After years of mediocre point guards and draft busts, the Blazers’ have finally found their franchise leader for the future in Damian Lillard. Lillard led the league in minutes, won the Rookie of the Year award, headed the All-Rookie First Team, yet the team still finished with a paltry 33-49 record. Portland appears to have a busy offseason ahead of them; armed with $11.6 million in spending money and multiple draft picks. Olshey needs to add a starting quality center and depth in every single position, something that usually takes longer than one season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been rumored to be willing to let go of the #1 pick and young power forward Tristan Thompson for Lamarcus Aldridge and our #10 pick. This trade could set the Blazers up for the future and give us more assets. With the #1 pick in the draft, the Blazers would most likely select 19 year-old center Nerlens Noel. Noel is coming off of an ACL tear, but he showed lots of potential in college. Many things could go wrong with this pick, but I believe that Noel would be a great option for Portland. He has a lot of similarities with former #1 pick Anthony Davis-- who many predict to be a future all-star-- and is the best center currently available. If you look at the teams that made the conference finals, they either had the best player in the world or an extremely competent big man. We clearly are not going to compete with the likes of Memphis or San Antonio with a mediocre center. It might be our best option to take a chance on a rim protecting center that has potential despite our infamous past of injury riddled centers.
Tristan Thompson, the other part of the trade, would be a great asset to add to the Blazers non-existent bench. I'm not sure Thompson is the PF of the future, but he is coming off a solid year and is only 24 years-old.
Obviously trading Lamarcus Aldridge-- Portland’s best player-- would set the team back for a few years, but it would not have to. The move would open up some more cap space (about $14 million) to sign free agents with, something the Blazers would not have to use right away. If Portland was feeling aggressive, they could try and sign Josh Smith or Tyreke Evans, two very talented free agents.
This trade would not make Portland an instant playoff team, but it would give the Blazers a great head start to the future and would allow them to make this Lillard’s team. With the current Blazer core, I’m not sure that they are going to be capable of winning a championship. If the trade and the moves following the trade are executed correctly, we could be looking at a future true contender. Of course I would like to see our current roster succeed, but this could be the best way to go. Thoughts?