Inaugural Mailbag: Just Casey Chat Edition
By sarahhecht Posted in: mailbag
With a summer reload in progress for the Trail Blazers it natural for approximately sixteen gazillion questions to come up regarding everything from the lottery and the draft to free agency and potential targets. Normally we here on the Trail Blazers digital team would answer your questions via live chats on Trailblazers.tv
, but with shows only once a day during the offseason we’ve found ourselves in need of another outlet. Hence, the birth of the mailbag.
We decided to start the mailbag series with questions from the May 16th episode of Just Casey
—the chatters brought a slough of questions all tied to this summer of opportunity and we want to answer them—but we’ll be taking future questions from you through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Hit us there with anything that you’re thinking/pondering/stressing/dreaming about and we’ll do our best to answer your questions and share our opinions.
Now, let the mailbagging begin!
Q: Do we need Freeland if we have Aldridge, Hickson and Babbitt? --cleffnote
Answered by Casey Holdahl
Answering any question pertaining to Joel Freeland playing in the NBA is always a bit difficult, seeing as how he's never played against NBA talent outside of a few summer league games way back when.
Do we "need" Freeland? Probably not. Would I like to see the team bring him over? Absolutely. My understanding is that Freeland is more of a hard-nosed banger than Aldridge, Hickson or Babbitt and probably able to play both front court positions. To me, that sounds like something we could use.
And really, I'd like to give Freeland a go if for no other reason than it being time to test out whether the idea of stashing draft picks overseas actually works.
Q: Could we offer Harden more money [than OKC]? -- Trent
Answered by Sarah Hecht
Assuming you’re talking about this coming offseason the short answer to this question is no. Why? Because James Harden is not a free agent. He wouldn’t become a restricted free agent until next summer and that will only happen if he doesn’t sign a contratct extension this year.
The long answer has a few more details because the James Harden situation is an interesting one. Oklahoma City signed both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to massive contracts and now face the conundrum of having two more of their core pieces up for extensions—both James Harden and Serge Ibaka have one year left on their rookie deals (2012-2013) and are eligible to sign extensions come July 1st. Harden and Ibaka have both shown to be solid players, Harden earning Sixth Man of the Year this season and Ibaka was one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year.
What makes this situation tricky for the Thunder is retaining two players who could, and likely will, command big free agent money while they still have two larger contracts on the books. According to to Marc Spears of Yahoo! sports, OKC General Manager Sam Presti will look to extend both Harden and Ibaka this summer.
It’s my understanding OKC will have to get pretty creative to have the ability to offer both guys the money they could earn on the open market. If they can’t offer them their full value in cash (which is widely understood to be the case,) their task is then to sell the two on other perks, like loyalty and being a perennial championship contender. The options for Harden and Ibaka then become to hit the free agent market and attempt to sign a larger contract or stay with OKC for the potential basketball benefits. (Remember, Harden and Ibaka will be restricted free agents, not unrestricted.)
With that knowledge we can assume a few things would need to happen to give Portland the ability to offer Harden more money than OKC come next summer. First, Harden needs to actually become a restricted free agent by not signing an extension. Second, Portland would need to have the money and cap space to sign him. This could play out in a multitude of ways and at this point, which so much already up the air for the Trail Blazers this summer, there are far to many options to speculate. And third, if Portland we’re to offer him a contract OKC would have to decide not to match it or be fiscally unable.
So the long and short of the James Harden question makes it very unlikely he’ll end up in a Trail Blazers uniform in the near future.
Q: D'Antoni, any chance he gets an offer? --Joel
Answered by Casey Holdahl
I wouldn't be surprised, though my understanding is that the team isn't turning their attention to hiring a new head coach until they get the general manager position squared away.
But in regards to D'Antoni, I think the team is leaning more toward finding, as Jason Quick noted during the May 14 edition of Courtside, an up-and-coming assistant to fill the role rather than an established head coach like D'Antoni. And while his system is fun to watch in the regular season, questions still remain about whether you can win a championship utilizing the "8 seconds or less" approach to offense. Not to mention that, with our roster, a more defensive-minded coach might get preference over someone whose bona fides are almost exclusively on offensive.