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Portland Trail Blazers Look to Shore Up Bench in Free Agency

With no pick in either the first or the second round of the NBA Draft last week, the Portland Trail Blazers missed a chance at making their roster stronger.

However, free agency started on Tuesday and the Trail Blazers could be looking to add depth to better compete in the Northwest division and the postseason.

Portland has a very strong starting lineup with All-Stars Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge anchoring the lineup. The two are supported by Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews.

However, due to such a strong starting five, Portland was limited to its contributions off the bench. The reserves averaged less than 14 minutes and 24 points per game, both of which were last in the league.

Because of that, the focus Portland has during the offseason will be to upgrade its reserves. Mo Williams a point guard, the most consistent contributor amongst the reserves has opted out of his contract but should return with a longer contract in hand.

While it is good on the part of Portland to re-sign Williams as a back up to Lillard, the amount Williams will ask for in salary could make an impact on how flexible the team is to adding to their roster.

One spot on the team will open if they were to release Allen Crabbe a little used backcourt player. He appeared in only 15 games during the entire 2013-14 season averaging only 2 points in just over 6 minutes.

Crabbe only will be paid $860,000 in 2014-15 with the third year of his contract partially guaranteed and his fourth hinging on a qualifying offer.

Portland will look to players, who can help them right away, and not spend too much on players, such as Crabbe, who need some developing.

When the San Antonio Spurs eliminated Portland in 5 games this past postseason, it was obvious the Trail Blazer lacked a deep and experienced group off the bench.

Portland could have as many as three roster spots open for free agency. Even if Crabbe were to remain, another three spots could likely be filled with free agents.

The Portland salary cap is at $62 million heading into the free agent part of the summer. That leaves the team just below the 2014-15 project salary cap, but well below an expected $77 million limit for luxury tax in 2014-15.

Players besides Mo Williams the Trail Blazers could look at signing include Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Mike Miller and Thabo Sefolosha amongst others.

Kaman or Hill could fill a big need for Portland – consistency from a big man off the bench. The two are solid players. Kaman averages 10 points and 6 rebounds last season with the Lakers, while Hill averaged nearly 10 points and over 7 rebounds per game for the Lakers as well.

At small forward, the Trail Blazer could go after Mike Miller a free agent with Memphis, but the Grizzlies are keen on re-signing Miller.

Finally, Sefolosha is a great defender at the shooting guard spot, but was in a season long shooting slump this past season for Oklahoma City.

The bottom line is Portland needs to give its starting five more rest during the season and that means a more talented group off the bench is needed.

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