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Trade Grades: Reactions to the Blazers & Kings Swap

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NBA analysts have delivered their early reactions to the trade between the Trail Blazers and Kings.

Orlando Magic v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Trail Blazers and Kings completed a five-player trade on Saturday. The exchange between the two teams sent Anthony Tolliver and Kent Bazemore to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel. On top of the players in motion, the Blazers shipped their 2024 and 2025 second-round picks to the Kings.

Following the trade, several NBA analysts from all corners of the media delivered their assessment of the deal.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton gave the Blazers an A- for their ability to cut cost and add a true forward. Along with highlighting tax savings and the potential for future deals, Pelton touched on the on-court fit.

On the court, an argument could be made that this deal improves Portland’s chances of making a playoff run after starting big men Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic return later this season. Though he remains a quality defender, Bazemore’s shooting has been a disappointment with the Blazers. He has hit just 33% of his 3s and a career-low 37% inside the arc for a dismal .475 true shooting percentage. Buoyed by 35% 3-point shooting — right on his career average — Ariza’s true shooting percentage is a far superior .543. Ariza’s ability to defend power forwards will also give Portland coach Terry Stotts more options with his frontcourt shorthanded.

CBS Sports contributors Jasmyn Wimbish and Sam Quinn handed out a B grade for the Blazers. Their assessment detailed the minutes disparity between the two sets of players.

The primary downside here is cost. The Blazers gave up around 42 minutes of playing time per night for something closer to 25. That’s a minor trade-off for most teams, but injuries have decimated Portland’s depth. Swanigan and Gabrial don’t deserve those minutes, so Portland will have to look to internal options. More minutes for promising rookie Nassir Little would be beneficial for the long-term but would make their pursuit of a playoff spot even harder. Portland also already owed second-round picks in 2020, 2021 and 2023 from other trades. Their 2022 pick is now their last second-round for the next six drafts. Making smaller trades like this is going to be difficult for the time being, so even though the Blazers got what they were looking for out of this deal, the price wasn’t exactly cheap.

The Athletic’s Zach Harper gave the Blazers a modest C grade. Harper’s analysis looked at how the move impacted Portland’s tax bill.

First and foremost, this is a cost-cutting move for the Blazers. One of the more frustrating aspects of the Blazers’ slow start to the season after a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019 is how expensive this roster is. By making this move, Portland cuts $12.3 million off their luxury tax bill. The price of doing that mostly comes in the form of sending two future second-round picks to Sacramento. The Blazers having such a huge luxury tax bill is a little embarrassing if they do end up missing the playoffs this season.

The trade between the Blazers and Kings becomes official on Tuesday.