Realistic Blazers trade No. 3
This deal may be predicated on the Bucks’ ability to re-sign center Brook Lopez in free agency, but all signs point to the two sides coming to an agreement. It would be tough for Milwaukee to part with a fan-favorite like Portis, but the Bucks are looking to add at the wing spot, and swapping Portis for two young players like Murray and Little would fit the mold too snugly.
The fact that they come cheap and under team control for an organization approaching the new dreaded second tax apron makes this deal even more attractive for Milwaukee.
Behind Khris Middleton – a free agent also expected to return to Milwaukee – the Bucks are left with Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles (both also free agents). Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Wesley Matthews are more guards than wings, so Murray and Little would fill a significant enough need that the team could be willing to part with Portis.
Meanwhile, the Blazers are clearly in desperate need of size and rebounding up front – two things Portis provides. The 2020-21 NBA champion would also provide a defensive presence and championship experience, two other traits Portland could use more of.
Portis was a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season after playing 26 minutes a night and averaging 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds. Per 36 minutes, which is closer to the kind of playing time he would see with the Blazers, those numbers jump to 19.5 points and 13.3 rebounds – including 3 offensive boards per game.
Bobby Buckets may not be the most agile big man in the league, but he’s capable of at least staying with perimeter players in switches until rotations come. And at 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, he’s big enough to man the starting center spot and play most of his minutes there, although he played alongside Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, so he’s capable of playing as a second big, as well.
All three of these trades deal from a position of strength and acquire players at a position of need for the Blazers. They’re not the blockbusters fans have been hoping for, but they’re moves that would make Portland deeper, more experienced, better defensively, and more balanced around Lillard, which is what the rest of this offseason should be about.