Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is currently sitting on a large wad of cash -- $23 million, to be exact. That's how much cap room he has to work with throughout the rest of the summer and into the better part of the season -- until the NBA trade deadline -- to improve his team.
Although there may still be some quality players on the market that can be had for a cheap price and may have helped the team, Olshey also let quite a few get away from him. Just as I did last summer, I decided to detail a small group of players that signed elsewhere this summer at prices that Olshey and his $23 million could have afforded.
Note: unless otherwise stated, all statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
1. Jae Crowder, SF, BOS (5 years, $35 million) -- Crowder was traded to Boston early in the season as a part of the trade that sent guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas. The tenacity and hustle he put on display with the Celtics was a large reason for this deal.
The $7 million average that Crowder will get from Boston makes up 10% of the cap space for the 2015-16 season, which was recently set at $70 million. However, if the league's salary cap projections through the 2017-18 season hold true, Crowder's $7 million average will consume just 6.5% of the projected $108 million salary cap in the contract's third season (note: those percentages are based on the contract's per-year average rather than the exact value in those two seasons). Of course, Portland would not have been able to offer the fifth year to Crowder -- the Celtics acquired his Bird Rights from Dallas in the aforementioned trade.
Portland's opportunity to sign Crowder likely disappeared once Olshey signed free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu to a four-year contract valued at about $30 million.
2. Justin Holiday, SG, ATL (2 years, $2 million) -- Holiday spent the end of the 2012-13 season, his rookie year, with the Philadelphia 76ers, but only played nine games with the team before being waived later that summer. After spending a year away from the league, he signed a year-long deal with the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
Holiday isn't considered a "special talent" compared to his peers around the league, but at the price the Atlanta Hawks inked him for, I believe signing him was a shot Olshey should have taken. In 59 games with the Warriors last season, in which he played an average of 11 minutes per game, Holiday recorded per-36 statistics of 13.9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Given his usage rate (the percentage of a team's offensive possessions used by a specific player when on the court) of 18.8%, his turnover rate (amount of turnovers per 100 possessions) of 10.2% is not bad at all.
For comparison, here's how Holiday's turnover rate compares to other star guards.
Of course, Holiday has a lower usage rate than these players, indicating that he had the ball in his hands less often.
3. John Jenkins, SG, DAL (3 years, $3.2 million) -- Jenkins was selected by the Atlanta Hawks late in the first round of the 2012 draft but has played a role in just 98 regular season games (13.8 minutes per game) over his three seasons with the team.
Jenkins' reputation is based around his ability to shoot from distance. He shot 40.4% from deep last season (21-for-52), an above average rate, and is a career 37.5% three-point shooter (78-for-208). His accuracy from deep played a big part in his recording 16.4 points per 36 minutes last season.
Theoretically speaking, Jenkins would have played a backup shooting guard role in Portland, but I imagine the primary concern with signing him was taking away potential playing time from guard CJ McCollum and therefore possibly stunting his growth.
4. K.J. McDaniels, SG, HOU (3 years, $10 million) -- As Dave wrote earlier this month, McDaniels fits the bill for players Olshey seems to be targeting -- young and athletic players that can push the pace and run the floor.
McDaniels played very well in the first half of his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers after being drafted early in the second round, but was traded to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline in February, where playing time was hard to come by. McDaniels played 25.4 minutes per game with Philadelphia in 52 games, but only managed to play in 10 games for Houston, in which he only averaged 3.3 minutes per game.
While he showed flashes of brilliance with the 76ers, he recorded an average of about three turnovers per-36 minutes and a turnover percentage of 17.9% in Philadelphia. I imagine that served as a key deterrent in Portland's interest in McDaniels.
5. Tobias Harris, SF, ORL (4 years, $64 million) -- Harris was Orlando's third-best scorer last season, averaging just over 17 points and also recording just over six rebounds in under 35 minutes per game. In the days leading up to the free agent moratorium on July 1, it was widely believed that Orlando wouldn't match a max contract. However, it never came to that as the two parties came to an agreement early in the moratorium on a max-deal spanning the length of four seasons.
Harris just turned 23 and fits the age group of players Olshey had been targeting. Had Portland offered a deal and Orlando not matched, he would have contended with Aminu for the starting small forward spot in Portland. Had Harris's signing meant not acquiring Aminu (which would be the likely scenario), Harris would have been slotted as a starter.
The concern with Harris is that his statistical figures were inflated by being on a lottery team in the weak Eastern Conference, which is a fair concern to have. It may be one of the potentially numerous reasons Portland didn't extend an offer sheet.
6. Mike Dunleavy, SF, CHI (3 years, $14.4 million) -- Dunleavy is the lone veteran of the six -- he's probably past his best years in the league. As shown in the next two images, he's also probably past his peak in terms of scoring and rebounding per-36 minutes. Of course, this doesn't display the whole story but it's indicative of his career.
A veteran small forward, Dunleavy would have been able to provide experience to a group of young and impressionable wing players while also providing valuable minutes, whether off the bench or from the starting lineup.
Who would you have liked to see Portland pursue this summer, knowing that the team was "going young?" Weigh in below.