Saturday , Jul , 11 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Mike Bibby, not Paul Millsap, would have been perfect for Portland Trail Blazers

There’s much to like about versatile forward Paul Millsap. The same goes for the Portland Trail Blazers, who seem determined to take the next step in 2010 -even if improving means using their cap space to sign free agents in a declining economy. But overpaying a first-forward-off-the-bench won’t help ‘Rip City’ go from a good to great team …


Mike Bibby, not Paul Millsap, would have been perfect for Portland Trail BlazersBreaking NBA news mixed with analysis …

Their News:  "The Portland Trail Blazers elected Friday not to wait on trade possibilities, deciding instead to offer Utah Jazz restricted free agent Paul Millsap a four-year contract worth $32 million, according to sources with knowledge of the Blazers’ plans.

The Jazz, meanwhile, are expected to continue their push to trade Carlos Boozer in response, with the intent of creating sufficient distance from the luxury-tax line to enable Utah to match the Millsap offer." (Marc Stein, ESPN.com)

Our Quick Analysis: He’s not the missing piece. Not for $8 million per season.

There’s much to like about versatile forward Paul Millsap. The same goes for the Portland Trail Blazers, who seem determined to take the next step in 2010 -even if improving means using their cap space to sign free agents in a declining economy.

But overpaying a first-forward-off-the-bench won’t help ‘Rip City’ go from a good to great team.

 For years, GM Kevin Pritchard has been hoarding cap space. The goal was simple: create the financial flexibility to sign an established pro to complement LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and the other young talent in Oregon. To achieve this end, players were bought-out, traded, and encouraged, sometimes through unconventional means, to retire.

 But Millsap, a strong player, can’t push the Blazers over the edge when backing-up Aldridge and Greg Oden. Simply put, the minutes aren’t there for him to be a difference- maker. Sliding to small forward is a possibility, but Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw also need playing time.

Instead of offering a restricted free agent like Millsap $32 million, Portland should be looking to upgrade at point guard. To be fair, rumors have linked the club to free agent Andre Miller and Kirk Hinrich via a three-team trade with Chicago and Utah.

Here’s a thought: did the Blazers bother pursuing Mike Bibby before he signed a very reasonable three-year, $18 million pact to stay in Atlanta? The veteran, for a couple of reasons, would have been perfect.

His skill-set would have been a match. While not a great passer, Bibby has always managed to set the table for teammates. But the Arizona grad is the NBA’s best shooting point guard, so he would have punished opponents for helping on Roy and also would have got his share of looks off backcuts and pick-and-rolls.

Best of all, Bibby has experience. With Sacramento, he suited up in do-or-die game sevens and sank clutch buzzer-beaters. Like the Blazers, his old Kings teams faced intense pressure to break through in a tough Western Conference. No situation would have faced him.

Millsap and Portland don’t seem a fit. Hopefully, the Jazz match the offer sheet and the Blazers can keep searching for that elusive missing piece.

Is Millsap right for the Blazers? Should the club have done more to pursue Mike Bibby? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Parvinder Singh.