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Portland Trailblazers

Can an overhauled bench get them in the playoffs? Portland Trailblazers Season Preview

Starting five: PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Robin Lopez
Key bench players: PF Thomas Robinson, PG CJ McCollum (10th overall pick), SF Dorrell Wright, PG Mo Williams, SG Allen Crabbe (31st overall pick), C Meyers Leonard
Offseason additions: Thomas Robinson (from Houston for two second round draft picks), CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, Earl Watson
Offseason subtractions: PF JJ Hickson, PG Eric Maynor, G/F Sasha Pavlovic
FACT OR FICTION: GM Neil Olshey upgraded his team’s bench enough to make the Trailblazers a playoff team.
FACT. Last season, only one Portland reserve averaged more than six points, four rebounds or four assists off the bench. That guy was Eric Maynor, who dropped a very modest 6.9 ppg and 4 apg. The problem was that he only played in 27 games after being traded to the PDX from Oklahoma City.

In other words? The Trailblazers bench was putrid last season. They were undoubtedly worst reserve unit in the league, and more than likely the reason why the Trailblazers missed the playoffs. Guys like Wil Barton, Victor Claver, Luke Babbit and rookie Meyers Leonard couldn’t do anything beneath an excellent starting five, which created an easy offseason directive for GM Olshey.
In a major upgrading project, the Portland front office went out and acquired essentially an all-new reserve unit. This included dealing for 2012 number 5 overall draft pick Robinson and rookie Allen Crabbe (in two different deals), as well as signing Mo Williams and Dorrell Wright and drafting Lehigh scoring machine McCollum. Along with now second year big man Leonard, this overhauled bench should, at least in name, be able to produce for the Blazers. Williams and Wright can be sieves defensively, but at the very least should be able to shoot the lights out, with a .386 and .367 three-point percentages, respectively. Robinson should be able to fill some of the gaps Wright and Williams can’t by rebounding and playing defense off the bench, which is what he was drafted for in the first place. Crabbe and McCollum were recruited to score big, which is exactly what both did in college.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans get: G Tyreke Evans, C Jeff Withey
Sacramento Kings get: PG Greivis Vasquez, two 2nd round picks
Portland Trailblazers get: C Robin Lopez, PG Terrel Harris
One of the worst kept secrets in all of basketball came to pass today, as Tyreke Evans was finally signed and traded to the New Orleans Hornets from the Sacramento Kings with a new four year, $44 million dollar contract. In return for their cooperation in not matching Evans’ offer sheet, Sacto received 2013 Most Improved Player runner-up Greivis Vasquez. The Portland Trailblazers completed the deal, sending 2013 second round pick C Jeff Withey to NOLA and taking on Robin Lopez. … Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Travis Outlaw

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
Travis Outlaw
Contract: 5 years, $35 million
Signed by:
New Jersey Nets
Salary this season: $7 million
2013 Slash Line: 4.7/1.8/0.4 in 25 games
Expires: 2015

The Nets are clearing cap space for a free-agent class that includes James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but James is the unmistakable target. So much so, the Nets have an internal business plan for the move into the new Brooklyn arena that includes a modest section on his eventual recruitment, estimates of his marketing worth and the salary-cap space that needs to be cleared for his signing.
This is the kind of advanced planning every team does, but there’s a credibility to the Nets’ pursuit that comes out of Jay-Z’s relationship.
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, February 25th, 2008

That excerpt was taken from a column written more than 28 months before LeBron James could even think about becoming a free agent in the summer of 2010. The impending departure of the King was a NBA storyline for over two years in a media storm like few before it. Everyone knew that come July 1st, the course of league history would be changed depending on where the then 26 year-old would sign. Like Woj wrote, every team has advanced planning on their minds when designing the future of the franchise. Many of them had their eye on the now-three-time MVP in 2008, but only a few had the financial and logical wherewithal to actually involve themselves in the discussion.
For the Nets and their downtrodden fans wallowing within a second city standing, the thought of signing a premier free agent was a laughable dream for much of the franchise’s history. Even as the team had been to the Finals just as many times in the last 35 years as their Manhattan dwelling sister squad, the Nets’ ability to sign superstars was always dimmed by it’s decrepit arena mired in the swamps of New Jersey, with a fair weather fan base and questionable support from the community. Even as the team acquired players like All-NBA players like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Dikembe Mutumbo to suit up for them, stars rarely came to the Jerz on their own free will. Kind of like real life.
That all changed when former owner Bruce Ratner put into motion a plan to move the Nets to Brooklyn and transitioned stewardship of the team to new owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokorhov. Now with one of the richest men in the world backing their payroll and an upcoming move into a sparkling new arena in a much more populous, centrally located and “cool” location in Brooklyn, the Nets and their fans could dare to hope.… Read more...