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Could the Trail Blazers Make a Home Run Trade?

The team is starting to play better. Maybe...?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers just registered two of their biggest wins of the season, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers by a wide margin and edging out the Milwaukee Bucks in succession. The upswing in victories—and cumulative positive energy—has got some folks wondering if Portland and NBA fans alike are underestimating the potential of this roster. That’s the subject of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.

Dave,

Now that our Big 4 vets are finally getting time to build chemistry, is it worth considering an alternative course? Use our upcoming high draft choice and maybe another asset (not Sharpe) to get a star veteran wing who could get the Trail Blazers to the finals? In other words, is the starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton plus bench just one realistically gettable star short of a serious playoff run? All while nurturing Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson to eventually plug into the slots of an aging Brogdon and the star wing and thus maintain our imagined reign for another decade? A fan can dream….

BC

First, respect for the dream. Never stop dreaming, my dude.

Second, Haha! No.

This week’s performances against Philadelphia and Milwaukee aside, this team has been bad enough that Jonah Hill and Michael Cera should be their mascots.

Stop and think for a minute. What do the Blazers do well? They’re pretty decent at rebounding. That’s a backbone skill. It’s also one that many modern basketball strategists have downplayed in favor of three-point shooting and a few other things.

Everything else, though? Yikes. Offense...terrible. Overall Defense? Meh. Paint defense? Terrible. Transition defense? Terrible. Three-point defense is great at least! But shooting? Ouch. Assists? Non-existent. Turnovers generated? Thumbs up. Turnovers given up? Ouch.

You get the picture. This isn’t as much a team as a bunch of building blocks occupying the space where a team might stand one day. That assessment sheds light on your proposed plan.

The first issue is that players good enough to cover all the spaces the current roster leaves open are incredibly rare—to the point of being unique—and just aren’t available on the trade market absent extraordinary circumstances. The only way to get one is to draft them. Draft picks are the exact assets you’re suggesting trading away. At best, the Blazers would end up with a second-tier veteran star. It’s just not enough. (Compare also: Damian Lillard, who was superlative here in 11 years. He wasn’t enough either. Could they get a player close to Prime Dame with a trade? I doubt it.)

The second issue is timing. You suggest letting a couple of the young players mature to complete the rotation. That’s fair, but it’ll take 3-4 years. If the Blazers continue drafting, they could field a full, potent roster in 3-5 years depending on the quality of their picks. The timeline is essentially the same, except the drafted roster will be younger, have a brighter future ahead, and Portland would retain those late-decade draft picks to continue improving instead of spending them on help now.

So no, I don’t see a ton of chance or wisdom in making a move for a more veteran player now. The Blazers need to continue to accumulate assets, hold lightly to every player on the roster, and see what the landscape looks like a couple seasons from now before deciding what their foundation for the future looks like.

Thanks for the question! You can send yours to blazersub@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to answer all that we can!