The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers made a major five-player deal on Friday. Let’s take a look at the three new Trail Blazers:
The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers tipped off the 2022 NBA trade deadline frenzy with a five-player deal that sent Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the contending Clippers in return for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and Detroit’s second round pick in 2025.
The move was clearly meant to get the Blazers under the luxury tax and avoid incurring the repeater tax next season, as well as to clear some room to sign breakout restricted free agent Anfernee Simons this summer.
An additional inferred goal must be the desire to torpedo an already lost season. Portland’s first-round pick goes to Chicago as part of the Derrick Jones for Larry Nance swap unless it falls in the lottery, and falling to the bottom five would give the Blazers enough ping pong balls to have a shot at one of the top three picks in a three-deep draft. So tanking is feasible for the Blazers, if not recommended, with Damian Lillard out until at least mid-March.
Sending the Blazers’ most consistent performer in Powell – and perhaps their two most coveted trade assets – away for an untested rookie and two players nobody else wanted certainly wasn’t a basketball move.
We have spent enough words, both written and spoken, on what an awful deal this is for the Blazers. And the national media has chimed in in agreement. But as the newest Blazers arrive in Portland and join whatever fragments of a team that might remain when Cronin is done destroying it, it’s time to focus on what each of them brings to the team.