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Who Should Fill the Last Trail Blazers Roster Spot?

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Portland’s fielding 14 guaranteed contracts. One reader suggests an ex-Blazer to fill the 15th spot, another a young center. Is either correct?

Portland Trailblazers v Boston Celtics Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers will enter training camp, 2017, with a roster spot open. Today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag covers a couple suggestions for filling it. Both are attractive in different ways. Would either be the right move? Read on...

Hey Dave,

The Blazers have an open roster spot, and need shooting and veteran leadership. Meanwhile, Martell Webster seems to be attempting an NBA comeback. He's only 30 years old, low-risk if signed for the vet minimum, and the fans would probably welcome him back in a limited role.

Why not?

T-Dawg

Ah, nostalgia...refuge of the damned.

I wish Martell Webster well. I hope he does get to play again. But the Blazers need more than he can give at this point. A veteran on the roster would come in handy if:

A. He had something left in the tank. And...

B. He had actually done something in the first place.

A couple of 40%+ three-point shooting seasons for the Wizards and Timberwolves aside, neither of those applies to Martell. Blazers fans would greet him warmly, but this would be like one of those modern-day returns from the WWE Attitude Era. The initial appearance is fantastic, the first time he steps through the ropes thrilling. Then the action starts and you realize, “Wait...this guy can’t really wrestle anymore.” The second time he comes down the ramp the magic is gone and he’s just another face in the crowd.

Webster’s return wouldn’t be anything near Goldberg level either. Even in his prime he wasn’t that big. It’d be more like Billy Gunn making a solo return. Woot...a curiosity. OK, let’s move on.

If the Blazers can pull a Scottie Pippen trade out of their hats, sloughing off a bunch of mediocre players for an aging veteran prize, I’m all for it. This ain’t that. I guess feeling good is something, so I’d support the move for the interest boost. But in the end, whether the Blazers sign him or not, Martell won’t matter.

Dave,

Boston traded Ante 7 ft Zizic to the Cavs. I suggest the Blazers trade for Ante. Read reports about him. He comes from same Euro league as Blazer center Jusuf, i think. Maybe you can ask Jusuf about him? Could Ante be a unknown diamond in the rough? I think he is worth investigating.......Mike

I often edit questions for length and clarity, but I’m leaving yours alone. I’ve seen single spacing and double spacing, but this is the first instance of quintuple spacing I’ve ever encountered. You, sir, are an overachiever.

I like this idea for several reasons. I low-key craved Ante Zizic when he was drafted in 2016. He’s big. He’s got reach and he plays in third gear, minimum...often revving it higher. Size and attitude are hard to teach. He plays in the same league that Jusuf Nurkic came through. He’s raw, not NBA-ready, but he could serve as an understudy to Nurkic while he learns. His style isn’t wholly dissimilar. He’s not able to step away from the bucket for anything but a screen, but again...development.

The real selling point for the Blazers is Zizic’s rookie-scale contract. He won’t top $2.5 million per year until 2020. He’ll earn $1.65 million this year. If the Blazers wanted beneath the luxury tax threshold, trading Ed Davis for nothing and adopting Zizic wouldn’t get them there. They’d need to move a second player or a more expensive one. But if they lost Meyers Leonard or Moe Harkless without taking full salary back, Zizic would be a fun replacement.

Any deal would depend on Cleveland’s willingness to move him. They didn’t just “trade” for the Zizic-inclusive package, they traded away Kyrie Irving for the privilege of suiting up these guys. The Brooklyn Nets draft pick they got in return was intriguing, but Isaiah Thomas is injured and Jae Crowder isn’t going to light the world on fire. Cleveland might actually value Zizic, in which case a Jake Layman-based offer isn’t going to get the job done.

Acquiring Zizic wouldn’t change Portland’s immediate fortunes and might not pan out at all. It’d be a speculative move. As such, the Blazers couldn’t afford to give away too much. I could see them making the call to inquire; I could also see the Cavaliers letting it go straight to voice mail.

Which hidden players around the NBA (or elsewhere) would you consider fantastic candidates to fill Portland’s missing roster slot? Do the Blazers need a veteran or should they go with growth potential? Give your suggestions below and keep those Mailbag questions coming to blazersub@gmail.com!

—Dave @blazersedge / @davedeckard / blazersub@gmail.com