With the February 23 NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, the likelihood of a move by the Trail Blazers will depend in part on the value of the assets currently at their disposal. Keith Smith of RealGM recently ranked the 10 most tradable and 10 least tradable assets in 2017.
Three of Portland’s players made the list, with Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless appearing on the most tradable list, while Evan Turner found himself in the least tradable category.
Aminu’s remaining two-year, $14.3 million dollar contract came in at No. 10 in the most tradable rankings. Smith had this to say about his value:
Aminu is the Trail Blazers' defensive anchor. Portland has a passable to good defense when he's on the floor. Without him, Portland's defense is amongst the worst in the league. His shooting and scoring numbers are down this year, but he’s battled some injuries and the Blazers have been inconsistent. But he’s a plus rebounder and an improved ball handler and passer. And he can still competently defend wings and switch onto point guards and centers when necessary. Beyond that, his bargain deal is crucial for a franchise that is carrying one of the most expensive rosters in the league.
While Aminu’s services would likely attract several suitors, this description further reinforces the idea that the defensive-oriented swingman holds the most value for the Trail Blazers themselves. With defense and salary both major concerns for Portland, it would be somewhat of a shock to see President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey shop Aminu at the deadline.
Coming in at No. 5 on the list of most tradable assets is Harkless. Smith justifies his placement in the rankings with the following reasons:
Harkless has gone from a salary dump to valuable reserve to starting SF on a playoff team in the span of less than one full year. Harkless signed a four-year that was seen as a potential steal and everything he has done on the court has proven that to be true. Harkless has started every game he’s played in this season and is averaging career bests in every category. Harkless also doesn’t turn 24 until May. His ability to play 2-4 and continued development as a scorer would have teams lining up to trade him if Portland ever put him on the market.
Harkless’ cap-friendly contract and age make him an attractive option for any team looking to add talent to their wing rotation. For those exact reasons, Portland might think twice before parting ways with the former Orlando castoff.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Turner came in at No. 5 on the list of least tradable assets. After pointing out the remaining $53.6 million dollars on Turner’s contract, Smith further explains his spot on the list:
The story goes that Turner got his offer from Portland and brought it back to Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens to see what Boston would do and the Celtics' brass encouraged him to sign the Portland deal right away. Turner is a nice enough player, a solid defender who can play 1-3 and is good when the ball is in his hands. The Celtics let him run their second unit and he had great success. The Blazers already had two ball dominant guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, so Turner is relegated to playing off the ball. As a poor shooter, this puts him in a bad spot. Portland has at times let him run the show, but far too little to justify his monster contract. And, as far as being a trade piece, not many teams are signing up for a player who is best with the combo of a high usage rate while in a bench role.
In Turner’s defense, these rankings did come out before Portland’s recent success with him in the starting lineup. Even in the wake of Friday’s setback against the Mavericks, Turner’s third quarter outburst remains a bright spot. If he continues to shine alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, his name might slide down, or even off, this list.
We have also seen that these rankings are by no means definitive, as the No. 3 least tradable asset, Miles Plumlee, was moved shortly after publication.
Given the salary cap situation that the Blazers are in, it is unclear if Olshey will make a move before the deadline. Regardless of activity, Portland appears to have a few assets that could draw significant interest.