We had a bit of a mix up with the 18th pick. I thought I had lost:
Ed Ouellette and found a substitute Simon Cushing Ed, it turns out, was not lost, just missing and both sent me reports with, as luck would have it, the same player choice:
Jauque Vaughn
Not wanting to waste two excellent reports, I include both here. Special thanks to Simon for coming through on such short notice.



Simon: SUMMARY: Well, they don't call him "Trader Bob" for nothing. Bob Whitsitt was brought in 3 seasons ago and given a salary that (at the time) was at the very top for GMs and told to re-structure the Blazers. This was a difficult task at the time, as the Blazers were largely unchanged (except for the addition of Strickland) from the championship-contending early 90's model, and there were a lot of hefty salaries and aging players. So Whitsitt started slowly, picked up speed with the Drexler-for-Thorpe trade, and finally hit his stride last summer when he COMPLETELY overhauled the roster, and brought in a whole bunch of talented-but-troubled YOUNG players. He seemed to be following the path he did with the Sonics, which was high-risk, but potentially high-reward. I must confess I was very much a Whitsitt-sceptic, and agreed with crotchety Oregonian columnist Dwight Jaynes that Trader Bob thought like a fantasy GM: looked strictly at stats with no regard for team chemistry. Well, after this season, I am something of a convert, particularly when it comes to Rasheed Wallace, about whom I was particularly doubtful (especially as he was acquired in exchange for Rod Strickland, who I think is at least a top-5 point guard and very underrated). I still have my doubts about Kenny Anderson and J.R. Rider, but I no longer think Whitsitt was crazy to take Jermaine O'Neal last year when John Wallace was available (even despite the fact that O'Neal just got arrested!). The Blazers were (I think) the youngest team on average in the NBA this past season and managed NOT to implode as everyone (including me) predicted they would, and instead put together a very strong late-season run, much as last season's team did. Ideally, then, given the youth and comparative NBA inexperience of much of the roster, the Blazers should do nothing this off-season and just let the team mature, with luck living up to their huge potential. A couple of things complicate matters, however: 1) Cliff Robinson is a FA. 2) Chris Dudley is a FA (he just opted out, with 3 years and $13M left on his contract, which just goes to show what Jim McIllvaine has done to the white, no-offence centre market) 3) Arvydas Sabonis, still the Blazers most talented player and over 24 minutes, a top 5 centre, is starting to show his age and injuries, and it's unclear how he fits with the rest of the roster which will just be maturing as Sabonis retires. As far as the draft is concerned, the Blazers have two picks but owe the Timberwolves a first-round pick this year or next as part of the J.R. Rider trade. Whitsitt has suggested that, unless picks #18 and #20 can be bundled to move up, he will give up #20 to the 'Wolves this year. What Whitsitt will do is always hard to predict, however, and he plays his cards very close to his chest. As long as Shawn Kemp is complaining in Seattle the rumours will persist that the Blazers will try to acquire him, because of Whitsitt's supposed high regard for his former player (although I'm not sure if it was Whitsitt or Bickerstaff who can actually take credit for drafting him). On to the roster: Ed: Bob Whitsitt has turned the Blazers from and aging team that could not get past the first round into a young team that wasn't able to get out of the first round. The Blazers were able to make the playoffs for the 15th straight year, the longest current streak in the NBA, while becoming the youngest team in the NBA. Trader Bob was able to move Rod Strickland, who was unhappy with the coach, and get a quality young big guy, Rasheed Wallace, in return. Mr. Whitsitt has already shown, by the dumping of Carlisimo and the hiring of Dunleavy, that he is not content to sit on his hands and let this young team mature. He faces important decisions in the offseason regarding two key free agents, Chris Dudley and Clifford Robinson. Whitsitt's pledge for a trapping, up-tempo style might have been little more than talk surrounding PJ's firing, considering that so many of the team's key players (Sabonis, Wallace, Trent, Rider) are effective in the half-court set.
