The Portland Trail Blazers are on a travel day between games with the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks. They just lost to Indiana. More wins are probably forthcoming because of an easy stretch of schedule. Over it all looms the reality that the remainder of this season may not matter as much as the moves the team makes in free agency or trades in the Summer of 2020.
Whenever trades are discussed, big-name players lie at the center. Salary matching rules often sweep up ancillary players in multi-player deals. Some are talented, but young, players who enhance trade value. Others are “throw-ins”, included solely for salary purposes and subsequently cut by the receiving team.
The Blazers have several players at risk of being traded in this manner, or simply made obsolete by the latest free-agent signing. Today we’re going to give you a chance to argue why, or whether, the team should reserve these players, saying, “Hands Off!” to anyone who wants them thrown into a larger deal.
The last player we’ll cover is a family favorite, Caleb Swanigan. The Blazers drafted Swanigan in 2017, then traded him to the Sacramento Kings in February of 2019 for Skal Labissiere. They reacquired him this January in the deal that brought Trevor Ariza to Portland. Injuries to the Blazers front line have forced Swanigan, now a third-year vet, into semi-significant minutes. He’s averaging 14.9 mpg, which would represent a career high if extended over a full season. He’s averaging 3.9 points on 57.5% shooting, with 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 offensive. The rebounding numbers are significant; it’s a clear strength. Energy and willingness often (but not always) make up for the lack of scoring.
Swanigan’s contract expires this summer, but the Blazers could probably re-sign him on the cheap.
How high is Swanigan on your Must Retain meter? What argument would you make that the Blazers should retain him past the season even if other teams should come calling? Let us know in the comment section.