The Portland Trail Blazers kicked off trade season with a five-player mega-deal that sent Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in return for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and the Detroit Pistons’ 2025 second-round pick.
If you feel that the return for Norm and RoCo seems skimpier than a Steak-n-Shake serving of fries, you aren’t alone. Kyle Irving of The Sporting News gave Portland a D-grade in this exchange. Even Clippers Team President Lawrence Frank had to take a victory lap after perhaps pulling off the heist of the season.
There are only two real reasons why Interim General Manager Joe Cronin pulled the trigger on this trade:
- Norman Powell and Robert Covington’s trade values were significantly lower than initially anticipated
- The other GMs of the league were playing hard-ball — in efforts to take advantage of a man thrust unexpectedly into a desperate situation — and Cronin took the bait.
The Norman Powell-Robert Covington trade was the consequence of years of Portland Trail Blazers mismanagement
Regardless if the rationale behind the deal was number one or two, both point to the fact that the Portland Trail Blazers reeked of anguish and the sharks jumped on the opportunity.
No team was in need of a trade more than the Portland Trail Blazers.
Here are a number of reasons why a team would be seeking a shakeup:
- Has a number one option capable of leading a championship run – check
- Has useful players but are underperforming as a unit – check
- Needs to shed salary – check
- Is stuck in NBA purgatory; not good enough to contend, not bad enough to land a top draft pick – check
- Has been a static squad for a long time – check
- Has a superstar that may be looking for greener pastures soon – check
Robert Covington struggled in the early season, but a few month’s of bad play doesn’t negate a decade’s worth of high quality contributions. Not to mention that RoCo drastically picked up his play since Larry Nance Jr. replaced him in the starting lineup and then was eventually sidelined due to injury. He averaged 9.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game, while striking 38 percent from deep since January 6 according to statmuse.
Norman Powell was one of the only consistent pieces for Portland all season, with marks of 18.7 points a night with 46/41/80 shooting marks. He’s also on a great contract, locked down until 2025-2026 with an average cap figure of $18 million each year according to spotrac. He’ll only be 32 in the last year of his deal, has a coveted medium salary that’s useful for trades, and his cap hit will only become more valuable as the salary cap continues to expand year after year.
If Norm and RoCo’s trade values did in fact take a hit — as opposed to Joe Cronin getting absolutely finessed — it wasn’t a result of their play.
These players certainly could have landed better returns last offseason, before teams realized just how sticky Portland’s situation was. CJ McCollum‘s trade value has been on a decline every year he hasn’t been traded as well. Let’s hope Cronin pulls the trigger sooner rather than later.