a) PLAYER REVIEW (Salary is this season's)
CENTRE: Arvydas Sabonis, $2.6M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 69 25.5 .498 .371 .777 2.1 0.9 2.2 1.2 7.9 13.4 Simon: Sabonis should have been rookie of the year last year, and can be absolutely dominating. He's a huge man and one of the strongest players in the league who is hampered by oft-injured legs that reduce his leaping ability greatly and mean that he should not average more than than around 26mpg except where absolutely necessary (and if he does, he's next-to-useless the next game). Apart from jumping, Sabonis can do it all: he cannot be stopped in the post, he can shoot 3 pointers at a 37% clip, his passing is spectacular (can deliver the behind-the-back bounce pass like nobody in the league) and his rebounding ability incredible for someone who couldn't jump over a piece of paper. Ditto for his shot-blocking (he has long arms even for his size). A rare combination of fundamentally sound and spectacular to watch, while having zero athleticism. Fuse him with Chris Dudley and you'd have a 7'3, 290lb Larry Bird and the best centre in the league. HOWEVER, he showed his age in the playoffs this year, and his value to the Blazers may be most evident in trade, although given his comparatively low salary, plus the fact that other teams might be leery of his fitness, means the team might not get fair value. Portland fans will forever wonder what would have happened if the team could have brought him over earlier, and teamed him with the Drexler-led teams of the early 90s. At least one fewer ring for Michael and Zeke, I'm betting. Chris Dudley (FA), $4.1M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 81 22.7 .430 .000 .474 0.5 0.5 1.0 1.2 7.3 3.9 For a diabetic 32-year-old backup who shoots 47% at the line and scores under 4ppg, you'd think $4M would be plenty, wouldn't you? Well, Chris is gambling that you'd be wrong, as he opted out of the last 3 years of his contract. Is he unhappy with his bench status? Does he think, given The McIllvaine Deal, he'll get mucho dollars elsewhere? I don't know: Mark Mason, Blazers' PA guy and Portland radio person says Dudley told him this is a move to pre- empt a trade and ensure that Dudley stays a Blazer, as he likes Portland (contributes greatly to the community, and this Sunday got married to a Portland lass). Whether Whitsitt will sign him is another question. What is not at issue is that Dudley is the perfect complement to Sabonis, and one of the best defensive and rebounding centres in the league. A team like Detroit or Cleveland could really use him (and a rumoured trade, before Dudley opted out, was Dudley for disgruntled Otis Thorpe - bizarre in that Portland sent Thorpe to Detroit in the first place, but makes sense for Detroit, and Thorpe would be a FA NEXT year) but given the fact that Sabonis can only play half a game, so could Portland. I hope he's re-signed, as, apart from anything, he's a great example to all the young Blazer hot-heads, and will not be outworked. Did a better job than Sabonis on Shaq in the playoffs, too. Ed: Arvydas Sabonis was, of course, banged up last year. He still managed to be an above-average center for most of the season, but in the playoffs Shaq manhandled him in every facet of the game. Despite these post-season problems, the tandem of Dudley and Sabonis was quite effective. Dudley provided good rebounding and post defense, but his terrible offensive game put a lot of pressure (too much, at times) on the rest of his teammates to score. If Dudley does not return next year, the Blazers will have a tough time finding a player who can provide the big backup minutes necessary to help Sabonis's aging body. POWER FORWARD: Simon: Rasheed Wallace, $2.1M (FA next year) G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 62 30.5 .558 .273 .638 1.2 0.8 1.8 1.0 6.8 15.1 Rasheed had a very patchy rookie year with the Bullets, increasing his reputation as a hot-head and a soft player, so I was very disappointed when he was the major player acquired in the Strickland trade. Well shows what a fool I was. That turned out to be a rare good-for-both-teams trade, as Strickland took charge of the Bullets down the stretch, and Wallace (after a rocky start) garnered votes for most-improved player, played very consistently, and is the consensus pick among Blazer fans for their Star of the Future. In particular, he was one of the few bright spots in the playoffs: delivering consistently with an unstoppable turnaround shot, shooting ludicrously high percentage, leading the Blazers in scoring, and generally looking very cool under pressure. Love that bi-coloured gumshield, too! Wallace is the cornerstone of the Blazers of the future: now looks better than Joe Smith or Jerry Stackhouse. MUST be re-signed either this off-season or next, and will likely command a $100M salary. On top of all else, he