Trail Mix: FA’s Danny Green, Greg Monroe draw interest from Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers and 29 other teams will hit the ground running at 9PM tomorrow night. The Blazers almost an entire roster full of free-agents coming off the books.
And, as we understand, LaMarcus Aldridge won’t be one of those who will be coming back to the team. The Blazers already look as though they are operating under the premise that Aldridge will not return while publicly saying they still believe they have a chance to bring him back.
Five teams have shown serious interest — the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. Monroe said he’ll meet with those teams this week.
The Trail Blazers are losing Aldridge and want an upgrade from former Pelicans center Robin Lopez.
Monroe seems like the type of move the Blazers would make without Aldridge in the fold. Why? For one, he doesn’t play a lot of defense. He’s a gifted low-post player and he’s a great passer for his size. But he’s not really a rim protector and doesn’t seem like the type of player that would compliment a player like Aldridge very well, especially given his usage% over the past few seasons.
The Blazers just traded for another center and one who should be able to protect the rim much better than Monroe. But Monroe would also be a tough match-up against quicker stretch-4’s. The Blazers aren’t in a position where they have many better choices.
Monroe would also fit the same timeline of Portland’s other recent moves being as he is only 25 years old.
Anyway, it doesn’t sound like a Monroe signing is likely because the New York Knicks have been rumored to give him a huge deal for several months. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports says that the Knicks are the “front runner” for Monroe, as well as former Blazer Arron Afflalo.
The Knicks are also scheduled to meet with Aldridge as well as Clippers’ free-agent big man DeAndre Jordan this week according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard. According to Broussard, the Knicks are in each player’s top-four with Aldridge’s other three teams being the Spurs, Lakers and his hometown Mavericks. The LA Times reported that the Lakers have a 4-year max offer prepared for Aldridge worth $80 million.
Another player that would make a lot of sense for the Blazers, as well as many other teams, is San Antonio free-agent Danny Green. To make the full-fledged run at Aldridge that is expected from the Spurs, the five-time champs may have to sacrifice Green. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the Spurs are concerned with losing Green while they pursue Aldridge.
With Leonard in the fold, the Spurs will immediately focus their attention on unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, and there’s a legitimate chance he ends up joining the five-time champions, said a person familiar with the situation.
If there’s a fear among Spurs executives, it’s that they won’t have enough room left to retain Danny Green, who has attracted interest from the Mavs, Blazers and Pistons, sources said.
Green would seem like a wonderful pick-up if Portland could figure out a way to get him. He’s the same age as Wesley Matthews but without the issue of trying to come back from a catastrophic injury.
Clearing up cap space with the Batum trade has been seen by some as a move to give Matthews what he wants, but it also could be to give Green a contract that would make the math very tough for the Spurs.
Green has blossomed over the last few years with the Spurs and is a fantastic defender, especially against guards and point guards. He would help replace Matthews’ shot making on offense while also upgrading the athleticism at the wing position. Upgrading the athleticism all over the roster has been a theme of Neil Olshey’s summer so far.
Speaking of athleticism, the Blazers will also meet with Al-Farouq Aminu who is a free-agent. Aminu played for the Dallas Mavericks last season and is great defender and rebounder at the small forward position. His three-point shooting isn’t very good but he does add a dimension of length and athleticism on defense. In some ways, it mirrors what Portland would have had with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Olshey drafted Aminu when he was with the Clippers and Aminu’s five years of experience can’t be taken for granted. Aminu can also give the Blazers some stretch ability by guarding opposing power forwards at times. Also, as he only made the vet minimum last season, Portland could give him a raise without cutting into too much of their cap space. That he spent a year in Dallas in what is almost the exact same offensive system is also a plus.
Also, with only one day left between us and free-agency, the Blazers still have not made any action regarding restricted free-agent Joel Freeland. He’s yet to receive a qualifying offer from the team. Freeland has enjoyed his time in Portland but if he won’t be back with the Blazers he would love to explore other opportunities in the NBA or with a top Euroleague club, according to a league source.
Finally, NBA.com’s Ian Thomson penned an extensive piece on Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey where Olshey talks at length about his previous career in acting. The focus of the piece is that Olshey has a plan for the team that fits whether Aldridge returns, or leaves as expected.
The Blazers are also set to introduce their new players–Gerald Henderson, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh and Pat Connaughton–at a press conference scheduled for 4PM today.