In just over a week, the February 21st NBA trade deadline will have come and gone and the Portland Trail Blazers will be the same team then as they are today. The crux of the deal or the anti-deal is the Blazers lack of assets that other teams want or the Blazers are willing to part with. Yes, they have a talented starting five. But as it has been discussed ad nauseam the Blazers lack bench strength; this equates to a lack of assets. As it goes, to get something you have to give something.
There has been some talk about trading J.J. Hickson, the Blazers power forward having a career year with an expiring contract. But this is easier said than done. Hickson would have to OK a possible deal and in doing so relinquish his Bird Rights. Hickson stands to make a fair amount of money in free agency this summer and forgoing his Bird Rights could cost him some leverage and, of course, some dough.
I have fashioned a few deals that would employ LaMarcus Aldridge to acquire younger players for a future championship run with Damian Lillard at the helm. But that’s not going to happen for a few reasons.
Blazer fans love LaMarcus Aldridge, because he is consistent and familiar. Other teams are not so in love with Aldridge for the reasons Blazer fans are blind to. He is a 6’11” power forward who prefers to shoot jumpers, who can, but rarely dominates games. On the trade market, teams want a power forward that dominates the boards, shuts down the middle, and scores 20 points a game. That is not LaMarcus Aldridge. Not to mention Aldridge is the face of the Blazers, it would have to be a rock solid deal for Portland to part ways with their power forward.
There has also been some chatter about acquiring San Antonio Spurs power forward/center Dejuan Blair. If the Blazers can get him on the cheap, then he could be a nice addition to the bench. If not, he’s an undersized power forward/center with knees that are missing ACL’s. And as Blazer fans know, Portland is the place where knees come to die.
What you ask is Blazer management going to do? They are going to do what most people and organizations do when there is uncertainty and things are in flux. They will conceal their intentions the best they can. And do whatever they can to improve their situation in the present without compromising the future. The marketing department will continue to peddle tickets for the “playoff push,” all the while secretly hoping they miss the playoffs in an effort to grab another lottery pick.
This isn’t the worst situation to be in for Blazer fans. In what was expected to be a rebuilding season, the Blazers have matured much faster than expected. A miss of the playoffs with an offseason in front of them in which they can retool their bench and possibly add a center should position Portland to be competitive in the near future.
Patrick Hughes is on Twitter. Follow him at @phughespdx