My respect for Nate McMillan notwithstanding, this Portland team is at a crossroads - they are very good team, but not yet a contender. Infamous no man's land in the NBA. Here are their salary obligations for next season:
Brandon Roy: 14.9 million
LaMarcus Aldridge: 11.8 million
Gerald Wallace: 10.6 million
Marcus Camby: 9.5 million
Andre Miller: 7.8 million
Greg Oden: 8.7 million (qualifying offer)
Wesley Matthews: 6.1 million
Luke Babbit: 1.7 million
Elliot Williams: 1.3 million
Rudy Fernandez: 2.2 million
Nicolas Batum: 2.15 million
Armon Johnson: 788,000
Fabricio Oberto: 992,000
Patty Mills: 937,000
Some other bums: 500,000
On an aside, it's a crime that Nico Batum, Rudy Fernandez and Andre Miller play for less than what Eddy Curry made this season. Grand larceny.
1). Find a Gilbert Arenas-Rashard Lewis deal for Brandon Roy
As Charles said last night on Inside the NBA on TNT, this is a physically tough tough situation for Brandon. He's hurt, supposedly he's bone on bone in both knees and that problem is not getting any better. Mentally, he has to be having such a tough time with this because all these guys he was better than and he used to play over are now beating him in every single conceivable way. And that is very difficult for a guy to take - he was the number one option and franchise player on the pre-Thunder Thunder less than one year ago! And now, he's being reduced to playing 15 minutes a game off the bench, behind Wesley Matthews, Andre Miller and Rudy? I'm not sure a guy like that can thrive on this team.
So, if possible, you try to find a bad contract for bad contract swap. Maybe Rashard Lewis himself? Baron? I think the Trailblazers have to realize that they're not going to get value out of this. However, they do have to realize that Roy could become toxic in their locker room. Another team could possibly take him because he's young and smart, and couldn't be any worse than their current situations.
I obviously wrote all of this before he dropped 23 on the Mavs two nights ago and single-handedly swayed the game in the Blazers' favor. My opinion still stands.
2). Sign shooters, immediately
Without question, the Blazer's greatest weakness is distance shooting. Wesley Matthews is their only player that shot over 40% from long range and no other player was over 35%. They need to go after a guy that can stretch the floor and will not demand much money. Options are Shane Battier, Mike Redd (maybe on a 1-year, make good contract), Shannon Brown or Eddie House.
3). Sign a backup big man
This is less pressing because Camby, Wallace and LaMarcus form a pretty formidable trio up front - but Wallace is undersized, Camby is in his late thirties and LaMarcus can't play 48 minutes a game. But they need some size. How could they accomplish both 2) and 3) on my agenda?
4). Trade Greg Oden
Too many bad things have happened in Portland with this guy. Look at it this way: if you were a bank teller and your bank got robbed 4 times - even if they were from circumstances that are out of your control, wouldn't that place of employ become somewhat tainted for you? It would just become really difficult to come to work every day I think. And that's how I think life is for Greg Oden. Also, I just watched "Set It Off" with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett and Vivica A. Fox. They were bank tellers turned bank robbers. And in case you're wondering, yes that was a "Set it Off" reference, yes I liked the movie and no, I'm not sorry.
Even if this guy has a productive career, I just don't think he'll be able to realize fully whatever he can become at this point if he's still in Portland. There is no question that there will be a market for a man of his pedigree, size and talent. Kwame Brown got traded for Caron Butler once. Kwame has the body of a Greek God and the hands of a T-Rex. You can get something for Oden.