Portland Trail Blazers smart to take on Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller contracts

By David Kenyon

Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller aren’t going to help the Portland Trail Blazers on the court, but the franchise was smart to acquire the pair of veterans.

In truth, Portland was smart to add them, simply so it could get rid of them.

After losing LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez in free agency and trading Nicolas Batum during the offseason, the Trail Blazers will need a miracle to remain competitive in the Western Conference.

Damian Lillard agreed to a long-term deal, but Gerald Henderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, Moe Harkless, Noah Vonleh, Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum don’t exactly make up a playoff-caliber roster.

Nevertheless, BBall Breakdown’s Bryan Toporek notes the roster blow-up has actually been carried out in a commendable fashion.

“Rather than panicking and attempting to plug their flood of vacancies with quick-fix veterans, the Blazers instead opted to acquire young, high-upside players by whichever means they could. They’ll undeniably experience a drop-off from their recent 50-win pace, but they’re not going into a full-on Philadelphia 76ers-style teardown.”

The latest trade is another example of a smart move.

Haywood, a 35-year-old center who logged 119 minutes in 22 appearances last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has a non-guaranteed contract worth $10.5 million, per HoopsHype. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports Haywood must be waived by Aug. 1.

Miller managed a career-low 13.5 minutes per game in 2014-15, tallying a personal-worst 2.1 minutes and 32.7 three-point percentage. Windhorst said Miller and the Blazers may work to complete a buyout.

Portland has entered a rebuilding phase, and draft picks are now important assets. The Blazers received a pair of second-round selections in return for taking on the inconvenience of waiving Haywood and buying out Miller—or using him during the final year of an inexpensive contract.

The organization, which should have no realistic thoughts of a third straight postseason appearance, can afford to temporarily absorb any salary in order to bolster its roster a few years from now.

Portland won’t be a playoff-caliber team for a few seasons, but the Trail Blazers will eventually recover from this rough summer. And considering Damian Lillard is entering his prime, the recently added draft picks have the potential to become important complementary players or trade pieces in the future.

Photo: USA Today Sports