We are rapidly approaching the trade deadline, and for Portland that is a good thing. The Blazers need a rim protector soon if they have any hopes of salvaging this season. Rumors have been thrown out there about Tyson Chandler recently, but that might not be the best plan for long-term flexibility.
While Portland really needs big men, they do not happen to have a lot of assets that they can give up in a blockbuster trade. There have been people saying that if the Blazers want a big then they would need to give up star shooting guard C.J McCollum. I have been in the keep C.J camp, especially after he nearly saved us against Detroit last night, but I also see opposing guards like Reggie Jackson getting to the rim too easily. When it comes down to the head coach having to pull out his best players on key defensive possessions just because they can't stop anybody, you know you have a major problem.
Obviously nobody wants to see Damian go, so it will be C.J who will have to leave "Rip City" if they want a good defensive big man to enter the fold. While there are many defensive big men and assets you could get for a guy like C.J, some of the more realistic ones are Nerlens Noel, Hassan Whiteside, and Brook Lopez.
First up is Sixers disgruntled center Nerlens Noel. There have been articles about the Blazers trying to acquire Nerlens for a while, and with him unhappy in Philadelphia, this could be the most realistic proposition. I think if the Blazers could trade CJ and a second round pick to get Noel, and a first round pick or two they could be set up well for the future. The only "bad" things about doing this deal would be that Noel is injury prone and he is a liability outside of the paint. Nerlens Noel is on an expiring contract and would only cost 5 million dollars to take on for the rest of the season. You would have to sign him to a rather pricey long-term deal in the offseason, but that will be easier to do with CJ's mammoth contract out of the way. Noel has only played ten games so far this season, but in those ten games he has been very efficient. His offensive rating is only 98.6 which doesn't look good compared to Plumlee's 114, but the Blazers would be getting Noel for his defense which is 100.7. Noel would be a great floor runner and screener on offense and can get back to protect the rim on defense. I'll end with Noel by saying that he is a very efficient player (24.4 PER), and by having him in the middle, the Blazers can ice more pick and roles like they did then Robin Lopez was there in 2013. Noel would be a great player to have going into the future.
Another potential option for the Blazers could be Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. Before Miami played in Portland, Hassan Whiteside said that this would have been his second option in free agency. While Whiteside is going to be expensive since he just signed a new deal in Miami, he would be the perfect defensive fit for this Blazer team. Whiteside is responsible for .240 wins per 48 minutes on Miami and that says a lot; it's how they can afford to let Dragic play point guard and not have to worry about defense. While Hassan does not space the floor either, he averages 2.2 blocks a game and contests 11 shots. Just think of a scenario where you can bring Leonard and Plumlee off of the bench for Aminu and Whiteside; there would be many more countless opportunities! Whiteside would be the best big on this list at posting up as only 57.9% of his shots are assisted. Damian Lillard could also benefit from this as Whiteside averages 2.8 screen assists a game. Just imagine the amount of dunks Whiteside could get by slipping screens because the defense has to hedge on Lillard. While Hassan Whiteside is an older and more expensive option, he has proven over the past few years that he is one of the best defensive bigs in the league.
Last, but not least, the Blazers could try trading C.J for Brook Lopez. I know this seems crazy at first, but just hear me out. You would be giving up C.J, Mason, and potentially a draft pick, but Lopez averages as many assists a game as Plumlee, so he wouldn't hinder the playmaking center role of Portlands offense. Unlike Plumlee, Lopez can actually make three pointers (averaging 3 makes per game). Lopez would be an upgrade in the scoring category, and he averages roughly two blocks a game. It turns out that Lopez is the 3rd best player at contesting 3 point shots in the league, which means he won't be a liability guarding a stretch forward like Kevin Love. Lopez would be the best post player and offensive player, but his defense is only a small improvement from which the Blazers have already. Lopez would not be cheap, but he would be a good center to have long term in Portland and give them the luxury to shop players like Meyers or Mason in the future.
The trade deadline is going to be an interesting time, but should be great for Blazer fans. The Blazers need a big and will probably need to sacrifice C.J McCollum. Who do you think we should keep, or would it even be worth it to get rid of C.J? Who knows though, maybe the Blazers can get one of these bigs without getting rid of C.J; only time will tell. For now, we have to watch the Blazers and play couch GM while trusting Neil Olshey to make a good deal.