Portland Should Target Veterans Rather Than Rookies
It was an eventful week for the Portland Trail Blazers as news both expected (Draft Lottery Selection) and unexpected (Damian Lillard’s entourage in alleged altercation) took place. But if you want more information on those stories, check out Corey’s articles. Today’s Blazers’ Corner focuses on what Portland might do in the offseason as it relates to the draft and free agents.
It was predicted that Portland would land the number 10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery and that’s exactly what happened. Now that the franchise knows for sure where they will be selecting in the June 27 draft, the question is will they keep it, trade down or up, or trade out?
Early indication is they are looking to get out of this year’s draft as it has been often cited as one of the weakest in recent memory. With young building blocks already in place (Lillard, Aldridge, Batum), why draft another young prospect that will take time to develop? Portland needs bodies. More specifically, they need bodies with experience and I’m not talking Jared Jeffries experience.
The team needs a lot (center, backup point guard, shooters, etc…) and thanks to the guys over at hoopsworld.com I was able to take a look at the list of 2013 free agents. Based solely on that list, here’s a few names I think general manager Neil Olshey and the organization should consider going after. The names won’t blow you away, but they do provide production at a relatively affordable price.
Why waste time looking for a backup point guard, shooters and productive bench players when you can find the majority of those needs in one guy. Mayo has a player option for $4,200,900 next year and considering the season he just had in Dallas, Mayo will no doubt be looking for a raise.
He’s also a guy who doesn’t have a problem coming off the bench despite his talent. He was the sixth man in Memphis for two seasons so whether he or Wesley Matthews starts, there shouldn’t be a problem there.
Mayo is a big-time scorer who can create his own shot as well as move without the ball to get open. He can play either guard position and he’s an effective 3-point shooter. He does have a propensity to turn the ball over late in games, but in Portland he wouldn’t have to worry about that since they have Lillard.
Despite being immensely talented, Mayo may be affordable for the Blazers as well. He cooled off last season after a terrific start so the price tag for him won’t be as high as some imagine. Portland needs all the help they can get and having another talented wing player who can create is exactly what the team needs off the bench.
With the looming increase in the luxury tax next season, players coming off of outstanding seasons will not be seeing the lucrative contracts offered in the past. One example of this will be former Blazer Jarrett Jack.
Arguably the best player off the bench this season, Jack was instrumental in Golden State making the playoffs and pushing San Antonio to six games in the second round. Coach Mark Jackson often went with Jack in key situations throughout the season and his ability to shoot the mid-range jumper, attack the basket and penetrate for open shooters was vital for the Warriors.
Portland may not have the shooters that Golden State has, but if Batum and Matthews see enough open looks, they’re both capable of shooting over 40 percent from long range. Jack would certainly help create more open looks.
He might not be as talented as his brother Brook, but Robin Lopez showed that given the minutes, he can provide high energy, shot-blocking and hustle.
Anthony Davis missed time this season due to injury and as a result, Lopez was New Orleans’ starting center for the majority of the season. A legitimate 7-footer, Lopez can provide the size Portland lacked with J.J. Hickson at center. Appearing in all 82 games, the former first-round pick doubled his scoring output and produced career highs in rebounding, block shots and free throw percentage.
He would need to increase his rebounding efficiency however. At 26 minutes a game, Lopez averaged under six rebounds per game. But if he was in Portland, they would undoubtedly split his minutes with Meyers Leonard at the five position. So the team wouldn’t be getting a game-changing center, but at least a guy who can fill up space in the paint.
Dalembert kind of got lost in the shuffle in Milwaukee. With the emergence of Larry Sanders and the development of John Henson, Dalembert became an afterthought and also a little disgruntled with the Bucks. But the Blazers need a defensive-minded big man and judging by how well Dalembert has played Aldridge over the years, it might be in Portland’s best interest to grab him in order to avoid seeing him on another team.
At 32, Dalembert is a veteran center who has been both durable and effecient throughout his career. His career averages of 8 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game in 25 minutes a night might not look spectacular, but it does look affordable and a nice short-term solution for the Blazers.
Speaking of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dunleavy is another veteran player who would provide much-needed shooting and scoring punch off the bench. A double-digit scorer for his entire career, Dunleavy would give the Blazers 10+ points, 4 rebounds and nearly 40 percent shooting from long distance.
The former Portland resident wouldn’t help much on the defensive end (particularly on the perimeter), but Dunleavy’s size allows him to play multiple positions so the team could put him on the other team’s worst offensive player.
The Blazers aren’t getting big-name free agents like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. They don’t have the money or the desirable location for that. But they do have a young team that isn’t far from becoming a playoff contender again. For two or three veteran players looking for a team, that has to be enticing.