The Portland Trail Blazers have traded Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin, and a pair of second-round picks for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood. The move isn’t guaranteed to make a long-term impact, but Hood is a good pick-up for a team in need of a boost and perhaps a slight edge in the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
What is Hood Good At?
Hood is not as hot of a prospect coming out of Cleveland as he was when he played with the Utah Jazz between 2014 and last year’s trade deadline. Cleveland acquired him attempting to appease LeBron James, who was not only un-appeasable, but so central to Cleveland’s system that the then-25-year-old Hood ended up on the periphery. Hood refused to enter a blowout playoff game against the Toronto Raptors last year, capping off a fairly disappointing season.
This season, in LeBron’s absence, Hood has gotten a couple more minutes per game but still hasn’t returned to his Utah-era promise. Moving mid-year into a concrete block situation, followed by dropping off into a void when the Cleveland roster collapsed, explains some of Hood’s vacillation. His contributions to the chaos remain a gray area.
Hood is a proficient, but not great, three-point shooter, averaging .368 from the arc for his career. He peaked at .381 last season. He’s shooting .362 this year.
Inside the arc, Hood’s attempts are distributed fairly evenly between all ranges. He’s got a good pull-up shot. He can handle the ball. He passes well enough for a shooting guard. He’s not going to get to the rim often, preferring the jumper. His overall shooting percentage of .427 looks good when you consider that only 11.5% of his looks come at the hoop. He was a much more prolific scorer in Utah than in Cleveland, but the potential is there.
Hood is not, and has never been, a defender. He is a legit 6’8, which in itself brings a new wrinkle to Portland’s backcourt. He also has the potential to go on scoring sprees, another welcome development.
The Price is Right
The Blazers gave up Wade Baldwin and Nik Stauskas for Hood, plus second-round picks in 2021 and 2023. Stauskas started out the year on fire, but his three-point percentage dropped to .344 overall: a cardinal sin when distance shooting is your main skill. Stauskas’ minutes and role deteriorated as the year went along, to the point where he became an afterthought in the rotation. Baldwin has not been a member of the rotation this season, and just finished a stint in G League.
The salary differences between Stauskas/Baldwin and Hood are negligible. Both former Blazers were making $1.5 million on a one-year contracts. Hood is owed $3.4 million, also expiring. The real-money difference will turn out less than a million. That assumes the Blazers make no further trades to lower their cap obligation.
The Blazers will face a more serious luxury tax decision if they plan to re-sign Hood in the off-season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent, along with forward Al-Farouq Aminu. Portland’s already flirting with the projected tax threshold before signing either player.
The second-round picks are an added cost, but the Blazers clearly got the better player and prospect in this deal. If they aren’t rebuilding yet in 2021 and 2023, the picks won’t be that significant. Their roster will be full. If they are rebuilding, they’ll need more than second-rounders. Normally spending picks for a possible short-term asset is unwise, but in this case, the picks are just chips, not bankable assets. They exist to do exactly this.
Blazer’s Edge author Richie Flom had this to say about Hood in an article earlier this week:
Rodney Hood is not particularly great. But he is a capable three-point shooter (36% on 3.4 attempts) who at least has the size and length to cover multiple positions defensively, even if defense isn’t actually a strong point of his. The Cavs are also looking to send as many of their veterans packing as possible, and Hood is probably the player on here who will require the least return. For Caleb Swanigan and a future 2nd round pick, Hood would be a nice pickup, even if he’s not a game-changer at all. He’s probably the most available of these players, and also the easiest to acquire.
Hood may turn out to be a rental, but even so, this move was justifiable. It’s another in a long list of Neil Olshey trades that make sense, but don’t necessarily move the needle. Of all the moves in that genre, this is the most hopeful outside of Jusuf Nurkic. If it turns out poorly, the Blazers have lost nothing. If it turns out well—and “well” could be anything from winning a couple more games to signing a long-term contract—it’s a clear win for Portland.
Hood can play alongside Evan Turner in the second unit, might fill small forward minutes, and could even provide a not-completely-awful replacement for CJ McCollum should the Blazers end up trading the latter for serious talent. In the short run, Hood’s height, versatility, and shooting ability will make up for the lack of defense. If the commitment becomes long-term, his faults will show through. He’s only 26, though. If the best is yet to come, Portland will look smart getting in at exactly this point in time.
Celebrate the Hood trade by purchasing tickets for kids in need to see Rodney and the Trail Blazers take on the Brooklyn Nets on March 25th! Here's how!
To donate tickets to kids for Blazer’s Edge Night against the Nets on 3/25/19:
Click this link or copy/paste into your address bar: https://rosequarter.com/groupnights/
Enter the Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Go through the purchase process just as if you were buying tickets for yourself.
If you order through this link with this code, tickets will be automatically donated and designated at Will Call with your order. No need to do anything else, it’s just that easy!
If you run into difficulty or wish to donate more tickets than the online service will allow, contact our Ticket Representative, Alec Botts, at 503.963.3926.