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State of the Cap: Portland Trailblazers

Wed, 07/09/2008 - 12:34pm

By Josh Redetzke

7/9/08

2008/09 Portland Trailblazers Payroll: $68.2 million
2008/09 Estimated Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly $10.2 million over cap



The Good:
[img_assist|nid=1425|title=Greg Oden|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=431]Winning the Rookie of the Year award didn't go to Brandon Roy's head. He simply came back and played even better. Roy improved his scoring average to 19.1 and he distributed the ball more, leading to 5.8 assists per game. The versatile guard is quickly climbing the ranks of the best players in the NBA and has already earned an All-Star berth. The Blazers will happily enjoy paying rookie scale for such an incredible player the next two seasons, but I'm sure they are already thinking long-term extension for Roy.

A second player from the 2006 draft class that is lighting up the court in Portland is forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The former Longhorn really stepped up his game during his sophomore season, nearly doubling his scoring to 17.8 per game. His 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks aren't too bad, either. Aldridge looks like he will form an imposing front line with Greg Oden for many years to come. Roy and Aldridge are playing so well, it might get a tad expensive when their contracts are up for renewal in 2010.

The Trailblazers were on the hook for $18 million over the next two years for troublesome forward Darius Miles. However, Miles had his knee injury inspected by a doctor and it was determined to be career-ending. By rule, any player deemed athletically incapable ofcontinuing his career will not have his salary counted against the cap. The injury is unfortunate news for Miles, but it does help Portland's cap situation a great deal.

Free-wheeling General Manager Kevin Pritchard might be the league's most active personnel man. He's always looking to make a move. In this year's draft, Pritchard turned the 13th pick into Jerryd Bayless -- widely considered a top-five talent. In addition, he used Paul Allen's checkbook to purchase New Orleans' 27th pick, which he used to trade for France's Nicolas Batum, another player with lottery skills. Add these youngsters -- along with potential franchise big-man Greg Oden and Spanish sensation Rudy Fernandez -- to an established nucleus and you have another potential Western Conference power.

The Bad:
Raef LaFrentz might very well be the most overpaid player in the league that actually tried to participate with his team. LeFrentz only managed 39 appearances this season, averaging a pathetic 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. For that, he'll be paid a ridiculous $12.7 million next year. Thankfully, the Blazers won't have to write him painful checks for long since that is the final year of Raef's contract.

After winning the first pick in the draft, Portland was eager to see their prize center in action. However, knee surgery robbed Oden of his entire rookie season. The prognosis is good for Oden to make a full recovery, but it's still not the best way to begin your career. If you include the wrist injury that plagued his first year of college, Oden has already endured two major injuries before playing his first NBA game. Not a good sign.

With Oden's gimpy knee freeing up the center position, Joel Przybilla was expected to step up and fill the void. As it turns out, his performance was a tad underwhelming. Przybilla's 8.4 rebounds per game were pretty good, but he was a non-factor on the offensive end and his shot-blocking wasn't nearly as good as he has shown in the past. At $6.8 million for next year and $7.4 million after that (a player option year), Przybilla should have provided a little more for the money. It will be nearly impossible for him to earn that kind of cash when Oden comes back next season.

The Future:
In Portland, the future of the franchise is so bright they should ship a pair of sunglasses with every season ticket package. Roy is an All-Star, Aldridge is the real deal, and many other young players have shown great potential and improvement. Travis Outlaw was the team’s third leading scorer and Martell Webster shot a respectable 38.8% from the three point line while averaging 10.7 points per game. With Greg Oden finally beginning his career next season (we hope), the Blazers will possess the best collection of young talent in the league.

Too add icing on the cake, Portland will also be a major player in next summer’s free agent frenzy. Steve Francis’s contract was bought out and will stop counting against the cap after next season. The contracts of LaFrentz and Miles will be off the books as well. Even after re-signing a few of their players like Webster, the Blazers will likely be $20 million under the cap or more. Imagine adding a stud free-agent to this core of skilled players.

Free Throw:
What in the world happened to Channing Frye? He has gotten worse every year he has been in the league. Frye went from being the only "untouchable" piece of the Knick's rebuilding plan to a mediocre bench player on a young Trailblazer squad. He did have some nice games towards the end of the season, so perhaps Frye still has a chance to turn things around. Unfortunately, his game can best be described as a poor man's version of Aldridge's.

Grade: A-

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murdoc14
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Jarret Jack

Jarret Jack got traded for Bayless didn't he?

ipCu12
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yup

yup

RickyRubio9
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Portland

Aw man Portland is going to be awesome for years to come. It's all good though, behind the Rockets I secretly root for the TrailBlazers because of Lamarcus Aldridge (UT Star) since I am a Longhorns Fan. Texas is producing some of the best NBA Players. Brandon Roy is also one of my favorite players. I expect them to be in the Playoffs next season. Oden should help them out alot and when you have Oden and Alridge...well that sounds a bit scary and throw in Roy; wow this team is going to be special. Oh and lets not forget the steal they got on draft night Jerryd Bayless. A- is a good grade for them.

augiedog34
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The Blazers are going to dominate

We are all witnessing the start of a dynasty. Portland will roll off at least 6 championships in the next 10 years. The roster is loaded with awesome young talent, and they will have huge cap space next year to go after a player like Deron Williams. Kevin Pritchard will go down as one of the top 3 GM's in NBA history in the near future.

ukki
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i think they should take a good sf next summer

Someone like Danny Granger. Shawn Marion can be a nice add too, defensive wise, although he's a real cancer. Same can be said About Ron Artest. They need a bad guy a-la Rasheed-Pistons deal. I think the best fit here is Piston's Prince.

can they wait to the summer of 2010 and take LeBron?! Can you imagine a lineup of Bayless , Roy , LeBron , Aldridge , Oden ?! they'll break Bulls' 72 wins season

bigtymer32
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wow

if oden plays as good as hes hyped up to be we could see a title contender in 3 years.bayless and batum are awesome pick up . Kevin Pritchard should be gm of the year and if they ever win a title he like deserves his own day in portland lol he has made good moves the last 3 years.other gm should see that this is how you build a good team.

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30 minute convo in a nutshell

If you're looking at this team on paper and going off potential, the Blazers are in terrific shape. There's a lot of talk about Bayless averaging 30 in summer league (it's only summer league). Don't get me wrong, I'm not doubting Bayless' talent, but Bayless had the green light to shoot whenever he touched the ball. You have to take that into account. Also, at least half the guys on the floor at any time during a summer league game are scrubs. Batum's obviously not ready, Koponen is a lot closer to being NBA ready. The real Blazer to watch is obviously Oden. He's the defining piece on what could possibly be a championship contending team. Besides, I've seen Oden numerous times at clubs and parties. I'm also 20 years old. If he can pick up a 130 pound girl and dance with her, I'm 100% sure he can dunk and rebound. We all need to just pray for that knee. Give them time, don't be surprised if they stink it up next season. They're young and they also added 4 major players to the team. Next season will be more like a test run for the future. Does anyone care about Rudy Fernandez? He got shut down by arguably the best on ball defender in the NBA(Kobe) earlier in Olympic play. Came back in the championship game and had a stellar performace. Scoring in a bunch of different ways late in the 4th with KOBE BRYANT gaurding him. Not to mention the dunk off the dribble over Dwight Howard. You can see how worried the rest of the league is about this young Blazers squad. I honestly believe Ainge signed D.Miles simply to snake us out of some of that cap space. Who would really want a cancer like that on their team? If Darius plays 10 games Danny Ainge will more than likely be the most hated man in Portland. Marinate on that.

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