The Portland Trail Blazers went into the 2013 NBA season with little fanfare. They upgraded their bench group and kept their starting five intact. This offseason, the Trail Blazers will need a couple parts to be a complete team.
Fortunately for the organization, they have Neil Olshey.
The team’s general manager finished third in the NBA Executive of the Year award after adding Robin Lopez, Dorrell Wright,and Thomas Robinson last season. This year, he will need to duplicate the same idea and principles that both Robinson and Wright did not accomplish — a consistent big man threat to spell minutes off of LaMarcus Aldridge.
While Lopez and Mo Williams (who would need to be re-signed) were a success, Olshey only has two spots to work with and a mid-level exception to use it on. It will be another offseason of creative tinkering if the Trail Blazers will improve on last season’s breakout.
The series loss against the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs was not an eye-opener. For many basketball purists, it was a battle of evolution. One team, the Spurs, were the better model than the other, the Trail Blazers. Each position was a mismatch despite close comparisons. Information could be granted through losses, but the loss against the Spurs didn’t add too much for the Trail Blazers’ offseason plans.
Now, Olshey will need to spin another big man miracle to compete in the wildly competitive Western Conference. That could start with the rumors of a Spencer Hawes signing, or better yet, a sign-and-trade for Detroit Pistons’ Greg Monroe. The addition of Monroe with the use of the mid-level exception would automatically upgrade the first or second unit dramatically.
Monroe, an accomplished scoring big man with a penchant for rebounds (but not blocks) was already a forsaken piece in a crowded Detroit front court. It would make sense for both teams to figure out a middle ground.
If Olshey figures a way to sign or trade for another cheap and effective big man, ala Robin Lopez, this could be the team to fear. Another year of seasoning for the starting five, in addition to true bench depth and scoring potential, could be the difference to an NBA Finals appearance.
Photo Credit: Bruce Ely / The Oregonian
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