showed himself to be a great bench booster, a dunker to bring the house down, and appears to be cleaning up his off court act (unlike practically all other Blazers) as he just won custody of his young son. Free-throwing needs work, but again, he stepped that up in the playoffs. Gary Trent, $1.2M (FA next year) G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 82 23.4 .536 .000 .699 1.1 0.6 1.6 0.4 5.2 10.8 Trent represents a problem for the Blazers, even if it is a problem many teams would like to have. He is a potentially excellent player, with many strengths, but also some glaring weaknesses. This season, in particular, he showed that he is willing to work to improve his game, as he came back from the summer (after a somewhat disappointing rookie year, at the end of which Dontonio Wingfield moved ahead of him in the rotation) and showcased MASSIVELY improved free-throwing, and a very nice mid- range jumper, that he hadn't shown before. Many commentators feel that as a result Trent will be Cliffy's replacement at small forward in the (possibly very near) future. However, I don't think that's the case: although he's too short (around 6'7" max) to play PF full time, he cannot guard most small forwards, and his ball-handling skills leave a great deal to be desired. Another hole in his game is his weak hands: many's the time he's bobbled a ball, particularly on the break, where he is not comfortable, despite his formidable athleticism. That said, when Rasheed Wallace was out with an injured hand for a longish stretch this season, Trent was the starter and the Blazers went on a tear (so much so that there was talk of benching Wallace when he came back). PF is definitely Trent's natural position, and he is INCREDIBLY strong, and can bull his way to points almost at will. He is a great bench asset, and in an ideal world he would continue to be the Blazers' forward off the bench (a la Antonio Davis) but he will be a FA next season at the same time as Wallace, and it looks unlikely that both can be signed, particularly as both are best suited for the PF spot. Also Trent continues to wear his socks at knee-height, a practice he started when he was first benched, and which indicates unhappiness with his playing time. Trent's presence means, however, that the Blazers will not draft Danny Fortson even if he drops. Fortson's main strength is (ho, ho) his strength, and Trent is just as strong plus can actually jump. SMALL FORWARD: Simon: Clifford Robinson (FA), $2.9M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 81 38.0 .426 .346 .696 3.2 1.2 2.1 0.8 4.0 15.1 Last year Cliffy almost held out for a new contract, but decided to play it out and win big bucks as a FA. You'd think, given that his scoring has dipped by over 4ppg that he blew it big time. However, if anything he showed himself to be MORE valuable, and really matured into a team player this year. He returned to playing agressive defence, upped his assists, and led the team in mpg. And, what is more, he's said he wants to remain a Blazer, and I think, given that he is the sole link to the almost-glory years, a great "character" (headband and all) and now a valuable vet and the team's best defender, the Blazers will miss him more than most people think if he is let go. Pat Riley was particularly interested in acquiring him. Will Whitsitt re-sign him? The Blazers are stacked at forward, with Trent, Wingfield, Jermaine O'Neal and Stacy Augmon all capable of playing SF, and the first three in need of minutes to develop their game (and keep them happy before they become FAs), so maybe the money could be better spent. It just depends on how much he asks for - I for one will miss him when he goes, even if he does fold in the playoffs every_single_year (this year being no exception). However, at the moment there's nobody who can defend like he can at all frontcourt positions, and (weird as it sounds) we'd miss his veteran influence. Dontonio Wingfield, $500K G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 47 12.1 .409 .338 .675 1.0 0.3 0.9 0.2 2.2 4.5 Victim of a numbers game at forward, Wingfield is something of a mystery. This would've been his senior year in college, and a Cincinnati frontline of him and Danny Fortson would have been formidable. He's actually better suited than Trent to small forward (better lateral quickness and thus not a bad defender), even though he's very solid. Supposedly has great low-post and rebounding skills (and at his weight could post up most SFs) but content to stand outside and hoist threes (at which, however, he is surprisingly good, and does tend to hit them at crunch time). Worth holding on to, as is almost certainly as good as any player the Blazers could get at #18, and might get more minutes if Cliff goes. Whitsitt has acquired him twice, so will probably want more minutes for him. Jermaine O'Neal, $825K