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Zach Lowe Includes Trail Blazers Among NBA Free Agency Questions

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The ESPN columnist brings up Kevin Love to Portland, mentions several former Blazers.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Chatter about Kevin Love heading to the Portland Trail Blazers continues this weekend, courtesy of ESPN’s Zach Lowe who penned a column about the biggest questions in NBA Free Agency, 2019. The Blazers are nowhere near the centerpiece of the War-and-Peace-length opus, but Lowe includes them in the “potentially leveling up” column in the Western Conference.

They have two star guards in their primes. They own all their future first-round picks and have quietly assembled tradable young talent: Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons, and Nassir Little. They are one player away from being really good...

You can build two- and three-team deals involving Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, one of those three young guys, and/or a protected first-round pick. Portland may prefer to hang onto all three of Collins, Simons, and Little -- and deal multiple picks instead. Collins is their starting center right now. They love Simons.

Some suitors wonder whether Love is more center than power forward now. For a team counting on Jusuf Nurkic’s return next season, the answer matters.

Lowe also mentions former Blazers Wesley Matthews, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh among several players who could fall through the cracks, perhaps becoming available at a bargain price.

What is the market for, say, Wesley Matthews? Garrett Temple? Avery Bradley? DeMarre Carroll? There is very little Carroll buzz. Would you rather have him for one of the baby midlevel exceptions -- $4.8 million for room teams, $5.5 million for tax teams -- or Morris at $15 million?

There is no science to this. If one team lusts for a particular fringe guy, they might go for him early with a deal in the $8 million range. Some team might love Noah Vonleh’s upside and splurge. That shoves three or four other guys into the “sharing the midlevel” tier. There is a lot of Maxi Kleber buzz. There is minor Alex Caruso buzz. There are murmurs of a Luke Kornet market above the minimum. As always, there is zero Ed Davis buzz.

Finally, former Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum gets mentioned in a possible trade for Andrew Wiggins, albeit rhetorically.

One rival executive predicted to me this week that not only will Minnesota succeed at dealing Wiggins at some point, but that they will get at least net-neutral value for him. That would be a coup. Would the hopeless post-Walker Hornets deal Nicolas Batum for Wiggins? Would they include a second-round pick?

The NBA free agency negotiation/commitment season opens on Sunday at 6:00 Eastern/3:00 Pacific. The moratorium ends on July 6th at noon.