Since bowing out of the playoffs in an embarrassing first round sweep, NBA pundits have suggested the Portland Trail Blazers shake up their team this offseason.
So far, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has let Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier and most likely Pat Connaughton walk, instead choosing to bring in shooters Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas.
Restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic is still, by many, expected to return for either his one-year $4.75 million qualifying offer or a slightly larger multi-year deal.
Assuming Nurkic is back, the team will include guards Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Curry, Wade Baldwin (non-guaranteed), Anfernee Simons, Stauskas, Gary Trent Jr.
Forwards include Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, Jake Layman, Caleb Swanigan and centers will be Nurkic, Zach Collins, Meyers Leonard and Georgios Papagiannis (non-guaranteed).
The team’s salary will likely be sitting just over the luxury tax line, severely restricting any further moves the Blazers might have in mind.
Kevin Love As a Veteran Presence?
During an interview at May’s Draft Combine in Chicago, Olshey stated he would use this offseason to bring in veteran “playoff-caliber guys” in order to help the team take the next step.
With LeBron James choosing to take his talents to Staples Center, Oregon native Kevin Love has been left on a Cavaliers team destined to start over, with no need for aging and expensive basketballers.
Earlier this week, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic suggested the Cavaliers would be open to moving the 29-year-old, who still has two years left on his contract at roughly $24 million a year.
If this is true, Cleveland GM Koby Altman will no doubt be looking for young prospects and picks and if Olshey is seeking playoff caliber prospects, Kevin Love fits the bill. He also fits a position of need, with both of the Blazer’s starting forward positions up for grabs — despite Aminu’s strong performance in the New Orleans series.
What Would A Love Trade Look Like?
So, what would the Blazers need to give up? Could they still maintain their core of Lillard, McCollum ,and Nurkic and still acquire Love? Possibly.
Cleveland would need next year’s first-round pick (as close to unprotected as possible) — this is a no-brainer. With continued uncertainty about the future of the Blazers’ roster, Altman should be enticed by an asset like this.
I’m proposing five players to go with the pick: small forward starter Harkless (25) and sophomore big man Swanigan (21), who dominated for Cleveland’s G-League affiliate Canton Charge last season. The deal would also include Portland’s potential-ridden seven-footer Leonard (26) and rights to the team’s most recent second round pick, sharp shooter Trent Jr (19) who is yet to sign.
Both Harkless and Leonard have two years left on their respective deals while Swanigan is still on his rookie contract.
Finally, Baldwin’s (22) non-guaranteed contract would be thrown in to ensure the contracts match.
See trade here.
This would leave Portland with a likely starting lineup of Lillard, McCollum, Aminu, Love, and Nurkic — four of which are known shooters.
Aminu and Nurkic would be charged with holding up the defensive side of the ball, however Love and the backcourt can still hold their own when called upon.
Curry, Stauskas, Turner and Collins would come off the bench to fill out the rotation while Simons, Layman and Papagiannis are not expected to see much time. Veteran minimum signings would be needed to fill out the roster, most notably at the big man positions.
Bringing Love home to Portland might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it would add a second All-Star to a team in dire need of talent and experience. It also fits in line with Olshey’s pledge to bring in veteran talent.
The only thing that might hold the Blazers back from a deal like this is Love’s injury history. However, with the improved play and maturity of Zach Collins, a four-man rotation including Nurkic, Aminu and Love could ease the load on Love’s aging body.
If the Blazers are going to shake things up, Kevin Love might be the answer.
Would you make this trade for Love?
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