The Portland Trail Blazers do not need Allen Crabbe. It seems to me that we too often ignore the significance of that notion. Crabbe is one heck of a basketball player. To be in such a position that his services are rendered unnecessary says quite a lot about how far the Trail Blazers have come and how much further back they were supposed to be this season. After all, General Manager Neil Olshey coughed up a pricey two-for-one deal to acquire Crabbe’s services on draft day.
Crabbe was anticipated to be a first round selection by each credible mock draft, and his slip to the second round could have cured a roomful of chronic hiccupers. The 6’6” rookie shooting guard left U.C. Berkeley with three years experience and multiple accolades, including the coveted Pac-12 Player of the Year Award. Portland targeted him for his three-point shooting.
Yet the poor lad has tallied just 41 minutes of court time at the NBA level (less than one full game). With Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams, CJ McCollum, and, to a lesser extent, Will Barton all capable of playing the shooting guard position as well, the Trail Blazers have a veritable logjam in their backcourt. They would be better off moving Crabbe at the deadline (as would he).
Unless the Trail Blazers want draft picks in return (not a bad idea, actually, since they possess none in the near future), Allen Crabbe would receive more interest as part of a package. I’ve seen too many hypotheticals proposed involving Meyers Leonard and Will Barton bundled together for players of much higher caliber. You can’t expect other teams to accept our misfits unless they fill a dire need, and nobody needs what Leonard and Barton currently provide.
Crabbe, on the other hand, is a legitimately gifted three-point shooter—something that is always in high demand. His inclusion in a potential deal could allow Portland to unload less desirable players for a fair return. Perhaps this takes the form of a late first-rounder, or perhaps a mid-level big man, but expectations should be tempered when dealing in wild cards. Crabbe’s NBA repertoire is too small for teams to be lining up at his feet (e.g.: 62.5 percent from three… on just eight attempts).
The best bundle Portland can offer that would not affect their rotation would involve Allen Crabbe and Victor Claver, who is also missing an identity in Rip City. Scouts saw what Crabbe could do at the college level and saw how Claver progressed in last summer’s EuroBasket competition. The Trail Blazers have both, but require neither, and sorely need the flexibility a trade could provide.
The Spurs come to mind as a potential partner. The hand injuries of Danny Green and (last night) Kawhi Leonard have left them high and dry in their already sparse wing department. They’ve got some future second rounders from the Clippers and Bobcats that aren’t doing them the good they need right now, and the Trail Blazers have a piece or two to solve their problems. If San Antonio’s front office wants to ease the minute burden on their older wings and remain highly competitive for homecourt advantage in the playoffs, I’m confident that something could be arranged.
But that’s just one example. The point is that Portland cannot accommodate all the talent they possess. I’d rather see Allen Crabbe find a team that he can contribute to than watch him waste his rookie season and beyond warming the Moda Center bench. The Trail Blazers don’t need to make drastic roster changes this season, but they do need draft options in seasons to come. It might be a good idea for them to test the trade water and see what they can fish out.