Editor's Note: To preview training camp and the 2005-06 season, John Hollinger addresses three key questions concerning the Trail Blazers.
1. How do they find minutes for all their wing players?
Portland is teeming with young talent at shooting guard and small forward, but it might be too much of a good thing.
Three first-round draft picks from the past two years -- Martell Webster, Viktor Khryapa and Sergei Monia -- play on the wings, but the Blazers already were overloaded. Travis Outlaw, just 20 years old, looks to be a breakout player this season, while incumbent small forward Darius Miles is still only 24. Meanwhile, productive reserves like Ruben Patterson and free-agent additions Juan Dixon and Charles Smith also will expect to get minutes.
Thus, one of new coach Nate McMillan's first challenges is shaking out this playing time situation. The most obvious solution is a trade. Miles didn't endear himself with his tirade against then-coach Maurice Cheeks last season, while Patterson is a free agent after the season and doesn't figure into the team's rebuilding plans.
Until a deal is made, McMillan is likely to focus on getting minutes for the three most promising members of the group: Miles, Webster and Outlaw. Then he can get Patterson and Khryapa minutes behind Zach Randolph at power forward, give Dixon time at the point behind Sebastian Telfair, and spot Monia 5-10 minutes at small forward behind his "big three."