So I'm of the opinion that the Blazers don't need to entirely blow the team up, but we do need to shift directions and do a mini-rebuild. However, a lot of people are banking on us making a run at stars like Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. Those guys aren't coming here though. So I thought I'd take a crack at a more realistic re-tool plan using our 2012 cap space and a couple more minor trades. I'm being kind of lazy here and throwing generalizations out there rather than hard statistical analysis, so don't flame me too hard for not having time at work to go real in-depth.
*Caveat: If we can get Rondo, no matter who it costs not named Lamarcus, I'm fully in favor of that move over this plan. His fiery competitiveness, high basketball IQ, ballhandling, passing, and points in the paint are exactly what we need. Get him, trade for some young guys and draft picks, and build around him, LMA, and Ewill/Wes/Draft Picks/Etc.
So, how do we do re-tool while remaining competitive in both the short term and positioning ourselves for future playoff success, and *gasp* a championship?
We've got to fill these major positional holes on our team (in this order of importance): Point Guard, Center, Backup PF/C
We also need to fill these gaps in our skill set: Ballhandling, Leadership, Rebounding, Points in the paint, Protecting the rim
Step 1: Trade Gerald Wallace for future pieces
I love Gerald, but it's obvious he's already on the decline, and he's also one of our most valuable trade chips. I'd like to trade him for (ideally) two picks and a young backup SF or a solid backup PF/C OR trade him for multiple picks. This positions us by filling the hole he leaves, and gives us assets to retool quickly through the draft or a further trade. If, by some miracle, we can get a lottery pick this year for him, that would be the best situation, but it's probably not doable.
Step 2: Let the rest of the season play out, let Nate walk, let Felton, Crawford, and Camby walk
The way I see it, we probably end up in the lottery this year with our current team. They're already gassed and the old guys aren't getting any younger. Crawford will be looking for big money this summer, Camby may retire, and Felton doesn't deserve a new contract. I've lost all faith in Nate's ability to develop young talent, coach PG's, and install offensive and defensive sets that can compete at a championship level. Who we bring in to replace him, that's another discussion (feel free to throw out suggestions in the comments).
However, this leaves us with (roughly, correct me if I'm wrong) somewhere between $15-25MM in cap space depending on who we bring back from the Wallace trade. Which brings me to the part where we start filling holes...
Step 3: Sign Omer Asik for $5-7MM/year
Asik would make a great pair with Lamarcus. He reminds me of a young Pryzbilla in that he's a really big, blue-collar center who pulls down lots of boards and plays very good defense, but is limited offensively (although not to Pryzys degree). All we need our center to do is protect the rim and pull down the boards from any Lamarcus misses, so he's a great fit (and very affordable for a starting-caliber center). The Bulls can't afford to keep him, Taj, and Noah, despite the fact that they like him so much they've been considering trading Noah. We can probably get him for a similar contract to what Gortat got, and a little cheaper due to the fact that his minutes aren't near what Gortat was getting.
Step 4: Sign Jrue Holiday for $12-15MM/year
I know, this is overpaying for him considering I'm proposing a possible max-contract. However, in order to get a really talented young PG (who is restricted, and whose team loves him), we'll need to overpay a bit. The only way you get a great young PG is through the draft a very very lucky trade, or by being a big market with free agent appeal. We'd frontload this contract and make it large enough to keep them from matching. Jrue plays Rondo-esque defense for a PG and has Batum-esque potential. He's having a down year this year which could make him more obtainable, but he could really be something special. Great handles, solid passer, good scorer, rebounds well for a guard, extremely young. Makes for a great 3rd piece to pair with Lamarcus/Batum.
Step 5: Re-sign Batum, Pryz
Batum speaks for itself, he'll probably be about a $10MM contract, so our 3 big contracts will be Holiday, LMA, and Batum. Pryz brings us toughness, rebounding, and defense in the second unit, and I was really impressed with how good he looked last night. If he really is feeling better, he's only 32 and could have a few more years left on a reasonable contract (maybe $3MM or so).
Step 6: Use our two draft picks on a PF and a C
Can't have enough big men in my opinion and this draft is chock full of them. We draft an offensive PF who's more NBA-ready to be Lamarcus' backup, and then we draft a high-potential defensive center to develop. Order doesn't matter, just go BPA. Our second unit then has Nolan running point, Ewill as the #1 scoring option, our new PF as a post-scoring option, and is defensively rounded out by our SF and Center.
This leaves us with a really intriguing lineup in my opinion, really strong on D all-around, with lots of young super-high-upside talent, along with one all-star and two guys who should be borderline all-stars in a year or two. Here's the lineup with minute allocations:
PG: Jrue Holiday (32) / Nolan Smith (14) / Elliot Williams (2)
SG: Wes Matthews (28) / Elliot Williams (16) / Nic Batum (4)
SF: Nic Batum (36) / SF from trade (14)
PF: Lamarcus Aldridge (38) / PF from Draft (8) / Kurt Thomas (2)
C: Omer Asik (28) / Joel Pryzbilla (16) / C from Draft (4) / Kurt Thomas (DNP)
I feel like this is a pretty obtainable option without needing to chase stars or lose our core guys in a trade. What do you guys think?