The NBA trade deadline is coming up on February 8th at 3pm ET and the Blazers have been heavily rumored to be involved in some capacity. The Blazers have a stable of good, young prospects, proven players and picks at their disposal to make a big time splash and add an all-star caliber talent (or close) to compliment the Blazers core of Damien Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusif Nurkic. As the Blazers typically haven’t acquired a major talent through Free Agency (and have overpaid in some capacity on recent signings), they generally look for players that will provide good value throughout their contract.
What’s been rumored?
While it’s been shot down before – Kevin Love making a return home to Portland has been floated out there again. While The Cavaliers GM signed Love to a 4-year $120m contract extension last Summer and publicly said “No thanks” to Portland’s last year offer, rumors are swirling again that Love could end up in Portland.
One potential trade suggested by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report included Evan Turner, Caleb Swanigan and Anfernee Simmons for Kevin Love and David Nwaba.
What pieces do the Blazers have to make a trade work?
SALARY In order for the Blazers to match salary in a “big splash” (or smaller splash) situation, most scenarios will have to include players who are owed a similar amount of money and have 1-2 years left on their contract. Who meets the criteria? Evan Turner (2y/ $35m remaining), Meyers Leonard (2y / $21.7m remaining), Moe Harkless (2y/ $21.3m remaining), and Al-Farouq Aminu (1y / $6.95m remaining) would be integral pieces in any trade.
ASSETS The amount of assets the Blazers can attach to a potential trade will depend on the amount of SALARY players the Blazers have to give up to make a trade work. For example, if the Blazers have to include both Meyers Leonard and Al-Farouq Aminu instead of Evan Turner in a trade, picks and oversees players are most likely to be used instead of asset players to make the trade work from a roster logistics point.
Players who would be considered valuable in a trade scenario include: Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan, Anfernee Simmons and Gary Trent Jr. due to their potential long-term upside and very reasonable rookie contracts. The Blazers also have club control on 2 European players they can include in a trade that hold minimal value (Dani Diez, 2015 draft and Milovan Rakovic, 2007 draft).
For draft picks, the Blazers have two second-round draft picks that they can’t trade due to conditional terms, (2019, 2020) leaving them with a first round pick in 2019 and 2020 along with a first and second round pick in all future drafts. The Blazers first round pick right now is projected to be in the late first round at #21, with next years pick projected to be conceivably similar or worse value with a win-impact value trade.
What can we project?
The Blazers will try to swing for the fences without further gambling their roster replenishment options in the draft. Blazers will either target a player who has excellent contract value or a proven all-star up that fits a team need. While the Grizzlies look to unload Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, there is a possibility the Blazers get involved and provide cap relief to the Grizzlies in exchange for a key player.
Some options aside from Kevin Love the Blazers might consider include: Julius Randall, Otto Porter, Aaron Gordon, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward.