The Portland Trail Blazers will acquire center, Robin Lopez, in a three team trade. The Sacramento Kings will send restricted free agent, Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Pelicans will send Greivis Vasquez to the Sacramento Kings, and the Trail Blazers will absorb the contract of Robin Lopez for Jeff Withey, cash, and future draft considerations.
For those of you counting at home, Olshey has now acquired two valuable players via trade this offseason (Robinson and Lopez) without losing any active players in Portland’s lineup. Lopez has two years remaining on his contract for $5.1M and $5.3M, respectively. This means that the Blazers still have plenty of money to pursue another free agent (around $7 million with the mid-level exception).
While Lopez is no Nikola Pekovic, he is precisely what Portland needs. At 7’0”, 255 lbs, with 5 years of experience, he should be able to teach Meyers Leonard a thing or two about defense (thank goodness). It is unclear who the starter will be at this juncture, but the Blazers have finished filling out their frontcourt with this addition.
In my opinion, the Blazers must look to sign a small forward with their remaining cap space. Between Lillard, McCollum, Matthews, Crabbe, and Barton, the guards are pretty well spoken for; however, if Portland can upgrade from Victor Claver at backup small forward, they need to do so.
Corey Brewer, Carlos Delfino, and Dorell Wright are yet unclaimed. These are the guys the Blazers must target. I do not believe any of them to be worth the full $7 million Portland has to play with, but the Blazers now have a leg up on signing them. The Blazers can likely offer more than another team would for their services (if it comes to that) and that flexibility is their biggest advantage.
Overall, I like the Lopez move a lot. It would appear that Neil Olshey is living up to expectations. The Blazers’ astonishingly weak bench is gradually becoming deeper than previously thought possible. Watch for Portland to make more moves in the coming days, and remember, all trades and signings are considered preliminary until July 10th.