On Tuesday, I wrote my primer for the upcoming free agency period from the perspective of the Portland Trail Blazers. Free agency starts at 9:01 p.m. here in Portland on Friday night. Like I wrote, I don’t expect the next couple weeks to be very active for the Blazers.
See Wednesday for an example of how the free agency period is going to go. Two teams made a blockbuster trade. Houston sent 7 (SEVEN!) players and a 1st round pick to the Clippers, in exchange for Chris Paul. On the fringes of this massive deal, multiple other teams traded non-guaranteed contracts to the Rockets to make this deal work, money-wise. In the shuffle Portland made their first off-season move, outside of the draft.
Portland sent Tim Quarterman and his non-guaranteed contract to Houston in exchange for cash considerations. This cleared a roster spot for the Blazers and helped facilitate the bigger trade.
This upcoming free agency period is going to be really exciting for a lot of teams as All-Stars (Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Paul George) are likely to find new homes in the next couple weeks.
The excitement for Blazers fans will be… trading for cash considerations? Pretty much.
While I have been mostly down on the Blazers’ ability to make anything happen in the next stage of the off-season, I do think they will try.
General Manager Neil Olshey introduced the rookies, Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, to the Portland media on Monday and had some interesting things to say.
About whether the team was content with how the roster was constructed after the draft, Olshey said, “Until we get to October and training camp starts, the roster is always in a state of flux. We’re always looking to upgrade and we’re always looking to accelerate what we’ve been trying to build the last couple of years.”
With that said, I give you my three (realistic) targets to keep an eye on as the Blazers head into free agency this weekend:
1 – C.J. Miles
Can this team really handle two guys named C.J.? Well if their last names are McCollum and Miles, yes they can.
Miles would be on the NBA’s rotation player first-team. He is a guy that can guard multiple positions, shoot the ball efficiently, and can be a spark plug off the bench.
Coming into the league as a point guard has helped Miles and the overall versatility of his game. Miles can be used in spot ball handling roles similar to Evan Turner. Miles shot 41% from 3, and over 90% from the free throw line last year for the Pacers. Even though he has played small forward the past few years, he has occasionally been called upon to defend the opposing teams’ best perimeter player.
After spending the past three seasons in Indiana under the mid-level exception contract, that is the only contract that Portland could really offer him. Some analysts are reporting that the asking price for Miles might approach $10 million. If that is the case, the Blazers will have no chance. If Miles can sign on for a few more years on the mid-level exception, the Blazers should do everything they can to sign him up for that.
2 – Thabo Sefolosha
Blazer fans remember Sefolosha well after he spent 6 seasons with division-rival Oklahoma City. Sefolosha isn’t quite the same player that he was during his prime in OKC, but he is still a premier wing defender that can play an important role off the bench.
Entering his 33-year-old season, Sefolosha is likely looking for his last above-minimum contract. While may be looking to stay put in Atlanta, there have been reports that he will take visits starting this weekend.
Portland could use a defender off the bench that has the acumen and ability that Sefolosha has. Think of a Tony Allen type role. Last year, Sefolosha averaged a career high with 2.2 steals per-36 minutes. His defensive box plus-minus was also the best of his career. Despite being towards the back end of his career, Sefolosha is still a defensive specialist.
3 – David Lee
I have been very clear that I think that the power forward position is the most redundant and crowded position on the depth chart. But, on the other hand, it is the most likely position to be sorted through in trades and moves in the next couple weeks.
Lee has been bouncing from contender to contender the last few years, having played for Golden State, Boston, Dallas, and San Antonio the past 4 seasons.
A lot of people think that Lee will wait-and-see when it comes to free agency. He will most likely wait until the main wave of moves is over, then select a contender that is in need of his services. If this is the case, the Blazers may not be on the top of his list.
If the Blazers can entice Lee to join this young team, Lee would give an incredible veteran presence to one of the youngest rosters in the entire league. With rookie power forwards Caleb Swanigan and Zach Collins on the roster, they need a veteran to teach them how to adjust to the NBA.