It was only last December when Brandon Roy stepped away from Portland in early retirement, his knees (with little to no cartilage left) as sought after as radioactive waste. His love of playing wasn’t the question, but the knees were supposedly the definitive answer to any plea he still had of suiting up: No. Seven months later, Roy is planning a comeback and his skills are in demand by at least the five teams he’s narrowed his interests to. This is one free-agent pickup where the physical isn’t simply an afterthought.
According to the Minnesota StarTribune, the 27-year-old Roy has narrowed his favored teams to Dallas, Chicago, Minnesota, Indiana and Golden State. The big bet is that a blood-spinning therapy, to create platelet-rich plasma, used to success with Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady will keep Roy’s knees from ailing on a nightly basis. So which would be the best situation for Roy to step (gingerly) into?
*** *** ***
Roy could be a replacement for free agents Jason Terry, Delonte West and Kelenna Azubuike for the Mavericks. No matter what he says to the teams as he meets this week, he’s a diminished playmaker; however, it could pair better with Dirk Nowitzki that way. He’s always been one to play well without the ball in his hands, but the question here is quickness: With Dirk, or whoever the team brings in to play point, holding the ball much of the time, can Roy cut off screens effectively enough to get open? Rick Carlisle‘s half-court offense would work well within Roy’s more-limited skillset.
With two important role players in Mike James and John Lucas possibly out in Chicago in free agency, Roy would fill a gap as a go-to substitution for a shot of scoring and defense. This role could be one of the top two best (with Indiana) I can think of because, quite simply, the Bulls can afford to mete out his minutes because of the surrounding talent on this roster, thus saving his knees. That relative wealth of guard talent does create something of a problem for Tom Thibodeau, though: what is Roy’s niche and how does he separate himself against Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and the like? It becomes a little easier to see the possible rotation if Watson takes over the point guard spot as Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery. What Chicago will have to ask itself is, do we need another Richard Hamilton?
This, above all things, is what is important to know about the Pacers: The GM in-waiting who will replace David Morway is none other than ex-Portland GM Kevin Pritchard. He drafted Roy in 2006, even traded to get him that night. If their relationship is still a good one as it was in Portland, this could be the inside track the Pacers need. I like this possibility maybe the most, because it limits Roy’s exposure but allows him to have one of the biggest effects alongside up-and-coming guards Paul George, George Hill and new draft pick Orlando Johnson. Hill is a restricted free agent, and Leandro Barbosa and A.J. Price also are questions to return to the Pacers.
Reports have shown that Roy is intrigued by playing alongside Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio after the team met with Roy on Sunday. If you’re the Timberwolves, do you really want two of your most important backcourt players to be coming off major knee problems? If he were to join the Timberwolves, he could reunite with ex-Trail Blazer teammate Martell Webster, who’s been a ghost of himself since averaging 10.7 points per game in 2007-08 in Portland — the last, best year the young Blazers core had. I don’t like to predict what GM David Kahn is thinking, but it’s possible a bet on Roy is also a gamble he could inspire Webster — a Seattle native just like Roy — to a more active role. But, and it’s a big BUT, is a reach for the same reason Golden State is: an offense centered on the run. Rick Adelman would have to slow down his offense when Roy entered the game, making the Wolves in effect two different teams and easier to scout and predict by opponents.
Coach Mark Jackson prefers more of a slowed down offense than past Warrior teams, but make no mistake this group likes to run. It makes it possibly the most curious team for Roy to go to, but maybe geography plays a role here, being only a few hours by plane to Seattle. The Warriors have no guards in free agency and despite a glut of forwards on the roster, are fairly thin at the two. Roy would be an upgrade even still injured on defense over Steph Curry and Charles Jenkins.
Where’s the best destination?
Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGreif.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.