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2012 NBA Offseason: Portland Trail Blazers

Draft Grades, Offseason Needs, Free Agents

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Portland Trail Blazers (Last Year: 28-38)

Live 2012 NBA Draft Grades:

6. Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State: C Grade
I just don't love Damian Lillard as the sixth-overall pick despite the fact that he might be the best point guard in this draft and how badly the Blazers need a point guard. Still, he wasn't going to be on the board at No. 11 when Portland picks again, so it does make sense.

11. Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois: D- Grade
HAHA ... man, I think Leonard is going to suck in the NBA. Like Portland's earlier pick, Leonard fills a need at center, but he is a reach at No. 11 and only goes this high because is 7-1. The Blazers are testing the need over best-player-available theory, and it will be interesting to see how these picks pan out.

40. Will Barton, G, Memphis: A Grade
After missing in the first round, the Blazers redeem themselves a bit with a great value at No. 40. Barton is long and athletic, as well as a terrific slasher, but incredibly thin. He could help the team replace Gerald Wallace on the wing.

*** 2012 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

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Jose 01-02-2014 08:30 am (total posts: 1)
3     3

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Jeremy kelso 04-10-2013 12:16 pm (total posts: 1)
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This guy was way wrong about lillard.
blah 03-31-2013 10:18 pm (total posts: 1)
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Whomever wrote this knows nothing! Lillard is Rookie of the year!
Selin 10-31-2012 02:35 am (total posts: 1)
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Fair enough, algtouhh an hour (including time spent watching my laptop not work) isn't a lot of time to make a point to a skeptic. There are also other reasons for using interfaces to do with naming, and dependency management I didn't get to. I find that the effect of using interfaces to describe roles only really kicks in as the code scales up. And I'm sure that a good team can make things work with just classes David's examples looked pretty good to me. In the meantime, I really recommend the Wirfs-Brock book, if you haven't read it yet. It has a long and respectable pedigree.At least we agree on not using the I' naming wart.
David B 06-29-2012 08:06 pm (total posts: 1)
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Not sure which one of you guys wrote this, but judging from your writing style you sound like you're about 12. We can agree to disagree on Lillard. He's a gym rat with a strong desire to get better. He brings some long distance shooting that the Blazers sorely need, and I think that playing with guys like Aldridge and Battum (as opposed to his lesser talented Big Sky teammates) he won't feel the need to dominate the ball as much.

I think you're totally missing the boat on Leonard. Yes, he's a project, but he runs the court like a dear and his wingspan screams shot-blocker. I think he can develop into a strong defensive presence, and I have no problem that they passed up on a guy like Lamb, who I don't think has the make up to be successful at the next level.

This draft was at least a B+, if not an A.
OTHC Hubie 06-29-2012 09:41 am (total posts: 1)
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Feel like a swing and a miss. None of these guys will be major impact players. I hope i'm wrong but could have traded back in the draft and took some talent. Hate the Leonard pick.
Everybody 06-28-2012 08:42 pm (total posts: 1)
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Paul Banks writes like a teenager in a D&D comment section. Try reading that paragraph on Meyers Leonard. It's painful.

Obviously, he's better than this if he writes for the Washington Times, but it'd be nice if he put a little effort into re-reading and proofing his remarks.
Jay 06-11-2012 01:25 pm (total posts: 1)
12     16

If I'm Portland I'm going after Goran Dragic, resign Batum & Hickson, draft Drummond at #6 and take either Lamb, Waiters, or Rivers at #11.
Geiger 05-23-2012 03:29 pm (total posts: 1)
20     25

The Blazers are a team on the uprise and it wouldnt suprise me if they landed several impact players through the draft and free agency..if Nash or Derron Williams could be lured to Rip City they would immediatley have a playoff team. This also would allow them to focus on the Center/Wing in the draft and not waste a pick on a lesser talent at point guard. This team is always a "x" factor and will be a franchise to watch this offseason.
Tony 04-03-2012 11:53 pm (total posts: 1)
41     16

The blazers definitely needed faried
Smith 07-02-2011 03:24 am (total posts: 1)
33     52

Felton recently said in a press conference interview that he wanted to stay in Portland outside of a year which reassures the trade they made. As a big Blazer fan though, aside from that trade I was pretty down on their draft. I thought Faried would have been a gem on the team due to his high energy/rebounding and an instant fan favorite. The guy they should have drafted out of Ohio State should have been Lighty.
mprofetta 06-24-2011 12:02 pm (total posts: 1)
27     26

Faried is EXACTLY what the Blazers needed. A physical, rebounding monster to spell Aldridge. So they pass him up for another combo guard? Don't they already have Armon Johnson? What happened to that "up and coming" team everyone was so high on just a short time ago?
Coach K 06-24-2011 09:04 am (total posts: 1)
27     29

Wow, the Blazers actually took two guys who were good in college rather than speculate on random Europeans that will never do anything. What a crazy draft strategy.
Walter 06-21-2011 05:18 pm (total posts: 1)
26     29

First comment... we're going to have comment boards like this all over the site soon. We're still working out the kinks, so this is not the finished product.

