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Portland Trail Blazers Free Agency Targets

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's no secret that the Portland Trail Blazers are looking for a veteran center that can defend the pick and roll, rebound and protect the rim. Luckily, this year's free agent class provides some decent options.

As the NBA's free agency period opens, here is a look at some of the big men who have already been linked to Portland.

It's important to note that the Blazers did not send out any salary in their trade with Houston for forward Thomas Robinson -- who will be paid roughly $3.5 million in the 2013-14 season -- and thus will be limited to roughly $8.8 million in salary cap space this summer.

Omer Asik

While the Houston Rockets center is not a free agent, he will likely be available should the Rockets sign Dwight Howard.

Asik, who originally drafted by Portland in 2008, would be a perfect fit, but -- as general manager Neil Olshey discussed in his post-draft press conference -- the Blazers may lack the assets needed to acquire him.

Tiago Splitter

Splitter is almost exactly what the Blazers are searching for; a defensive center who won't take post touches away from LaMarcus Aldridge, can finish around the basket and has decent rebounding numbers.

However, if Portland pursues the restricted free agent it will likely cost them the bulk of their salary cap space -- the 28 year old big man should command an annual salary in the $8 million to $9 million range -- and it will tie up that cap space while San Antonio decides if they want to match the offer.

Nikola Pekovic

Pekovic looks to be the next restricted free agent that the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Blazers will battle over.

But, just as the Blazers kept Nicolas Batum last summer after Minnesota signed him to a huge offer sheet, the Timberwolves would likely keep Pekovic if Portland were to attempt to sign the 27 year old center.

While Pekovic's scoring and rebounding numbers are better than Splitter's, he doesn't seem to be as good of a fit with the Portland, especially on the defensive end.

Chris Kaman

The veteran center, who came close to signing with Portland last summer, has expressed interest in the Blazers and will reportedly sit down with management in the coming days.

A short term deal with the 31 year old Kaman could be a nice fit for Portland, who lacked both size and depth last season. While developing center Myers Leonard should be the top priority, a season spent playing behind and against a veteran center could be just what Leonard needs at this point in his career.

Sunny Ahluwalia is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest. His thoughts on the Trail Blazers can be found on portlandroundballsociety.com and on Twitter @Sunny_PRS

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