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Blazers Stand Among Small Group of Sellers at NBA Trade Deadline

The Blazers are one of a handful of teams likely trading veterans to playoff hopefuls over the next month.

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers

The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors kicked off trade season early in a rare December trade last week, sending OG Anunoby to New York in exchange for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. Over the next month, the Portland Trail Blazers will almost surely be participating in the annual rigmarole, at least to the extent of making and fielding calls before the February 8 NBA trade deadline.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Blazers are true sellers and will likely continue to be for at least the next 18 months. The one issue they face at this trade deadline is the fact that the 2024 NBA Draft class appears not to be a particularly enticing one. Consequently, any 2024 first round picks collected in deals may be less valuable than in previous years.

Below I’ve listed likely selling teams, their trade candidates and the size of their remaining contracts, including the 2023-24 season. Rookie-scale first round deals have also been presumed fully-guaranteed.

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Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 9-25

Standings: 14th, Western Conference

Players on the block: Malcolm Brogdon (2 years, $45 million), Jerami Grant (5 years, $160 million), Matisse Thybulle (3 years, $33 million-Player Option), Anfernee Simons (3 years, $77.7 million)

Brogdon all but seems gone before the deadline with rumors of the New York Knicks showing interest in recent days. He’s superfluous to Portland’s young guard brigade and appears to be in demand elsewhere.

Thybulle’s elite defense combined with his recent uptick in three point shooting has likely sparked interest right across the league. If the Blazers can get anywhere near a first round pick for the Australian national representative, it would be the very definition of buying low and selling high. Portland picked him up for what amounted to two second round picks 11 months ago.

Whether the Blazers have an appetite to move Grant remains unclear. While his contract is a little larger than most would have liked, his current form might make the athletic forward worth the price.

Simons might be the most likely to stay while Scoot Henderson continues to find his feet. If Simons stays in Portland he will also have an opportunity to up his trade value thanks to a prime offensive role.

Robert Williams III would have been the fifth member on this list if not for his season-ending injury.

Detroit Pistons

Record: 3-32

Standings: 15th, Eastern Conference

Players on the block: Bojan Bogdanovic (2 years, $39.0 million), Jalen Duren (3 years, $15.3 million), Joe Harris (1 year, $19.9 million), Alex Burks (1 year, $10.4 million), Monte Morris (1 year, $9.8 million), Isaiah Stewart (1 year, 5.2 million), Jaden Ivey (3 years, $25.5 million), Killian Hayes (1 year, $7.4 million)

Realistically, everyone except Cade Cunningham should be on the block. But the above eight may be the few that garner interest. Bogdanovic is the only name that has proven himself in the NBA and at 34, is still a highly effective wing who would fit seamlessly with any contender in need of shooting.

Duren may not be available with some adamant that he is destined to be an elite athletic big man. If he was moved, he'd deliver the struggling Michigan franchise a decent return. Harris is on expiring deal and while his numbers have fallen off a cliff this season, the Chelan, Washington native probably still has the ability hit the long ball.

Burks is an offensive guard, able to score at all three levels when he’s on. Morris is a perfectly fine back up point guard on a good team as proved during his years with the Denver Nuggets.

Isaiah Stewart may have the most interest of the young Pistons, based on his age, size and ability to hit the three ball. Ivey has been a relative disappointment since he was taken with the fifth pick last year but with his skillset, it’d be foolish to give up on him just yet.

Finally, if you believed The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor before the 2020 draft, Frenchman Killian Hayes was going to be the league’s next exciting young point guard. Pundits don’t always get it right and O’Connor was incredibly wrong here. Still, Hayes shouldn’t be a lost cause and may find a new home with another franchise.

Utah Jazz

Record: 16-20

Standings: 12th, Western Conference

Players on the block: John Collins (3 years, $79.6 million-Player Option), Jordan Clarkson (1 year, $23.4 million), Collin Sexton (3 years, $54.5 million), Kelly Olynyk (1 year, $12.1 million), Talen Horton-Tucker (1 year, $11.0 million), Lauri Markkanen (maybe) (2 years, $35.3 million)

One of the more interesting teams coming into the deadline, particularly with Danny Ainge behind the reigns.

There’s been a bit of discussion about Markkanen being sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder however the price is likely exorbitant. If I’m Ainge, I’d be more inclined to hold onto the 26-year-old Finn who made his first All Star game last year.

Collins appears to be on the block again after an average first few months with the Jazz. Also 26, Collins is still young enough to contribute on a decent team, although the length and size of his contract may turn suitors away. Fresh off his recent triple-double, Clarkson is a veteran scoring guard and former Sixth Man of the Year. While a little expensive, Clarkson’s expiring deal is still palatable if he’s going to contribute for a team in need of bench points.

Sexton still has two and a half years left on his half-decent deal. Like Clarkson, he can provide a scoring punch off the bench on a good team lacking depth. Journeyman Olynyk has carved out a nice career as a big who can put the ball on the floor and shoot from long range. The Jack-of-all-trades Canadian is a likely back up big with his current deal coming to an end next summer.

