The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled mightily on defense this season, and Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report offers a key fix: trade someone to gain more defensive pieces around Damian Lillard, because it’s now or never if the Blazers are going to take advantage of Lillard’s prime.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t great with the whole point-prevention business.
That they leak as often as they do and still stand sixth in the West is a testament to Damian Lillard’s offensive sorcery. But they have the sixth-most efficient offense and still have a negative net rating (minus-0.6, 19th). That’s how bad things get at the game’s less glamorous end, where Portland sits a highly problematic 28th.
With Lillard’s 30th birthday behind him, it’s now or never to maximize the roster around him. The Blazers have enough young players to catch a seller’s attention. They could move Gary Trent Jr. for a difference-maker or trade one or more of Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and Zach Collins for a rotational role player.
The Blazers’ budget likely tops out near the Aaron Gordon-Harrison Barnes-Thaddeus Young range, but any of the three would be major gets. Moving down a rung, Portland could still get decent mileage out of a deal for Otto Porter Jr., Nerlens Noel or Garrett Temple.
While Buckley makes some good points, the team has not signaled that they are looking at a trade ahead of the deadline.
You can read the moves Buckley would suggest for other teams here.