The beginning of the NBA free agency period has been filled with frustration for Portland Trail Blazers fans. With the Blazers needing help in the frontcourt, Hassan Whiteside became a popular target for big dreamers. Some accounts said the Blazers had a meeting scheduled with him but he ended up opting for the Miami Heat without a word from Portland. Dwight Howard became a hot topic of discussion in June but he swept the Blazers off the table early in favor of the Atlanta Hawks. Portland ended up chasing small forward Chandler Parsons until Parsons agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies. Right afterwards news broke that the Blazers had gotten their man, but that man was Evan Turner...a step down from Parsons and light years removed from Howard or Horford on the free agency food chain. Reactions tended towards the negative.
Even if the Blazers created cap space to lure another max-level free agent, they're rapidly disappearing off the market. Al Horford and Kevin Durant remain uncommitted, but they're expected to decide within the next 48 hours and Portland has not been mentioned in connection with either.
Oddly enough, after the first-tier free agents that the Blazers missed out on commit to their new teams, a new opportunity may open for Portland to salvage the summer. The big names are displacing cap space, more than most teams can create on their own even in this season of TV Deal excess. In order to fit their new players under the cap or luxury tax threshold, some of these teams may need to jettison incumbent players. This creates an opening for Portland to strike.
Howard to the Hawks has created one such potential opening. Atlanta has space to absorb Big Dwight, but if Al Horford returns, they'll be in a pickle. Horford's cap hold, let alone a new salary, eats up the space the Hawks will need to take on Howard's contract. It's speculated that to fix this, the Hawks will look to deal Paul Millsap.
Many league executives are of a mind that the Hawks will be able to move Paul Millsap if they have to in order to keep Al Horford.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2016
Sources: Hawks continue to shop Millsap, believing Horford will warm to return. It will likely take another bump in Atlanta's contract offer— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 2, 2016
In other news, the Orlando Magic just signed center Bismack Biyombo to a shiny new contract.
Hearing that Orlando's four-year deal with Bismack Biyombo is likely to approach $70 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2016
Put aside for a moment that this is essentially the same deal the Blazers offered Turner, who is decidedly not a center. Speculation is whipping about Orlando's current center, Nikola Vucevic.
Biyombo coming to Orlando to start. Could put Vucevic in play for trades.— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 2, 2016
Think Gordon plays 3, Vuc gets traded. https://t.co/yt9VYvWq3D— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 2, 2016
Phoenix Suns draft picks are rumored to be at the center of a potential deal for Millsap. The Blazers are not flush with picks, but they do have players on reasonable contracts--Mason Plumlee and Al-Farouq Aminu come to mind--that could be used to lure a team like Atlanta or Orlando into a swap.
Here's the question to you: Would acquiring Millsap or Vucevic redeem the so-far underwhelming summer the Blazers have been experiencing? Millsap is the more attractive but the less likely. Vucevic is likely to become another scorching topic of discussion. How do you feel about either or both, presuming they cost future picks and/or present starters?
Weigh in below and give a thumbs up or down to either or both!