What’s your dream? Everybody’s got a dream…
*The following provides a brief historical overview of the foundational moves the Portland Trail Blazers made throughout the 2012 NBA off-season that completed the base necessary to their becoming the 2014-15 NBA Champions. All entries are excerpts from Portland area media articles or blogs, and have been republished here with their permission.*
May 21, 2012:
Today the Portland Trail Blazers released an official announcement that they extended a qualifying offer to third year Power Forward JJ Hickson, which he immediately accepted. Though details of the contract have not yet been revealed, it is likely Hickson received a substantial raise from his previous rookie contract after proving himself a highly capable backup for All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge. Earlier today, JJ broke the news via Twitter by saying, “Staying in Portland!!”
Portland Trail Blazers announce acting General Manager Chad Buchanan has officially accepted an offer to become their General Manager, thus removing the acting label in place since June 2011.
...Later this afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers are expected to hold a press conference introducing their new head coach, Rick Carlisle. The Blazers aggressively pursued Carlisle after Marc Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks failed to secure a contract extension with him earlier this month. It was widely speculated that Carlisle might choose to look for opportunities elsewhere after the NBA defending champions were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. A former Trail Blazer assistant coach under PJ Carlesimo from 1994 to 1997, Carlisle has openly admired both the city of Portland and the talent on the Blazers’ roster, most notably All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge. Carlisle replaces interim head coach Kaleb Canales, who took on the job after long-time coach Nate MacMillan was fired in March. Despite managing to lead the team to the playoffs with a 10-2 streak down the stretch of the regular season, the organization felt Carlisle’s proven track record was too good an opportunity to let pass by...
June 28, 2012:
...In a shockingly brilliant move today, the Portland Trail Blazers traded both of their first round picks, a second round pick, cash considerations and rookie guard Nolan Smith to Boston for Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who will be entering his sixth NBA season. Widely considered one of the best point guards in the league, securing Rondo was an absolute coup for Portland, who has struggled to find an elite floor leader since drafting All-Stars Lamarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Rondo, drafted by Boston in 2006, finished second in the league in assists for the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. With their remaining second round pick, the Blazers drafted shooting guard Darius Johnson-Odom, a four-year player out of Marquette University. Johnson-Odom joins fellow Marquette alumnus, Wesley Matthews...
July 2, 2012:
The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that they have matched a four-year, $42 million contract offer from the San Antonio Spurs for small forward Nicolas Batum. The fourth year player became a restricted free agent after the Blazers tendered him a qualifying offer immediately after the 2011-12 season ended. Highly sought after for his defensive skills, tremendous wingspan, and silky-smooth shooting touch, the Spurs wasted no time in extending the young Frenchman an offer they hoped would prove to be too pricey for the more cost-conscious Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. Unfortunately for San Antonio, the Blazers proved they really did mean it when they said Batum was part of their future heading forward by quickly stepping up to match the offer. Nicolas expressed his relief and happiness via Twitter by tweeting, “So happy this is over, that I will get to go back to the Trail Blazers after the Olympics.” Batum plays for the French National team alongside Spurs guard Tony Parker.
August 20, 2012:
...Following months of negotiations, the Portland Trail Blazers are finally bringing European big man Joel Freeland over to play in the NBA. Drafted 30th overall in 2006, the Blazers originally encouraged Freeland to remain in Europe and further develop his game. Frequently mentioned as a potential solution by both local media and fans as it became clear number one draft pick Greg Oden was not ever going to play for the Blazers again, the 25 year old, 6 ft 10 in PF/C appeared likely to remain in the Euroleague after he signed a five-year contract with Spanish club Unicaja Málaga in 2009. However, once the Blazers waived Greg Oden following a third micro-fracture surgery in March, the path was cleared for the team to guarantee Freeland the opportunity for real playing time, something reported to be one of his primary concerns about joining the Trail Blazers. After re-signing Center Joel Pryzbilla and Power Forward Craig Smith, and bringing back fan favorite Chris Johnson, it appears the Blazers are finished making moves this off-season, though they may still fill the final roster spot at a later date...
Late September 2012:
Training Camps open today for NBA teams over the league. Players here in Portland have been trickling in over the last two weeks, playing informal scrimmages and getting in individual workouts at the Trail Blazer practice facility in Tualatin. There was a high degree excitement about the upcoming season from many of the players, both returning and new. With proven coach Rick Carlisle at the helm, and Rajon Rondo as the new floor leader, it is widely speculated by fans, media, and the organization itself that this, finally, will be the season the Trail Blazers really break out. After agonizing years of watching a carefully crafted dream crumble at the mercy of Brandon Roy and Greg Oden’s knees, it seems everyone involved is ready to move beyond hope. Says “Ironman” Wesley Matthews, who so confidently predicted the Blazers would make the playoffs last season, “It is going to happen. Just watch.” We will be doing just that.
Here is your 2012-13 Trail Blazer final roster:
This is my dream, rife with impossibilities and bursting with belief. What is yours?
(Images taken from the Trail Blazer website and Google Images. Most player information was located at NBA.com player profiles or Draft Express.)
*Here is a decent list of FA/RFAs for 2012. Meant to post it originally! http://www.hoopsworld.com/2012-nba-free-agents*