Anybody remember Steve Blake? Of course we do — hard to forget a player who signed with the Blazers three times in 10 years. The Blazers will be active on the free agent market this summer, looking to fill holes in a particularly porous bench rotation, and Steve Blake’s legacy may be worth considering.
No(!) I’m not suggesting re-signing Blake again, but there are some former Blazers on the market who might merit a second chance in Portland.
Plumlee has spent the last 3.5 seasons with the Nuggets, primarily backing up Nikola Jokic. Plumlee was often overmatched as starting center for the Blazers, but would be a better fit as the first big man off the bench for coach Terry Stotts. The 30-year old is still the solid but unspectacular player the Blazers traded in 2017, offering a decent high post game and serviceable back-up defense:
Mason Plumlee doesn't get enough credit for his passing ability. Another defensive miscue from the Lakerso n this split. Waiters is jumping to switch early. Green is trailing. Nice slip to the basket and a good pass. pic.twitter.com/5SuHE0zRvq— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) August 11, 2020
Plumlee also sports a 17 percent rebounding rate, on par with Jusuf Nurkic and light years ahead of Zach Collins (11 percent). Ultimately he’s a player who fits Portland’s offensive system like a glove and is an acceptable defender for a back-up.
Verdict: Solid back-up big man option
Enes Kanter (player option)
Kanter has not been a disaster in Boston but also hasn’t reached the same heights he did with the Blazers. That’s not necessarily a sign of decline though — his advanced stats have stayed more or less flat with last season. Celticsblog’s pre-bubble assessment of Kanter’s game likely sounds familiar to Blazers fans:
To play Kanter means to tailor both sides of the ball to his strengths and weaknesses. He needs a certain defensive coverage to remain tolerable on that end. He needs to play with shooters, and with guys who can defend one-on-one without needing a ton of help. On offense, he needs the ball, preferably on the left block, in order to score, and he’ll need to score to justify his minutes.
If Kanter opts out of the second year of his 2-year, $10 million contract, he will not be a top priority for the Blazers. With plenty of offensive punch on the roster and Zach Collins’ impact remaining inconsistent, Olshey will likely look for a player who is at least serviceable on defense before giving Kanter a second chance.
Verdict: A second option if a defensive-minded big man is not available
Pat Connaughton and Wesley Matthews (player option)
Matthews and Connaughton play a combined 43 minutes per game for the Bucks, mostly at shooting guard. If Matthews declines his player option it’s unlikely the Bucks will have the salary wherewithal to retain both players.
The Blazers, however, will likely pass on Matthews and Connaughton unless something on the roster changes. With Gary Trent, Rodney Hood, and Trevor Ariza already signed for next season the Portland needs don’t align with Wes or Pat’s skills. Their free agent resources would be better spent on a back-up playmaker.
Verdict: Maybe go for Wes if there is concern that Ariza will suffer an age-related decline in play?
It feels crazy to say this, but Turner might fit better with the Blazers now than he did during his previous tenure. Trent’s emergence as a dead-eye shooter, combined with the acquisitions of Ariza, Rodney Hood, and Carmelo Anthony have given the Blazers a significant amount of shooting depth. This would mask Turner’s inefficiencies and his size on defense would be a welcome addition.
Bottom line: A surprisingly good fit. But would he want to come back?
Let us know who you’d want to see wearing a Blazers uniform for a second (or third) time in the comments! Moe Harkless? Robin Lopez? Noah Vonleh?