G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 45 10.2 .451 .000 .603 0.2 0.0 0.6 0.6 2.8 4.1 Nearly every Blazer fan groaned when O'Neal was drafted straight out of high school, especially as John Wallace was available. However, you'll find few doubters now. Not because of his rookie year - he got very few minutes under PJ - but because of what he showed in summer camp and pre-season: incredible athleticism and great quickness. Ever since his first dunk, people have been pointing out that Shawn Kemp was also drafted #17 more-or-less out of high school, and that comparison might not turn out to be too far off. Major difference between them, however, is that Kemp was always solid, while O'Neal has narrow shoulders and looks Garnett- thin, which is why SF seems his natural position, even though he is now rumoured to have grown to 7'1" and put on some pounds (by a dubious all-steak diet, which apparently gave him stomach problems!). You can tell he's a Trailblazer, because he's just been arrested (although I have to say the charges sound pretty silly). Ed: One possibility for backup minutes at the center spot involves the closest thing the Blazers have to a franchise player: Rasheed Wallace. He impressed many Blazer fans who were dubious about the young guy's maturity level and skills. Wallace showed a great post-up game, touch, and athletecism around the hoop on offense, and his defense and rebounding were not too bad. He should anchor the Blazers' front line for a decade at the power forward spot. Gary Trent, who was also in his second year last season, showed glimpses of being a possible star in the league. His game has many more holes in it than Wallace's does, though, and his lack of size -- he's generously listed at 6'8", hurts him at times when he's setting up down low and on defense. He runs the floor well, but unfortunately his hands leave something to be desired: an opposable thumb or two... the guy simply dropped too many passes last year. Because of his size, lack of a solid perimeter game, inability to defend smaller guys, and Wallace's stranglehold on the power forward spot, Trent's future in Portland might be questionable. Jermaine O'Neal, Portland's first round pick out of Eau Claire High School last year, didn't get many minutes. Those he got, though, he showed good overall skills offensively and a good rebounding sense. Where O'Neal is going to play in the future, though, is up for debate. He reportedly went on an all-steak diet to gain weight, and is supposedly over 7 feet tall now, which seems that he'd be headed toward a post spot. On the other hand, he was working out with his old high school team, guarding point guards to work on his defense against quicker guys. Wherever he ends up on the floor, O'Neal is capable of being a big-time player. The role Dontonio Wingfield will play next year depends on what happens in the free agent market, in my opinion. If Clifford Robinson is not back, Don will have his first shot to be a starter in the NBA. Wingfield, had he stayed in school (college, that is) for four years, would almost certainly have been a top 5 pick in the June 25th draft. Instead, he's languished on the benched of Seattle and Portland for 3 years, and never made a real impact. He has the skills, in terms of rebounding, passing, and shooting, to be a darn good player. I am not sure whether it will be in Portland next season, which is the last year of his contract. If Portland goes after a Bryon Russell or a Rick Fox, or decides to re-sign Clifford, Don will rot once again on the bench. Mitchell Butler came to the Blazers last year in the Wallace deal. He had a couple good games, providing defense at the small forward spot, but was never really involved most of the year. SHOOTING GUARD: Simon: Isaiah "J.R." Rider, $3.6M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 76 33.7 .464 .385 .812 2.6 0.6 2.8 0.2 4.0 16.1 First the positives: he shoots the three much better than I'd've thought, he appears to hustle on defence, his shooting % is pretty good, and he's stronger than practically all other shooting guards, so can often post up. Plus he definitely made an effort to fit his game into a team concept. BUT: he still holds on to the ball too long, looks for his own offence first, doesn't move without the ball, doesn't dribble at all well (and can't be relied on on the break), can space-out in games, and, as evidenced in the Lakers' series, can be neutralised by double-teaming. (In the regular season Rider really burned the Lakers and Eddie Jones, but was largely ineffective in the postseason). That and his well- known off-court troubles mean that he'll never be as valuable as his talents would indicate. He's worth keeping, but I doubt any team would ever win a championship with him as their shooting guard. Stacy Augmon, $2.5M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 40 16.2 .517 .000 .732 1.0 