MLB trade deadline digest:

Blazers shore up forward position

The SportsXchange

The most pressing needs for the Portland Trail Blazers as they move through the summer are at point guard and power forward. The early focus has been on moves to fortify the frontcourt.

The Blazers have signed one European forward (Victor Claver) and will soon sign another (Joel Freeland). And there were unsubstantiated reports that J.J Hickson, a restricted free agent who finished last season with Portland, will be retained.

Claver, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound small forward from Spain, has signed a three-year contract with Portland.

Freeland, a 6-10, 250-pound power forward/center from England, is expected to soon sign a deal with the Blazers.

Both former first-round draft picks by the Blazers -- Freeland in 2006, Claver in 2009 -- spent last season playing in Spain's ACB League.

Claver, 23, played with Valencia. He averaged 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 25.8 minutes in 37 ACB and Euro Cup games.

Freeland, 25, played with Unicaja Malaga. He averaged 11.4 points in 17.6 minutes in 16 ACB games. He is expected to sign a three-year deal worth $9 million.

Unconfirmed reports had the Blazers signing Hickson, who turns 24 on Sept. 24, to a one-year contract worth $4 million. The 6-9, 245-pound power forward, who played collegiately at North Carolina State, averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting .543 from the field in 19 late-season games for the Blazers after being claimed off waivers from Sacramento.
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