San Antonio Spurs center Dewayne Dedmon declined a $3 million player option for next season, late last month. The decision will make Dedmon an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Dedmon’s opt-out likely caught the attention of President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers lack a reliable backup center, thanks in large part to poor play from Ed Davis and Meyers Leonard, and desperately need help with interior defense and rebounding. The Blazers have also previously shown interest in Dedmon, bringing him in for a pre-draft workout in 2013.
Dedmon would be a good fit to fill all of Portland’s big man needs next season. He averaged 5.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in only 17.5 minutes per game last season, and even started ahead of Pau Gasol at the tail end of the year in San Antonio. More importantly, Dedmon was a defensive difference maker. Our sister blog Pounding the Rock explains:
The critical thing here is that Dedmon has been consistent regardless of role or who he’s sharing the court with. He’s not just a by-product of playing against opposing second units with the veritable stacked deck of Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and David Lee. And he’s not just a beneficiary of a starting lineup featuring Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Danny Green. His defensive rating for the season is 94.8, again tops on the club.
Dedmon finished the season with a defensive rating of 97.5 - good for third best on the best defensive team in the league. He would likely be an instant upgrade for the Blazers who struggled to contain opposing playmakers last season.
Offensively Dedmon is mostly limited to scoring around the rim and the occasional opportunistic dunk:
But with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Evan Turner all capable of creating their own shots the Blazers can afford to have an offensively limited backup big man. In short, Dedmon would be a beta version of a healthy Ed Davis.
How can the Blazers get Dedmon?
While adding Dedmon seems like a good idea, in theory, there’s an unfortunate catch - Portland has literally no way to acquire him. Media outlets have already begun to speculate that Dedmon is in for his first big NBA payday, and while he won’t draw Timofey Mozgov money, he should garner at least the same as Boban Marjanovic’s 3-year, $21 million deal.
The Blazers, however, have more than $134 million in guaranteed salary next season, before adding draft picks, and will be well over the estimated $127 million tax apron. That means the only way they can sign free agents will be with the taxpayer mid-level set at $5.2 million. That salary is unlikely to lure Dedmon to Rip City. As a tax-payer, the Blazers also will not be allowed to execute sign and trades, per league rules.
Unfortunately, the Dedmon conundrum highlights how limited the Blazers’ options are in regards to making minor adjustments to the lineup. If Olshey does want to tinker with his bench, it will involve negotiating trades with other teams, rather than signing players like Dedmon outright.
Eric Griffith | @EricG_NBA