After an NBA trade deadline that saw the Blazers standing pat, give or take a Noah Vonleh, I admit, I was disappointed. I was hoping for an upgrade on the wing and, while I get why a move isn’t feasible at this point in time, I was still a little bummed out.
After the noon deadline passed, I was talking Blazers with a friend of mine. He said that he thought Will Barton would be perfect for this team and that Portland never should have let him get away. While I agreed (mostly), this got me thinking about what other former Blazers could help the team right now, or what ex-player’s return would be the most fun for fans.
For ease of discussion, let’s break this down into a few categories; on-court performance, the “fun” aspect, and sentimental reasons. Let’s also keep it to active players. It’s easy to say that you want peak Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, or Brandon Roy. It’s also not as fun. As far as how we define “active”, let’s just say they’re playing basketball professionally somewhere in the world; the NBA, the G-League, Europe, etc.
Yeah, I know. He didn’t leave on good terms. He didn’t overtly scorn the fans, but his departure was handled pretty terribly. But could you imagine Aldridge on this squad? Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and he would form a three-headed offensive threat that could strike from anywhere on the court. Aldridge and Jusuf Nurkic would be able to play a solid high-low game. Al-Farouq Aminu would slide to the small forward slot. That’s a solid starting lineup on both sides of the floor.
Bonus factor: The incredibly mixed crowd reaction.
Once seemingly out of control, Barton has transformed himself into a big time contributor in Denver. Will the Thrill has been a fringe 6th Man of the Year candidate since being traded away and is having another well-rounded season; averaging 14.5/5/4 in 32 minutes. If only the Blazers had a wing able to do a bit of everything who didn’t break the bank...
Bonus factor: Duh, he’s the people’s champ.
Whether as a starter (if you’re down on Nurkic) or as a backup (if you see Zach Collins as a four), Lopez would still be a great fit in Portland. We remember all of the things he does well on defense - hedging (slightly) on the pick and roll, physicality, using his body to get superior position. But he’s actually expanded his offensive game since he left Portland. Lopez has a decent turnaround baby-hook and has range out to about 20 feet. The one thing that was lacking his first time around was the inability to pop off of screens and hit the jumper. He’d be well utilized by Terry Stotts.
Bonus factor: Mascot brutality returns to the Moda Center.
The “Fun” Aspect
I would love to see Z-Bo back in a Blazers uniform. At 36, he’s getting up there, but he’s still got game; averaging 14.5 points and more than five rebounds in 25 minutes a night for the Kings. But most importantly, Randolph is just fun to watch. Though he can’t jump over a deck of cards, he’s crafty and he’s constantly chatting/talking trash with his opponent. What’s not to love? (Don’t answer that.)
Bonus factor: The last active link to the Jail-Blazers.
There was no greater “trash talk” to “talent” ratio in Blazer history than Luis Montero. Dude’s smack from the bench was legendary. The problem was, it was always from the bench, because he wasn’t really good enough to warrant playing time.
Bonus factor: We’d get to hassle him about the time he called Kobe “sir”
He’s injury prone. He’s making an average of $24 million a year through 2021. He’s the most frustrating Blazer I’ve ever watched. If a player has three straight games of 20+ points and says “coach asked me to be more aggressive” and then follows it up with multiple double-digit rebound games and says “coach told me to hit the boards harder” and then follows that up with a triple-double and a couple 10-assist games and says “coach told me to facilitate more”, doesn’t that just show that he is capable of doing all of it every night? Because that’s Nic Batum.
But in spite of, or perhaps because of, this, Batum is a fascinating player to watch. He gives you great games,and can be a real contributor. But always leaves you wanting more.
Bonus factor: That sweet Mark Mason intro.
Jack was one of few bright spot on the 2005-06 Blazers. And he wasn’t even that good, though he’s worked on his game and carved out a nice little career for himself. That team went 1-20 to close the season and featured young, unlikable Zach Randolph (not to be confused with old, fun-loving, incredibly likeable Zach Randolph), Ruben Patterson, Darius Miles, and Sebastian Telfair. While he was a limited player, Jack simply played hard and had a positive attitude. Newer fans won’t know, but that really counted for something that season.
Bonus factor: Fans would get to see if he still steps out of bounds on accident once every game.
Yes, I know he breaks the “must be active” rule. But wouldn’t it be nice to bring Steve Blake home one last time?
Bonus factor: Portland would get to trade him again.
Who would you like to see come back to Portland, and why? Let us know in the comments below!