With the possibility of a blockbuster or two spinning in the rumor mill, it may have been a let down for most Portland Trail Blazers fans when the team came away with two role players and the chance at a late first-round pick at this year’s trade deadline.
General manager Joe Cronin sent Josh Hart to the New York Knicks in return for Cam Reddish and a 2023 first that will likely land in the 20s this July. Cronin also brought Matisse Thybulle to Portland from Philadelphia.
That trio of assets got a collective “meh” from from fans and most NBA experts; but Reddish and Thybulle have played better than expected.
Reddish was more potential than production when he arrived from New York where he was buried at the end of the bench by Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. At only 23 years old, though, the No. 10 overall pick in 2019 is showing signs of that production as the ideal three-and-D archetype.
Thybulle, meanwhile, has found more success in a larger role than he had as a member of the 76ers. He had already been named to two NBA Second-Team All-Defense squads in his first three years in the league before he arrived in Portland. It was his lack of any offensive skill at all that kept him from meaningful minutes.
However, the 6-foot-5 guard has shown glimpses of knockdown 3-point potential which, like Reddish, would make him the perfect three-and-D wing.
Both players are restricted free agents after the season, meaning the Blazers can make each a qualifying offer – essentially place-holders for a real contract – and then match any contract offered from another team, or choose to simply sign them to extensions so they remain in Portland.
Based on the way they’ve played, the final option seems the likeliest. If that’s the route Cronin decides to go, at what price point and number of years could the Blazers re-sign their two trade deadline acquisitions?
Case No. 1: Cam Reddish
Since arriving in Portland, Reddish has taken on a key role – especially with injuries keeping Anfernee Simons, Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic out sporadically.
In 13 games, the 6-7 wing is averaging 13.6 points on 47 percent shooting to go along with 1.3 steals a night. Reddish is finally finding some consistency from 3-point range as well, connecting on 36.1 percent of his 5.5 attempts per game – well above his 32.7 percent career average.
In the few moments Portland has been fully healthy, Cam has been the Blazers’ sixth man. Even if he doesn’t reach his lofty potential, a fifth starter or heavy-minute rotation player with the skills Reddish possesses is a snug fit alongside Lillard.
Considering his underwhelming career to his point, though, the league’s 29 other teams aren’t likely to be throwing buckets of cash at Reddish this summer.
Spotrac has a tool that estimates a player’s individual value. Based on position, games played, annual salary, and performance, the site has developed what it calls “production points” that can be sorted on a per-game basis or total valuation.
Since salary is involved, some of the numbers can be skewed. For example, Tyrese Haliburton is on a rookie contract with the Indiana Pacers but has already become one of the best guards in the league. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, can produce at a high level but presents a lower value because his contract is exponentially larger than Haliburton’s.
Still, it’s a useful tool to estimate what a player’s worth might be on the open market. Reddish ranks 58th among all NBA forwards in total value, but ranks much lower on the production points list. In terms of players who are past their rookie deals or aren’t on minimum salary contracts, he’s in the company of Milwaukee’s Joe Ingles, Houston’s Jae’Sean Tate, and Phoenix’s Torrey Craig.
Ingles has produced at a high level during his career and signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with Milwaukee as a 34-year-old with already limited athleticism who was coming off an ACL injury. Tate is 27 and on the first year of a three-year, $20 million extension, while Craig is 32 and on the second year of a two-year, $10 million contract.
Reddish will likely land in the Tate and Ingles range. He’s younger and has more potential than either of those players, but has proven less during his career – far less when compared to Ingles.
Bringing Reddish back to Portland on a three-year deal worth around $20-25 million, maybe with a club option or partially guaranteed third year, is a possibility.