Joshua Vannuccini, featured columnist at Bleacher Report, speculates on the shape of the Blazers' roster next year. Yeah, I know, 'tis the season for guessing with everybody and their sister having an opinion about where free agents might end up, but this article seems more thoughtful than most of what we've been subjected to so far. Of course, this could be because I agree with his predictions and I think most readers will also.
The Portland Trail Blazers will have a plethora of free agents this offseason, which begs the question: Just how different could this roster look next year?
A total of nine players may end up being courted by other teams, one way or another. Some will be outright eligible to leave, while others have contract options that could see them stay or go.
Most of them have voiced their desire to remain in Portland, but there's no telling how things will unfold.
With three players from the starting lineup being unrestricted free agents, the Blazers will be faced with some tough decisions in terms of committing long-term salary and keeping this core together despite its stuttering progress to this point.
Vannuccini has quite a bit to say about each player, including some relevant stats and a short summary supporting his prediction. Here are his summaries for the players. (Some will be cryptic. You can read the original article for more.)
Alonzo Gee, Unrestricted:
To his credit, Gee was a solid defender and an athletic spark in most games. But as a whole, he lacks the essential components that would extend his stay in Portland.
Joel Freeland, Restricted:
Freeland also offers a nice package of skills on both ends, ranging from a mid-range jumper to solid rebounding and low-post defense bolstered by his size and strength. He knows the system and understands his role and won't command a hefty salary either.
Dorell Wright, Unrestricted:
Like Freeland, Wright won't take a huge chunk of payroll that will be crucial in re-signing integral players. He understands his role as a supporting player and as a locker-room presence, as well as fits the bill skill-wise.
Steve Blake, Player Option:
With Blake's accurate distributing and mentoring, the Blazers just might be good enough.
Chris Kaman, Team Option:
Kaman is 33 years old and has a history of injuries, but his work on and off the court should leave the Blazers with an easy decision: bring back The Caveman.
Arron Afflalo, Player Option:
After mixed results and the needed cap space, the Blazers should hope that is the case.
Robin Lopez, Unrestricted:
He's right to be a little uncertain, as anything could happen during the free-agency period. But after two seasons of Lopez being an efficient, hardworking player that the fans love, that uncertainty should be put to rest quickly.
Wesley Matthews, Unrestricted:
That isn't to say he'll be the same player, but the Blazers shouldn't be too worried when offering him a contract to sign.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Unrestricted:
The Blazers are the only team that can offer Aldridge a max, five-year contract, as well as a no-trade clause if he desires one.
If he's looking to win, be a cornerstone, establish a place in history and get paid for it, he can do it all in Portland.
So, can you tell from the summaries which players are predicted to return and which are not? Do you agree, or not?