Portland Trail Blazers Roster: Who's Staying, Who's Going

Having wrapped up our player-by-player look at Portland's roster we head into a summer of uncertainty with regards to these players' futures.  Combine another first-round playoff exit, injury issues, contract size issues, players hitting the end of their rookie contracts now and in the near future, speculation about talent and position imbalance, and a completely unknown cap structure in 2011-12 and you have more uncertainty regarding the shape of this roster than we've seen since 2006.  In that environment, in anticipation of the trade and financial talk that will surely follow in the coming months--it's going to be helpful to have a handle on who is staying and who might go before the Blazers suit up again. 

Click through for a look at Portland's players, their contracts, and the likelihood that they'll be moved in the near future.

LaMarcus Aldridge:  BYC $11.2 million now, $12.4 million to $15.8 million over the following four years

Between his production, the fact that he's the only truly viable big man on the roster, and his ascent as the team's #1 option Aldridge isn't going anywhere this summer.  It'd take a huge name, probably a big, to pry him loose and those won't be offered.  Chances of being moved:  All but nil.

Nicolas Batum:  $1.2 million now, $2.2 million next year, $3.2 million Qualifying Offer the year following

Given the interest he apparently drew last summer and the acquisition of Gerald Wallace, Batum is a likelier candidate for trade now than he ever has been.  A couple of issues remain.  First, losing him would rob the Blazers of any claim to depth...a scant claim to begin with.  Second, he's still a young talent, potentially developing into a key cog if not a star.  Third, his bargain-basement salary would mandate another player being traded alongside him if anyone significant came back in return, thus robbing the Blazers of even more bodies.  Chances of being moved:  Small, but the Blazers will probably be open to the idea, as will other teams.

Marcus Camby:  $11.8 million now, $12.9 million next season

Camby's getting older and not bending games like he used to.  Plus his contract expires next year and would provide hefty ballast to any deal involving younger, cheaper players on Portland's end.  He'd also be able to contribute on a single-year basis if a contender wanted to bolster their front line.  But trading him would also leave Portland's cupboard bare up front.  Greg Oden is still an unknown quantity.  At this point we're not 100% sure he'll be a Blazer, let alone a healthy and productive player.  You might be able to get talent from a Camby deal but you'd be waving the white flag on doing anything serious in the coming year, putting off the Big Push yet another season.  It's far more likely you'd make that move at the trading deadline when you're more sure of what you have and where you're going.  The Blazers are in a bad place with Camby:  not in love with him, can't do without him.  Chances of being moved:  Small now, potentially great later.

Rudy Fernandez:    $1.2 million now, $2.2 million next year, $3.2 million Qualifying Offer the year following

The greatest statement about Rudy's perceived importance to this team is the league-wide opining that the Blazers need more shooters.  Nobody who isn't already in love with him is thinking this marriage will work.  This would be a "greener pastures" move both for Fernandez and the team that acquired him.  It's probably a move that will happen as the Blazers don't have much to lose--shooting guard being fairly crowded at this point--and the other team wouldn't be taking on much salary.  Rudy could also become a throw-in to a larger deal.  Chances of being moved:  Good, perhaps the most likely on the team.

Wesley Matthews:  $5.8 million now, $6.1 million to $7.2 million over the following four years

If you project Matthews as the long-term starting two guard this is a no-brainer.  On that basis he'd be cheap and you keep him.  If you're worried about him being able to fill that spot and somebody fell madly in love with him based on his performance this year--enough in love to give you a guy you knew would be a starter--you could make that deal.  It probably won't happen though.  Still, this is the inverse of the Camby situation:  are in love with him, could do without him if the price was right.  Chances of being moved:  Very small.

