Early Wednesday morning Zach Lowe of ESPN released a piece covering 30 crazy predictions for the 2016-17 NBA season. Some are mildly crazy, like wearing a very nice t-shirt instead of a polo on casual Friday and the other end of the crazier prognostications hovers around a second margarita at happy hour. However, they are outside the normal talking points and they serve as a great jumping off point for the season. As always, Lowe lays it out in a way that only he can. It’s actually not hard to see these 30 predictions turn into an NBA bingo of sorts by early spring of 2017.
Without further ado, the Trail Blazers relevant predictions!
1. No lockout, baby! I've been living on Lockout Optimist Island for years, but even I've been surprised by the giddy hope burbling from stakeholders on all sides over the past six-plus weeks. Almost no one has the stomach for a work stoppage. There is too much money on the line, and too obvious an opportunity to seize more of the sports fan pie.
Obviously this one is kind of a big deal. As far as table setters go, Lowe pretty much got out the Thanksgiving cornucopia right off the bat. From there, nothing really jumps off the page as all that insane of an idea. The Houston Rockets will score a bunch of points, the Utah Jazz will win some games, the San Antonio Spurs will trade LaMarcus Aldrid- what?
9. LaMarcus Aldridge's name will surface in trade talks. The Spurs are self-aware. I have a hunch they know this is something of a placeholder season, and that without some injury luck swinging their way at the right time, they are a tier below Golden State. Aldridge is 31, six years older than Kawhi Leonard, and his trade value will never be higher; he can opt out of his contract after the 2017-18 season.
For obvious reasons, this one jumped off the page just a tad. The NBA landscape is rapidly changing and as always the Spurs are trying to keep one step ahead. Chances of this happening are probably around 10 percent, but the fact that it’s being batted around before the season even starts? Interesting.
As for more Trail Blazers centric goodness, Lowe delivers as always. He’s the pied-piper of Blazers fans, whispering sweet nothings of trade deals to lead us where he wishes, and the name is a familiar one.
18. Orlando trades Nikola Vucevic. It's hard to find teams willing to give up anything of value for a center who can't protect the rim; ask the Bucks. Hell, it's hard to find any team who needs another center in a league trending smaller. The Blazers have a ton of center types, but it's unclear if any of them -- including Mason Plumlee, up for what could be a pricey extension -- represent the long-term answer at the position. Portland general manager Neil Olshey has chased back-to-the-basket types before. Speaking of which ...
And the piper continues to play...
19. Portland trades a salary for ... ? The Blazers are not going to vault $20 million or $30 million over the tax next season. They will trade one of their high-priced guys -- or an impending free agent due for a raise. They don't need to trade a wing for a big man -- not with Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, Festus Ezeli and Ed Davis scrapping for minutes -- but they are one of the few teams that could make that sort of swap if they find the right one. Portland knows the league is poor on wings, and the Blazers bet massively on their guys having trade value -- especially when rivals strike out in free agency.
Standard ops with a Lowe piece is to read it from beginning to end and back again, and there’s nothing different this time. Take this one in and then ask yourself what would be some of the crazier (but believable) story lines for the Trail Blazers this season?