The Trail Blazers’ offseason spending spree has left the team “ripe for a trade,” Zach Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN.com. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard about Portland’s trade possibilities, and the speculation makes sense — having extended C.J. McCollum, the Blazers are poised to blow past the salary cap threshold in 2017/18, so they’ll probably want to move a contract or two at some point unless they’re prepared to pay a huge tax bill.
As Lowe observes, general manager Neil Olshey pursued Hassan Whiteside in free agency this summer, and “has a well-documented fondness” for traditional low-post scorers like Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe, and Nikola Vucevic. Jusuf Nurkic, Tyson Chandler, and Kosta Koufos are a few of the other centers identified by Lowe as players the Blazers may chase at some point in a trade. Lowe also names Nerlens Noel, though he admits that the league “doesn’t quite know what to make” of the Sixers’ big man.
Making a deal with a team like the 76ers, Nets, Nuggets, or Suns, who all have an excess of cap room, could make sense if the Blazers are trying to shed some salary. As Lowe points out, a swap involving Lopez and Allen Crabbe, whom the Nets tried to sign in July, could make some sense, but CBA rules don’t allow Brooklyn to acquire Crabbe until the 2017/18 league year after he signed the team’s offer sheet.
It’s unclear which assets the Blazers would be willing to give up for a second- or third-tier center who might not move the needle significantly for the club. As Lowe notes, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu would have value as trade chips, but they’re probably more valuable to Portland as players. Crabbe and Evan Turner, meanwhile, are in the first year of huge, long-term deals, which limits their appeal. According to Lowe, Turner was “almost as stunned as you” by the four-year, $70MM offer he received from the Blazers in the offseason — Turner excitedly told close friend Andre Iguodala about the offer, and his former teammate told him to accept it immediately.
In Lowe’s view, it would be more daring for the Blazers to explore the trade market for McCollum, though the ESPN scribe doesn’t expect the team to do so. For now, the team remains in wait-and-see mode on all of their players, as they assess how their pieces fit together.
What do you think? What sort of trade might make sense for the Blazers as they try to make the leap from solid playoff team to legit title contender? Is there a deal that could be out there sooner rather than later, or should the club wait until the 2017 offseason to seriously shake things up? Jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts on Portland’s next step!