The Portland Trail Blazers are hoping for an ace in the hole as they prepare to scout a player that they selected back in the 2006 NBA Draft. Joel Freeland became the No. 30 overall selection by Portland in 2006, but he decided to continue playing overseas to improve upon his game. I thought that this was a very smart decision by him which came at the suggestion of Portland and it could possibly lead to a hidden asset when the 2012-13 NBA season finally begins.
Freeland plays for the British Olympic team in addition to the time that he has been spending with Unicaja Malaga. He stands 6-foot-10 with a nice wingspan and has the size to be a respectable power forward or center in the NBA. I am not quite sure where his talents stand at this point, but that is why Portland is sending executives to watch him play in Olympic tune-up action.
I really like that the Blazers have Freeman to fall back on, even if they don't end up offering him a contract during the offseason. It seems like he could be ready for the NBA, so Freeman could become a trade commodity if the Blazers decide to go in a different direction. As a draft pick of the team though, the Blazers can work out trades and contracts with free agents before coming around to settling their negotiations with Freeman. He will likely get offered a scaled back contract with a rookie salary as well, so bringing in Freeman comes with almost no risk to the Blazers.
I hope that Freeman ends up being the type of player who will score around seven or eight points a night, can pick up defensive rebounds with the second unit and can bring even more energy to the team. He is now 25 years old, so maybe Freeman also possesses the maturity that only comes with playing a few seasons of professional basketball. It would become a huge deal if he can become one of the first players off the bench for the Blazers, especially with how gutted the team is as they head into the offseason free agent period.
The team has a long ways to go to get back to the postseason, but I think Freeman could become a nice piece if the two sides can get a deal done.
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*Ryan is a Northwest bred sports fan that has been a Portland Trail Blazers fan for years. He has high hopes that the Blazers can make it to the Western Conference Playoffs again next year.
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