3 best players Blazers must sign in 2021 NBA free agency
After years of falling short in the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers finally decided to go in a new direction by firing Terry Stotts and hiring Chauncey Billups. Additionally, the team will also need to address numerous roster holes in order to surround Damian Lillard with better weapons heading to their 2021-22 campaign so he doesn’t request a trade soon.
While their starting lineup seems to be mostly set at the moment unless there are big trades and assuming Norman Powell is back on a new deal, the Blazers’ supporting cast is where a lot of tweaking has to be made. Faced with a difficult cap situation, the Blazers will have to cash in on bargain free agents in their bid to get over the hump and have a stronger playoff push next season.
Here are the three best players Portland can target in this offseason’s free agency period.
3. Jeff Green
One of the most underrated free agents available is veteran forward Jeff Green, who recently concluded his 13th campaign in the league with the Brooklyn Nets. Last season, he averaged 11.0 points on a career-best 41.2% shooting from beyond the arc to go with 3.9 rebounds in 68 appearances.
Looking back, Green effectively handled his duties and emerged as a key cog for the Nets, especially during the stretches when the team’s Big Three missed time due to injuries. Heading to free agency, he will have a chance to inherit a much larger role if he decides to sign with a less-talented side like Portland, where his contributions would be a major boost for the team.
The veteran would not only bring in timely scoring but would also serve as a valuable locker room presence for the Blazers if he lands in Portland in the coming days.
2. Nicolas Batum
Another reliable forward the team can go after is 32-year-old Nicolas Batum, who previously played for the Blazers from 2008 to 2015. Ever since he left, Portland has failed to effectively replace him at the small forward spot. The Blazers have cycled through a number of players at the position in recent years.
Batum showed that he still has gas left in the tank as he served as a contributor for the Los Angeles Clippers this past season, averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 67 appearances. Though he isn’t the same player that he used to be, the Frenchman is still capable of providing a spark off the bench, which is exactly what the Blazers need for next season.
To sweeten the deal, Batum would also be reuniting with a familiar face in Billups, who served as an assistant coach for the Clippers last season. Perhaps having an easier transition on his way back to Portland will elevate the Blazers as an attractive destination for the tenured vet heading to 2021-22.
1. Austin Rivers
Topping this list is a productive guard in Austin Rivers, who surprisingly played on a 10-day contract at one point last season. He was certainly a stellar pickup for the Denver Nuggets, as he stepped up and provided much-needed scoring for the Nuggets following Jamal Murray’s season-ending injury.
After showing out at the tail end of their regular-season campaign, Rivers eventually became a constant starter in the playoffs, averaging 9.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 10 games played.
The Blazers already know the intangibles that the 29-year-old can bring to the table. They previously crossed paths with the Nuggets in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Rivers normed 11.5 points on 48.4% from beyond the arc in six postseason games against Portland while going up against both Lillard and CJ McCollum on the other end.
With Rivers set to enter free agency, the Blazers would be wise to go after his services in order to get an impact player who can provide valuable contributions for the team moving forward.