22. Victor Claver, F, Spain
Everyone thought it was Omri Casspi they were targeting, but instead it was a different foreign product. Claver will go back overseas for a year or two which is typical of Portland. (Pick Grade: Meh)
33. Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova
Cunningham has a nice all-around game and can play either forward spot. I'm not sure where he fits with Travis Outlaw, Nicolas Batum and Martell Webster at the three. (Pick Grade: Meh)
38. Jon Brockman, PF, Washington
The Blazers dealt Brockman and Sergio Rodriguez to the Kings for Jeff Pendergraph who was taken at No. 31. Pendergraph is a tough, hard-worker Portland needs to back up LaMarcus Aldridge. They also dump some salary in dealing Rodriguez. (Pick Grade: Love It)
55. Patty Mills, PG, Saint Mary's
Especially with the trade of Rodriguez, this pick is outstanding. Mills is a dangerous point guard prospect with first-round talent, well worth taking this low. (Pick Grade: Love It)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Blazers sign PF Juwan Howard
Blazers sign PG Andre Miller
Suns sign PF Channing Frye
Blazers acquire F Jeff Pendergraph from Kings for PF Jon Brockman and PG Sergio Rodriguez
2008-09 Season Summary:
The Trailblazers made their expected jump into the elite of the Western Conference but they didn't take the planned route to get there. After drafting Greg Oden two years ago and then losing him for the year and still improving by 9 games, the addition of two elite rookies to their already young team was enticing. However, Oden was nowhere near the impact player he was expected to be and Jerryd Bayless was less than influential. Rudy Fernandez was the impact rookie to go along with Brandon Roy's leap into one of the league's best players and LaMarcus Aldridge's continued progress that led the Blazers to a 13 game improvement and a return trip to the play-offs for the first time since 2003.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Joel Pryzbilla/Greg Oden
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge/Jeff Pendergraph/Dante Cunningham/Juwan Howard
SF: Nicolas Batum/Travis Outlaw/Victor Claver/Martell Webster
SG: Brandon Roy/Rudy Fernandez
PG: Andre Miller/Steve Blake/Jerryd Bayless/Patty Mills
NBA Free Agents:
C Raef LaFrentz (UFA)
PF Michael Ruffin (UFA)
PF Shavlik Randolph (UFA)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $50.5 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Upgrade at Point Guard - The Blazers are pretty well set to win 55 games with their current roster. However if they could upgrade their starting point guard they could become a 60+ win team. Steve Blake isn't a slouch by any means but he isn't the floor general you envision on a team that could realistically compete for the Western Conference title in the next year or two. Portland has some cap room, but don't expect them to blow much on a free agent.
2. The Blazers first round exit in the play-offs can be attributed to the fact that they just didn't have a player to shut down Yao or Scola in the paint. Channing Frye is a restricted free agent and could be brought back at a reasonable price but he only averaged 11 minutes per game. If Greg Oden can figure out how to play defense without getting into foul trouble, this need becomes significantly less.
3. A Veteran Shooter - While disrupting the youth and energy of the Blazers seems like a crazy idea, if they want to be a top three team in the West they need a shooter to take on the Robert Horry role. Brandon Roy has the ability to take the last shot, but if that option is taken away suddenly the Blazers are counting on Steve Blake or LaMarcus Aldridge and neither of them has proven that they have what it takes to stomach the role. If a player like Eddie House opts out of Boston, Portland needs to give him a call.