J.J. Hickson not likely to return to Trail Blazers next season
JJ Hickson's days in Portland appear to be numbered. The Trail Blazers are looking to upgrade at the center position this summer and General Manager Neil Olshey is not optimistic the organization will be able to commit the kind of minutes that he thinks Hickson will demand this offseason when he becomes a free agent, according to a report from Jason Quick of The Oregonion.
Olshey said the team needs a "starting-caliber center who protects the rim and gets defensive rebounds at a high rate and that has a presence" and one who defends the paint. Hickson has seen his scoring dip from 15.1 points per game last season to 12.9 points this season, but is averaging a double-double this year for the first since being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008.
The report cites Olshey as saying the Blazers will "probably not" be able to find a deal that works for both sides:
“For us to make a jump next season, JJ can’t be our starting center. 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.’’
The Blazers have LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie Meyers Leonard in the frontcourt, but would be pretty thin beyond that if Hickson signed with another team. Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum lead a class of big men set to become free agent this summer. Other big men on the market beginning in July include Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, ZaZa Pachulia, Andray Blatche, Chris Kaman, Andris Biedrins and Samuel Dalembert.