The Portland Trail Blazers have brought out the tank but one man stands in the way of their march to the top of the lottery odds: Josh Hart. Interim General Manager Joe Cronin stripped the team of its valuable veterans in exchange for future assets but brought back a couple of pieces that are helping the team win — or should I say costing the team losses — in Hart and Justise Winslow.
Unless both of the players incur some conveniently timed season-ending injuries, they’ll continue to be firmly planted as if they were in Tiananmen Square rather than the Moda Center.
While the Trail Blazers will just have to work through Hart’s positive contributions for the remainder of the season, his future with Portland is in question.
Will Josh Hart be with the Portland Trail Blazers for the long haul?
Hart brings with him several valuable skills that the Portland Trail Blazers have severely lacked for a long time: strong perimeter defense, the ability to play and guard the small forward position, playmaking savvy, and an upbeat pace.
Hart could be the perfect glue-guy between Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Jusuf Nurkic. His fit and upside aren’t the questions; they might actually be the answers for why he could be traded next season.
As currently constructed, the only midsized salaries the Trail Blazers are set to have for 2022-2023 are Hart’s, maybe Joe Ingles, and probably Jusuf Nurkic’s new contract.
Medium salaries are incredibly valuable in the NBA for matching money in trades. Say the Blazers have a chance to deal for a star on a $30 million deal this offseason. In that scenario, Portland would likely send Eric Bledsoe’s expiring deal worth around $18 million and fill in the rest with Hart’s $12 million figure.
Unless the Blazers take on a couple of other NBA vets in free agency for similar contracts, Hart’s figure will likely be imperative in any deals they might try to swing.
Not only is he the ideal piece to be moved financially, but his on-court services also make him a desirable asset for any team looking to improve.
Every reason he’s a perfect fit for the Trail Blazers is also a reason why another team might want him.
The Blazers have been lacking heart for a while now. Let’s hope their newfound Hart sticks around for the long run.