The Trail Blazers’ upcoming favorable schedule perfectly aligns with the ramp up to the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline. Leading up to Feb. 7, over half of Portland’s next 12 games will occur in the Moda Center. Along with a friendly home schedule, the Blazers will compete against some of the NBA’s most-welcoming opponents. The Cavaliers, Suns, and Hawks will clash with coach Terry Stotts’ squad before the deadline. If things go well for the Blazers, they could enter deadline discussions looking to bolster their current roster for postseason contention.
Position of Power
With a starting lineup that featured a strong veteran cast, the Trail Blazers entered discussions prior to the 2015 NBA Trade Deadline looking to add a proven role player. Unlike recent years where draft assets (Jusuf Nurkic plus a pick) and salary cap relief (Noah Vonleh) motivated trades, the Blazers were clearly searching to add players that would immediately help their chances. While the move proved to be costly in hindsight, the acquisition of Arron Afflalo addressed a need for a near-complete Portland squad.
The Blazers could find themselves in a similar situation once again. Due to injuries and inconsistencies, the small forward position has been a revolving door this season. It is a position of need across the league, but Portland’s chest of draft assets could make for competitive offers.
The biggest elephant in the room is the future direction of the Blazers organization. While current leadership has said the right things about operating as usual, it is tough to forecast a trade that would involve committing an abundance of future salary to the payroll. If that is the case, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey would have to thread the needle perfectly. Finding a player who is on a friendly contract that is ready to contribute to a playoff team might be just out of reach—especially with the recently-traded Justin Holiday already in Memphis.
Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard’s contracts can help facilitate moves involving larger salaries. But at this point, is it wise for the Blazers to examine trades involving those players? Both Turner and Leonard are performing relatively well compared to recent expectations, and their trade value could increase next season in the final year of their current deals.
If the Blazers secure victories over this stretch of the schedule, Olshey will find himself in a much different position than in recent years.
Don’t forget to get your Trade Machine proposals in before Sunday.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com