This time of year is fantastic for a basketball fanatic. Blazer fans all over are so entrenched in the speculation and debate on what the team should do in the draft and coaching search. Lost in the noise is all talk on free agency. In a lot of ways, free agency is a much more sure-fire way to solidify your team as a contender.
Last year the Blazers went out and signed free agents Kurt Thomas, Craig Smith and Northwest native, Jamal Crawford. I think this off-season, the Blazers need to go out and find another talented NW prospect, Spencer Hawes.
Hawes, the 7’1” center for Philadelphia, is a very talented 24 year old player. He has been either injured or playing behind a veteran. Never really had the shot to live out his full potential but I believe Portland could be the perfect scenario for him. He has size, skill and youth on his side.
Last year as a ‘Sixer, Hawes played 37 games, started 29 of those. Averaging 9.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks he showed signs of a well rounded game for a big man. Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge in the backcourt, I believe that Hawes could be an incredibly productive center.
A major downside that may scare a few Blazer fans is his injury history. Last year he struggled with a back injury as well as an achilles injury. Yes, the Blazers need to have him fully examined by a doctor to make sure he is capable of being a long term piece to the franchise, but I do believe he has a very bright future.
The draft is coming up and that will give us more of an idea what the front office staff of the Blazers are thinking. If they take a big man in the draft, they might not see a need for a big guy like Hawes. But in my opinion, Hawes as an unrestricted free agent is somebody that the team must look at.
There are also other options out there. Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez are restricted free agents. Chris Kaman and Kris Humphries are unrestricted free agents.. All are highly talented big guys that can come in an immediately impact on a young team such as the Blazers.
In a league that seems to have gone away from dominant center plays in past years, having a talented, healthy big man can be all the difference. As Blazer fans, we all thought that Greg Oden was the answer but we all know how that ended up.
As fans and columnists following this team, we just have to hold on tight and trust the moves that are made, the rookies that are drafted and the coach that is hired by Neil Olshey and the Blazer’s brass. Every move is a roll of the dice in a sense. I am just very interested in which dice the team will roll in the next few weeks.
-Garrett Thornton (@GTPort74