Dorell Wright and Earl Watson
The upcoming season's Blazers will certainly have a new look, and I'm not talking about newly acquired center Robin Lopez's hairstyle.
Of course, trading for Lopez gives the Blazers a legitimate starting center. He can play down low, he can defend and he has five years of experience under his belt. Personally, I like the move for Lopez. In all, he was probably the best quality guy we would get for the price and contract we needed to pay.
I'm going to say it right now: Robin Lopez will become a Blazers fan favorite. Sure, there will be some who will criticize a play here and there, a game here and there, and his style of play here and there. On the other hand, many will embrace him for his style. I can only wonder if the organization will hold a Fropez Night where replica hair pieces are passed out in a similar fashion to the dreadlocks hairpieces which were handed out in honor of Brian Grant when he played for the Blazers.
One can only hope.
It's the bench which is going to give the Blazers a new look. We already know about CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe, acquired on draft day, who will provide some backup at the guard positions.
It's the four transactions over the past week about which we fans should be thrilled. Though none of these trades and signings will be official until the free agent moratorium ends on July 10, the team has filled some holes in the second unit.
Early on Saturday it was reported that the Blazers had reached an agreement with nine-year small forward Dorell Wright. The things which will make Blazers fans excited about obtaining Dorell is that he possesses a career three-point percentage of 36.7 percent and that he led the league in three pointers made in 2010-11. Also that season, Dorell came in third in the voting (behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love) for most improved player. he was a first-round pick by the Heat, out of high school, and was a member of their 2005-06 championship team. This is the type of addition the Blazers really needed. They now have a proven player who has a career point average of 9.3 points per game (with a career high of 16.4 wile starting all 82 games of the 2010-11 campaign with the Warriors.
Later on Saturday, the Blazers agreed to terms with veteran point guard Earl Watson. The 12-year veteran has played for seven teams (including two stints with the Sonics) and has career averages of 6.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. He's 6'1" and was drafted out of UCLA. In Portland he'll be called upon to help mentor Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and as another option to back up Damian at the point.
Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson was brought over in a trade from the Rockets in exchange for a couple future second-round draft picks. He'll be expected to hold serve on the court and give LaMarcus some much-deserved rest. LaMarcus has been near the top of the league in minutes played per game for the past couple of seasons. Keeping our all-star fresh will primarily fall upon Thomas, the second-year forward from Kansas. By allowing LaMarcus to play just a couple fewer minutes per game, we will be better able to make a run to the playoffs and, hopefully, past the opening round.
The trade for Robin serves a couple purposes. First, it gives the Blazers an experienced seven footer who can play off of LaMarcus from the center position. Second, he'll be able to provide some direction to second-year center Meyers Leonard and won't demand 36 minutes a game, which will give Meyers a better opportunity to continue developing his game. Third, his ability and mindset will give coach Terry Stotts more options when developing the rotation pattern for any particular game -- something which Stotts seemed to lack last season. If Robin can improve his consistency, this will turn out to be the trade steal on the court that it shows to be on paper.
In the trade for Lopez, the Blazers also will receive Terrel Harris, a 6'4" third-year guard out of Oklahoma St. Though no announcement has been made, it is anticipated that the Blazers will waive Harris during this off season.
Last year's Blazers bench was young. Bringing in two solid role players such as Dorell and Earl will change that, as well as solidify the second unit. The addition of Thomas provides a solid backup for the team's best player.
It's often remarked that players have earned or must earn their paycheck. I'd have to say, at this point, general manager Neil Olshey is definitely earning his paycheck.
The final piece of the puzzle will likely be a back-up center or power forward -- possibly a veteran or undrafted rookie.
Then again, with Olshey, we never know what this current roster may look like at the outset of training camp or even opening night. I, for one, don't think Olshey is completely done shaping this roster.
However, at this point, we can say something now that we couldn't say during last season: We have a bench.
Article contributed to Sportstwo from KMM and her blog "In Kassandra's Words"
She is a regular Blazers poster with us at Sportstwo.