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Grizzlies, Blazers – Trade Deadline Pre-Thoughts


On any other day, the big storyline would be that Darius Miles, harbinger of deadly non-cap space, is returning to the Rose Garden as an actual NBA player tonight. But with the trade deadline almost 24 hours away, actual basketball games are being treated as afterthoughts (just look at ESPN, there’s about 274 different links with the word trade in them). Maybe its just me, and maybe its just because of the economy, but the deadline coverage this year is crazy. Not just crazy for the Blazers, crazy for everyone. And as such, Portland has been linked to nearly every player (within reason) in the league by people with good sources, people with poor sources, people pretending to have sources and trolls on message boards.

Nevertheless, we’ll do our due diligence (thanks KP) on the Grizzlies, albeit in abbreviated form. The Blazers need a win tonight. Memphis is terrible on the road, and after Sunday’s game with the Clippers, Portland begins a brutal two-week stretch that should define this season. You don’t want to begin that stretch with losses to teams like the Grizzlies and the Clippers.

If the Blazers execute, they should win. The Grizzlies have nobody other than Marc Gasol capable of banging in the middle, so if Portland plays at there own pace and controls the paint (even without Oden, out with that bone chip in his knee which I don’t think is serious) they should win. But if they play tired like they were before the AS break, Memphis has enough athletes to punish the Blazers in transition. This is not rocket science. Even if Memphis has a halftime lead because they are making contested threes, as long as it looks like Portland is sticking to their game, they will probably come out on top. But unlike before the break, when I said it didn’t matter how they won, this is the time for Portland to show that all of the last two weeks of bad play was just tired legs and that they are ready to make a serious playoff push. I’d like a side of killer instinct with that double-digit win please.

What’s strange is thinking that this might be the last game in a Blazers uniform for some young players we’ve watched grow. Will Sergio be with us tomorrow night? Will Channing? Could KP make a bold deal and ship out Bayless, Martell or even LaMarcus? Of course, it seems Travis Outlaw is most likely to be traded, so if this is to be his final hurrah in red and black, I hope he puts up 25. It’s not like Memphis has anyone to guard him.

As for trades, I’m refreshing ESPN.com every few minutes as I’m writing this. Yesterday Chad Ford was telling us that Portland had it’s choice of Caron Butler, Gerald Wallace and Richard Jefferson, causing SJ and I to pray to MJ (it was his 46th birthday yesterday) that Butler would be brought over. Then this morning it was Portland moving on David Lee (I’m not seeing that happening, just a hunch) and lately the talk surrounding the Blazers sending Raef and Outlaw for Vince Carter has been heating up. Did I miss anything? Oh, and they are still looking at John Salmons as well. Due diligence indeed, Mr. Pritchard.

I think a deal will happen, and whatever it is, it will probably help the Blazers just because they are getting such good value sending away a contract for an actual basketball player. Sure, some trades sound better than others, but it sounds like Portland is going to be a better team come Thursday night no matter what goes down. The question is, how much better?

Butler is our perfect dream choice. He’s tough, plays great defense, gets the the rim, can carry a team and can spread the floor with a good jumper. He’s the All-Star version of everything that we need from our 3 (and he’s got an awesome contract to boot). Then there’s Wallace, who does everything Butler can do except shoot and stay healthy for long periods of time. The benefit with him is that he’s three years younger then Caron. Frankly, I’m putting VC third. I don’t think people — most of whom probably aren’t obsessed with League Pass — are giving him enough credit for what he’s done in New Jersey this season. I think he’s reached that Paul Pierce 2008 stage of his career where he just wants to win and doesn’t have to carry a team. And the contract wouldn’t be crippling since the fourth year is a team option. Jefferson is the consolation prize because nothing about him, even age and contract, stands out above anyone else. Salmons would disappoint me unless we’re getting him for Frye and only Frye. As for Lee, I love the guy to death, but is he what we need right now?

The important thing to remember through all of this is what second player Portland gets in return. Supposedly Charlotte wants us to take back Nazr Mohammed, who has a silly $18+ million contract for three years. Gross. But with Washington, KP could take back Etan Thomas’ two year deal which expires before the 2010 free-agent bonanza. Basically, you could get back an All-Star and a big time trade chip for next season’s deadline. Sign me up.

We’ll keep up with things as they happen, and even as I was writing I’m seeing more and more things about a Vince Carter deal (seriously, he’s a better fit than anybody realizes, age is the only problem). It’s a little sad, though, that the next two days might mark the end of the Baby Blazers era. If we trade for a veteran, we get further away from being that up and coming team, and closer to being just one of the big boys. Not that that’s a bad thing, but for those of you that remember Outlaw and Webster and Roy and everyone else getting drafted, its enough to sober you up from the trade frenzy, if just for a moment.