NBA Roundtable

Portland Signs Juwan Howard

In Free Agency on September 18, 2009 at 9:03 am

RealGM reports

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent forward Juwan Howard to a one-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.“Juwan Howard will add a wealth of experience and veteran savvy to our young, talented roster,” said Pritchard. “We look forward to Juwan’s contributions on the court and in the locker room.”

Howard (6-9, 250, Michigan) holds career averages of 14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 1,043 games (871 starts) over a 15-year NBA career with Washington, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Houston and Charlotte.

Portland’s Roster

Guards — Steve Blake, Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless

Wings — Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw

Big Men — Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla, Jeff Pendergraph, Dante Cunningham and Juwan Howard

Power Forward

There has been a lot of talk in Portland about adding a physical rebounding power forward after the way the Blazers were man-handled in the playoffs by the Houston Rockets. Personally, I think that fans + media + Blazers players have given this position/new player far too much importance but anyway …

The Blazers will use LaMarcus Aldridge as their starting four man. He has played 35mpg and 37mpg over the past two seasons. So that leaves around 11-13 minutes a night for a backup player.

Travis Outlaw has been the Blazers’ sixth man for the last two seasons. He has played 27-28 minutes over the past two years. Two years ago, Outlaw played a little over a third of his minutes at power forward. Last season, Outlaw played a little over 80% of his minutes there.

The main reason for Outlaw receiving a larger amount of time at power forward was the emergence of Portland’s young wings Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum. Their strong play gave Portland valuable contributions and they had to be fitted into the lineup. Next season, Martell Webster will be returning to action, and this wing situation is going to get even more crowded and make playing time even more difficult to come by.

Secondly, Nate McMillan loves having a player off his bench who gives the team something different than what he has in the starting lineup. He loves Outlaw as a power forward because he’s completely different matchup for the opposition. This creates problems for the opposition and advantages for the Blazers. Nate McMillan used Vladamir Radmanovic, who was mainly backing up Reggie Evans,  in the same way when he was in Seattle.

Therefore, I like most Blazers fans, expect Outlaw to receive all the minutes at the backup power forward position while also receiving some scraps out on the wing.

From there, Portland can call upon Jeff Pendergraph and Dante Cunningham as their third and fourth string power forwards. Both players looked very impressive in summer league with Cunningham leading the squad with 18.3ppg on 47% shooting from the field (plus 6rpg), while Pendergraph led the team in rebounds with 7.6 boards in 26.7 minutes while also adding 11 points on 55% shooting. Pendergraph figures to be the Blazers best rebounding backup power forward, while Cunningham offers a somewhat similar matchup problem as a Travis Outlaw does albeit to less effect.

In other words, the Blazers have a very good starter in LaMarcus Aldridge, a valuable bench player in Travis Outlaw, and two rookies who look pretty good … who if they were on a team with less depth would probably have a chance at cracking the rotation the first year out of college.

Juwan Howard

Juwan Howard is a poor to very poor defensive player. He’s also a poor-to-very poor rebounder. And to top it all of, he is a poor offensive player.

In other words, Howard is living off his reputation and has little a team. At best, he’s a borderline NBA player … and for my money, he’s not an NBA caliber player at all.

Juwan Howard was signed because of the Blazers perceived need for a physical power forward who could help them defensively and on the backboards — wow, is he miscast in this role. Heck, they weren’t even his strengths in his prime, nevermind now — but the reality is that he offers less than the Blazers four other power forwards and doesn’t deserve to see a lick of court time next season.

To summarize, this is a pointless signing by Portland.

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