The Portland Trail Blazers inked 31st draft pick Allen Crabbe’s contract on July 10th; the day free agency moratorium ended. It was the same day that the contracts of Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez became official and, coincidentally, the day Portland also signed Dorell Wright. The next day they signed Earl Watson.
What strikes me as odd here, is that in an off-season with a laser-like focus on team building, Portland may have pigeon-holed themselves right out of the gate. Mo Williams was signed nearly a month later, on August 7th, taking the Blazers’ 15th and final active roster slot, forcing them to release Terrel Harris earlier this week.
This was by no means a mistake. Mo Williams was an excellent pickup and Terrel Harris was a benchwarmer with his own set of problems, but the Blazers remain heavy at the shooting guard position. Having drafted CJ McCollum (a combo-guard), and signed Mo Williams (a combo-guard), while retaining both Wesley Matthews and Will Barton, there will be little to no room for Allen Crabbe to play.
I can’t help but think that Portland could have waited until a more opportune time to sign him. They now have four players capable of playing his position (SG) ahead of him or neck-and-neck with him in the rotation. It may have behooved them to keep their options a little more open should another player impress at a shallower position.
Take a moment to think about this: The 76ers officially signed Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams yesterday. They were the 6th and 11th picks respectively. Both are tremendous assets, but Philly kept their options open for 3 entire months after drafting them. My fear is that the Blazers prematurely slated Crabbe into a role he no longer fills.
Wesley Matthews is signed through 2015, as is CJ McCollum. Even Mo Williams could stay with his player option; so could Will Barton if Portland decides that he’s earned a spot. Barring trade, the shooting guard position is already spoken for in the next two seasons. So what does this mean for Allen Crabbe?
It means that he’s an above average spot-up shooter with weak handles and a whole lot of bench to get familiar with. On draft day, he was anticipated to be a low-usage bench scorer, but the way the Blazers have built since then makes me think “trade bait” is a more appropriate title. He’d make a handsome, inexpensive addition to any package Portland could offer at the February trade deadline.
The Blazers should have waited to see what was going to happen with Mo Williams before securing Crabbe. At the time, it appeared as if McCollum would back up Lillard at point guard, leaving more room at shooting guard if Williams selected a different team to join in free agency, but with Williams behind Lillard instead, McCollum will absorb almost all SG minutes off the bench.
Portland signed Allen Crabbe very early, but I don’t think it will impact their future. It would have been rather difficult to oust the 1st pick of the 2nd round in favor of a training camp invitee at a different position, but if Portland trades him the end result is the same: Allen Crabbe is unlikely to remain with the Blazers for very long.
That’s how I see it. Crabbe is not untalented, but sometimes there just isn’t room. His first NBA seasons would likely be wasted in Portland and, now that the Blazers are deep enough to have fat to trim, both parties would benefit from a well-crafted separation. I will cheer him during his fleeting court time without reservation, but I am hesitant to grow attached.