trailblazers

NBA Predictions: Portland’s opening night roster

Clearing out the depth chart

As we traverse through the summer we get closer to the 2013/14 NBA opening night. The closer things get, the more Portland’s roster begins to take shape.

The Trail Blazers have picked up a lot of players this offseason, and they might not be done. There’s a lot of depth here, and unfortunately that means some guys won’t make it through the summer.

Looking towards this fall, we’re breaking down four players facing an uphill climb to opening night.

Wesley Matthews, SG

There’s been talk for some time about Portland attempting to move Wesley Matthew’s contract. His job for the upcoming season won’t be secure until we make it to opening night and he’s in a Blazer’s uniform.

Wes has been a great player for Portland, playing shutdown defense and providing plenty of points. But he does go through his cold stretches, and sometimes it feels like he’s more cold than hot.

Then there’s the fact that Wes has the third highest salary of any player on the roster. If Matthew’s was moved, Portland could look to fill his spot with Will Barton or CJ McCollum.

Could Wes remain on the roster through summer? (Photo: AP)

Could Wes remain on the roster through summer? (Photo: AP)

Barton’s been praised for his defense while showing signs of upside as a scorer. And while McCollum’s listed as a point, he could make the shift to shooting guard—it’s worth noting he scored 22 points over the weekend in Portland’s first summer league game.

Thomas Robinson, PF

There was a lot to like about Portland trading for Thomas Robinson, especially considering that he was a Top 5 draft pick just last year.

Even though he didn’t play like one last season (4.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg), an extra year of seasoning could take him a long way. Plus when you look at his per 36 minute stats, he actually averaged a double-double per game.

With all that said, Robinson still has an uphill battle in Portland.

It looks like LaMarcus Aldridge is sticking around this summer, and the Blazers have depth with Joel Freeland and recently signed veteran Dorell Wright.

Honestly this spot could have been a toss up between Freeland and Robinson, but the difference is that Freeland can combo between forward and center. Robinson plays big for his size, but not that big.

I think the Blazer’s brass would love to keep Robinson around, if anything else as a backup plan for Aldridge. But you have to believe that if Portland has the opportunity to make a trade that includes Robinson—especially one that could improve their chances of keeping L.A.—they’ll take it.

Terrel Harris, SG

Terrel Harris was a throw in player with the Robin Lopez trade, and his job is certainly on the bubble.

Portland has solid depth at shooting guard, especially if they keep Matthews around. Backing up Wes at the position is Barton, McCollum and second-rounder Allen Crabbe.

Given Harris’ disappointing stats so far in his career—last year he only shot 14.8 percent from the field—the Blazer’s don’t have much reason to keep him around.

Unless the 25-year-old shows off some talent this summer, he’s likely to be cut before opening night.

Elliot Williams, SG

The saga with Elliot Williams continues this summer, after Portland decided to not pick up the oft-injured guards rookie option. While they could still resign Williams, the question remains “will they?”

The fans love Williams, and we all know what kind of talent he has. The 24-year-old has just 24 games of NBA experience in his career, but in that times he’s averaged 21.3 points per 36 minutes.

The big question is can he stay healthy. Portland’s invested three years into trying to get Williams on the court, and all they have to show for it are those 24 games.

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