Portland Trail Blazers

Telfair started 26 games for Portland in 2004-05.
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 3, No. 35
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Richie Frahm (restricted)
Damon Stoudamire (unrestricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 13. Sebastian Telfair, Lincoln HS (NY)
23. Sergei Monia, Russia
46. Ha Seung-Jin, S. Korea
2003: 23. Travis Outlaw, Starkville HS (Miss.)
54. Nedzad Sinanovic, (Boznia-Herzegovina)
2002: 21. Qyntel Woods, NE Miss. CC
43. Jason Jennings, Ark. St.
51. Frederico Kammerichs, (Spain)
2001: 19. Zach Randolph, Mich. St.
50. Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, Georgetown
2000: 28. Erick Barkley, St. John's
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Maurice Cheeks and the Blazers were looking to rebound from a .500 season that kept them out of the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades. At the same time, they were attempting to build a team with character.

What happened? Maybe they were trying to build a team of characters? That might explain the long-term investment in Darius Miles, who berated Cheeks in a much-publicized episode in January and twice walked off the floor during a game late in the season.

The 2004-05 season was another another step backward for the Trail Blazers, who won only 13 of their final 54 games after a 14-14 start. The 27-55 mark was the teamís worst since the 1973-74 season.

Their two top scorers Ė starting forwards Zach Randolph and Shareef Abdur-Rahim Ė missed a combined 64 games, headlining an injury epidemic that spared few. Only Damon Stoudamire, Joel Przybilla and Ruben Patterson played more than 70 games.

Ten players started 20 or more games for the Blazers, who never established any chemistry or continuity, leading to the dismissal of Cheeks in early March. The Blazers responded with only five wins in 27 games under Kevin Pritchard.

Stoudamire had his best scoring year as a Blazer (15.8) and Sebastian Telfair showed promise (6.8 ppg, 3.3 apg). The teamís most pleasant surprise may have been Joel Przybilla, a 7-1 center who gave the Blazers a bona fide presence inside, contributing 8.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 50 starts.

What now? The last time the Blazers landed in the top three, there was no draft lottery. That was in 1984, when the Blazers famously took Sam Bowie with the second pick, passing on Michael Jordan. With the No. 3 pick this year, they will no doubt be reminded of that fact, and encouraged to take the best player available. The Blazers also own the 35th overall pick in the second round.

Telfairís presence makes the drafting of another point guard unlikely, though the team could pursue a veteran tutor for Telfair. Shooting guard would appear to be a bigger necessity; Derek Anderson has missed 64 games to injury the last two seasons and Damon Stoudamire is a free agent.

The Blazers should have an interesting off-season. The team still has a coach to hire, and itís two highest paid players (Stoudamire, Abdur-Rahim) are both free agents.