The NBA Free Agency market has been open for three days and we’ve already seen plenty of moves. While teams can not officially sign players until July 10th, free agents are flying off the shelves via verbal agreements. The Portland Trail Blazers have been actively pursuing a few available players but have yet to receive any commitments. Let’s examine what has transpired thus far and what the next step for the Trail Blazers will be.
Even though it is very early in this year’s free agency, some big name players have already committed to new teams or agreed to stay with their current team. A few early commits were names rumored to be on the Trail Blazers watch list. Veteran point guard Shaun Livingston left Brooklyn on Tuesday after the Golden State Warriors agreed to a three year, $16 million contract. The Warriors wanted Livingston for the same reasons the Trail Blazers coveted him: ball-handling, backcourt scoring, and taking pressure off the number one point guard. In this case, it takes a lot off the plate for Stephen Curry and allows him to be creative. The Trail Blazers would have liked to do the same with Damian Lillard.
Another potential target the Trail Blazers missed out on was P.J. Tucker. Tucker might not be a household name but adding him to the Trail Blazers roster would have solved multiple problems at once. We know Portland needs to add depth to it’s bench (preferably scoring depth) while also adding a defensive minded player. Tucker checks off both of those boxes. Last season, Tucker started 81 games and posted career-highs of 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. Known for his hustle and intensity on defense, Tucker received the Dan Majerle Hustle Award for the second consecutive season. This award is voted on by Suns fans, players, coaches, employees, and even Majerle himself. With the ability to score and play effective defense, Tucker is one that slipped away from the Trail Blazers in this free agent market.
Even Darren Collison, a point guard in high demand, committed to the Sacramento Kings earlier this afternoon. He has gone back and forth between starting and coming off the bench during his career depending upon which team he was with. The Trail Blazers had hopes of using him behind Lillard the same way the Los Angeles Clippers used him behind Chris Paul last season. This was more of a contingency plan in case Mo Williams is lured elsewhere with more money, but it is no longer an available option.
So what’s next for the Trail Blazers? There are still plenty of free agents available that can come in and have an immediate impact. Rumors are at the core of free agency and there are a few flying around that involve the Trail Blazers. The possibility of wooing Spencer Hawes seems to have the most validity. Hawes met with the Trail Blazers and the meeting supposedly “went very well“. Hawes would be an excellent signing for the Trail Blazers since a consistent backup for Robin Lopez is a big need. Meyers Leonard has proved nothing and Joel Freeland does not provide the type of offense Hawes can deliver.
The newest rumor includes an ex-Trail Blazer that would bring veteran leadership, scoring, and poise to the backcourt. Yes, I’m talking about Steve Blake. Chris Haynes broke the story last night:
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 3, 2014
Blake told a source that he’d love to play for the Trail Blazers again. The frontcourt is the highest priority for the Trail Blazers during free agency but a solid backup point guard will be needed if the team can’t re-sign Williams. Even if they did sign Williams, I’d still like the addition of Blake. There isn’t anything flashy about him but he’s consistent and would add much needed balance to the backcourt.
Yes it’s early and yes there are a lot of options, but the Trail Blazers cannot afford to waste any time. It would be ideal if they could have the pieces in place before the NBA Summer League starts (July 12 for the Trail Blazers in Las Vegas). That does not mean they have to rush into an agreement without looking at all of the options first. I have faith in the front office and I can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next few weeks.