According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW, the Portland Trail Blazers have started feeling out point guard Steve Blake’s interest in a potential return to the City of Roses. Blake, who was with the Blazers during two separate stints (2005-2006 and 2007-2010), reportedly responded favorably to coming back to Portland.
These considerations are almost assuredly insurance for the team in case things with Mo Williams do not pan out. While Williams was an integral part of the team during last season’s romp to the second round, his future in Portland remains very much up in the air.
The chances he returns to Portland appear to be becoming slimmer and slimmer, as the latest buzz indicates that he and the Mavericks have a strong mutual interest. Williams, nearing the end of his career, will likely be seeking a long-term deal, which the Blazers may try to provide with the Non-Bird Exception.
If this does not pan out, the team can circle back to Blake. Blake reportedly liked Portland enough that he bought a home in the area that his family lives in during the off-season. And, as a 10-year veteran, Blake could act as a stabilizing force off of the bench in Williams’ stead.
If I had to use one word to describe Blake during his time on the Blazers or any of the teams he has bounced around the league with, it would be “solid.” Let’s face it – you don’t stay in the NBA for 10 seasons without being solid at a minimum. He has the veteran know-how, plays within his means, and, in my mind, was always willing to step up and hit a big shot at the end of the game.
At 6’3” and able to shoot the three (37.6% last year), Blake could also function serviceably off the ball, although he would be primarily working as a point guard. In direct comparison to Williams, Blake is less of an offensive force, which could be a double-edged sword on this Blazers team.
While oftentimes Williams’ hasty decisions to shoot drove me nuts, there is no denying that he really carried the bench’s offense last season. When push comes to shove, someone has to take the shot, and truthfully, Williams was probably the best option more than should be healthy for a team.
Blake, who averaged a valuable 5.6 assists per game last year (compared to Williams’ 4.3) could conceivably get others more involved – albeit at the aforementioned price of less offensive potency. Someone needs to run the second unit, and if Williams’ days in Portland are over, Blake is as fine of a replacement as any.
This does beg the question, though, of where second-year guard C.J. McCollum will fit into the lineup. Hampered by a foot injury at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, McCollum never seemed to find his groove. If Blake is indeed brought on, it could mean that McCollum would see more minutes as a shooting guard. Hopefully, such a move would not mean fewer minutes for McCollum, as playing time is crucial for young players to develop.
If anything does happen with Blake, it will probably not be until later in the off-season, so there is plenty of time to see how things shake out. Stay tuned here at RipCityProject for any breaking news.