The Portland Trail Blazers dropped another close game to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night. It was an electric game that went into double overtime ultimately a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three pointer with :09 seconds left decided the game. After this loss the Blazers are now 16-23 and are barely hanging on to the eighth-seed in the Western Conference.
Much of the struggles for the Blazers have been on defense. For some reason they just cannot figure it out. They were never an elite defensive team to begin with but showed flashes last season that they can play well enough to preserve a lead.
If the Blazers continue to blow late leads there chances of holding on to the last playoff spot looks slim but what will they do to remedy this? In a previous article I suggested that it may be better to split star point guard Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum up and have him come off the bench. This would bring more balance to the team as Lillard and McCollum are a defensive liability on the court together but it is too difficult to separate them when they are considered one of the best scoring backcourt tandems in the NBA.
What is the next move?
Blazers coach Terry Stotts needs to get a handle on this situation. Since the in-house solution seemingly has not worked it may be time to break up the young core and swing a trade or two to shore up the defensive end.
There has been rumors that the 19-18 Chicago Bulls could be ready for a rebuild and willing to field offers for All-star forward Jimmy Butler. It is unknown what it will take to obtain him but you can imagine a player of his caliber will require a lot.
Butler would be an excellent player for the Blazers, he is a prolific scorer and a top notch defender. A win for the Blazers will be if they can somehow acquire Butler without giving up McCollum.
Bulls get: SG/SF Allen Crabbe, SF Maurice Harkless, 2017 first-round pick and 2018 first-round pick
Blazers receive: Jimmy Butler
But this trade is unlikely because there are plenty of other teams who have more enticing assets to trade for Butler. Plus, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey values building the team through the draft.
Realistically, the Blazers may look at doing lower profile trades. A few players that come to mind are Atlanta Hawks SF Thabo Sefolosha, he is an aging veteran but a gritty defensive specialist that can hit the occasional three. He would bring instant upgrade to the Blazers wing defense and defense as a whole.
Sefolosha could probably be had for very cheap and would probably not cost the team any of their high valued young players.
Another deal the Blazers could look to do is trade for another wing defender like Tony Allen who like Sefolosha an aging veteran but has plenty left in the tank to help a team. But considering the Memphis Grizzlies love having him there it may be a long shot.
In short, with the high powered offense the Blazers possess if they can bring a couple guys in via trade to shore up this porous defense. This team could be dangerous in the second-half of the season.
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