The Trail Blazers have been in a slump over the last few weeks (click here for my article on it), and it has showed the major problems that distance the team for being a contender in the NBA. I am going to explain Portland’s major problems and how Blazers GM Neil Olshey can solve the problems this summer.
Next summer, only one current player on contract will become a free agent, and that is G Earl Watson. He was brought in this season as a third-string guard, only to be used in the case of an injury to a different guard. I don’t expect him to return to Portland next season, and while it’s impact isn’t very big, his salary coming off the books helps Portland in signing a new free agent this summer.
Portland’s two major holes on the roster are a big man and a guard, both of which would ideally be defensive-oriented. I’ve taken a look at the free agent pool for this summer (full list here) and have been able to identify players that the Blazers should be targeting, whether through a signing or a sign-and-trade.
The first player I think Portland should try and get is Oklahoma City Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha, who is making $3.9 million this season. Sefolosha is widely considered one of the better defensive guards in the league. When he is open enough, he can hit an open three-point shot, which fits in well with the Trail Blazers offense. Bringing in Sefolosha, either off the bench, or starting him from the start, would provide bench scoring to the Trail Blazer’s dismal bench.
I do not think Sefolosha is worth the $3.9 million he is making this season. However, even if we go cheaper than the $3.9 million per year, Portland will likely be above the salary cap. That is why I propose the idea of doing a sign-and-trade with the Thunder that would land Sefolosha in Portland. In this theoretical deal, Portland would send C Meyers Leonard and G Allen Crabbe to the Thunder, along with cash or draft picks if needed.
Another player Portland could target this summer is Houston Rockets F-C Greg Smith. This season, Smith is making less than $1 million, which I feel is a fair price. If the Blazers were to play him at center, he would be undersized, standing at just 6’10”. However, he can rebound fairly well and takes high percentage shots. Ideally, he would be used to provide a defensive presence down in the paint. While that may not be his strong suit, I think over the course of a season, the Blazer training staff could add a defensive component to his skill set.
I find it highly unlikely that Houston would prefer to engage in a sign-and-trade. Smith was a victim of the Dwight Howard signing last summer, and as of late, he has seen his role diminish. While he is not the perfect fit for the Trail Blazers, I think he could greatly help the team’s second unit.
What do you think are the team’s major weaknesses, and using the link above, who do you think Portland should target this summer? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,