The Mailbag questions never end around here, so let's have at a few more!
Word is the Blazers are joining in the pursuit of Jermaine O'Neal I feel doubtful he would choose Portland over Dallas if he did decide to play this season, but the nostalgic side of me would love to see it. What say you -- is this potential acquisition Dave-endorsed? If the Blazers were to sign him, how would you see him fitting on the team, and what if any impact would you see him having?
Sign me up. I wanted O'Neal before he joined the Golden State Warriors. He's not going to revolutionize the roster but he's a super-veteran big man capable of stepping in anywhere in the rotation. At 36 he'd probably be happy to play 15 minutes every other night. But if you needed him to start, he could do that for a week or two. He's a decent offensive rebounder and understands the limits of his offense...both of which fit with Portland's job description for centers. Plus there's a nice symmetry about bringing him back to the team that drafted him. I don't see any issues with this signing and if it comes about I'll be happy with it. O'Neal might not be the difference between success and failure but he's a little more mortar to solidify the ever-shifting bricks of Portland's bench rotation.
A trade this year seems unlikely with the Blazers current salary situation. 65% of salary invested in starters, no cap space, and limited bench assets. That said, I'm hoping Olshey will at least investigate potential deals to shore up our bench leading up to the playoffs.
I'm hoping we can add either a reliable bench wing scorer or another rim protector. Wes gave us all a heart attack when he went down against the Lakers, luckily he soldiered through, but I'm not sure there's a clear answer for who would have stepped up in his place. McCollum has a bright future, but I'm not sure he's ready to take on a designated shooter role off the bench. Dorell also looks inconsistent.
Kaman and Freeland have been fantastic, but the rash of injuries in the frontcourt has me worried. We need to preserve Kaman for the playoffs, which means keeping his minutes in the mid 20's, so one more big couldn't hurt.
There aren't many options around the league, but I dug up 4 possibilities to address each area of concern. These players have salaries that would somewhat fit a trade with Blazer bench pieces. The green denotes team options. Salaries are from hoopshype.
Wright would be the ultimate get. He's got the efficiency and athleticism to be a major rotation big, Zeller and Henson show promise, and Seraphin is a bit under the radar. Kind of undersized but has a very soft touch that could help spread the floor.
I admit Martin is probably unattractive for his salary and injury concerns, but when healthy he can light it up. My thinking is the Wolves could be desperate to move him and clear room for Wiggins, and the Blazers can extract additional assets in return for an expiring contract. Shabazz is probably untouchable with his recent development, but he's an offensive force. Foye and Neal are gunners that could fit well with the system.
Do you think the Blazers can make these or any other moves to strengthen the bench?
Props on creating an image for your question. You saved me a bunch of work.
Also I like your style. Almost any of those players would make for interesting discussion, if not a nifty pick-up for the Blazers.
Wright is interesting because of his occasional spurts of madness. Every 4-5 games he looks like an amazing prospect. But he's deep in no-man's land between needing more minutes to show what he can do and not being able to earn said minutes because he's not consistent enough. Occupying that territory in your 2nd year in the league is perfectly fine. In your 7th year it's not as amusing. Plus with Chris Kaman on board, Wright's position would be limited to power forward. With the vast majority of his shots coming inside 10 feet, that's probably not a good fit for Portland. Would I scream if the Blazers got him? No. I'd be intrigued. But I'm not sold on his place in Portland's rotation.
I'm not entirely sure why Kevin Seraphin isn't better than he is. He's one of those guys I've liked forever but he hasn't emerged the way I expected. He has a little more range to his offensive game than Wright and he could grab some offensive rebounds, but I don't know if the Blazers would consider him enough of an upgrade to trade for.
I like Henson and Zeller because they're taller, younger, and maybe have more upside left than the other two. I could see them being project centers for the future.
Kevin Martin has been discussed heavily around here. The Blazers could use his offense off the bench but they might not have enough minutes to devote to him. They'd be cutting short the Allen Crabbe-CJ McCollum experiment. They're probably hoping McCollum can develop into a Martin-like player eventually. But Martin would be an instant upgrade for sure.
I can't see the Blazers cutting short their young shooting guards for Randy Foye. Foye has developed into a nice enough player but he has too many weaknesses to commit to.
Shabazz Muhammad kind of makes my stomach turn. His game doesn't fit the Portland ethos.
I'd like Gary Neal as long as he returned to his old three-point shooting percentages rather than his new one. With Portland he might.
So then, we have conditional yes votes on Henson, Zeller, and Martin, maybe votes on Wright and Neal, probably not on Seraphin, no on Foye and Muhammad. All of them are worth a look, the top 5 could have an impact, but none are ideal.
Been a Blazer fan through a few decades now. From the Clyde-Terry-Jerome-Kevin era, to the Sheed-Smitty-Scottie-Sabas epoch, to the unfortunate JailBlazer period to the current renaissance, I've had the opportunity to see the Blazers celebrate through the great times and wallow in misery during the bad.
Anyway, I digress. I love the system Terry Stotts has in place and I think it's a great recipe for the franchise's long-term success. My question is: Who among former Blazers would have thrived in Stotts' system and who would be great additions to work within the system and contribute to that elusive NBA championship?
Should we be looking for more dead eye shooters in the vein of Jim Paxson, Terry Porter, Kiki Vandeweghe and Martell? Or lightning quick athletes with great court vision to keep the ball moving, like Damon or Strickland? Would Sabas and Sheed also have thrived if they could replicate LMA's mid range game? Should B-Roy, Big Red and the Glide be shoo-ins for their genuine all-star talent and not disrupt the team chemistry needed to make this work?
Looking forward to your enlightening view.
Five players pop to mind instantly. Bill Walton, Arvydas Sabonis, Terry Porter, Danny Ainge, and Scottie Pippen.
Walton and Sabonis would have a field day passing and scoring in this offense. I cannot even imagine what would happen if they stepped on the court with Portland's unselfish, multi-talented lineup. Walton and Aldridge could easily duplicate what Walton and Maurice Lucas shared, with Aldridge's length and mobility substituting for Luke's toughness. Bill could also play power forward in this system. Sabonis would be hitting Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum left and right. Plus the guy could shoot a three and take up space on the interior defensively. Adding either center would make Portland's lineup completely unfair.
Both Porter and Ainge would be lovely in the third guard role for the Blazers. They were smart, versatile, and could shoot.
Scottie Pippen was the prototype for Nicolas Batum and could fill Nic's role without blinking. Imagine the Blazers bringing him off the bench on Batum's off nights.
Other players would also suit, of course. Jim Paxson wouldn't be out of place here. Kiki Vandeweghe would be a nightmare for opponent to guard in this offense. Rasheed Wallace could step in for Aldridge without missing a beat. Wayne Cooper and Sam Bowie wouldn't be bad either.
During the Whitsitt years the Blazers kept bringing in big-name players who didn't gel, almost all of them losing production as they joined the team. Everybody who came to Portland seemed to become less than they were. This team has the opposite effect. Almost everyone who gets on the floor for the Blazers now flourishes. On last week's podcast we called it the "deep-fried offense" because everything you put in a deep fryer comes out tasting good. Portland could absorb a number of different players and make it work. It's beautiful to watch and bodes well for the team's future.
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