The Portland Trail Blazers have had an up-and-down NBA season so far. What are the different outcomes that we could see at the trade deadline?
The NBA’s trade deadline is almost here. With the All-Star weekend giving every team a small break, it’s now time for teams to make moves to improve their squads, or blow it up and tank the season away. The Blazers have actually had one of their best starts to a season in the Damian Lillard era. Though the defense and injuries have been frustrating, this team has done well, considering CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic have missed over half of the season.
Defensively, the Blazers are far from where they need to be. Though this may not mean that the front office should panic, it’s clear that without anchor Jusuf Nurkic, that this is a bad defensive team.
Key defenders Derrick Jones Jr and Robert Covington have both missed games as well, and as they are by far the two best defenders on the team, this is another reason the Blazers sit 27th in the league. Developing defenders Nassir Little and Harry Giles have also missed time.
Here are 3 potential scenarios for the Portland Trail Blazers at the March 25th NBA trade deadline
Scenario #1 – stand pat and make no trades
The Blazers’ offense has been slightly down on previous years because of the injuries to CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. With these two out, the Blazers have still won many games, but some nights they just don’t have it offensively, and have to rely solely on Lillard with a combination of Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr.
Come the deadline, rather than make a move, maybe Neil Olshey decides that they have enough of the right pieces. By bringing back CJ and Nurk, they can add two top 60 players in the league, to a team that is already fifth in the Western Conference.
Nurkic will shore up the defense while giving the team better ball movement and finishing at the rim. While having a career year, McCollum will add to the shooting and ball movement while shoring up the bench too, when Dame is off the floor.
I could see a trade deadline where the Blazers made no moves.
Scenario #2 – make a small move on the fringes
The Blazers have one spare roster spot, and the dead salary of Zach Collins on the books. It would be sad to see a salary dump of Collins, if they decide that they won’t bring him back next season, then trying to get something for his salary could make sense. Because he has missed two straight seasons, he doesn’t have a lot of value, but a team may be willing to send back a defensive big or a backup guard who has a year or two left on their deals.
If the Blazers didn’t want to make a trade with a player though, they could just send out a heavily protected second-round pick, or cash to bring a player back. You don’t have to send a player in a trade, as long as you send money or a pick. The Blazers could absorb a minimum salary into their minimum exception.
Scenario #3 – make a big trade
There is a chance that Neil Olshey makes a decent trade at the deadline. This could involve either Collins or Rodney Hood. Or maybe even both. Because these two have salaries of $5 and $10 million, they could be combined to bring back a salary of up to $18.75 million.
I think Hood is more likely to be moved because of his non-guaranteed second year. Thinking about next year, the Blazers need to pay Gary Trent Jr, while also trying to stay out of the steep repeated tax. With Dame and CJ both having their new max deals kicking in next season, there is no other way for the Blazers to get out of the tax unless it involved trading key squad members.
Hood has improved his play recently, so he may have an improved market now. I can’t see any other players being moved outside of these two though. I think a plus defender who can play the four and five could be a help, or potentially a backup guard who can move the ball and create for others.
There are three weeks to go, so expect to see some potential trades broken down on this site.