Fixing The 4, pt. 1: Free Agents

(The lack of updates are centered around me struggling to finish this beast. Enjoy)

So far at the RCP, the off-season talk has centered around what the Blazers need to fix. It’s been a lot easier than in years past. No sweating over the lottery, no having to dump 2-3 players, no freaking about if the Blazers can make the leap to the playoffs. There really isn’t that much to talk about because when you have a 54-win season and are a regular season win away from who-knows-what happening, something is working. And yes that was a shot at Denver, because everytime I think about them being in the WCF I think about how we crapped the bed in Oklahoma City and….yeah. We’ve talked about the future PG dilemma and the current SF issue (that really isn’t an issue but it could be an issue, like leaving your house without any cash). Now it’s time to talk about the position that Portland has to address this off-season: the power forward.

LaMarcus Aldridge is hombre numero uno at that position and will be for years to come. That’s the good news. The bad news? He has no backup. Channing Frye, Shavlik Randolph and Michael Ruffin are all free agents and are all more than likely headed out of town. And besides that point, none of them were or would be effective in that role. Any dreams of Channing Frye working out in Portland were dashed this season and buried during the playoffs. Channing just isn’t the type of big man we need to take the next step. We need a beast not one who will get beasted, and the last thing we need is another jump shooter who doesn’t rebound. Bless their hearts but Shavlik and Love Muffin Ruffin definitely are not the answers. They may be able to provide energy, physicality and rebounding…but what else do they bring? They aren’t the answer to our problems and definitely wouldn’t be able to push us to the next level. As far as my stomach sank when Channing was in during the playoffs, I would have had a panic attack if either of these two were put in. Travis Outlaw has seen minutes at the 4, and that’s beautiful at certain times thanks to the matchup issues…..but long-term…no, thanks. He’s allergic to rebounding and would get punished by the majority of the 4′s in the league. He doesn’t have the beef like Chuck Hayes so he’s double undersized.

Point blank, Portland needs a physical big man. A tough guy, a beast, a low-post operator, a rebounder, the guy has to have most of those tools. I don’t think too many people are going to argue with that. When Brandon Roy is our fourth leading rebounder, something is a little fishy. Where do you find one of these? Three ways: free agency, a trade or the draft. Today in part 1, I took a gander at the free agent list for this summer and put together a list of big men I think might work in Portland. Keyword…might. Divided into convenient groups:

YES-MEN

These are the four names that jumped off my list as really being able to help this Blazer team. I might be dreaming with being able to get them here but there is no doubt:

  • Paul Millsap (restricted): Huge reaches here for a couple reasons. Number one, I’m assuming that the Jazz let Boozer walk/Boozer stabs them in the back and Millsap becomes priority number one. Number two, I doubt that Millsap wants to continue playing second fiddle after playing 30 minutes a game. But if it could happen, oh boy I wish we could get Paul Millsap. Forget dreaming of Jeannie, I dream of Millsap. That came out wrong. He has murdered the Blazers all sorts of different ways over the pat few years and it would be great to have that man-beast on our side. Rebounding, scoring, low-post, defense, energy, toughness…you see what I’m saying. Highly unlikely but still if you let your mind wander. Damn.
  • David Lee (restricted): He’s a restricted free agent and I’m sure the Knicks will want to keep him so that kind of pokes a hole in the logic. But you never know. I have a man-crush on David Lee so my bias is probably going to show. It’s obvious the tools that he brings to the table, but I wonder about his defense. And I also wonder how he would play with the limited PT, or does he cut into LMA time? But those are the type of questions I’d love to debate, if we can we should get David Lee. Double-double machine? Sign me up.
  • Brandon Bass (unrestricted):  He’s in the same mold as Milsap and Lee but gets far less publicity if you ask me. He’s played phenomenal in the playoffs, the kind of performance that would usually get a free agent overpaid in the off-season. Patented by Jerome James. The economy is probably going to X-nay that but still, you can’t deny that Bass is emerging. I don’t know how you can’t like his game? He has toughness and enforcer-type qualities which makes him the anti-Channing Frye. Simply put, he does the dirty work in the paint, he’s a difference maker off the bench. His energy and athleticism are something the Blazers could use backing LMA up. Could you imagine the offensive rebounding prowess of a LMA/Oden/Joel/Bass frontline?!?! Yikes.
  • Antonio McDyess (unrestricted): Say what you want about McDyess being old and busted but he can still go. Check out his game log and tell me you don’t like what you see. All the tools we need. Good size, defense, tough-minded, and what’s that word everyone loves…oh yeah, experience. Can score and bang in the post but also hit the mid-range jumper. Notice how it’s ALSO hit the mid-range jumper and not JUST hit the mid-range jumper. Have to love the rebounding numbers. I’d imagine limited minutes could work big time. A major plus is how he’s been guarding top forwards for years just to throw that in there. The main issue? Getting McDyess out here. Can Portland convince Antonio McDyess to play for them? I don’t know. I’m sure if he decides to return he’ll want to play for an immediate contender and I’d sense Boston would want to snag him ASAP. But if KP and co. can I think he would be a great fit to backup LaMarcus Aldridge.
  • Chris Andersen: It pains me to say it but the Birdman is nice. Tell me you didn’t love the way he played during this Dallas/Denver series and I’ll call you a hater. There’s no chance in hell Denver lets him get away though but I thought I’d put him on the list. He plays so hard it isn’t even funny. How can you not like a frontline with Big Joel, an improved Oden and the Birdman? Nightmare for offenses. Blocks, rebounding, energy and a little bit of swagger. What’s not to like?

