The Trail Blazers’ J.J. Hickson has played well on the offensive end and put forth his best complete effort since being a major focus in Cleveland. But Hickson, who stands at 6-foot-9, is out of position in Portland, which has contributed to the NBA’s worst interior defense. The Trail Blazers give up 47.4 points in the paint per game with Hickson at center—a stat that will likely spell the end of his stay in Portland. General manager Neil Olshey addressed the reality that Portland is unlikely to pick up a viable center and keep Hickson in the fold. “For us to make a jump next season, JJ can’t be our starting center,’’ Olshey said, according to The Oregonian. “I’m not saying he can’t be part of the roster. But we need to find a starting-caliber center who protects the rim and gets defensive rebounds at a high rate and that has a presence. And we have to do a better job at defending the paint. So you have to ask: Is it likely there is enough minutes to commit the kind of dollars JJ will command, when clearly there are other positions that need to be upgraded? Probably not.’’ Hickson averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds but was ill equipped to play the rim-protector role Olshey covets for his roster as it stands. Drafted to fill the vacancy at center, Portland rookie Meyers Leonard remains in need of time to develop. On the flip side, Portland's structure might not be doing Hickson any favors. Considering his size and athletic ability, Hickson could be better served at power forward on a running team rather than Portland, which doesn't rate in the top 10 for pace.
Trail Blazers could let J.J. Hickson walk in free agency
Sporting News | Apr 10