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Your Guide To The Portland Trail Blazers’ Options In NBA Trade Season

Curious about what might happen to Moe Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Festus Ezeli, and CJ McCollum? Here’s your primer for NBA Trade Season.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Miami Heat Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors and speculation are swirling around Maurice Harkless and Festus Ezeli after last night’s unusual happenings in the Portland Trail Blazers’ locker room.

To summarize, Ezeli was seen saying goodbye to teammates after the team’s loss to the Orlando Magic, and Harkless was scratched 45 minutes before tipoff with no prior warning given to Head Coach Terry Stotts. Throw-in a Jan. 15 expiration of trade restrictions on Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Allen Crabbe and the Blazermaniacs are on high alert.

With that in mind, Blazer’s Edge has compiled the following list of reference articles that may come in handy as we all ponder and pontificate on the various rumors, spurious or otherwise, that are flying around.

Portland Trail Blazers Consolidation Trade FAQ

This one covers the nuts and bolts of the Blazers making a trade, including Allen Crabbe’s trade kicker and CJ McCollum’s Poison Pill contract.

Do the Portland Trail Blazers Have the Assets to Acquire an All-Star?

The bottom line is that the Blazers aren’t the first team with multiple picks in the 20-30 range and a plethora of tradeable role players. But that type of package has not been enough to snag an all-star in recent history. It's going to take a major paradigm shift in how trades are negotiated for the Blazers to get another all-star in trade. Thus, if the Blazers can pull off a consolidation trade it’s likely going to be for a sub-all star caliber starter

Festus Ezeli's Contract Forecasts His Future

Ezeli's contract is designed to avoid catastrophic failure more than it's designed to take advantage of possible unbridled least from Portland's point of view. (Ezeli would be just fine with unbridled success because another team would pay him.) That in itself should put in perspective the odds of Festus becoming the next monster center for the Blazers. Looking at his compensation package, they're more or less betting that won't happen.

Five Things You Should Know About The New CJ McCollum Deal

McCollum's extension turns his contract into a "poison pill" for the next season, making him nearly untradeable. Details here. If the Blazers did wish to trade him, they would only be allowed to take on $3.2 million in salary (McCollum's contract next season), but their trade partner would need to have in excess of $21 million in cap space (McCollum's average salary over the next five seasons). That trade would be impossible for a team at or near the salary cap line - only teams with significant cap space AND a marquee player on a rookie contract would be feasible trade partners.

Salary Cap Implications of Allen Crabbe's Contract for the Blazers

Olshey decided the value he could get for Crabbe immediately outweighed having an undetermined amount of cap flexibility next summer. Given the Blazers' free agent history, Turner notwithstanding, and the uncertainty involved in waiting for more cap space, that decision is defensible.

More concerning is the Blazers' luxury tax future. Assuming the league's $102 million cap estimate for next summer is accurate, the luxury tax will be set at about $122 million. The Blazers already have about $89 million in guaranteed contracts next summer. Throw in McCollum's presumable $25 million extension and that figure rises to $114 million, BEFORE accounting for Ezeli's non-guaranteed salary, Vonleh's team option, Plumlee's qualifying offer, or any money owed to a first round draft pick.

Could the Portland Trail Blazers Buy Low on Nerlens Noel?

But if February rolls around and Noel’s reputation and pending restricted free agency have scared off all suitors, the Sixers may become desperate as they face the reality of locking up big money on a player who wants no part of their franchise, or letting him walk for nothing. At that point the Blazers may have an outside shot at using Crabbe, draft picks, and a couple other players (Vonleh?) to acquire Noel for 75 cents on the dollar.

DeMarcus Cousins is off the market

If the reports of an extension are true then Cousins, a subject of constant trade rumors, appears to be off the market. Although, the deal cannot be officially signed until July 1 so the Kings could still technically trade him before the league’s March 1 trade deadline. Cousins’ hypothetical new team, however, would not be able to offer him a DPE, capping any extension at 4-years and roughly $155 million.

Dave Deckard ranks centers connected to the Blazers “without regard to likelihood of acquiring them or cost.”

1. DeMarcus Cousins

2. Hassan Whiteside

3. Nerlens Noel

4. Derrick Favors (I know, power forward, but still...)

5. Greg Monroe

6. Paul Millsap (Also power forward...)

7. Brook Lopez

8. Nikola Vucevic

9. Nikola Mirotic (Also power forward...)

10. Tyson Chandler

11. Andrew Bogut

12. Roy Hibbert

Blazer’s Edge Night 2017

Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!