Andre Miller:  $7.2 million now, optional $7.8 million next year

If the Blazers had anybody in the point guard hopper Miller would also be a prime candidate for trade.  The receiving team has flexibility with his contract if he's moved before the new season.  Even if they kept him, $8 million isn't out of line for a starting point guard you can trust.  For all the good he's done for the team, he's still not the definitive answer at point.  He's just clearly better than anybody else Portland could get outside of a trade and exponentially better than the guys behind him.  Still the Blazers will be testing the waters for starting point guards and they'll make Miller available if he'll get him a guy they like.  This is another Camby-like situation wherein they're not married to the guy but can't do without him.  Chances of being moved:  Small, but not because the team won't try, rather because the right option probably isn't out there.

Greg Oden:  $6.8 million now...unknown for next year but potential Qualifying Offer of $8.8 million

This is an interesting question.  Interest in Oden and uncertainty regarding injuries and long-term contract status could combine into a lightning-quick deal.  Then again, the receiving team would have those same questions.  But they might be willing to take the risk.  On the other hand it could be an expensive risk.  On the third hand Oden remains one of the few prospects who could elevate the Blazers into true contention if healthy.  The only way they'd make this move is if they didn't want to deal with the headache, but it's a really big headache.  Then again, what will other clubs offer?  Likely not much.  Chances of being moved:  Small.

Brandon Roy:  BYC $13.6 million now, $15.0 to $19.3 million over the next four years

Forget it.  Roy is Base Year Compensation now and has all the desirability of an old boot.  If his contract looks onerous now imagine what it'll look like if a hard cap is instituted.  Nobody sane is going to touch him.  Chances of being moved:  Nil.  An amnesty clause covering salary cap would be the only way out.

Gerald Wallace:  $9.5 million now, $9.5 million next year, $9.5 million player option the year following

As well as Wallace played for the Blazers this is another situation wherein the right move might cause them to bank on Nicolas Batum at small forward and take their chances otherwise.  It would have to be a sweetheart deal, but it could happen.  Finances are to blame as much as anything.  Wallace isn't priced poorly for a full-time starter but again Batum is lurking behind him.  If Wallace plays poorly he might not be worth the $10 million.  But if he plays well he might opt out of the final year at $10 million, driving his price through the roof.  That creates enough gray area to allow the possibility of trading a guy who was just acquired and who played well enough to make him a keeper.  Chances of being moved:  Very small, but there.

Everybody Else on the Roster is movable.  Nobody will draw attention by themselves but if another team asked for Luke Babbitt, Earl Barron, Armon or Chris Johnson, or Patty Mills as part of a deal the Blazers otherwise liked Portland should (and probably would) have no qualms about including them.  Elliot Williams is the wild card, as reports on him have been intermittently good.  But it's unlikely that another team would want a completely injured player anyway. 

 

So...ranking the team from most to least likely to be moved you get (roughly)

  1. Rudy Fernandez
  2. The lowest-tier players if included for salary reasons
  3. The expiring contract veterans Marcus Camby and Andre Miller
  4. A guy both sides could be interested in moving:  Nicolas Batum
  5. Greg Oden
  6. The nice-priced performers:  Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace  (One would assume Coach McMillan would be adamantly against these deals.)
  7. The guy nobody will take:  Brandon Roy.  And the guy the Blazers won't lose: LaMarcus Aldridge

Any given trade is more unlikely than not, but as you can see the Blazers aren't in an ultra-flexible position here.  You don't have to travel far down that list before you reach seriously unlikely possibilities.  Gone are the days when Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster, and Jerryd Bayless made constant trade fodder.  The most likely players Portland has available either won't bring much in return or carry serious consequences if they're moved, all but mandating a narrow window through which incoming players must fit.

In short, no matter what the new CBA brings this may not be a summer for moves.  Barring some radical offers Portland's roster will likely look the same going into 2011-12 as it does now.  The greatest possibilities lie in a Camby or Miller plus a young wing deal but again that would have to bring back a player filling Camby or Miller's position.  Point guards and centers are hard to come by.  Portland will have an easier time selling and stomaching that kind of move around the trading deadline than during the off-season.

Feel free to make your own lists below.  Thanks to Storyteller's Contracts for the numbers.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com) 

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