The Portland Trail Blazers have been involved in numerous trade rumors as the NBA Trade Deadline, 2018, approaches. The Blazers need to improve, should be willing to part with players, and may be involved in the hunt for salary cap savings as well. Those factors make them likely participants in the trade market.
Today Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN released a podcast talking about the NBA Trade season in general, several minutes of which featured the Trail Blazers prominently. Historically, Wojnarowski has been well-connected with Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, so the podcast represents as close of a look into the designs of Portland’s front office as Trail Blazers fans are likely to get.
You can stream the podcast here. Blazers talk begins around the 17:00 mark. Below is a transcript of key excerpts regarding Portland, edited for brevity.
Woj: I have no reason to believe Portland has any interest in trading CJ McCollum.
Lowe: I’ve heard that any calls to break up the Lillard-McCollum backcourt have been summarily rejected by the Blazers.
On making moves that would take the Blazers under the luxury tax threshold:
Woj: Harkless...has been discussed in some different places. That’s certainly a position they’ve wanted to get better at and upgrade, but it’s tough. There’s such a premium on wings. Harkless had his best season a couple years ago before they did the four-year deal and hasn’t played as well since... Sacramento in the past has had some interest in him.
On trading for DeAndre Jordan:
Woj: Portland checked in with the Clippers about DeAndre Jordan. Neil Olshey drafted him... I’m told Portland has backed away a little bit from that... If you’re Portland and you do DeAndre Jordan hypothetically, you’re locked in financially... You’re giving DeAndre Jordan an extension at 30 years old... Is that team good enough? That doesn’t seem to be a road they’re going to go down.
On Jusuf Nurkic:
Woj: What’s Nurkic going to be for them? He played so well immediately after the trade last year before the injury... It’s probably not a coincidence he didn’t get the extension this summer... His career has been earmarked by ups and downs. He’s obviously very talented. You want to see some consistency in a lot of ways with him. I think they’ll keep looking...to see what the right number is for him this summer to do a deal.
More on Lillard and McCollum:
Woj: If you’re going to move one of those guys, you’ve got to feel like you’re going to make the team better... They’ve won a lot... They’ve been to the playoffs in the West four straight years. Not everybody in the West can say that. The group has had success. I think they want to keep building off of those two and find a third guy using picks and whatever other players they have.
On Zach Collins:
Woj: The guy that they’re excited about, in the training camp when I went out to Portland, Zach Collins, who wasn’t quite ready to play early, reminds me a little bit of McCollum’s rookie year...they think Collins is going to be really, really good... It wasn’t just the front office who drafted him, you would talk to players...head coaches, assistants... He’s a building block and he’s not a player they’re going to put in any deal.
Back to trading for Jordan:
Lowe: Just building a deal, a Portland-Clippers deal for DJ, unless the Clippers just love [Noah] Vonleh or Nurkic—Vonleh doesn’t play anymore—I just don’t know. Like Evan Turner plus Nurk plus a Blazers pick is not lighting my world on fire. I just don’t know what the deal is the Clippers are taking from Portland.
The podcast contains more about the Blazers and much more about the state of the NBA as Thursday’s trade deadline nears.