What to do at the Small Forward?

And we’re back. Apologies for the lack of updates, definitely had to take a couple days there to recharge the batteries after finals. (Who cares). Continuing with a little bit of off-season talk, now lets jump to the small forward problem. I know you’re probably making a thizz face or raising the people’s eyebrow after that one. Small forward problem?  Stick with me. This “problem” is similar to the point guard “issue” in that it doesn’t need to be addressed immediately. If Portland comes back with what it already has, it is far from the end of the world. Even though that is the truth, I still think it needs to be addressed. Let’s just be honest people. First off, there are three small forwards and honestly that’s one too many. Not enough playing time for everyone to fit. And once you get past that point, you have to wonder….are the people on the Blazer roster the answer at that position?

Is Portland going to make a move? I’m not sure. They didn’t make a move at the trade deadline and it will be interesting to see it if they do now. My main reason for wanting to talk about the 3-spot is just how will it work? How is Portland going to find ways to play Batum, Outlaw and Martell Webster? I’m not sure it’s possible. Actually I take that back because it is impossible. Look at the doo-doo show that was Nate trying to find minutes for three PG’s (Blake, Sergio, Bayless) and three PF’s (LMA, Fye, Diogu). In those scenarios someone always got the squeeze and you’d have to think that is what would happen all over again. Of course you could make the argument that Nate could slide Travis to the back-up 4 and everyone stays happy. Except for me. I think we all know the prototype of who has to be the backup 4. A physical banger who can form a bruising tag team with Big Joel off the bench. That ain’t Travis. I think I said this last pre-season, but either Outlaw or Martell are eventually going to have to go. There is not enough room for both of them. The emergence of Batum makes this point even stronger. I’d assume KP and co. would part with Travis or Martell before they let go of Batum.

Now you take a look at all three and you could make and argument for all of them. Batum is the easiest because the sky is the limit with his game on both sides and he’s already the top perimeter defender on this team. He’s not going anywhere and trading him would be as short-sighted of a move as they come. Now what he needs to do is get bigger and get some more confidence offensively. It’s great that’s he unselfish and all but he has to establish himself as an offensive threat or else it becomes 4-on-5 on the other end. That being said, too much potential to even dream of letting him go. So essentially it comes down to Martell vs. Travis. Martell just got a long-term extension….Travis did not. Travis? Third-leading scorer on the team this year, great character, hard-working, etc. In the sixth year, we know the drill with Travis at this point. You’re getting offense, great 4th quarter play and hard work. His ability to score in the 4th quarter is huge, something that can’t be underrated. You take Outlaw away from this team and we don’t win 54 games. And just writingwhy it’s hard to criticize and poke holes like this…because it’s not like the system is broken. You win 54 games and are a couple plays away from winning a playoff series…you don’t have to fix much. This still needs to be addressed. With Travis you know his offense is going to be more fadeaways and jumpers and less attack the basket and getting to the line.  Watching the playoffs, I drooled at the thought of Travis having Thaddeus Young’s will to attack the basket. The rebounding just isn’t coming from him. The defense is better but he’s not All-Defensive…wait. I like Travis a lot, I don’t want this paragraph to seem like me giving up on him. He could easily come back with the playoff experience fresh in his mind and bounce back and become an assassin. But I think we can all admit that he’s expendable at this point for the right player. If this ends up being the end of the road for Travis as a Blazer I’m prepared.

Martell? I have to tread my words here a little bit here because this is Coup’s boy. If you think about the way Portland’s offense works, Martell is eactly what this team needs at the 3 spot. All of his tools would fit right in. Unlike Batum, Martell has proven that offensively he can be more than a spot shooter. When he drives and dunks and shoots the mid-range jumper it can go well. The question is can he do it consistently? And throwing this thought out there, like Travis, is it not becoming put up or shut up time with him as well?  This year he’s got to prove his game or risk finding himself on the expendable list. That’s not unreasonable to say is it? It’s all about his confidence, something he’s struggled with his whole career.

Portland needs a consistent third scoring option on this team. Luckily there is a ton of young talent on this team who fit in to the role. I’d imagine KP and co. give these guys a chance to do it. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if KP pulled the trigger to upgrade. Gerald Wallace is still a popular choice for Blazer fans. We here at the RCP still dream of Danny Granger. Those kind of deals work. Free agency…in my eyes the cupboard is pretty bare. Shawn Marion? No thank you. I’ve never been a huge fan and he seems like an older version of Batum’s ceiling with a bad attitude and an expensive price tag. Ron Artest? My brain and heart couldn’t deal with his insanity for 82+ games. Lamar Odom? Absolutely not and that’s just personal, I don’t ever want to have to cheer for Lamar Odom.  Ever. Turkoglu? Intrigues me if we could steal him for cheap. But the luxury of this situation is that Portland doesn’t have to rush. They can come back to camp with all three and make a mid-season deal (smell Travis’ expiring contract). Perhaps Martell or Travis could step up like we all imagine. I still think Martell and Travis are expendable for the right guy. Batum does not need to go anywhere.

What do you think? Can all three play? Can Martell or Travis step up to the plate? Should a trade be made? Any free agents that appease you?

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Tags: Grant Hill Kevin Pritchard Lamar Odom Martell Webster Nic Batum Portland Small Forward Portland Trail Blazers Ron Artest Shawn Marion Travis Outlaw

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