0.8 0.9 0.2 2.2 4.7 Whitsitt seems to be a big fan, and was pleased with this trade, although I still think the Blazers could have better used Aaron McKie, because McKie was a better ball-handler and three-point shooter (both Blazer weaknesses), as well as being good buddies with some of the young Blazers (who were pissed off when he was traded). Augmon didn't get much chance to show his stuff, and with Rider around, won't get many minutes at the 2. I think, however, that Whitsitt sees him as Cliffy's replacement at the 3, and Augmon's game is perfectly suited to the running game that Whitsitt has practically ORDERED Dunleavy to install. We'll have to wait to see Augmon's true value to the team. At least he's a better defender than Rider, even if he seems to have completely lost his offensive game. Mitchell Butler (FA at team option), $600K Butler got less than 10mpg in 49 games, but when he was on the floor he looked pretty good. He's a swingman who excels at nothing but is a great character and is all hustle. I'd like to see him stay and be given more minutes. He will be much better suited to a running game. POINT GUARD: Kenny Anderson, $4.2M G mpg fg% 3fg% ft% apg spg tog bpg rpg ppg 82 37.6 .427 .361 .768 7.1 2.0 2.4 0.2 4.4 17.5 Well, David Falk owes Bob Whitsitt one, because nobody else wanted Kenny last season. To a certain extent Anderson redeemed himself (but the cries to have him on the all-star team were a bit much) and there were loads of positives: incredible ball-handling, good assist-turnover ratio, surprisingly high rebounds for such a slight guy, better than expected 3-point shooting (how the expected move to the old distance will affect him is another matter) and 2 steals per game. He also defended pretty well, and did a good job on Van Exel in the playoffs. However, I still don't like his game for several reasons: he shoots too much, he hogs the ball, he over-dribbles (he hardly ever looks up on the break - not that the Blazers fast-broke much last season) and he's very succeptible to being posted up. Like Rider, better than expected, but like Rider, no great personality, not a team leader, and still has the incredibly annoying habit of referring to himself (with a straight face) in the third person. The Blazers really need a decent backup for him, preferably a Derek Harper type: big, and a good defender. Rumeal Robinson (FA) Rumeal was an adequate backup, but will not be back. Marcus Brown (FA), $220K Brown got hardly any time, but when he played he showed a very sweet shot and some athleticism. However, he's a 6'1" shooting guard, who must learn the point. Blazers coaching staff have apparently been trying to make him one, and he definitely should be kept on for his shot alone. Hope he plays point for the Blazers' summer-league team. Ed: Another option at the starting small forward is Stacey Augmon, who was acquired during last season of Aaron McKie, Randolph Childress, and Reggie Jordan. Augmon, who had been feuding with Doug Collins in Detroit, never made the impact I expected him to, but he was reportedly out of shape and did not get many minutes for most of the time he was in Portland. Augmon should give the Blazers some depth at both the 2 and 3 spots, and although he offers little in the way of a perimeter game, his defense and slashing offensive game should fit in with the supposedly restructured team concept. JR Rider was a pleasant suprise, as far as I am concerned. He had his problems off of the court, and a couple on the court, but overall I was impressed. His defense was quite good, and he played within the team concept for the most part. (Tales of him dribbling the shot clock down to 5 seconds and then shooting fadeaway 3's didn't turn out to be as true as I'd feared they would be...) Some people, in Portland and elsewhere, question the wisdom of trading for him, but considering what it took to get him -- James Robinson, Billy Curley, and a first rounder -- he's worth the risk. Kenny Anderson was another key to the Blazers' transformation last season. Anderson made a lot of cash last year, but he was more durable than at any point of his career. Kenny also settled into his role as a playmaker as the year went on, and got more players involved offensively than he had earlier in the year. Heading into this season, where the core of the team will be more familiar, Kenny should be even more effective. Considering Anderson's injury problems in seasons past, the Blazers were VERY fortunate their backup PG's were never seriously tested. Marcus Brown, a smooth-shooting rookie, did not get enough minutes to show whether he can handle the position in the future. Rumeal Robinson, as he had the season before, filled in as the backup 1, but was not very effective. Earlier efforts at the backup 1 spot (including, but not limited to: Djordjevic, McKie, Childress, and Jordan) were even less successful.
