As the trade deadline nears should the Portland Trail Blazers be buyers, sellers, or stay? They are currently (27-27) at the NBA All-Star break and hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Some sports analysts say that the Blazers should take a swing and go after someone, as they are $14 million under the league minimum and about $20 million under the team salary cap.
By NBA league rules every franchise must spend 90% of their salary cap or give it to the players on the team.
So, in those regards yes the Blazers should be aggressive and make a splash but I’m going to play devils advocate and say why they should stay put at the deadline.
Whose worth trading for?
If you look carefully at the teams willing to trade away players the crop is really thin on players that would make a difference for the Blazers. The four players that I found that may be able to help either offensively or defensively still aren’t worth swinging a trade for.
First name on the list is Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans. He would give the Blazers another solid spot up shooter and a bonafide stretch-four that is highly desired. Anderson averages 16.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, but he is not a very good defender and has been extremely inconsistent this year. Having said that, there will still be a lot of suitors for Anderson but as a reserve guy instead of a starter.
Next name on the list is Rudy Gay of the Sacramento Kings. He is a very gifted offensive playmaker and no question a valuable member of the Kings but like Anderson he is very inept or lacks effort on the defensive end. As good as Gay has been, if you look closely at the games he has played it seems like sometimes he messes up the rhythm of the offense, which would be detrimental to the Blazers. Having said that, Gay is still averaging 17.9 points and 6.7 rebounds a game.
Third on the list is Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets. On the surface he may seem like a great option for the Blazers and his stat is at top of the position. Howard is averaging 14.6 points and 12 rebounds a game and would be huge upgrade offensively and defensively from any front court player the Blazers currently possess. However, his stats are over inflated and doesn’t equate to many wins. Also, he is toxic to team chemistry and would probably do more harm than good.
Lastly, Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets makes his way on the list. He is arguably the most complete player, he is a solid offensive scorer and plays pretty good defense. His 12.3 points and 4.6 rebounds a game don’t turn many heads, but he would serve as a better option than Al-Farouq Aminu. Plus, Ariza has experience in the playoffs, winning a championship with the LA Lakers in 2009. But in my opinion he doesn’t have the “it” factor that will make game-changing plays consistently.
Why not just keep the team the way it is
So the other sports analyst argue that they should spend money and be aggressive but what if the player that the Blazers trade for affect team chemistry? They’ve done this well without making any major moves wouldn’t it be better to see how far this group can go? The Blazers have consistently gotten better month to month and they are currently 5-1 in February, which is the best record they’ve had all season.
So having said that, if the Blazers can make the playoffs and win a few games I think that would boost their confidence than the brass adding a temporary player that could possibly, one disrupt the teams chemistry or two, mess up the confidence of a player that may be lose playing time.
It would be more worth while to see the potential of the existing team then trying to win now.
The reality is this team is just not good enough and don’t have enough talent right now, to compete. If the Blazers don’t add a super star it will be nearly impossible to make it deep into the playoffs.
To paint a picture of what it would look like. If the playoffs started today, the Blazers would play the LA Clippers in the first round, which in itself is a hard task with the weapons they have. But even if they manage to get past the Clippers, assuming the Oklahoma City Thunder win. The Blazers would have them in the next round. Yeah, they have beaten them once but in a seven-game series, eight out of ten times OKC will most likely win.
The Blazers are a young team with loads of potential and you have to commend the coaching staff for the players developing this fast. Owner Paul Allen is known to be an aggressive spender but he should probably sit this one out and wait to compete next year.
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