There is a very nice article on Ime Udoka in the Oregonian this morning, however it got me thinking about his situation and his impending free agency. I have to admit that I started to worry a bit as I was reading the article. Over the last 5 years or so the Blazers have fallen into this trap of overpaying their own mediocrity because of their infatuation with them. This is a key component of remaining a poor basketball team. I like Ime Udoka, he provides above average defense, can hit an open jumper in the corner, and is a quality Glue Guy. However, they should not do something crazy and offer him a 3-5 year deal worth 6-10 million per, or their entire mid-level exception, or some other monstrosity. See if you remember any of these debacles.
Theo Ratliff was acquired back when John Nash and Subterfuge Stevie were beginning to systematically destroy the franchise. He played hard, great defense, blocked shots, and brought some energy to the floor. However he was injury prone and old, but the fans liked him, the front office liked him, so they locked him up with a long term deal that turned into a complete albatross.
Darius Miles, almost identical to Theo, this is the classic drunk on talent phenomenon. Paul was wowed by his dunks and his random great games, but he wasn't worth a long term deal. He was our player however, he looked good and appeared to be wanted, so they locked him up long term. Another albatross.
Joel Pryzbilla, again a likable guy, plays hard, brings defense and energy and a little toughness, but this is a perfect guide to the Udoka situation. A 1 year contract for low dollars is great value, the entire mid level exception and a long term deal is not good value. He's not the albatross the first two are, but he's still a mistake.
Brian Grant, this is important to bring up, Trader Bob recognized that he was overvalued. Everyone loved him, great guy, but he was not a max contract player. He was getting older, had some injury problems, and was not going to be an impact player for much longer, certainly not for the next 5-7 years (at the time).
This brings me back to Udoka. He's replaceable. Don't get crazy. He's 29 years old and a useful role player, but his overall value for the salary cap dollar can become diminished in a hurry if Pritchard is not careful.