Remember how LaMarcus Aldridge wanted out of Portland before the draft last month? Gotta wonder if he’s having second thoughts based on the team’s solid draft and nice start to free agency. The offseason has a few more weeks left, but so far, the teams in the West that have improved are quite clear: Minnesota, (Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad, improving the team’s biggest weakness), LA Clippers (Doc Rivers, JJ Redick), New Orleans (Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans) and Portland.
Heading into the offseason, Portland’s needs were clear:
A) Get help inside for LaMarcus Aldridge, as it was clear JJ Hickson wasn’t coming back
B) Fortify one of the weakest benches in the league.
Aldridge will now be playing alongside a new center next season: Robin Lopez, brother of Brook, who came from New Orleans in the Tyreke Evans deal. Lopez is all defense and rebounding, and won’t score much, but they don’t need him to. I would assume Lopez will teach Meyers Leonard (who turns 22 in February) a thing or two.
[UPDATE: A few minutes after this post went up, the Blazers announced the signing of Dorrell Wright for 2-years, $6 million. Also, I forgot they traded for Thomas Robinson. Both will be valuable bench pieces.]
The bench was bolstered through the draft with two very good scorers – CJ McCollum from Lehigh and Allen Crabbe from Cal. McCollum was hurt last season, so if you’re not a college hoops fan, you don’t know what he’s capable of. (Answer: A lot.)
Crabbe is a scoring machine who occasionally pouts, but who should be good for 20 minutes a night off the bench.
I’m thinking the Blazers could compete with Minnesota and New Orleans for one of the final playoff spots.