101 Off-Season Moves for the Portland Trail Blazers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Blazer's Edge Readers have been submitting off-season ideas like crazy. Today we cover as many as we can get to!

In today's Mailbag, 101 Proposals for off-season pick-ups and moves!

Hi Dave,

What are the chances of the Blazers nabbing one of this off-season's biggest stars, Lance Stephenson, via a sign-and-trade with Indiana? The deal could be worked out in different ways, but it would involve us pricing Stephenson out of the Pacers' budget (say, 4 years and $48 million with $10 million in the first year) and trading away roughly $8 million worth of contracts. We could offer Wright, Freeland, either McCollum, Leonard or Robinson, and our 2016 first round draft pick.

Would such a deal interest either Indiana or Portland's front office? If the Pacers were wary of taking on so much salary, would it be feasible to work in a third team? Said third party would take on, say, Freeland and another rookie's contracts, leaving the Pacers with Wright and our first rounder.

Austin

Almost nil, I'd say. Most gambits for Stephenson suffer from fatal flaws, this one included. It's better than "sign him for the MLE" but Indiana doesn't get much benefit from that package. They've got (from their perspective) a retread in Wright, a couple unproven players in McCollum and Leonard/Robinson, and a non-factor in Freeland. None of those pencil in as starters, which is just what the Pacers would be losing. They don't save any salary. They don't gain anybody who can help them finish the climb to the conference crown. They don't even get that much promise if they're looking to blow it up and start over again. The 2016 pick forecasts to be low unless something awful happens in Portland. In that event it'd surely be protected anyway, so there's not much juice there.

The Blazers can trade their 2015 pick this summer, by the way. (I'm assuming you specified 2016 because of the Stepien Rule prohibiting teams from leaving themselves without first-rounders in consecutive drafts.) The Blazers don't have a 2014 pick but the rule only looks forward, not backwards. It doesn't care what happened in 2014 once that draft is past. Portland can't trade their 2015 selection before the draft (the forward-looking Rule would view them as being without in 2014 and 2015) but once the draft has gone by, the restriction goes too. The Rule doesn't see 2014 anymore. The 2015 pick will be available for trade. The Rule wouldn't come into play unless Portland also tried to leave themselves without a pick in 2016, creating the consecutive-year violation in 2015 and 2016.

Hey Dave, is it at all possible to land either Omir from the rockets or Taj Gibson from the bulls with expiring contracts and or young talent and Draft picks. Seems like both teams are trying to clear cap space to land Carmelo Anthony. I think Taj would be a great pickup since he plays both sides of the court.

Thanks
Phil in Wisconsin

Houston may be looking to dump salary to take a run at a third star. Omer Asik and his big, fat $8 million salary have a bullseye on their back. Dumping him would go a long way towards clearing up cap room. That may bring their reportedly-high asking price down.

Here's the riddle for Portland: how do you help a team clear cap space by absorbing salary when you have no cap space? Much was made of Neil Olshey picking up players for second-round picks last summer, and rightfully so. But the grease that made those wheels turn wasn't the picks, but Portland's ability to take on contracts. The Blazers can't do that this summer. They'd have to find willing parties to take on their own contracts before they could absorb Asik. Nor do the Blazers have comparably-structured salaries outside of the starting lineup. They'd need to dump 3 bench players to take on Asik. Even if they were willing, finding another team to shift 3 players to would be a far harder challenge than the Rockets just shipping Asik to that team themselves.

The Bulls might actually be willing to take on players in exchange for Gibson, so he's the easier of the two to envision in a Portland uniform. Chicago has roster space for multiple players. If they were tired of Taj and wanted a semi-young trio in return for him, the Blazers might be able to oblige. Gibson is a power forward, though. He'd not find many minutes behind LaMarcus Aldridge. He doesn't play Aldridge's style of offense either, meaning the Blazers would need to shift their scheme for him or play him at center. A Gibson-Meyers Leonard duo could work but Gibson and Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, or Joel Freeland might clash. He'd be a defensive upgrade over Portland's other backup forwards, so there's that. But at $8 million and the cost of three players, you might want a better fit.

Dear Dave,

What are your thoughts for a return of Patty Mills to the Trailblazers to back up Damian Lillard as opposed to Mo Williams? I loved his game when in Portland, however: being an Aussie my views are pretty bias there... also, i would like to know your thoughts of a possibility of committing to Joel Freeland as a primary backup big man... I really liked the way he played before his injury, and i see him as an exciting prospect for Portland.

Cheers,

Russell from Melbourne Australia.

Shout out to our Australian readers! I've not been to your country but from what I can tell from televised sporting events and such, you guys boast more hotness per capita than any nation in the universe. Is there some kind of law that everybody in Australia has to look good or they ship you off to New Zealand or something?

I am so, SO happy for Patty and his progress this year. He's been good for the Spurs and the Spurs have been good for him. He'll be due a raise this year and he'll have earned it.

There's no doubt he'd be good for the Blazers. They're used to scoring guards in the point position. Patty has those inclinations and he's an excellent three-point shooter. He provides the kind of spark Portland's bench is low on. It's easy to imagine Patty and Will Barton or C.J. McCollum coming off the pines and saying, "Awwww yeah, hang on!"

