Britt Robson of CNNSI.com has a full breakdown and summary of the offseason moves for each of the five teams in the Northwest Division. His grades are fairly eyebrow-raising given that David Kahn's franchise earns better marks than Pritchard/Miller/Cho...
- Thunder: A-
- Jazz: B+
- Timberwolves: B
- Blazers: B-
- Nuggets: C
Here are a few snippets from his Blazers rundown...
Camby settles in
Fourteen-year veteran Marcus Camby is a superb fit with Portland's slow pace, deliberate half-court offense and coach Nate McMillan's ongoing desire for a rigorous defense that protects the rim. The Blazers were 10.5 points better per 100 possessions when he was on the court after coming over from the Clippers at the trade deadline last season, and even if Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla come back healthy this season, Camby can slide to power forward on occasion. His contract extension, signed during the playoffs in April (making it essentially an offseason move for our purposes), is expensive (about $21 million with another $5 million in incentives) but short term (two years).
The good glue of Matthews
Giving $34 million over the next five years to last year's overachieving, undrafted Jazz rookie is steep, but Wesley Matthews (pictured) is another player tailor-made for McMillan's no-nonsense style. He won't need a lot of touches on offense and can defend the entire gamut of wing players.
A coup in the boardroom
After weeks of rumors and not-so-subtle messages (like the firing of his right-hand man, Tom Penn), Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard was let go on draft night. Maybe Pritchard is as arrogant as his detractors claim, but his roster-building -- except for the classic second-guessing that can be made about choosing Oden over Durant -- was close to impeccable. And now that billionaire owner Paul Allen and his minions have started meddling, who tells them to stop?
Like I told Sekou Smith and Lang Whitaker on the Hang Time Podcast yesterday, I'd be buying, rather than selling, stock in the Blazers at this point, even if the offseason bumps have been alarming and expensive. And I think ranking the Blazers 4th in the division for their offseason is a decision guided by emotional storylines rather than actual moves.
Who got better? Denver didn't. Minnesota probably had the worst offseason in the entire league and it's impossible to write about them without instantly feeling dumber, so I'll stop there. Portland should be in the top 3 in the division at the very least, by default.
Against all odds, Utah got better, but it was improvement by attrition. Oklahoma City did too but not in a major short-term game-changing sense. With no major player defections and less overall rotation turnover you could make the case that the Blazers should be ahead of Utah. By locking up Marcus Camby and adding Wesley Matthews -- bigger impact guys than anyone Oklahoma City added -- you could argue Portland fared better than the Thunder when it comes to playoff positioning next season.
I'm not sure if I'm ready to grant the Blazers the best offseason in the Northwest Division but I think they're in the discussion. Who gets the crown in your eyes? Vote now and explain your reasoning in the comments.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter