Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2010 Offseason: Playing With House Money

Although everything turned out for the best in the end, no Trail Blazers fan will ever forget the rocky, unsettling start to the 2009 summer. Portland had around $9 million in salary cap money to throw at numerous free agents as well as having the extensions of both cornerstone players to hammer out, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. The pressure was on. Cap space isn't like many things in life, it can't be carried over or reused, either you use it or you lose it. Maybe more vital to the team's success in the 2010 season was locking up both Roy and Aldridge long-term, preventing a season of uncertainty as either could have been a restricted free agent come July 1st, 2010. With all those variables in place, not even factoring in the draft, it was an offseason of sitting on pins and needles for anyone associated with the Trail Blazers worldwide and it got started off on the wrong foot.
After Portland management targeted Hedo Turkolgu as their #1 free agent, all looked well. Hedo visited the Rose City and a 5 year/$50 million deal seemed inevitable, even being announced on as a done deal. In a flurry of changes, it appeared Hedo would be heading north of the border to play for the Raptors, his wife choosing the Turkish culture of Toronto over Portland. A lot of people were divided on Turk from the beginning but swinging and missing on your top choice was not a good omen and voices of Portland not being an attractive free agent destination began to creep back in. A week or two passed and the Blazers pounced on Paul Millsap, the only problem is their money was tied up for a week as Utah had the allotted time frame to match the offer due to Paul's restricted status. After much deliberation, Utah matched, stating they would not be bullied by any "toxic" offer. Even though Millsap would have been a huge addition, it did force Utah to ultimately give away Ronnie Brewer and Eric Maynor in order to stay under the luxury tax; a direct correlation from the offer sheet Portland gave Millsap. Finally, KP snagged Andre Miller to a reasonable 3 year/$21 million deal in July, proving you don't always have to be the first option to be the best option.
If the free agency fiasco wasn't enough trauma to endure during the summer months, the prospect of not having either star extended was looming on the horizon. Signing Roy to a 5 yr/Maximum extension was a no-brainer, right? To many fans and media members, it should have been done in a day or two and then quickly move on to Aldridge. A holdup over an early termination player option after the 4th year was causing all the hoopla. Radio interviews by Roy, sounding unsure of his future in Portland, left a lot to be desired in the hearts of BlazerManiacs. Could the unthinkable happen? Could Brandon Roy be unhappy in Portland and eventually leave the franchise he recently saved? After holding their collective breaths for two months, the entire city exhaled on August 6th, when the extension was signed. Roy was supposed to be the easy one though. It was Aldridge's contract everyone was worried about. Andre Bargnani had just received a 5 year/$50 million extension and surely LA is a much better player, so what does that say about his market value? To no one's surprise, talks stalled and it was assumed a deal just couldn't be reached. Fans were chanting "Cut the check" during Fan Fest as well as early pre-season games. Everybody was restless. But just 10 days before the Halloween deadline, a 5 year/$65 million agreement was reached, momentarily putting Blazer fans at ease, that is, before the news breaking of Batum missing half the season and the rest, as they say, was history.
Why am I bringing up the past? Only to remind all of you about the roller coaster that was the '09 summer. This year, take a more relaxing approach to the draft, free agency, and don't worry about contract extensions. Portland has already handled the big business, inking Marcus Camby to a 2 yr/$21 million extension, keeping him in the Rose City to finish out his career. Anything else added to Camby's re-signing is cherry on top of the sundae. Coming off a 50 win season and first round exit, normally urgency would be high after another early bounce out of the playoffs, but the Blazers had integral championship puzzle pieces injured, either for the season or physically being well below 100%. Injuries are something no one should dwell on, because they are out of everyone's hands. With that said, all the Trail Blazers need to do this summer is get healthy and address the need of another bench player, whether it be a long-range assassin or a punishing, rebounding machine. In his arsenal, Kevin Pritchard obtains the 22nd and 44th picks in the 2010 Draft, along with the ability to have owner Paul Allen purchase another pick if deemed necessary, as well as the 5.8 mid-level free agent exception. We have minimal needs and one of the best management teams in the biz. Enjoy this ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment