red and Black?  Honestly?)  Pritchard's got all the justification he needs to hang tight for awhile.  

I'm not saying that waiting is what I want Pritchard to do -- indeed, quite the opposite, I've been calling on him to tool up for weeks now -- but it's certainly a strong possibility that a few minor moves to fill out the roster could be all the team has in store this summer.

Don't shoot the messenger. 

And let's hope this is simply the calm before a storm.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)