With the Portland Trail Blazers seemingly turning their season around thanks to Damian Lillard’s explosion and the tax-saving move for Trevor Ariza and others, some might be inclined to think Portland will be on the market for another move with NBA trade deadline looming.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe is not so sure. According to Lowe, sources have said that the win-now move is looking more and more unlikely with Hassan Whiteside’s improved play and the potential to regroup for next year.
The Blazers sliced their tax bill by a lot in the Bazemore-Ariza swap, and they are slated to be well under the tax next season. They might not feel pressure to duck the tax this season, though it’s always helpful. (They could get close by dealing Ariza again, and several contenders — including the Heat — have expressed interest in Ariza at points this season, sources say.) They are only two games out of the playoffs, and they owe Damian Lillard (absolutely volcanic right now) and CJ McCollum an honest chance.
That said, the noise on Portland making a big win-now move has cooled, sources say. That makes sense. The Blazers are climbing from a deep hole. Any big deal would have to involve Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract, and Whiteside is giving Portland quality minutes — at a time when they have no other healthy center. They can regroup next season with Lillard, McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic, and all their young players and picks.
You can read what Lowe has to say about the rest of the NBA at the deadline here.