Trade season is upon us
The NBA trade deadline is just over a week away, and with that comes a flurry of trade rumors circulating the media wires.
Some of the proposals are far-fetched pipe dreams, whereas others may actually come to fruition.
This February deadline is a tough one for the Portland Trail Blazers and their fans. Any trade that they make to get significantly better, with the hopes of grabbing the seventh or eighth seed in the West, will either disrupt their successful core or impact their future via the draft.
While the Blazers have exceeded expectations with the roster they have, there is certainly need for improvement in a number of areas.
1) Starting center
2) Sixth man who is either a small forward or shooting guard
3) Significant improvement in their backup point guard ranks
4) Improved outside shooting
J.J. Hickson has seen his stock rise since coming to Portland, and while he is the team’s starting center, the Blazers either have to commit financially to the undersized pivot or move him while he is hot.
Aside from Hickson’s contract, the Blazers could look to pass off Shawne Williams ($3.15), Luke Babbitt ($1.8), Elliot Williams ($1.4) and Nolan Smith ($1.4). While each player at some point has shown that they can in fact play in the NBA, their value comes in form of their expiring deals.
Possessing the Charlotte Bobcats’ first-round pick (top-12 protected) and three second-round picks next year, the Blazers may want to hold on to their immediate future just a while longer.
Even though this year’s draft class projects to be weak, they could parlay the picks on draft day for something more valuable.
The team also holds first and second-round picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts.
The LA Lakers have two disgruntled big men, and while both would help in the paint, neither currently fits under the Blazers cap without giving up another big-time moneymaker. Maybe before locking down Nicolas Batum to a contract they could have had a chance at Pau, but the reality of that happening now is highly unlikely.
Emeka Okafor (Washington Wizards)
The Wiz would love to move Okafor, who is a well-established defensive presence, but the problem is that he is a salary cap nightmare.
Hickson is younger, more athletic and a better offensive option, while at the same time a more mobile defender. Not to mention, Hickson probably won’t run you $14.5 million per season.
Chris Kaman (Dallas Mavericks)
Where he was once a promising big man during his time with the LA Clippers, injuries have slowed Kaman and deteriorated his value.
A step or two slow defensively, along with an average rebounder and an average offensive option, Kaman isn’t going to come in and change the team in the box scores. The positive and allure would be a mentor for rookie Meyers Leonard to learn under.
Wayne Ellington (Cleveland Cavaliers)
A young but slightly undersized shooting guard (by some standards), Ellington could easily slide into a sixth man role for the Blazers and would give the team a long range threat off the pine.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Blazers had pops as a bench boss from 1997 to 2001, and had some success. So why not try bringing Lil’ Dun on board?
Although he is a little long in the tooth at 32 years old, he can still shoot and spread the floor, while providing a veteran presence on the bench and in the locker room.
Jarrett Jack (Golden State Warriors)
If the Blazers are going to spend big money and go for a worthwhile trade to help the team right now and in the future, bringing back JJ would be a smart investment.
Would the Warriors part with him? Chances are slim, considering this is the first time in years that GSW has been in the playoff mix this late into the season. Also take into account the twig-like strength of Steph Curry’s ankles and it would be hard to get Jack back in Oregon.
However, never saying never, if it were to happen, Jack would give the Blazers the ultimate sixth man. The team hoped Jamal Crawford was going to fill that role for the remainder of his career, but after failing to adequately back up the point guard and shooting guard spots last year, Jack could prove to be the perfect combo guard off the bench.
While everyone is a fan of trades to some degree, chances are that the Blazers are going to bypass the deadline with their current roster in tow and continue to build from the draft and summer free agency.
Only a few games out of the playoffs, if Portland is successful in making the postseason, it will run into either OKC or San Antonio and will more than likely suffer defeat (just being honest). So the question becomes, is it worth it to mortgage the future for a cup of coffee against the Thunder or Spurs?
Simply put, the answer is a resounding ‘No.’
At this point, the Blazers are not looking to bring in a superstar, but rather a glue player that can help stick everything together. Someone they can add in the off season without losing anything in return.