Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blazers Staring at 0-2 Count

Kevin Pritchard has taken two home run cuts already this summer, nearly connecting on both, but, in the end, each was nothing more than a long,foul ball. The first swing was aimed at Hedo Turkoglu, and all Blazer fans were anxious to see him in scarlet & black, but he backed out of a verbal agreement to play in Portland only to go north of the border to Toronto. Strike one. KP's next swing was targeting Utah restricted power forward Paul Millsap, and not unexpectedly, Utah has decided to match Portland's 4 year/$32 million "toxic" offer. Strike two. With Portland starting down the barrel of an 0-2 count, what will be their next move? Will KP swing for the fences once again in free agency or will he be a patient hitter and work the count in hopes of landing someone on the cheap at the trade deadline? Shockingly enough, there are still 3 marquee free agents left on the table: Lamar Odom With the Lakers pulling Odom's offer, he would seem like the best player available, but supposedly he and Aldridge are not the best of buddies and Odom is the epitome of enigma. One night he looks like an All-NBA player, the next, you wonder if his head is even in the game. The lure of Odom is his play making abilities from the forward position, seemingly giving us everythign we coveted in Turkolgu with his rebounding skills canceling out his lack of an outside shot. Not to mention, it would be a crushing blow to the Lakers squad as he was the player that made that team click. David Lee In Lee, you know what you'll get night in and night out, a double double. Unfortunately, Lee does not want to become a backup, and he just would never start over Aldridge and Oden, unless in the case of injuries. Would he accept a 30 mpg backup role if space were cleared? Accepting a role like that makes Lee much more of a viable option, but I'm not sure the Blazers front office wants their money tied up in another team's hands for 7 days. Ramon Sessions Along with being restricted as well, Sessions' lack of a 3 point shot, 17%, makes you wonder if he'd even be a good fit in Portland where one of the main requirements of the starting point guard is to spread the defense via the outside shot. Also, it seems like the only way to acquire Sessions would be via sign and trade. By making Charlie Villanueva a free agent, Milwaukee made it clear Ramon was their top priority and would match any offer thrown his way. The other option of taking a step back and being patient, offers benefits unmatched by signing a free agent. Portland can make a lopsided deal any time from now until the trade deadline in February. If KP decides to stand pat going into the 2010 season, one major plus is the cap holds from European players held overseas, Koponen, Freeland, and Claver, will not count against the salary cap and free over an additional $2 million in cap space. Another potential reward of waiting until the trade deadline is to see how the other teams around the league are performing. Maybe Arenas gets hurt again and Caron Butler becomes available on the cheap or another prized player becomes attainable. Of course, the enormous drawback is striking out and not being able to coup anyone with this once in a decade cap space, similar to coming up empty handed at the trade deadline last year as we had Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract as trade bait. Dustin's Take: Part of me wants to bring in that prized free agent to Portland for the sheer excitement of a signing and to prove that Portland can attract free agents. I want no part of Sessions as his game seems to fit like a square peg in a round hole with his jump shot being on the levels of Sergio and Telfair. Lamar Odom is too big of a risk, even if it would cripple the Lakers. The culture of Portland and Odom don't seem to go together well at all. Lee is the free agent I would target next and try to work out a sign and trade with the Knicks. If that fails, KP should take his ball and go home and just pray that something miraculous happens this February. Matt's Take: As I look at our team now, I just want a piece that is going to help us grow. I still am a believer that Andre Miller does that for us. Yes it would create a bit of a jam unless Blake was traded, but I just think he brings the leadership that we need. I think that that is too understated. If Lee were willing to play off the bench then I think you give him a look, but it sounds like he's not. So, I think you look to the trade route. I know it will lead to some of the media and some fans ripping management apart for not landing a free agent or trading Raef's contract, and granted you could end up with nothing, but whether we make an addition or not, our team is in good shape going forward. If we could just find that one piece that would put us over the top in a playoff series or two, that would make my summer.

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