Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan told Blazersedge after practice Monday that the team has made "significant progress" over the weekend in determining whether or not to use the amnesty clause on guard Brandon Roy and that the team is "fairly close" to making its decision.
Roy informed the team on Thursday night, on the eve of training camp opening, that he had decided to pursue a medical retirement due to problems with his knees. Portland's management team remains in information-gathering mode and has not yet submitted its recommendation to owner Paul Allen for approval.
"On Friday, we started with the news from Brandon and you've got to immediately assess your team from a roster standpoint, from a personnel standpoint and from your financial flexibility standpoint," Buchanan said. "That thinking immediately kicked into gear once we got the news from Brandon. I think we've made signfiicant progress in the decision that is probably right for us from both a basketball standpoint and a business standpoint. We're gathering all the information all the information we can gather. There's a lot of data you can get, making what is obviously a big decision for our organization, trying to compile as much information as we can to make the right one, present it to our ownership and let them decide if that's the right decision to go. But we've made significant progress on that front."
The 2011-2012 free agency period is ongoing and the deadline to use the amnesty clause on a player comes on Friday. The clock is obviously ticking on the Roy decision.
"I think we're fairly close at this point," Buchanan said. "There's a few details you've got to wrap up, cross your t's and dot your I's on a few details you have to get from various people. Obviously we have until Friday. The free agency period, you have to factor in that as the window starts to close on that, that's a certain factor to take into account, but you also have to make sure you're gathering and exhausting all the options and all the data you can gather to make the right decision."
Allowing Roy to pursue a medical retirement would mean the potential for recovering costs associated with his contract from insurance, although the full cost of his contract was not insured. The medical retirement path would come with another significant risk: Roy's contract could go back on Portland's books if he opts to make a comeback at some future date.
Using the amnesty would allow Portland to recover use of its full Mid-Level Exception, worth up to $5 million per year for up to four years, by getting below the luxury tax; retaining Roy would limit the Blazers to spending a mini-MLE worth up to $3 million per year for up to three years. While the Blazers still view this as a weak free agency crop, it would certainly expand their options in targeting players who are still available.
Blazers coach Nate McMillan raised the possibility on Saturday that the team might be headed for a potential rebuild, but Buchanan said he's not yet ready to commit fully to that path.
"It's a balance [between win-now and rebuilding] because I feel like we have a solid core of guys who are in their prime or about to enter the prime of their career," Buchanan said. "We really like them and think they can be long-term pieces for us to build around. Obviously by no means do I or Nate believe we are a team that's going to win an NBA championship as is. That can change at the trade deadline or free agency or anything like that.
"A lot can happen between now and then to put us in that position. We want to continue with the group we've got right now and try to add in some players that complement to that and obviously if you can add a major impact guy you're going to look at it. I think our goal at this point is to still be very competitive this year. We feel like we've got a good group to build around. With LaMarcus' year he had last year and some of the guys taking the next step in their careers, we can be very competitive this year."
Buchanan recently told Jason Quick of The Oregonian that he had plans for one additional signing in free agency. Portland currently has 13 players under contract, including Roy, plus big men Chris Johnson and Earl Barron on non-guaranteed deals. Johnson's spot still looks solid, meaning any free agency addition would require using the amnesty on Roy or saying goodbye to Barron.
McMillan was non-committal regarding possible additions on Monday.
"If that's a big, there are some wings out there that have not been signed, so some opportunities could present themselves," McMillan said. "The two... one, two, three... I mean, one, two, three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five. We're looking for the best talent."
A team source said on Monday that the Blazers would look to target either a two guard or a power forward.
Meanwhile, Kurt Thomas, the newest member of the Blazers, revealed to Blazersedge that he signed a 2-year contract at the veteran's minimum, with a partial guarantee on the second year. Thomas, 39, wore jersey No. 40 during practice.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter