The 2019 NBA Trade Deadline hits on February 7th, and the Portland Trail Blazers may put a first-round pick in play in order to make a move. Sean Deveney of Sporting News cites “sources” indicating several teams may become buyers in the mid-season market, Portland among them. Orlando Magic wings Terrence Ross and Jonathon Simmons are cited as possible targets, but the main goal could be veteran point guard Jeremy Lin from the Atlanta Hawks.
Portland, too, would be willing to part with its first-rounder to add depth to a roster that badly needs help in the backcourt and on the wing. The Trail Blazers could be a player for Ross or Simmons, too. But sources tell SN that they have expressed interest in another player expected to be made available for a first-round pick: Atlanta point guard Jeremy Lin.
The 30-year-old Lin is averaging 11.0 points and 3.5 assists in 19.3 minutes per game for the Hawks this season, shooting 49% from the floor and 36% from the three-point arc. He’s making $13.8 million on an expiring contract.
At first blush, trading a future asset for him seems ludicrous, as he’d last less than six months with the team and he wouldn’t make the difference between contender and also-ran. The expiring contract could be attractive at the right angle, though. $13 million is a higher salary than the Blazers could feasibly send in return, unless they moved Evan Turner. The Blazers would take a bigger luxury tax penalty hit this season acquiring Lin, making the deal look even worse. But both of Portland’s low-eight-figure contracts run two years. Moving Moe Harkless or Meyers Leonard—the closest salary matches—would save the Blazers approximately $11.5 million in 2019-2020.
Whether that savings would be worth losing a rookie draft pick in exchange for an offense-oriented reserve guard who’d only play until spring depends on perspective. Personally, I find the possibility doubtful, both from a logic standpoint and desirability for Blazers management.
Ross makes $10.5 million on an expiring contract...making him a much more attractive salary acquisition than Lin. Simmons earns $6 million this year and a potential $5.7 million (non-guaranteed) next. It’s hard to see where the Blazers could make an advantageous deal for Simmons in any way unless the Magic were willing to take on major salary. Even then, they’d almost have to throw in point guard DJ Augustin (two year deal, $7.25 million) to make the numbers work.
This morning, our own Steve Dewald wrote about the Blazers buying and selling at the trade deadline.