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Portland Trail Blazers: Player Development and Trades

Would Nicolas Batum buy a lottery pick? How might the current Portland Trail Blazers roster develop? Check out the Blazer's Edge Mailbag!

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Today we look at roster development and trade possibilities. Is a bird in the hand really better than two in the bush? If so, what might that bird look like?

Hey Dave,

Rumor has it the King's are looking to unload their #8 pick for a Vet player. Now I would normally be against breaking up our starting 5 would it be possible to send Batum for the #8 straight up. Lets assume Gay is not going to resign with the Kings, they would have the cap space to take on his contract while filling the void of him leaving for a reasonable price. The Blazer would have the opportunity to select a quality player in a very deep draft as well as free up 11.4M in cap space. That is a nice size offer to some of the bigger names in the FA ie Monroe, Deng, Gortat, Ariza, Bradley, Hawes (I understand that some are RFA) or possibly a combination if they can get players not to ask for MAX deals to pursue a championship... The list goes on for players we could make a run at and sure up some weak spots. So my question is do you think that this would be a good deal? An if so, who would you attempt to bring into Portland? An don't forget about the draft selection as well...



We've talked about this in terms of LaMarcus Aldridge and his $16 million salary. The pick would have to be ultra-high (think Cleveland or Milwaukee) but clearing up that much cap space for another player or two plus adding a premium rookie would make this a deal worth thinking about.

Scaling down to a Batum version of the deal lessens the pain for Portland but also cuts into the reward.

Even in a deep draft there's a world of difference between the 8th pick and the top 3. The famed 1984 draft--considered by most the greatest of all time--produced 7 All-Stars. The 1996 draft produced 10 while 2003 gave us 8. If this really is one of the best draft classes in the history of forever, the #8 pick could give the Blazers a chance at a special player. They'd have to be on target, however. By that point their chances would have been cut in half, at least.

Batum's salary will be $11.5 million next year, give or take. That's far more than the $5 million MLE but the two don't stack. Going that far under the cap would eliminate Portland's use of the mid-level and other cap exceptions. The $11.5 million could be spent in any way the Blazers saw fit whereas the exceptions are partitioned into chunks that can't be exceeded. The Blazers would be able to sign a single player in the $6-11 million range. (The exceptions don't allow for this.) But the total cap-space gain would be only $4-5 million. If the Blazers didn't have a revolutionary player targeted in that $6-11 million range--and as we detailed yesterday those are still compromise players in today's NBA--this kind of move might not be worth it to them.

The case for keeping Batum gets stronger when you consider all the way the Blazers rely on him. He's their Swiss Army Knife, a defender, rebounder, three-point shooter, and offensive facilitator who doesn't need to handle the ball every possession in order to contribute. They'd have a hard time replacing all those things with a single player. You also have to factor in the Aldridge timeline when considering any prominent rookie. Unless he's a bona fide, instant star, nobody with an "R" after his name is going to fit LaMarcus' schedule.

For all these reasons, this type of deal might not make as much sense for Batum as it would for Aldridge with a commensurately higher pick and more cap space freed. You can't reject the possibility out of hand but the Blazers would need to have desirable players targeted for the 8th draft pick and those free agent/trade dollars to make it work.

Hi Dave,

We all know that the Blazers need to bring in players to upgrade the bench, but I'm not sure how successful they would be this offseason. So, I'm hoping the current rosters improve their skill set to upgrade from within.

Lilliad has improved with driving to the basket, Batum with rebounding and Matthews with post-ups last season.

Now my question is that are there any particular skill sets that the Blazers currently don't possess (at least not enough of) but you saw a glimpse of from any of the roasters that could help them significantly?
I do think having another player who can drive to the basket besides Lillard adds another dimension to the Blazers offense. Anything particular that you are hoping to see in next season from the current players?


Thomas Robinson gaining confidence, particularly on the offensive end, provides hope. As I was looking over MLE candidates for the Blazers I found at least a couple who might serve, but whom the Blazers would probably pass over because they'd figure Robinson was a younger, less-formed version. If he can control his turnovers and continue to develop his jump shot, he could help this team.

You're right about needing another player who can get his own shot off the dribble. Again the Blazers will hope that Will Barton, C.J. McCollum, or one of the other young wings will fit the bill.

Defense--or at least defensive awareness--needs to improve across the board. Damian Lillard is an obvious culprit/candidate but all of the young guys need schooling in that department.

Meyers Leonard making any strides at all would be welcome news for the team. They need to be able to put him on the floor without collapsing into a fetal position.

This sounds like a great question to throw open to all of you. What developments do you hope for from Portland's current players and which of those  hopes do you deem most (or least) realistic?

Share below and keep those Mailbag questions coming to the address just below!

--Dave / @DaveDeckard