NBA trade season has come for all 30 franchises, including the Portland Trail Blazers. The February, 8th trade deadline will soon be upon us. The Blazers will likely be sellers in this year’s market, but the state of the team makes nothing certain.
Several Blazer’s Edge Readers are writing in with trade questions and suggestions. We’ll get to many of them in the coming weeks. Today, we’re going to center the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag around a series of questions from one reader, covering the basics.
Here’s Part One, asking whether the Blazers will be active at all this winter.
Hi Dave, I have questions requesting trade speculation as the February deadline approaches:
1. Is it wrong to speculate the Blazers must be very certain of upcoming trade activity? I mean, why waive useful players like Skylar unless certain?
It’s a fair question, but sometimes we see what we want to see, then bend circumstances to that line. That might be happening here a little bit. Waiving those players could indicate upcoming roster moves, but they don’t have to, especially with the gap between the actual waiver and any subsequent action.
How useful was Mays, really? The Blazers have an abundance of guards. Skylar was a nifty scorer, but that was clearly his strength. He wasn’t a fantastic playmaker or defender. The team is trying to emphasize a culture of unselfish play and active defense. He’s going to get more opportunity on a different roster. As will Ish Wainright.
Releasing those players is no more of an indicator of upcoming trades than the general state of the team is: not winning, growing into a new era, holding assets that might make them an attractive trade partner. We know this isn’t the final incarnation of the master plan. Whether it’s now, during the summer, or in years to come, they’re going to make deals.
I would not be surprised if the Blazers made a move in the next four weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t, either, or if those moves were relatively minor. This team needs a couple of franchise-changing shifts. It’s harder to make those at the trade deadline than in the off-season. And Portland’s major changes will probably come via the draft anyway, not via swaps.
Bottom Line: The Blazers need to get better, but I don’t see any move—or ghost of a move—that gets them there this season. As much as we wish differently, it’s not going to happen quickly. If they can build for the future via a move today, I expect them to do that. But they can’t lunge at the kind of instant gratification moves that are going to make fans sit up and take notice.
Since most potential trades involve losing their few remaining veteran players, the team is likely to get worse before it gets better. That merits a “buckle up”, but not the kind you were hoping for, probably.
Up Next: A couple more specific questions about Blazers deadline trades.