The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in their best victory of the year on Wednesday night, but a 25-26 record through 51 games still leaves them open to plenty of speculation in advance of the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. In-season moves must be complete by next Thursday, just a week from now. Several Trail Blazers players are likely to be discussed in between here and there.
Today Sam Vecenie, Danny Leroux, and Seth Partnow of The Athletic released their Trade Deadline Big Board [subscription required], full of potential big-impact players who might be on the move in the next week. The Toronto Raptors were prominent with guard Fred VanVleet and forward OG Anunoby both making the list, but Blazers swingman Josh Hart also clocked in at the 11th spot in the order.
Vecenie described why.
The Blazers seem to be making Hart available in potential deals, and it’ll be fascinating to see how teams value him. Hart brings all the intangibles you’d love in a role-playing wing in a playoff run. He’s a contested rebounding savant, is physical defensively across a couple of positions and is a smart ball-mover within an offense. The only problem is Hart has developed a habit of turning down open 3s. After taking about four per game over his first five seasons, he is down to two per game despite coaches seemingly asking him to take more.
Hart has a contract that could make him a value for a trade partner next season. He has a player option for $12.9 million, but if he exercises it, the deal becomes non-guaranteed — essentially making it a mutual option. Given that the Blazers still want to compete with Damian Lillard around, Hart seems like a change-of-scenery trade candidate, with the Blazers bringing in a player with somewhat different skills in a similar role.
None of the trio name who that player may be. Of note: the Blazers still have Nassir Little and Justise Winslow on the roster to man Hart’s small forward position.