The reaction of the trade for Raymond Felton has been full of negativity. Things like "could of got him for less" and "what were they thinking" seem to generalize what many fans as well as the majority of writers are saying. My grandma always says that "if you don't have something good to say, then don't say anything at all." I think many are not used to a normal trade because of the past few years drafts and fantasies of Chris Paul have corrupted peoples minds into thinking that the only PG that we can get next must be a perennial All-Star. For the price and conditions; this trade to me was a solid step forward toward title contention. Below I'll outline the reasons that I think that this trade was a success.
#1. Andre Miller was not going to be around for more than this next season. The management has said for some time that they were looking for a replacement and with Miller turning 36 before his contract expires no matter what the production dropoff would look like he would not be coming back. The trade value of Raymond Felton both now and for the next couple years will be far more than Andre Millers.
#2. Rudy Fernandez has been sitting on the trade block for almost 2 years. While he had improved his defense, he is an offensive player whose offensive game is broke. With no large statistical improvements since his rookie year, the Blazers traded their third string SG with the least amount of potential while taking away minutes that could help develop the two other players that look for now to be here long term. Most have been willing to trade him for a bag of chips but when we get a late first round pick for him people are complaining. They traded a third string SG that seems like a better fit in a weekday soap opera than on the basketball court for a first round pick and second round pick, that's a decent deal.
#3. Brandon Roy will emerge as one of the bigger winners of this trade. With Andre gone, Roy will get a new point guard that seems like a better fit. With Rudy traded, the Blazers have maybe shown that they believe Roy can be a solid backup SG. With one less SG battling for minutes, Roy will get the second shot that not only sorely needs but deserves from this franchise.
#4. Gerald Wallace will have his PG companion that he played with for 5 years coming in and knowing what shots Gerald likes and what is best for him. I believe that this could really help Gerald Wallaces offensive game and make him feel more comfortable in Portland.
#5. Bernie Bickerstaff just acquired another player that he loved to coach. With Bernie's experience on the sideline on what to do with Felton, he could come in and immediately have a coach to cummunicate and help relay to Coach McMillan what Felton is best at and what little tweaks to plays need to be done to get the most out of him. I think that this could help make this match a great fit and I'm sure that Bernie's voice was present in these trade talks.
#6. The Trailblazers are 1 move away from becoming THE young Western Conference powerhouse. With Marcus Camby(37) being 9 years older than the next oldest player(Gerald Wallace at 28) and having an expiring contract while approaching retirement I fully expect him to be traded between now and a theoretical trade deadline for a young player(they're probably waiting to see how Greg does). The core of this team is with one more piece is arguably stronger when healthy than any in the NBA. Is there any question that a healthy core of Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton, and Gerald Wallace with the possible additions of promising Europeans Victor Claver and Joel Freeland and whatever Marcus draws in a trade are better than any other core? LeBron, Wade, Bosh?-No way. Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Harden?-nope. Rose, Deng, Boozer, Noah?-close, but no cigar. With the addition of an MLE player and whatever Marcus draws through trade, this team can(important word) become a 5-10 year dynasty.
#7. The age change is bigger than I think most realize. They dealed a backup 26 year old(Rudy) and a 35 year old(Andre) with one of the most miles in the NBA on him for a veteran 26 year old(Raymond) who is in his prime and drafted a 22 year old PG(Smith) in the first round, that helped lead his team to a national championship last year and lead his team when Kyrie Irving went down this year, and drafted a 23 year old(Diebler) in the second round that started on one of the top college teams and who holds the Ohio High School record for scoring(40.8ppg-yes better than LeBron) and shot 50% from 3pt range in college. The starting point guard position is now 8 and 1/2 years younger. With everyone under 30 except Camby this team is closing in on it's prime and is ready to fight for a title.
#8. The Blazers brought in two proven winners. Raymond Felton won a national Championship leading North Carolina and Nolan Smith won one last year with Duke. While Felton hasn't won a playoff series, he has only played in two(in a row) and hasn't played on a team with a strong supporting cast like he will now but Andre Miller is 35 and has played in 7 playoff series with better teams than Felton and despite playing pretty well in the games he has come away without a series win or a seventh game.
#9. The defense of this team will be phenomenal. Felton, Matthews, Batum, Wallace, Aldridge, Oden, and Camby is sure to terrify opposing offensive players as the Blazers now have on ball defenders, perimeter defenders, and post defenders. A full year of this will be very exciting to watch.
#10. Raymond Felton has become the PG of the future. Sure he's not an All-Star but he's close and young and most importantly will allow the Trailblazers to focus on other needs. He's a rugged player like Andre Miller and brings an outside shot(great while shortly at Denver) to space the floor and make the defense respect him, strength as well as the speed to guard other great PG's, and a pick and roll game as well as BBIQ that could help get Greg and LMA easy baskets like he did with Amare. Coaches love him and he's a good teammate. He almost came to Portland last year but because he could start with New York and his starter status with Portland would be up in the air the Trailblazers hecame his second option. It seems extremely likely that he will opt to resign and be with this team for the long run and help anchor yearly playoff pushes.
#11. Coach Nate McMillan has asked for the last couple years(especially recently) for the Trailblazers management to acquire players in their prime-not rookies or aging veterans. I would bet that McMillan had a lot of influence in these last couple of trades. I'm sure that he was thrilled when they got Marcus Camby and dissapointed when they drafted Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson. The last two trades though I'm sure that he did his research on and with the guidance of the best college coach on the Earth and his trusted assistant coach he supported the trade for veterans Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton and proceeded to draft college stud Nolan Smith. Nate has finally been getting the type of players he wants and I think this might actually be the year that Nate trusts them to run more. A lineup of Felton-Matthews-Wallace-Aldridge-Oden could be either a great fast break team or an excellent slown down set offense.
#12. How many of the deals in the past 5 years that have been a success have been thought of at the time as a success? In 2006-They traded at #4 Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa for LaMarcus Aldridge and immediately everyone starting saying he was drafted to high, Thomas was better, and Portland would regret it. They also traded at #7 Randy Foye and cash for #6 Brandon Roy and immediately people were questioning that trade and saying that Foye was better. 2008-They brought over Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum that together only cost them Darrell Arthur, Joey Dorsey, and cash and immediately people were on the hype train for Rudy Fernandez while during summer league everyone questioned whether it was worth Darrell Arthur to get the young Nicolas Batum. They also let Raef Lafrentz contract expire and everyone was immediately on their back for not getting a deal done. 2009- With the cap space from Raef Lafrentz expiring and with other options not available they signed Andre Miller and people said Steve Blake was better. In the draft they drafted Victor Claver and people said it was a wasted pick and that they should of brought over a player that could help now. 2010-They traded Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw for Marcus Camby and people said that it was too much and that we were renting him for a year. They also apparently waaay overpaid for a backup SG in Wesley Matthews. 2011- They traded backups Sean marks, Dante Cunningham, Joel Pryzbilla, and a couple picks for former All-Star Gerald Wallace and people complained that we shouldn't of traded Cunningham and that we already had Nicolas Batum at SF. They also have now traded aging veteran Andre Miller and 3rd string SG Rudy fernandez for a top 10 PG and people are saying it's a rental and not worth it. 2006-2011: All these crappy trades or signings make up a contender.
I support this trade and I am excited for next years lineup and with the addition of an MLE player I'm sure that we'll make it through a few rounds:
Raymond Felton/ Nolan Smith/ Elliot Williams
Wesley Matthews/ Brandon Roy
Gerald Wallace/ Nicolas Batum
LaMarcus Aldridge/ MLE/ Chris Johnson
Greg Oden/ Marcus Camby