Potential PDX Free Agents.
The Portland Trail Blazers ended the 2013-14 NBA season with a series loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The year was unequivocally considered a success in the eyes of both fans and media alike, but it’s clear that there are areas where improvement must take place over the offseason.
The two major spots where Portland needs help is depth and defense. Specifically, bench scoring is a major problem, and on the defensive end, the team needs help both on the perimeter and in the paint.
If the Blazers want to jump into the next level of contention, addressing these concerns becomes crucial. The team has no draft picks this summer, making free agency the primary avenue for substantial improvement.
The good news is that there are plenty of solid guards on the market this season. The bad news? Portland is strapped for cash, and only has the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions at its disposal.
While Thabo Sefolosha may not be the scorer the team needs off the bench, he’d be an affordable player who could be an instant defensive presence. He made $3.9 million this past season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and with his role having been diminished in the playoffs, there’s a chance he could be looking elsewhere for more minutes on a winning roster.
Avery Bradley is going to be more expensive than Sefolosha. That said, he’d be an instant contributor on both ends of the floor off the bench (especially on defense) and he’d be a piece the team could groom well into the future.
While Bradley will be looking for a contract in the $8-plus million range, the market will ultimately set his payday. If the Blazers can sell him on a bright future with a successful organization, he’d be a huge pickup for a team craving perimeter defense.
If the Blazers are looking for a 3-and-D presence behind the starting five, Kirk Hinrich could be their guy.
At 33 years old, Hinrich may be willing to accept a role off the bench. It hasn’t been his primary spot throughout his career, but with the Blazers up and coming, the veteran could be ready to take a slight step down for a greater chance at a title.
Evan Turner’s career has been on a roller coaster. After being drafted second overall in 2010, he failed to live up to expectations until he was given a larger role this past season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfortunately, after being traded to the Indiana Pacers, his role diminished once again, and he ultimately decreased his own value on the upcoming free-agent market.
Evan Turner got himself traded as a rental to a contender, and will end up losing free agent value. Exposed.
— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) March 27, 2014
While a lower value is bad news for Turner, it’s great news for a team like Portland. If the Blazers can convince him to take on a role as a backup for a shot at a championship, he could jump in and become a solid role player for a team that needs, well, solid role players.
The Blazers have a promising power forward in Thomas Robinson, but depth off the bench is still a huge problem as it pertains to bigs. If the team is willing to run a dual-power forward set in the second unit, Elton Brand would be someone worth looking at when July finally hits.
With such little cash to go around, C.J. Miles could be the perfect under-the-radar signing for the Blazers this summer.
At 6’6″, Miles could come in and play either the 2 or the 3. With Dorell Wright still on the roster, Miles’ opportunities may be limited, but after the showing we saw from the veteran last year, having another option is essential.
Spencer Hawes is, admittedly, an ambitious target. He’s coming off something of a career year, and having already made more than the MLE this past season, chances are, he’s not looking to take a pay cut at 26 years old.
Then again, you have to play to win the game, and ignoring a potential acquisition because it’d be difficult does no good when you’re trying to improve.
Emeka Okafor would have to take a substantial pay cut to sign with the Blazers, but a decrease in salary for the 31-year-old makes far more sense than it does for someone like Hawes.
Despite having made more than $14.5 million this past season, Okafor didn’t play a single game. He’s coming off of a neck injury, and while that may sound like a disastrous signing for the Trail Blazers, he’s still a solid defensive anchor when healthy.
Jermain O’Neal has already spent one stint with the Trail Blazers. It didn’t last long, as he was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Dale Davis, but if the team is looking for a big man who can protect the paint off the bench — and maybe teach Meyers Leonard a thing or two — he could be an excellent option in free agency.
The only problem? He may be retiring.
If O’Neal calls it quits, it will be the end of a great career. If he sticks around, however, Portland could be his final stop, bringing his career full circle.