Teams in big markets have it much better than those in smaller cities to attract talent in free agency. Or so we’ve been told over the years. Is that accurate? We explore that in a series of articles ranking the top free agent acquisitions of NBA teams in the last 25 years.
Today: Portland Trail Blazers.
10. Greg Anthony (January 1999)
Stats: 5.9 ppg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg
Returned to the city where he played college ball for a year as a quality backup point guard behind Damon Stoudamire.
9. Al-Farouq Aminu (July 2015)
Stats: 10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.9 spg
A glue guy for the Blazers this season. His athleticism and length make him an quite an asset when it comes to rebounding and playing defense.
8. Steve Blake (September 2005)
Stats: 7.8 ppg, 4.5 apg, 39.8 3P%
A second-round pick in the 2003 draft, Blake has outlasted far more promising players in the NBA thanks to pretty good fundamentals. Signed as a free agent in 2005 and was acquired in trades in 2010 and 2015.
7. Joel Przybilla (August 2004)
Stats: 4.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg
A defensive stalwart for Nate McMillan‘s Blazers. No offensive game. Would not give you points, but you could count on a bunch of hard fouls around the rim.
6. Andre Miller (July 2009)
Stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.2 apg, 1.3 apg
The supremely underrated Miller was already 33 by the time he joined the Blazers. His game was never about quickness or athleticism, so he delivered regardless with his usual knack for making the right (if unspectacular) play. Missed his only game between 2003-04 and 2012-13 and it happened while in Portland due to suspension after shoving Blake Griffin.
5. Ruben Patterson (July 2001)
Stats: 9.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 spg
The self-proclaimed Kobe Stopper should be a heavily featured player in the upcoming Jail Blazers documentary. He was a very accomplished defender, but all on-court achievements were overshadowed by off-the-court transgressions.
4. Kenny Anderson (July 1996)
Stats: 15.8 ppg, 6.5 apg, 1.8 spg
Never had much of a three-point shot, but he had the ballhandling, moves and ability to get to the rim you would expect in a NYC point guard.
3. Brian Grant (August 1997)
Stats: 10.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 49.5 FG%
Undersized NBA big with a physical approach to the game and a sweet mid-range shot. Flirted with a double-double on a regular basis.
2. Wesley Matthews (July 2010)
Stats: 15.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 39.4 3P%
Played so well for Portland that the Blazers couldn’t afford to keep him when he entered free agency again in 2015. Terrific two-way player with excellent outside shooting stroke.
1. Rod Strickland (July 1992)
Stats: 16.2 ppg, 8.2 apg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 spg
He joined the Blazers as Clyde Drexler declined and the championship window closed for the team. They would never make it out of the first round of the playoffs with him there, but you couldn’t blame Strickland, who displayed his excellent playmaking, slashing and post-up skills in Portland for four seasons. He would return to Portland in 2001 on a bit role for a super deep squad.