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Blazers expected to part ways with J.J. Hickson this summer

Apr 10, 2013, 3:33 PM EDT

Al Horford AP

J.J. Hickson made a leap this year and with it made a statement — he is a quality NBA big man. He’s averaged 12.9 points a game on 56.7 percent shooting with 10 rebounds a game on top of that. He’s got a PER of 19.9.

The problem is, the Blazers use him as a center next to their All-Star power forward LeMarcus Aldridge. Even in today’s “small ball” NBA a center at 6’9” is going to get you in trouble.

Blazers GM Neil Olshey was frank in speaking with the Oregonian and saying he doesn’t expect the Blazers will bring back Hickson, who is a free agent this summer.

“For us to make a jump next season, JJ can’t be our starting center,’’ Olshey said, referencing the Blazers’ 47.4 points allowed in the paint per game, an NBA high. “I’m not saying he can’t be part of the roster. But we need to find a starting-caliber center who protects the rim and gets defensive rebounds at a high rate and that has a presence. And we have to do a better job at defending the paint. So you have to ask: Is it likely there is enough minutes to commit the kind of dollars JJ will command, when clearly there are other positions that need to be upgraded? Probably not.’’

Portland is 24th in the NBA in defense (on points allowed per possession) and that is the end of the floor where they need to improve. That means players need to get better at staying in front of their man (I’m looking at you, Damian Lillard) and they need a big to clean up some of those messes from the perimeter.

Those kinds of big men cost money, and while Portland has the cap space (about $12 million this summer) that’s not enough to sign a quality defensive center and bring back Hickson at what he will likely draw on the open market.

So let the bidding for Hickson begin.

  1. goraidersgospurs - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Spurs has been using 6″9 centers for years now!!!

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 10, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Also, the Miami Heat’s center for much of the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 regular seasons was Joel Anthony, listed at 6’9″, and the Heat were a top-5 defensive team both seasons.

      Anthony’s been demoted given the Heat’s commitment to more “small-ball” and the signing of Chris Andersen, but the point is that a 6’9″ guy can be a good anchor to a defense if he’s a good shot-blocker and can cover a lot of ground when rotating on defense. That’s because nowadays, there aren’t many 7-footers who weigh 260+ lbs and can punish teams for playing “undersized” centers by posting them up.

  2. drex1 - Apr 10, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    knowing portland they probably thinking about making a run at bynum in the off season, he’ll fit in well with the history they have

  3. mp4philly - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Your move, Sixers.

  4. JMClarkent - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    If only they had a 6′ 11″ PF…

  5. money2long - Apr 10, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    that looks like horford

  6. genericcommenter - Apr 10, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Obviously they want Joel Przybilla back.

  7. sunsation3413 - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Hello Cody Zeller

  8. coryfor3 - Apr 11, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Gee maybe they could draft someone. Maybe an athletic 7 footer from a power conference. That would solve the problem….oh wait..hey that’s right- Meyers Leonard.

  9. anhdazman - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:16 AM

    Portland totally used him incorrectly. If you use Hickson as a 2nd team player coming off the bench. Although Carl Landry is more of a score, Hickson should be used in that capacity. He would help with a strong rebounding and defensive game.

    • money2long - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:34 AM

      rebounding, i’ with you. but defensive ?

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