2011-12 Season Summary:
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, the Portland Trail Blazers were my sleeper pick to make a run in the Western Conference. I looked like a genius early on as the team won seven of its first nine games. Things quickly turned downhill though as Portland missed out on the playoffs and now enters the offseason with a boatload of needs.

Injuries once again played a factor for the Blazers� roster before the season even began. Chronic knee injuries forced Brandon Roy to retire. Greg Oden�s 837th comeback attempt came to no avail as the injury-riddled big man had to undergo a third microfracture knee surgery. Portland eventually released Oden who finished his five-year career in Rip City playing in just 82 regular season games, cementing his status as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.

With the Blazers fading midway through the season, the team held a firesale prior to the trade deadline, dealing veteran starters Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby for expiring contracts and draft picks. The franchise also fired seventh-year head coach Nate McMillan.

There were some bright spots along the way. LeMarcus Aldridge shook off an early season injury to put together another highly productive season even though he was forced to play more center than in the past due to injuries and trading of Camby. Portland signed J.J. Hickson after he was waived by Sacramento and Hickson returned to his Cleveland playing stature, putting together an incredibly strong end of the season which should do wonders for his value this summer in free agency. Guys like Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Jamal Crawford filled their roles, but were unable to emerge as a consistent number two scoring option alongside Aldridge.

The point guard play was the Achilles' heel for the Blazers. Raymond Felton proved not to be the answer in his first season in Rip City while backups Nolan Smith and Jonny Flynn (after the Camby trade) were lackluster in a reserve role. A lack of depth, especially in the frontcourt also played a factor in Portland�s downward spiral.

After the season, owner Paul Allen wrote an open letter to the Blazers fans expressing his disappointment in the way things turned out and denying reports that he was trying to sell the team. Allen also mentioned starting a new chapter for the franchise. Likely armed with two lottery picks (four overall selections) in the 2012 NBA Draft and a ton of cap space, Portland figures to be major player this offseason while undergoing a slight re-building effort.

2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Kurt Thomas

PF: LeMarcus Aldridge

SF: *Nicolas Batum/Luke Babbitt/#Shawne Williams

SG: Wesley Matthews/#Jamal Crawford/Elliot Williams

PG: Nolan Smith

NBA Free Agents:

*SF-Nicolas Batum (RFA)

#SG-Jamal Crawford (PO)

#SF-Shawne Williams (PO)

PG-Raymond Felton (UFA)

PF-J.J. Hickson (UFA)

PG-Jonny Flynn (UFA)

C-Hasheem Thabeet (UFA)

C-Mehmet Okur (UFA)

C-Joel Przybilla (UFA)

PF-Craig Smith (UFA)

2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $25.6 million (in guaranteed contracts)

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Point Guard: I would actually be pretty shocked if the Blazers re-signed Felton for starter money. There are some solid veteran free agent point guards available this summer, and Portland has the cap space to make a serious run at one (Steve Nash anyone?) The team could also look to address its need with one of its lottery picks, though this is a weaker draft class in terms of impact point guards. Whatever the method, the Blazers need to get more out of the point guard position than they did this past season.

I am not sure Williams is worth a max deal, but if that�s what it takes to re-sign him, the team might have to open up its checkbook. Expect Williams to make a decision on his future prior to the start of the Olympics since he doesn�t want to be playing in London without a contract in case he gets injured representing Team USA.

2. Center: Right now, LeMarcus Aldridge and veteran journeyman Kurt Thomas are the only post players under contract for next season. I think Aldridge is best suited playing the four, so first and foremost, Portland needs to find a veteran center who can step into the starting lineup and allow Aldridge to be at his more natural position. Re-signing Hickson would be a wise decision if the price is right since he played really well during his short stint in Rip City. Adding a couple more big bodies wouldn�t hurt either.

3. Depth on the Wing: Portland traded Wallace, Batum is a restricted free agent, and Crawford can (and likely will) opt out of the final year of his contract which leaves Matthews, Babbitt, and Williams as the only wing players guaranteed for next season. The Blazers have coveted Batum since his arrival, so I would expect them to do everything in their power to sign him to a long-term extension, even though it might cost a pretty penny. If Crawford does indeed opt out and sign elsewhere, the team will have to find someone who can replace his scoring punch.

4. General Manager: The Blazers run through GM�s like Kim Kardashian or Alyssa Milano run through ball players. Their current general manager, Chad Buchanan, still holds an interim tag after taking over for Rich Cho a year ago. Cho was given the boot after just ten months on the job when he replaced the fired Kevin Pritchard. So yes, Portland is technically looking for its fourth general manager in less than two years.

Ideally, the Blazers should get somebody in that spot before the NBA Draft and free agency begin. Allen has sat on his hands for a nearly a year, but rumors have already picked up steam this offseason regarding possible candidates.

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