The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t asking for much; just a center who can provide some rim protection and put up a few points here and there. And yet, they aren’t left with too many options, bringing them to Samuel Dalembert.
The Haitian center averaged 16 minutes per game last season for the Bucks, making $6.7 million, the same as his scoring average. According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, he’s quite intrigued with playing for the Blazers, knowing there isn’t much competition for the position and he can probably get some more minutes than he did last year.
The Blazers were mostly into Tiago Splitter and Nikola Pekovic to fill the position next season, with J.J. Hickson hitting free agency and not likely to come back. However, Splitter re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs, while Pekovic isn’t going anywhere: The Timberwolves announced they will match any offer for the restricted free agent.
This leaves the Blazers with Zaza Pachulia, Jermaine O’Neal and Dalembert as their only options for a big man who can provide some minutes of rim protection, while Meyers Leonard will take on a bigger role as he enters his second NBA season.
Dalembert missed half of last season playing for the Bucks, averaging 6.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Leonard averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds playing 17.5 minutes a night, but is expected to become a lot more involved on both ends of the floor next season.
The Blazers are trying to find a piece that will make their lineup and team about more than offense, having a projected lineup of Damian Lillard, rookie C.J. McCollum, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and a missing piece at center. Last season, without a bench and with Matthews and Hickson in the lineup, it was enough to stay close to the playoff race until the final three weeks of the season.
They’re hoping that a bit of defense in the paint is going to be enough to bring them back to around .500, and maybe even enter the top 8, as long as Aldridge doesn’t push for a trade, with some media outlets reporting of his desire to play elsewhere.