We have just past the halfway point of the NBA season and the trade deadline is just around the corner. The Portland Trail Blazers have a chance to do something very special this season. They have held onto a top-3 seed in the Western Conference for about 2 months now. A trade could give these guys the push that they will need come playoff time.
Obviously, the Blazers have overachieved so far this season. They’re still a great team getting some great wins. While talking about this with a friend, the conclusion was that the Blazers would benefit by bringing in another veteran as a backup. A veteran big would be ideal for their situation.
This starting lineup has to stay intact. I wouldn’t change a thing there. Who knew that the addition of Robin Lopez would help this much? I knew he was going to be a nice upgrade over J.J. Hickson, but the difference has been exceptional. That being said, I’m not looking for a big trade that would mess with the chemistry of this starting unit.
Looking around the league, a few names that come to mind are Matt Barnes, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Reggie Evans, Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, and Metta World Peace.
A savvy veteran big is exactly what this team needs. A smaller veteran forward with some playoff experience wouldn’t hurt either. Don’t get me wrong, I love what Joel Freeland and Thomas Robinson have been able to do off the bench. They both bring a unique skill set to the table. Freeland has taken on the role of doing the dirty work, and being a Nick Collison type. Robinson has brought great energy and rebounding to the team. But each of these guys has had their share of bad moments. Bringing in one of these vets, who you can rely on during any given night, will put them one step further.
Hayes is currently with the Toronto Raptors. They have been playing good ball as of late. Hayes is a big part of that. He plays great defense and rebounds well. His contract of $5.7 million would be tough to match without giving up two guys that could potentially play for us down the stretch of the season. Same goes for Landry’s $6.5 million contract with the Sacramento Kings.
When looking at these two guys or any others mentioned, Meyers Leonard is the first option that comes to mind. The Blazers are ready to win now, and Leonard is still a few years away from giving them meaningful minutes. I do think the potential is there, but again, this team can do something special this season and they need to take advantage of it.
Other trade options include Joel Freeland, C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson, or Dorell Wright.
Freeland is a guy you want on your team. Why else do you think Collison has never left the Thunder? He has been with them since the Seattle Supersonics days. Freeland will have a lengthy career playing the way he has been.
Of the other four, I think Wright is the most expendable. Wright has fallen out of the rotation since rookie C.J. McCollum has returned from his foot injury. With Nicolas Batum’s finger injury, it would be really tough on the team to get rid of Wright at this time. I would wait until Batum is healed or goes a few weeks without another setback before including Wright in an offer.
I wouldn’t trade Robinson. First, I really like that guy. I love the energy and tenacity he brings every time he hit the floor. Second, trading him a third time in two season screams out potential confidence issues, and a team would be reluctant to give up much in return.
It’s too early to tell with McCollum, but so far so good. I’d also like to hold onto him as well. That leaves us with Meyers Leonard and Dorell Wright as my potential trade options for the veteran players named earlier.
Giving up both Leonard and/or Wright is probably the best option for the Blazers if they wish to make any upgrades. I’d love to bring in any of the players I’ve mentioned earlier to help bulk up this frontcourt of the Blazers. If we have to give up on Leonard, who I am starting to believe is a bust anyways, then so be it.