Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Should the Blazers Carry Four Point Guards?

By Jonathan Ryan Davis

Armon Johnson and Patty Mills both plan on being back in Portland next year.  So do new acquisitions Raymond Felton and Nolan Smith.  This raises two important questions.  First, should the Blazers keep all four point guards on their 15 man roster?  Second, is it worth keeping all four point guards if they will likely only suit up 3 on any given night?

The practical way for the Blazers to resolve their point guard logjam is to determine which of the four players is least likely to contribute to the everyday rotation next year and moving forward.  Then, they should cut that player and use the roster spot for a veteran big man.  Unfortunately, with the lockout likely to reduce the season and eliminate the pre-season (where most evaluation takes place), the Blazers will need to gamble on the correct resolution.  Assuming Raymond Felton can be our anchor for 30-35 minutes a game, realistically the Blazers need one solid backup to play 20 minutes a game.  Assuming one backup PG breaks the rotation, like Mills did most of last season, carrying a third point guard is good insurance, but retaining a fourth guard is superfluous. 

Since the Blazers are extremely high on Smith, their first round pick, odds are Johnson and Mills will need to battle for the final spot on the roster.*  Both players have upside, passion, and an amazing attitude.  Both players are ideal teammates and enviable community leaders.  Nonetheless, the Blazers need to decide.  All four Blazers PGs are too talented to be retained if they don’t suit up with the active roster; it’s not fair to them as ballplayers or people.  It will be sad to lose any of these players, but the Blazers need to choose.

Who do you think the Blazers should keep?  Share your thoughts.

*Point of clarification: Johnson would need to be traded if the Blazers were to cut ties with him as he has a year remaining on his contract, whereas Mills is a free agent on a qualifying offer.

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