- National Teams
The Portland Trailblazers have no immediate plans for Great Britain forward Joel Freeland, but will in fact be looking at the feasibility of bringing him over next summer, Chad Buchanan, the Blazers’ interim general manager has revealed.
Freeland, selected with the 30th pick in the 2006 NBA draft, is currently playing at Unicaja Malaga, where the Blazers are “really happy” with his progress, and it were not for his contract situation, would be bringing him over immediately.
Joe Freeman of the Oregonian reports:
Freeland, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound bruiser who Buchanan calls “one of the top three or four post players in Europe,” would fill an immediate need for the Blazers and they would be open to bringing him to the NBA. But his contract is a problem. He just completed the second of a three-year deal with Unicaja Malaga of the ACB League.
The combination of money he makes for Unicaja — millions of euro per season — and the lack of guaranteed playing time with the Blazers is a hurdle.
“If his contract situation was ideal for us and for him, we would bring him over right now,” Buchanan said. “We feel like he could come in an be a serviceable backup post player. Joel is never going to be anything more than that kind of backup role player, but he’s ready to do that.”
Buchanan compares Freeland’s situation to that of Luis Scola, who enjoyed several successful seasons in Europe before joining the Houston Rockets three seasons ago at age 27. Freeland, 24, did not start playing basketball until he was a teenager and has made gradual improvement since the Blazers drafted him with the 30th pick in 2006. He had his best season in 2010-11, averaging 13.2 points and 6.1 rebounds, and another season in the ACB League can only help.
“Next summer we’ll take a really hard look at bringing him over,” Buchanan said. “He’ll be 25 and starting to enter the prime of career and will have another high-level European season under his belt. Next summer, we’ll have serious discussions about it.”
Freeland has previously stated he is in no rush to play in the NBA.