Simon: Well, P.J. Carlesimo will again be replacing Rick Adelman, but this time in Golden State. Carlesimo was very rigid, called plays EVERY PLAY, allowed practically no fast breaks, and alienated many players (most notably Rod Strickland). However, he also made winning teams out of two quite different squads, had an amasing winning record in April, and helped get the team playing excellent defence. Whitsitt wanted him gone, however, because he wants the Blazers to run, to show off all his spanking new young greyhounds, and because (if rumours are true) P.J. refused to double-team Shaq. With Paul Allen's cash, you'd think the Blazers would be able to land a big name - Chuck Daley, Larry Brown or Phil Jackson even? Well, how about Mike Dunleavy, who made the finals as Magic Johnson's assistant coach but did diddley squat with a Milwaukee team except prove he should never be allowed to GM. NOT my first choice. Dunleavy sounds suspiciously like a Whitsitt pawn, and may have been chosen largely because he's one of the few who wouldn't demand control over personnel decisions. He's supposed to make the team fast break, but the only time he's been successful was by turning the Lakers into "Slowtime" - and the Bucks didn't fastbreak either. We shall see. The Blazers lose defensive guru Dick Harter, and other assistant coach Rick Carlisle, to Larry Bird in Indiana. However, they also get Tim Grgurich (sp?) from Seattle, who is well thought of and a very good communicator. Ed: Paul Allen is one of the best owners in pro sports: rich, passionate about winning, but not over-meddlesome. He's put the whole show in Bob Whitsitt's hands, and until/if his moves (last year's deals, the coaching change, and whatever he does this summer) fall apart, Bob is going to run things. Exactly what Mike Dunleavy will give the Blazers that Whitsitt is so excited about is kind of beyond me. Fortunately for Blazer fans everywhere, however, I am not the GM in real life, so we should trust Bob's judgment once again... *gulp*


Simon: In order of preference: Derek Anderson Depending on how his injury checks out, I expect him to go before #14 or slip down into the twenties. He was a sure lottery pick before he got hurt, and may still bounce back there. Leventhal now has him going at #16, and I don't think he'll drop. [Taken by Cavs at #13] Jacque Vaughn Vaughn was rated as the joint-best college PG in the country (with Knight) before the season, and played solidly. Chris Anstey At #18 he'd be a reach, (although Leventhal now has him going there) but would be best centre available if Dudley and his salary are let go. Bobby Jackson Solid combination guard. Sounds a bit CBA-ish to me, though. Ed: Olivier Saint-Jean: Really risen in eyes of most people recently. Good size, potential. Could provide offense off the bench, and backup in case Rider melts down. Derek Anderson: Another mature player, like Vaughn, who could help the team as a rookie. Chris Anstey: Portland needs size if they plan on losing Dudley and Clifford. Anstey would make a decent backup for Sabonis, but might not even have the skills to play in the NBA. Marc Jackson: Portland has had him in for workouts. Had good pre-draft camps. Stephen Jackson: If he turns out to be as good as he could be, he would fit in very well at the 3 spot in a couple of years. On the other hand, Portland already has taken so many chances, a safer pick like Vaughn makes more sense.


Simon: I think they'll trade the pick, or failing that, take a flyer on Stephen Jackson. You know how Whitsitt loves "potential"... Ed: If I had to guess (which I guess I do...), I'd say Marc Jackson. He has good size and is a young guy. If Vaughn is available at this spot in real life, though, they'd have a tough time passing on him.


Simon: I think the Blazers should re-sign Dudley, and (sniff!) let Cliffy go, if only because they really need his minutes to evaluate their young players, and because he'll command big bucks. Offers for Sabonis should also be entertained: although his passing skills would be great to start the fast break, he's old and may be ending his useful basketball life. Be nice to send him to a contender, so the rest of the world can actually see some of those sweet passes in action. I would also try to get Rasheed Wallace to sign THIS off-season, and not risk letting him get away next off- season. It's '98 that all the teams are clearing cap room for, and ludicrous money will be waved under his nose. Whitsitt shouldn't worry about tying up cap space and missing out on the frenzy: I think only large market teams should be gambling next year, and I'd gladly see the Blazers sit it out. Ed: Say goodbye to Clifford Robinson. Decide where Jermaine is going to play, and clear some room for him to play; if he's going to be a post, say goodbye to Dudley. If he's going to be a small forward, keep Dudley. If they go for a bigger player in the draft, I'd say to look at Greg Anthony as a backup point guard. He wouldn't provide much offense, but he's got some playoff experience, has some Portland roots, and is a good defender. If Dudley and Clifford are gone, go after Rick Fox. He'd provide good defense and some much-needed perimeter offense. Another option for the 3 spot is Bryon Russell. Either one might be too expensive, and I'd be willing to go with a Wingfield/Augmon/Butler SF situation. In any event, re-sign Wallace after all the other moves have been made, and keep him in Portland for a LONG time.


Simon: The Blazers have the talent to be a real force in the West in a couple of years, particularly when Utah and Houston start to break down. The challenge will be to keep the JailBlazers together as a team, and not let those egos resurface. Wallace MUST be re- signed, and I'd love to keep Trent.

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