In my eyes, these are the top names that Portland should target in free-agency. Realistically I think it’s going to be really tough to get any of them for assorted reasons. I’m not sure money is going to play as big of a role in this economy because of the lack of teams with money to spend, but it always could. Then you look at playing time and roles. Do we have enough PT for these guys to be effective? David Lee needs minutes to be effective. Ditto for Millsap who I’m sure doesn’t want to be a second-fiddle again. Then you wonder if we have the ability to lure the other guys here? Bass and Birdman are likely to be high on their teams priority lists and McDyess will either retire or have a top of top-tier contenders. All 5 are great players and great fits but all have obstacles in getting them here.

INTRIGUING

These are names on the list that I literally made the noise ‘hmm’ when I saw them.

  • Glen Davis: I know Coup will have something to say about these first two names. No argument that Big Baby has come into his own during the playoffs. He’s big and physical with the ability to hit the mid-range jumper. My only qualms with his game are his lack of rebounding. He averaged 4 a game during the regular season (less than Brandon Roy) and during the playoffs has only averaged 5.8 rebounds in nearly 37 minutes of play. I’d like to see a man of his size hit the boards a little more. He also tends to love to shoot which could be both a positive and a negative. Big Baby in the second unit gives you another scoring option but he also may take some ill-advised, Channing-type shots.
  • Leon Powe: If he didn’t just have microfracture surgery he would have been in the other list. 7 points and 5 rebounds in only 17 minutes a game? I like. Add in his scrappiness, effort and ability to operate in the low post and you can see how he fits in. But he’s out for at least a year and who knows how he will comeback.
  • Chris Wilcox: This name intrigues me at best. It’s hard to remember that this guy has been in the league for 7 years and was once upon a time the #8 pick. My beef with Wilcox is what you know what you’re getting and not much more. He can run the pick-and-roll, dunk, rebound and give you some interior defense. That’s about it. I still think he’ll give oodles more post D than Frye or Outlaw. If we end up with Wilcox, it isn’t the end of the world and he can contribute…but just how much can he contribute? He could be what the Blazers need though but just thinking that Chris Wilcox is going to be the big move kind of rubs me the wrong way, ya know?
  • Louis Admunson: Do not shake your heads and sleep on this guy. He plays with a high motor, willingly does all the dirty work, rides a bike everywhere so he’d fit in Portland. Not to mention he has bounce and could bring the Rose Garden to their feet with ease. Is this not the protoypical Blazer fan favorite? Against him? Not really going to create the majority of his offense and if he gets fouled it’s ugly. 44% type ugly.
  • Joel Anthony: 6-9 with 1.4 blocks a game? Yes, please. Also in Portland he wouldn’t have to be an undersized center. Very raw everywhere else, but would give us some much needed interior defense.

Boston more than likely isn’t letting Big Baby go and I’d imagine they keep Powe in a measure of good-faith but you never know. I’m not entirely sold on Chris Wilcox for some reason, maybe someone can help me out I just find him to be so ‘meh’. It just feels like he’ll always be better on paper than he is in real life. Admunson and Anthony fit every need Portland needs at the backup 4 except for an ability to score. I’m a little scared of having Big Joel and one of those two in at the same time, although they can both finish, I wouldn’t dare throw them the ball with their backs to the basket.

THE IKE DIOGU SECTION

  • Ike Diogu: I know, I know, I already know what you’re thinking. Hear me out. When you finish the season with 32 pts and 11 rebounds on 14-20 shooting and 28 points and 13 rebounds on 10-17 shooting, you get on the list. We all know the deal with Ike and the thing with Ike is that he needs minutes to produce. And when gets minutes…he generally produces. Ike as the primary backup raises my eyebrow. I doubt it happens and I’d rather he go to a team that will use him properly…but still.

Not So Much

  • Rasheed Wallace: Probably one of my top 5 Blazers of all-time. I loved Sheed growing up and nearly ended being a fan when he was replaced by Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff. But….nah. As much as I would love to see Dirty 30 back in a Blazers uniform, it just isn’t happening for obvious reasons. And I can’t even really make an argument for it. First off Sheed wants to get p-a-i-d. Second I doubt this is the place which would motivate him. And trust me unmotivated Sheed is one of the worst players in the NBA, up there with crazy Ron Artest and Dickey Simpkins.
  • Zaza Pachulia: Physical, banger who isn’t afraid of anything…but what else does he do? Also, personnally he just drives me up the wall.
  • Drew Gooden: If he can’t work in San Antonio, he can’t really work anywhere.

Tags: Antonio Mcdyess Big Baby Davis Brandon Bass Channing Frye Chris Andersen Chris Wilcox David Lee Drew Gooden Ike Diogu Joel Anthony Leon Powe Louis Admunson Michael Ruffin Paul Millsap Portland Free Agency Portland Power Forward Portland Trail Blazers Rasheed Wallace Shavlik Randolph Travis Outlaw Zaza Pachulia

comments powered by Disqus