The Portland Trail Blazers could have open dialogue with any of the 29 other teams around the league before Thursday’s 12 p.m. trade deadline, but one team in particular could make a lot of sense.
The Orlando Magic, hoping to end their four-year playoff drought, could be buyers for the trade deadline as they look to build their team around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
In Dan Favale’s trade deadline primer on Bleacher Report, he lists rookie Anthony Black and defensive-first forward Jonathan Isaac among the five players the Blazers should look to target. On the flip side, he also has Anfernee Simons and Malcolm Brogdon on the Magic’s short list of targets.
Prying Black from the Orlando Magic isn’t happening in a Malcolm Brogdon trade. It might be a different story if the Blazers are willing to move Anfernee Simons—who’s both younger than you think (24) and having a more monstrous season than credited (extraterrestrial scoring package, improved passing).
Since I’m apparently obsessed with sending one of the Blazers’ guards to Orlando, general manager Joe Cronin would do well to target Isaac as matching salary. His contract is non-guaranteed for next season in the event he’s a bad fit, but he arms Portland with a system-unto-himself defender if he stays healthy.
If the Blazers won’t move or are asking too much for Simons, the Magic should feel free to pivot toward Malcolm Brogdon. He doesn’t have a devastating off-the-bounce jumper, but he’s an expert driver and banging in over 50 percent of his catch-and-fire treys.
The Magic have several guards, including Black, but they are still in need of one who can shoot from distance at a consistent rate. That’s what Simons provides, and Brogdon on a lesser and more affordable level.
The Magic can afford them both, but they will likely have to part with one or both of Black and Isaac to make it happen — and that’s not going to happen. The Magic have been extremely patient with Isaac, who has spent most of his last four years on the sidelines injured. Now, he’s finally appearing to be healthy for a consistent amount of time and proving why the Magic still have him on the roster.
The same can be said for Black, who has quietly started 29 games for the Magic this season. He’s averaging only 5.2 points per game, but his length at 6-7 and his raw talent have the Magic bullish on him.
Black would have to be in the return package to Portland if they wanted Simons, who almost certainly will stay with the Blazers beyond the deadline. He has been Portland’s best player all year and he’s playing the best basketball of his career so far. The Blazers would be silly to part ways with him unless they received an offer they can’t refuse — and the Magic cannot provide that without mortgaging their entire future, something Orlando doesn’t want to do at this time.
If the deal was for Brogdon, perhaps the Blazers could squeeze out a first-round pick from the Magic, and that’s something Portland should consider. Maybe the Magic would also be willing to put No. 11 overall pick Jett Howard — who has spent majority of his season in the G League — in the deal. The Blazers should consider any deal they get for Brogdon, and while they don’t need to take any trade for him, if they are offered a future first-round pick for his services, the least Portland should do is consider the possibility.