Horton-Tucker’s size at the guard spots may be of interest to a contending team, however if his deal wasn’t expiring I’m not sure there’d be many takers.

Toronto Raptors

Record: 14-21

Standings: 12th, Eastern Conference

Players on the block: Pascal Siakam (1 year, $37.8 million), Jakob Poeltl (4 years, $78 million-Player Option), Gary Trent Jr. (1 year, $18.5 million), Dennis Schroder (2 years, $25.4 million)

Masai Ujiri made an overt decision to skew the Raptors younger last week, establishing a core of Scottie Barnes, Quickley, and Barrett. The move makes keeping veteran Pascal Siakam beyond this season less sensible with the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers holding reported interest.

The Raptors made a mistake giving up a first round pick for Poeltl last year. The ageing Austrian has seen a downtick in output this season and looks out of place, especially if Siakam is moved on.

Former Blazer Trent Jr. is yet to sign an extension in a season where he’s suffered a drop in minutes and scoring. At 24, he’s still a proven commodity who has years of contribution in front of him.

The Raptors signed Schroder to replace Fred VanVleet over the summer. But with the arrival of Quickley, he gets moved to the bench. Ujiri may want to keep the reigning FIBA world champ around but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were testing his value.

Washington Wizards

Record: 6-28

Standings: 14th, Eastern Conference

Players on the block: Jordan Poole (4 years, $128 million), Kyle Kuzma (4 years, $90 million), Tyus Jones (1 year, $14 million), Daniel Gafford (3 years, $40.1 million)

After all the hype Poole brought with him to Washington, he’s laid the proverbial egg. I could be wrong but his might be the worst contract in the NBA. However, at 24, there’s a good chance he rediscovers the form that helped the Golden State Warriors to the 2022 title.

Kuzma has had a sneaky good season, putting up a career-high 22.8 points on 35.7 percent three point shooting. There are a handful of teams in need of power forward help, namely the Atlanta Hawks, Warriors, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks.

Jones is enjoying his first real starting opportunity. However, the 27-year-old made his bones as the league’s best backup point guard and could step back into that role on a contender pretty easily. Gafford is an above-average rim protector with a range of tricks in his bag and the experience to contribute in a winning situation.

Charlotte Hornets

Record: 8-25

Standings: 13th, Eastern Conference

Players on the block: Terry Rozier (3 years, $74.7 million), Miles Bridges (1 year, $7.9), Gordon Hayward (1 year, $31.5 million),

Bridges is a unique case thanks to his off-court indiscretions. The fact that he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer makes him an expiring contract for a contender willing to take on the public relations hit.

It feels like the Lakers have been going to make the Rozier trade for years now. It might happen next month if the Los Angeles franchise fails to snag any of their main targets, assuming Rozier isn't one of them. The veteran guard is crafty and can still get hot from long range.

Hayward still has something to offer despite his All Star days being long gone. The 33-year-old could serve as playable salary ballast in a transaction involving big money.

San Antonio Spurs

Record: 5-29

Standings: 15th, Western Conference

Players on the block: Keldon Johnson (4 years, $74 million), Doug McDermott (1 year, $13.7 million), Cedi Osman (1 year, 6.7 million)

The Spurs will no doubt want to surround Victor Wembanyama with proven young talent over the next two seasons. Johnson is a big, brawny wing who can score in a variety of ways, particularly after enjoying a stint with Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

McDermott is a seasoned three-point assassin, hitting 44.2 per cent from long range this season. Playoff teams will always need shooting from the wing with the little bit of defense McDermott provides. Osman is a savvy veteran who can do a little bit of everything and has the size to play wing playoff minutes when needed.

Honorable mentions

The Chicago Bulls are reportedly seeking trade partners for Zach Lavine, who returned from a 16-game absence yesterday. The issue they face with the 28-year-old wing is his contract, which has four years and $178 million owing. Whether the Bulls are buyers or sellers at the deadline remains to be seen but they currently sit at a precarious 16 and 21, good enough for 10th in the Eastern Conference and just inside the Play-In Picture.

Th Atlanta Hawks could also be trying to move guard Dejounte Murray, a player the Georgia franchise traded for in June 2022 using multiple first round picks. The 27-year-old guard is on an expiring $17.7 deal with the Hawks holding a 14-20 record. They are just outside the Play-In Picture, currently 11th in the Eastern Conference. Like Chicago, the Hawks aren’t necessarily trying to get worse, but they may need to break up the initially anticipated, now failing Trae Young-Murray backcourt.

Conclusion

The Blazers will be one of a few sellers moving into next month’s trade deadline, potentially dangling four players that may be of use to contending teams.

It’s unlikely that all four are moved, with Anfernee Simons arguably the most likely to stay in Portland colors. But with more teams vying for the NBA Playoffs than not, the Blazers should be expected to be in a position of advantage.