Though his aggressive demeanor and perhaps unsettling appearance do not fit the Blazer image, I am in love with this idea. You have heard 1,000 times that Portland needs a defensive center, and 1,000 times again that they shouldn’t give up on Meyers Leonard. So why not put Meyers in a starting role and sign the best defensive center off the bench this year to back him up?
Entering his 12th NBA season, Chris Andersen is a proven vet with two major upsides; his defense and his price. Andersen has never been paid more than $4.5 million for a single season and collected only $700k from Miami this year. Of course, he joined them in January, but that is still pennies by NBA standards.
Because the Miami Heat live in the luxury tax red-zone thanks to their recently validated short-term planning, they will only be able to offer Andersen a 3 year, $9.3 million dollar deal (using all of Miami’s mini mid-level exception). This would even require most Heat players to accept the veteran minimum.
While I’m sure they would love to have him back, it doesn’t look like it will be a good fit, and Birdman can certainly fetch a higher price in free agency. In the event that Andersen hits the bricks, Portland needs to look him over. He is likely to be one of the most cost effective free agents on the market at any position.
For some time now, I’ve wanted Meyers Leonard to get meaner. He just isn’t what you would call ‘an enforcer’. Andersen is almost a mirrored opposite of Leonard. He is a sturdy, gritty, defensive veteran that blocks shots and cleans glass, while Leonard is a lanky, polite, finesse player with a midrange shot. They complete each other.
Maybe Leonard would even learn a thing or two about how to be a presence. I’m not saying I prefer thuggish big men or anything, but they do have a tendency to get the job done. Remembering back to the ‘Jail Blazer’ era, there was a fair bit of spite for Rasheed Wallace, but no one was gunning for Dirty Thirty when Portland was a playoff team.
I would just like to see the Blazers get a little tougher. They really don’t have any exceptional post defenders at the moment and, sans the pre-conceived notions, Andersen fits the gap they’ve been puzzling over. If Miami doesn’t want him or (more likely) can’t afford him, the Blazers should think long and hard about making a move.