The Trail Blazers made their signing of Steve Blake official last week, which came as a surprise to some. There has been much debate on whether this was the right move for the franchise or if there may have been a better option still on the market. The Blazer's Edge panelists describe the signing in one word before explaining their word choice.
Dane Carbaugh: Obvious -- As I wrote in last week's column, the Blazers were never in the market for a big-name guard with the limited resources they had. With big men demanding the largest salaries in the NBA when it comes to bench production, Portland was more likely to land in the realm of signing Blake, Devin Harris, Luke Ridnour or Jameer Nelson than they ever were for the likes of Isaiah Thomas. The big question was who should they grab, and when it came to veteran fit and three-point shooting, Blake's name stood out from the others. His deal isn't terrible -- $4.2 million over the next two seasons -- and his demeanor will help calm the young franchise as they try to go even deeper into the playoffs. Then again, Blake's nagging injuries were front-and-center all last season, and at the age of 34, he could end up riding the bench in street clothes if the Blazers hit a stretch of bad luck. If that happens, Portland's playoff hopes could be... well, isn't it obvious?
Timmay!: Meh -- I know there are very rational reasons for Blake's signing. I completely understand that as a backup, he should be able to do a solid job, even with his age increasing and his skills declining. If this were any other player with similar stats/history, I'd shrug and say, "ok, at the BAE, this makes sense". But I don't want to be rational about this signing. I want to be irrational.
You have to be kidding me. STEVE BLAKE? Really? That guy again? This isn't just any declining mediocre point guard. This is our old friend Steve. Amongst my Blazer friends, he's been a punchline for years. "Sure, things went downhill. But it could be worse. We could still have Stevie Blake!". And just like that, boom, he's a Blazer. AGAIN. Neil Olshey can sell this as a return of a Blazer veteran, but he brings so much baggage, it won't fit in the cargo hold of the plane. I don't need to be rational, because for the rest of his career, I'll always know him as the guy who shot one clutch air-ball with plenty of time left to get a better shot.
I'm sure by October, I'll psyche myself up to root for him in a Blazers jersey. But right now, even if the move makes sense, it also makes my head hurt. You're killin' me, Neil. Now I have to root for Steve Blake again.
Sam Tongue: Safe -- Portland needed a backup guard that had some experience, could shoot threes and generally would not lose the game while the starters won it. Blake does exactly that. He's not a risky player (both in the locker room and out of it), has experience in Portland and seems to have the overall vibe that he's not going to totally blow it. While there's certainly plenty to be said for that, I thought at the beginning of the offseason that Portland needed to take a swing at someone that could potentially make a big difference. So, instead of getting a home run hitter that may strike out a lot, they got a guy who hits a lot of base hits. And no, I don't know why I went with the baseball analogy either, but it works, right?
Chris Lucia: Appropriate -- I never figured Olshey would (or really could) make a splashy move with the BAE. Instead, he went out and inked Blake to a reasonable two-year deal. Portland needed a point guard off the bench to replace the minutes Mo Williams played last year. Maybe Blake can't be good for 25 minutes a night, but he's a good three-point shooter, is a capable distributor and keeps a limit on his turnovers. Considering the Blazers' primary needs and who was available in free agency, I'm totally satisfied with the Blake signing -- it makes sense.
Sagar Trika: Predictable -- As has been stated time and time again on Blazer's Edge, Portland wasn't going to fetch a big-name free agent with the minimal resources the franchise had at it's disposal. Blake played for head coach Terry Stotts in Milwaukee and was on the Los Angeles Clippers during GM Neil Olshey's tenure there. This signing should come as no surprise.
Blake will fill in free agent Mo Williams's role off the bench. He can score and is a better ball-handler than Williams. While Blake isn't necessarily a statistical upgrade over Williams, he does provide a toughness to the bench that is hard to find in the league (he became a favorite of and was highly praised by Kobe Bryant during Blake's tenure with the Lakers). He'll be a good addition to the bench and important influence on young players like Will Barton and CJ McCollum.