The issue for the Blazers and Patty will be less cost than opportunity cost. How much money would it take to pry him away from the Spurs, his current success, and a World Championship? The Blazers couldn't offer him a more prominent role, as Lillard equates to Parker as the starting point guard and Damian will probably eat more minutes than Tony. The Blazers can't offer him better chemistry or a happier home because, well...Spurs. It's all about the contract.

If Mills goes above the bi-annual exception level, the Blazers could afford that. But at what cost? Any offer they tender to Patty with the MLE--even if it's only a partial-MLE--is an offer they're not tendering to someone else. Mills is a great fit, but reserve point guard might not be Portland's greatest need, especially if they keep Mo Williams around. If they need $5 million to secure a quality reserve big man, they probably can't afford to offer Patty more than their second exception. If that isn't enough to get him to switch addresses (and it probably won't be) the Blazers are out of luck.

I suppose Portland might try to entice the Spurs with another young talent in trade but Patty is only 25 himself. If San Antonio accepted that deal I'd immediately start thinking, "Wait a minute, what do they know about my young guy and Mills that I don't?"

To whom it may concern,

I want Shaun Livingston to play for the Trail Blazers next season. Are there reasons he might leave Brooklyn to come to Portland? What are the reasons he would stay? I read an article (Bleacher Report) that said he and Jason Kidd have a good relationship and he would probably start in Brooklyn. Do you know if N.O. or Coach Stotts have any kind of relationship with Livingston? Do you think he would be happy to come to Portland and play behind Damian Lillard? I think he would be good defensively for the Blazers. Thank you for your time!

Marie

Yup. This train is gaining momentum. The Blazers can offer a little over $5 million with their MLE and hope. Livingston is nowhere near the three-point shooter than Mills is and wouldn't be the same offensive fit but he'd be a nice combo guard and could use that long, lanky frame on the defensive end. Even though Mills would mesh better immediately, the Blazers might get more long-term utility out of Livingston. The main drawback (besides the lack of distance shooting) is that he's 6'7", not 7'0". Using that MLE on any guard means less help for the frontcourt. But hey, if good frontcourt help isn't available at that price anyway, the Blazers could do far worse than Livingston.

Dave,

I don't think Matthews fits this team. I think a trade involving Matthews and a young big could bring Portland a 1st rounder around #10. Then sign Ariza? The length and defense on the perimeter with he and Batum would be awesome. Anyway this could be pulled off?

MBJ

I think you'd have to set your sights lower on the draft pick, maybe mid-round to the right team. The possibility of moving salary and getting a pick in return is solid, though. We'll explore that more over the next few days.

As for Ariza, if the Wizards believe in Otto Porter at all, you could see them letting Ariza walk even though he had a great season for them. Martell Webster could hold down the fort while Porter learns the ropes. But they'd likely let Ariza go because he wanted a raise. The deal you mention wouldn't allow the Blazers to give him much of one after you factor in the salary of the incoming draftee.

Assuming he'd sign here, though, netting Ariza wouldn't be a bad move. You'd swing Batum to shooting guard but still stick him on whatever nasty wing scorer the opponent offered. He and Ariza would provide the same kind of dual three-point threats that Matthews and Batum do. There's no real downside to this deal. One wonders if there's enough upside, though.

Dave,

Could the knicks ever trade 4 Damian lillard?
And how?

Yudi

HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHAHA! I know you guys got Phil Jackson and all, but...wait. HO HO HO HO HO! WHEE! Oh man, thanks. I needed that. I mean, the day is going all seriously and I'm intent on my work and then...HAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! My side hurts so bad now!

I don't want to make it seem like I'm making fun of a Knicks fan. We welcome all types here. We just talked with a guy from Australia, a lady named Marie, and someone who thinks Lance Stephenson would be a good idea. It takes all kinds, right? But...but...WHAAAA HA HA HA HOOO HA HA HEEEEEE!!! Oh God, I think I just peed my pants a little.

Here's the deal. Outside of MAYBE Tyson Chandler the Knicks don't have a single player the Blazers would touch with a 50-foot pole. And Chandler makes $15 million, which would mandate a trade of Lillard plus Nicolas Batum or Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez or approximately 19 Portland bench players. That would never, ever, ever happen.

If I wrote the IRS a letter that said, "Could I get out of paying my taxes 4ever? And how?" and they replied that I could, I would still be less surprised than if Damian Lillard ended up in New York next year. I can't think of a single plausible scenario--straight-up, three-way, four-way, or 30-way--that would make it work.

I do, however, have a slightly-used, low-mileage Meyers Leonard to offer you. He was only driven on Sundays by an old lady. Wait...he was only driven on on Sundays by an old lady. She scored every time, but he's working hard and getting better and I'm sure next season will be different. Let me know if you're interested.

Man, we've topped 2000 words and didn't even get to a quarter of those 101 proposals you guys have sent in. Thanks for all the questions! You can continue tossing out ideas to the e-mail address just below and we'll get to them at some point. Put "Mailbag" in the subject line if you want them to be noticed quicker!

--Dave blazersub@gmail.com / @DaveDeckard

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