Portland Trail Blazers: Don’t expect any major trades this offseason

Portland Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell
Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers have found themselves in a tricky situation. The team is close enough to true title contention that they must press on and find any way they can to push themselves over the hump. Unfortunately, the team is also strapped for cash and short on assets.

It’s been made pretty clear that the Blazers will need a roster overhaul to raise the squad’s ceiling. After getting bounced in the first round, despite the first postseason with a mostly healthy roster in a long time, Portland will need to make some major moves if they’re to elevate themselves into the top-tier of contenders.

With the way their roster is constructed, however, it’s difficult to imagine them making a major trade before the 2021-2022 regular season kicks off.

Are the Portland Trail Blazers willing to part ways with their meaningful trade chips?

Aside from Damian Lillard, who should be viewed as untouchable until he or the Blazers brass explicitly says otherwise, the Blazers have scarce assets that other teams could and would want to acquire.

The only real trade ammunition that Portland could use to swing an impactful deal this offseason are: CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, and their future draft picks.

Nurk and RoCo are both on team friendly deals and would likely not land the Blazers an upgrade over what they provide for Portland now. Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little are both young players that would be ideal targets for rebuilding teams. Unfortunately, there’s not many rebuilding teams with players that the Blazers need right now, so using them to swing a deal would be difficult.

Even if Portland found a player on a bottom-barrel team they like, the Blazers are short on medium contracts that would make deals financially possible. Derrick Jones Jr. could be used as salary filler, given that he opts into his player option, but the Blazers would be hard-pressed to find a significant upgrade without tacking on additional draft capital.

That leaves CJ McCollum as the only realistic asset the Blazers have to make a major move before the new season tips off. While CJ is an amazing scorer that any team could use, finding the ideal trade partner for him comes with its own problems.

McCollum will turn 30 next season, is undersized, is a turnstile on defense, and will make $100 million over the next three years.

Most teams that could use his services are unable to afford him and the inverse is also true. The league knows that Portland is desperate to upgrade their roster. Teams will assuredly try to milk the most out of the Blazers yearning for a roster change to fleece them in a deal.

Why the Portland Trail Blazers can’t move Norman Powell

Norman Powell could be an incredible asset for the Blazers in a move, but unfortunately, he’s unlikely to be moved until the next season is well under way, if at all.

Powell has a player option for the upcoming year worth just over $11 million. He’s more than outplayed that contract and will definitely decline his option and enter unrestricted free agency.

The Trail Blazers will have his bird-rights if he does opt for free agency, meaning the team will be able to spend past their salary cap in order to re-sign him this offseason.

If they re-sign Powell, he’ll enter a trade restriction period and won’t be able to be moved until December 15th, 2022, when the restriction is lifted.

Some (*cough* me *cough*) may suggest that Powell can be moved via sign-and-trade, but that situation is unlikely with Norm. A sign-and-trade comes with all kinds of specific hoops to jump through, as graciously pointed out to me by Blazers Uprise Co-Host Eric Brandt. There’s a number of reasons that these kind of transactions are so rare in the NBA, according to Hoops Rumors.

For Norm to be successfully signed-and-traded, he would have to agree to sign with whatever new team he is moved to and the Blazers would not be able to initiate the move.

Normally, sign-and-trades are reserved for when a player wishes to move to a new situation, but doesn’t want to desert his previous team, leaving them with nothing in return.

While the Blazers have the ability to sign Norm to a larger deal than any other team in the league—up to his maximum eligible contract—any other team wishing to acquire him this offseason could still try to outbid Portland and sign him outright without giving up any additional assets.

Still, it’s vital that the Blazers retain Powell any way they can, and there’s no real reason they shouldn’t be able to. Even if he’s not a part of their future plans, re-signing him ensures that the Blazers can use him as a trade chip and not lose him for nothing.

With Norm unable to be moved until December and the Blazers lacking any other real options to make a major trade in the offseason, don’t expect any huge changes until the season is well under way. Portland can still find acquisitions using their mid-level exception or veteran minimum contracts in free agency, but any other transactions are very unlikely.

Next. What the Blazers should do with DJJ and other impending free agents. dark