In terms of the Portland Trail Blazers, it seems that everyone has been talking about Love to PDX, or Blake Griffin...or Danilo Gallinari. But the Trail Blazers don’t need a power forward, they need a three.
I hate to say it, but this season is likely a wash. Zach Collins is out for the season (or at least most of it), Jusuf Nurkic is progressing but likely won’t be back until February, and Rodney Hood tore an achilles. Sure, they could get hot and start playing better. But even then, a likely scenario for this squad is snagging the seventh or eighth seed in the Western Conference and getting rolled by one of the L.A. teams or a rematch with a very good Denver Nuggets.
So, looking toward next season, when Collins and Nurkic will be back in the starting lineup, the Trail Blazers need to look to a difference making wing. Rodney Hood’s injury is so unfortunate, not just for him personally, but for the way this team likes to play. They need a sharpshooting forward that can stick the 3-pointer, doesn’t need the ball in his hands, but can get himself a bucket when a play breaks down. It’s not easy to find your place in an offense that features Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum taking a large percentage of the shots, but Hood had found his way.
The market isn’t particularly loaded with wings, but there are a few solid names out there that could be on the block. The Chicago Bulls need to figure out what do do with Otto Porter’s $27 million per season contract. He’s technically expiring this summer, but has a player option that is a no-brainer to opt into. Porter is dealing with a few minor injuries, most recently a soft-tissue injury to his foot that may keep him out for a stretch of games. But this isn’t about this season, it’s about having the best chance at making a deep run when you’ve got Collins and Nurk for (hopefully) 82 games.
Andre Iguodala is out there, having yet to play for the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite his mileage, he’s still a good defender and a proven winner, but doesn’t provide the shooting that Portland needs out of the small forward spot. Kyle Kuzma is reportedly available as well, but he’s on a rookie deal, and the Lakers don’t want expiring contracts anyway.
If I’m Neil Olshey, I’m looking at Minnesota. Robert Covington is probably their most valuable trade target, and with good reason. Covington is a true “3 and D” small forward; as in, he actually PLAYS DEFENSE along with the 3-point shooting. It seems inevitable that the Timberwolves will move on from Covington as they look toward yet another rebuild after the failed Jimmy Butler experiment.
Of course, being Minnesota’s most valuable trade target, means they will be looking for value. The Blazers could offer to take on Gorgui Dieng’s bad contract and offer a future pick as sweetener and see if the Timberwolves bite.
But while all the talk is on Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and the like - if you’re like me, you’re already looking to next season and seeing the need for a difference making wing.
Who would you want? Let us know in the comments!