The Las Vegas Summer League has officially wrapped up, and it marks the beginning of a period of relatively little activity in the NBA. Free agency has mostly wrapped up as well, with just a few big-name stragglers still looking for contracts. The likes of Brandon Jennings, Mo Williams, and Nikola Pekovic (who seems destined to return to Minnesota) highlight what is largely a group of dismiss-able players.
Portland’s already made all of the moves they’ve needed to this offseason. They’ve addressed the starting center and the bench depth. C.J. McCollum, Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright highlight a strong, if not stellar, offseason for them.
At this point, the Blazers can put their feet up and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Before that, however, would they benefit from picking through the remains of the free agency market once more? Would adding a player or two help them in any way?
Right now, the Blazers have the maximum 15 players on their roster. Signing a player would mean they’d have to cut or trade player to open up room on the roster.
This isn’t a totally unfeasible idea, however. General manager Neil Olshey has shown the willingness to make minor deals revolving around second-round picks and players 0n the end of the roster. Joel Freeland is complete dead weight for the Blazers as a borderline NBA player with almost $6 million owed to him over the next two years, and the Blazers are probably eager to trade him. Additionally, freshly acquired wing Terrel Harris has an unguaranteed contract that the Blazers can waive if they wanted to.
So, with options available to them, let’s take a look at any type of player the Blazers might need in the slightest. The main one is a veteran big man. Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard are the current back-ups to LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, and at this stage in their development, they’re far from a sure thing.
A veteran big man the Blazers can stick on the end of the bench and go to for reliable production, when they need it, could come in handy. Additionally, it simply might be nice to have a big man older than 28 on the roster to support those young bigs and teach them a thing or two. Ideally, this one would be a true defensive big man who could be a change of pace option from the offensively-orientated Meyers Leonard and hustle big Thomas Robinson.
What type of player suits this role for Portland? They don’t need anyone high-maintenance who would demand consistent playing time, nor do they need someone that would call for much more than the veteran minimum. If Joel Przybilla wanted to make another return to Portland, he’d be perfect for this role as he averages 11.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes for his career. There’s also the dynamic Kenyon Martin, or if we wanted to reach deep into the barrel, renowned “Dwight Stopper” Jason Collins.
If the Blazers can get a veteran center, they really might not have any more existing needs. They’re well covered at every position, with plenty of options available everywhere else. McCollum projects to hoard most of the guard minutes off of the bench, with Will Barton, Allen Crabbe and Earl Watson fighting over the rest. Dorell Wright has small forward locked down, with Victor Claver as an option if absolutely necessary.
The only thing they may consider pursuing at all is a swingman they can deploy at either shooting guard or small forward in a situation where McCollum or Wright are unneeded, and none of Barton, Crabbe or Claver are ideal. Notice that all three of those are either heading into their first or second NBA season. For whatever it’s worth, Barton and Claver are far from polished NBA players, and Crabbe struggled mightily in Summer League.
There certainly are plenty of established swingmen that the Blazers could plug into the end of their roster as the 15th body, provided they had room for such a player. The size of that market is why Portland might consider nabbing one and insuring themselves from the worst case scenario in which they would need such a player. Roger Mason Jr. and Damien Wilkins are the level of player that Portland could snatch to fulfill that need, if we could call it one.
At any rate, Portland isn’t obligated in the least to make any moves. I’m preferential to securing at least a veteran big man, and I’d be completely welcome to adding a swingman too. Last year’s bench was woeful, and I’d hate to see this one, which has such nice upside, crash and burn because of its heavy reliance on young players. However, keeping a roster spot empty might help in any trade negotiations that Olshey decides to open up later on.
Watching for a low-level free agent signing might be all Blazers fans have for a while, as the NBA enters the stage of the offseason where the dust settles and not much else happens. Keep your eyes and ears open, and remember, preseason action is just a little more than two months away!