Josh Hart is one of the best multi-tool wings in the NBA, bringing depth and skill to a Trail Blazers lineup that needs both. He’s also among the most-mentioned candidates for potential trades. A Blazer’s Edge reader doesn’t understand why both of those statements are true...the subject of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.
Everything I see from you says you want to trade Josh Hart but there’s been alot of news about how good he is for the community lately. Why would you want to trade a character and chemistry player like that? I think we need more of them and I’ll be disappointed if we trade him away. What do you think we could get in return that would be better?
We covered this earlier in the summer a little bit. In an ideal world, the Blazers shouldn’t trade Josh Hart. He’s the kind of multi-talented wing teams long for. His defense is decent. He can score and make plays. He produces points efficiently and he’s not a bad distance shooter, firing just a tick over 37% from the arc last season. As you point out, he’s an incredible chemistry and PR guy, active in the community. He’s the classic “missing piece” to your contending lineup.
Hart is a shooting guard, though. He can play small forward in a pinch, but he’s out of position there. Anfernee Simons has the inside track for the starting two spot in Portland’s lineup. Simons isn’t as well-rounded as Hart, but he can create his own shot and hit from distance better. He’s also younger, home-grown, and just received a long, fairly-expensive contract extension. That doesn’t bode well for Hart, who is also worth a starting position.
My guess is that the Blazers will use Hart as a super-sub, filling in at both shooting guard and small forward behind Simons and perhaps Nassir Little. Hart will perform admirably in this role, as always. But will he be satisfied?
If Portland gets off to an ultra-hot start, seeming like they’re in contention, the team and Hart might come to a mutual understanding to finish out the year. He’d be playing a key role on a potential championship team, any player’s dream.
Unless that happens, though, a couple of realities will rear their heads:
- Hart is on the final year of his current contract. He has an option for next season, but it pays him less than he’s worth on the open market ($13 million). With Simons signed for twice that, Hart’s financial position isn’t going to be desirable. He’s going to opt out and get a new deal, likely with a team that will start him.
- The Blazers are bumping up against the luxury tax. That situation is only going to get worse. The chances of them laying out $18-20 million per year for Hart are almost nil. The only way that happens is if they trade away somebody else to clear space.
I like Josh Hart. I think he’s a better natural fit beside Damian Lillard than Simons is. All the affection and theory in the world won’t make a difference when it comes time to sign those checks.
That’s why your stance on Hart can be absolutely correct, Ellen, but the likelihood of the Blazers trading him before he leaves for free is still high. I don’t like it. You sure don’t have to. But that’s the reality of the NBA. Some things we don’t like still have to happen.
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