D.J. Foster of Pro Basketball Talk analyzes the Portland Trail Blazers' position heading into the 2013 trade deadline.
Off-Limits: Damian Lillard
Portland GM Neil Olshey will never shy away from a blockbuster, but Lillard might be on the best contract in all of basketball right now. He's going nowhere.
Most likely to be dealt: PF J.J. Hickson ($4 million/1 year)
It's always a good idea to sell high. Hickson doesn't help you at all defensively, but his work on the offensive glass, gaudy PER of 20, and cheap expiring deal could make him good bait for Portland to bring in a piece for the future. Here's the problem though - Hickson has to approve of the trade because he's on tap for bird rights next year. Basically, he would need to go to a contending team (likely) where he'd still get the chance to get monster minutes and stats (unlikely).
Potential Trade Partners:
Because Hickson holds the keys, he's unlikely to get dealt. With Portland unexpectedly chasing a playoff spot, they could stand to upgrade their bench but it's highly unlikely Olshey does that at the cost of future assets. If they were worse off in the standings, selling LaMarcus Aldridge or Wes Matthews might make sense, but that's very hard to justify with where Portland sits now.
Teams have reportedly contacted Hickson's agent to gauge his interest in trades. The Blazers are reportedly "open" to trades. Hickson has been named as a possible Most Improved Player candidate this week and also a few weeks ago. He was dubbed one of the "most overrated" rebounders here. A recent discussion of his trade value was raised here
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