What exactly the Blazers’ direction is going forward is yet to be seen. However, with Damian Lillard on the wrong side of 30 and coming off of a major surgery, the Blazers are most likely looking to compete sooner rather than later. How these new acquisitions will factor into the Blazers’ future is a major question on the minds of all Blazers fans.
A brief overview of the trades made by the Blazers in the week leading up to the trade deadline:
Outgoing players: Norman Powell, Robert Covington, CJ McCollum, Larry Nance, Tony Snell, Cody Zeller (waived)
Incoming players/picks: Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, Josh Hart, Didi Louzada, Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, 1st round pick from the Pelicans (full pick details available here) three guaranteed second round picks, and swap rights to the Pelicans 2026 second round pick.
Sending out five players to receive seven and the rights to five picks is decent at face value. However, the real question is which of those seven players will stick around in the Blazers’ pursuit of contention and which could find themselves on the move again next off-season.
To answer that question, one must first look at what each player brings to the table for the Blazers.
Currently Justise Winslow is the only new Blazer to suit up for the team. In his first three appearances, he is averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game.
These numbers are well above his averages with the Clippers of 4.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game. Most of this disparity can be attributed to the massive increase in playing time.
Winslow has also averaged two steals over the first three games of his Blazers tenure, most of which came from a massive four-steal performance in the Blazers’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
If Winslow remains on the team heading into next season, he could serve as a defensive-minded wing. He also provides a cut threat and has a tendency to be in the right place at the right time already in his short tenure.
If the Blazers hope to compete next year, Winslow would be a great piece playing about 20 minutes a night as a wing stopper.
Verdict: Quality role player
Bledsoe appeared in all 54 contests for the Clippers prior to being traded, starting 29 of them.
The 12th-year veteran point guard is averaging 9.9 points and 4.2 assists this season.
Bledsoe has a 24.6 assist percentage this season, higher than any player on the Blazers except for Damian Lillard so far this season. That assist percentage paired with a decent defensive rating of 108.6 seems to paint Eric Bledsoe as a good backup point guard for the Blazers as currently constructed.
If Anfernee Simons is relegated to a bench role when Lillard returns next season, that makes Eric Bledsoe the third point guard in a guard-heavy rotation.
With a large $19.4 million contract for next season (although only $3.9 million is guaranteed), Bledsoe could be used to match salaries if the Blazers decide to take a major swing in the offseason.
Verdict: Likely waived or traded in the offseason
Johnson has only played in 15 games so far in his NBA career and only averaged nine minutes in those games. There isn’t much to look at from an NBA body of work standpoint, but that’s what this season is about at this point, right? Throwing some things at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Johnson is going to have plenty of opportunity to show what he’s made of while the Blazers play for a draft pick.
He brings defense and athleticism to the roster and theoretically could contribute next year. However, if the rookie isn’t ready to contribute within the Blazers’ window of contention, there is hope that his contributions this season will make him an enticing trade piece. Steve Dewald did an excellent in depth break down of Johnson here.
Verdict: Good trade sweetener, but could be valuable at the bottom of the rotation
Hart has averaged 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game over three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.
He has turned into one of the best rebounding guards in the league over the past few seasons. His 111.0 defensive rating for his career is roughly league average. However, given the Pelicans’ abysmal defense this season, league average is not too bad.
Unfortunately, Hart is a below average three-point shooter, an archetype that hasn’t done well for the Blazers over the last few seasons, but 50.5 percent from the field is a good sign.
Hart will most likely serve as a starting wing for the rest of the season, and has real potential to be a starter going forward for the Blazers. A wing that does all the dirty work on both offense and defense is invaluable in the league today.
At 26, the book is not fully written on Hart’s career and it is well within the realm of possibility that Hart continues to get better.
Verdict: Possible starter going forward
Louzada has played just five games so far in his career and appeared in just 63 minutes total over the last two seasons.
After signing with the Pelicans last April, Louzada has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s anti drug policy and is currently recovering from surgery on his knee to repair a torn meniscus.
Louzada played professionally in Australia prior to signing with the Pelicans where he averaged 9.5 points per game.
Unfortunately, Louzada is out indefinitely with a torn meniscus and there is little chance he will play this season. What he contribute to the Blazers is yet to be seen, and will be a future endeavor as this season would be his best chance to get minutes.
He is under contract through the 2024-25 season so there is a good chance he will be on the Blazers for a while, even if he is just riding the bench.
Verdict: Too small of sample size to definitively say where, or if, he fits
Ingles is an interesting case. At the end of last year, Ingles would have been far and away the best player acquired this deadline.
Ingles has long been one of the stereotypical 3-and-D players, shooting 40.8 percent from three and boasting a career defensive rating of 108.0. However, this year he is averaging career lows in both. He went from a Jazz legend to the most-desired player on the trade block. That’s not even mentioning the recent ACL surgery he had.
Best case scenario, Ingles comes back from his ACL surgery like Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant. His perimeter-based style of offense means he may follow a similar path of that of Thompson’s.
However, for a guy on the wrong side of 30 coming off an ACL tear, there is always the very real possibility of him not coming back the same as before. If he does, he will be a very valuable piece either in the starting lineup or in a sixth man role.
His expiring contract means that if the Blazers don’t think he will come back the same, or just don’t want to pay him, he can walk in free agency for nothing but cap space.
Verdict: Hopefully a key piece, likely just an expiring
Hughes is a second-year player coming from the Jazz, appearing in just 32 games over the last two seasons.
He hasn’t had the chance to show much in his NBA career, but as the former 39th overall pick just one season ago, he still has a lot of potential.
He has yet to show the efficient scoring he showed flashes of in college, but may begin to show more of it with more consistent playing time. Hughes is an electric finisher around the rim and his athleticism on the wing could provide some highlights for a Blazers team that is going to lose much more than they win.
Hughes will most likely come off the bench for much of this season, but will have a lot of opportunity to play big minutes. He could crack the rotation going forward if he is able to show significant improvements over his play so far in his NBA career. The 23-year-old could also play himself into being a good young asset in a trade for a better player should the Blazers choose to go that route in the off-season.
Verdict: Blazers took a swing, wait to see if it connects
The bottom line of the Blazers’ deadline moves is they put themselves in a very good position to lose a lot of games while seeing which pieces will be valuable moving forward. For now, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the ride as some exciting young players show what they’ve got and some veterans guide them in their pursuits of meaningful contributions in the league.