Portland Trail Blazers: Trade Market Buyers or Sellers?

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

The NBA trade season is upon us! Will the Portland Trail Blazers be buyers or sellers in the market?

The NBA trade season is about to hit full swing.  Omer Asik and Pau Gasol rumors are already swirling with more to follow.  To honor the festivities SBNation's NBA sites gather today around a single question: Is your team a buyer or a seller this year?

We're going to ask you to chime in, leaving your comment about Portland's status in the market.  Do you see the Blazers buying or selling?  Who would they be interested in acquiring or trading away?

My thoughts don't stray far from conventional wisdom.  The Blazers don't want to disrupt the chemistry and momentum that have led them to a 21-4 start to the season.  Trading away a member of the starting lineup would imply that "league best" isn't good enough.  Those five guys have sacrificed to build something special and they'll need a chance to show how far they can take it.  Outside of the two obvious stars there's also question of how valuable Portland's players would be in a more conventional environment.  Their value might not be high enough to pull the kind of star player who would make Portland think twice about a trade.

21-4 also puts a new burden of expectation on the team, both internally and externally.  Prior to the season a first-round playoff exit would have been seen as a success.  If this momentum continues, it would now be perceived as a failure.  But the team is vulnerable to injury and may lack bench depth.  On a three-year speculative plan you can live with that.  Hoping for immediate playoff success gives incentive to address those issues now.  Some of Portland's young players have barely touched the court during this miraculous run.  Starting stalwarts would likely welcome a little more help during a marathon season and a possible post-season march.  Several struggling teams will be looking to unload veterans and/or short-term contracts they don't plan to renew.  They could be interested in some of the young, cheap players sitting on the end of Portland's bench.  A deal isn't out of the question.  It might even be the smart move.

Portland's needs are fairly clear.  Joel Freeland has played well in most games, making great strides since last season.  But Freeland starting--playing 35 minutes or more--for a team trying to reach elite status is a stretch.  The Blazers would be better off insuring themselves against Robin Lopez going down to injury or foul trouble in critical situations.  They don't need to find an all-world center but they need another big man.

Some will say that LaMarcus Aldridge could fill in as an emergency center, at least on offense.  But then who fills in for LaMarcus?  If Freeland playing major minutes could induce headaches, depending on Thomas Robinson could bring a full-on heart attack.  If the Blazers can't find a center, a combo power forward-center or even just a veteran power forward could come in handy.

Portland is reasonably well-off at small forward and shooting guard, particularly with C.J. McCollum theoretically coming back (at some point).  You could jury-rig a lineup to cover for Nicolas Batum or Wesley Matthews in the short term.  But Mo Williams as a full-time point guard, even for a couple weeks, might be a gamble.  Earl Watson?  Errr... Though the need pales in comparison to the extra big man, another true point guard wouldn't hurt.  You wouldn't trade away tantalizing young prospects for that guy, but a minor deal or a point guard as a throw in would balance the roster a little more.

So what say you?  Have you got targets?  Wishes?  Or do you go the opposite way and claim the Blazers as sellers while value is high?  Weigh in below and be sure to check out SBNation's other NBA sites throughout the day to see whether they assess their teams as buyers or sellers.  If they have a piece you're interested in, don't be afraid to leave a comment there gauging their interest!

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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