Which Portland Trail Blazer Is Most Likely To Be Traded Before The Deadline?

The NBA Trade Deadline is this Thursday at 3 pm Eastern Time. This is always an exciting time in the NBA. Teams that are in contention are looking to add pieces that will help bolster their run down the stretch while teams in the lottery are looking to off-load contracts and acquire assets.

This go-round for the Portland Trail Blazers, they find themselves in 10th in the Western Conference and 10 games under .500. After an exciting 2015-2016 season that saw this team advance to the second round of the playoffs, they have surely regressed a bit. Now, the reason for that regression could be debated for days. Injuries, lack of development, difficulty of schedule, have all had an impact on the 23-33 record by the All-Star Break.

After moving Mason Plumlee last week, the Blazers have signaled that they are going to be busy towards the trade deadline. It is time to continue the rebuild and move towards the future. This team is sitting on three 1st-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft and this team is still built around one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. This deadline will be about acquiring assets and moving forward into the future for this franchise.

Below I list the current Blazers from most likely to be traded, to the least likely to be traded. Hold on tight, this could be an eventful trade season.

1 – Festus Ezeli. The defensive specialist center is making $7.4 million this year and has yet to step foot on the court for the Blazers. Ezeli has a very team-friendly contract with a team option after this season. There are plenty of teams that need to add salary to get to the salary floor and the Blazers need to shed some dead money off of the 2nd highest payroll in the league. While the idea of Ezeli in black-and-red was exciting, it doesn’t look destined to be. I would expect Ezeli to be moved before Thursday.

2 – Allen Crabbe. This one I could be completely wrong on. This front office loves “their guys”, the guys that they draft and have brought into Portland. That theory may be tested after Brooklyn wrote up an overpriced contract offer sheet for Crabbe in the off-season. Portland was forced to match or else they would have lost a big asset. We have seen Olshey trade Plumlee to avoid a similar situation this summer. While Crabbe is still completely overpaid, there is still a market for 3-and-D type wing players. Crabbe’s $18.5 million salary is monumental for a guy that gets less than 30 minutes per game and only scores 10.4 points per game. A team that can fit Crabbe into their starting line-up would be an ideal spot for Crabbe.

3 – Al-Farouq Aminu. During the off-season General Manager Neil Olshey announced the move to Power Forward for Aminu. Olshey said, “We are a much stronger team when Farouq plays ‘four’, our ratings with Farouq at ‘four’ make us project to a 53-, 54-win team, whereas Farouq at ‘three’ has us in the mid-40s.” Sitting with 23 wins at the All-Star break, this seems like this dream scenario was talked about years ago.  Aminu has battled injuries this season but has never found his rhythym. He is barely shooting 30% from the 3-point line, while scoring 8.3 points and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game. Aminu is on a decent contract and has value in the league, I’m just not sure that Coach Stotts’ offense is the most ideal fit for a tweener forward that can’t shoot the 3-ball.

4 – Ed Davis. Davis has become kind of a fan-favorite in Portland. The Portland fanbase loves guys that give it their all and Davis has always been a hustle player. The problem with Davis is that he doesn’t fit the skillset that a Stotts power forward needs to have, and he has no clear path to center minutes with the addition of Jusuf Nurkic. Davis is averaging 4.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3 fouls in 17.2 minutes per game. Davis’ minutes are likely to only diminish down the stretch and could be added to a trade this week.

5 – Meyers Leonard. For a lot of people, this is about 5 spots too low to put Leonard. Like I said about Crabbe, this front office loves “their guys”, and there is no clearer example of that than Leonard. Leonard has failed to reach his lottery-pick potential, but did sign a 4 year-$41 million contract over the offseason. If Leonard is traded, it will be a salary dump. I would not be surprised if Leonard is on this roster come Friday. If Aminu or Davis are traded, it would open up more minutes for Leonard to continue to develop and be evaluated by this coaching staff. A frontcourt of Leonard and Nurkic offers an interest dynamic.

6 – Shabazz Napier. Only averaging 7.7 minutes in 32 games this season, Napier hasn’t quite found his role with the Blazers. The point guard depth chart is Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Evan Turner, and then Napier. Napier is owed about $4 million over the next two seasons and likely won’t carve out much more of a role on this team. Another thing going against Napier is the fact that the Blazers have three 1st-round draft picks in a heavy point guard laden draft. While Napier won’t land a difference maker, he could be included in a package or minor move.

7 – Maurice Harkless. The 23-year old small forward has started 45 games this season for the Blazers and is averaging 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Harkless has been better than Crabbe in almost every aspect of the game this season, and is making almost $10 million less. Harkless moves well without the ball and has been key for the Blazers. The upside and benefits of Harkless are what give him a market in the league. A contender would love an unselfish wing player like Harkless, but I don’t see the front office trading Harkless unless it brings back an instant contributor.

8 – Pat Connaughton. Lately Connaughton has played some key minutes, finding a role on this team. The jury is still out on Connaughton. He is a freak athlete and has all the tools to be a role player in the NBA, he just hasn’t had the chance in Portland. The problem is that on the wing in Portland, there is such a logjam of mediocre parts that someone has to be moved. Connaughton is still on his rookie deal this year and next and would be a value for a team that needs a potential bench shooter.

9 – Evan Turner. Four years… $70 million. That’s the contract that Neil Olshey signed away the free agent Turner from Boston. That is the biggest road block in a trade for Turner. Not many teams wanna pay Turner that much money over the next three and a half seasons. Another roadblock is the broken hand that Turner has. Those two factors almost make Turner untradeable. That’s probably OK though, I don’t think that the Blazers want to trade Turner. Turner has really started to gel with Lillard and McCollum and looks to be in the plans moving forward.

10 – Noah Vonleh. Still 21 years old, Vonleh holds the upside and potential that the Blazers are looking to cling to in their current rebuild. The power forward position is one that is a glaring hole going forward for this team. Vonleh has a chance to lay his claim on it if he can continue to develop.  He has only averaged 13.2 minutes per game and hasn’t been very efficient with his time on the court, but if a move is made to thin out the frontcourt, it could be Vonleh’s time to shine. With so much promise, being a top-10 pick, Vonleh may just need the opportunity.

11 – Tim Quarterman. The reason Quarterman is this low on the list is because no one really knows who Quarterman is at this point. He has appeared in 13 games for the Blazers and averages only 3.4 minutes in those games. After coming into the league undrafted, Quarterman had a brief successful stint in the D-League. On a minimum contract for this year and next, Quarterman looks to be a Blazer through the summer and into training camp to see if he can be a part of the plans moving forward.

12 – Jake Layman. The man, the myth, the Jake. Layman made instant fans in Portland early in the season with a few good showings for the Blazers. Since then it has been anything but spectacular. Layman has the worst Player Efficiency Rating on the team and has shot a dreadful 24% from 3-point range. That is bad, considering the fact that he shot better than 36% in his college career. Layman is a low-cost, low-risk prospect to keep around.

13 – Jusuf Nurkic. The Bosnian Beast is going to fill a need that this team has had for years, a traditional center. The 7’, 280 pound, 22 year old center brings a different dimension to this team and is under contract through next season. When Olshey made the trade for Nurkic it raised some eyebrows around Portland, but once the dust settled and we all saw him play his first game with the Blazers, it is clear that this can be a good, mutual fit. There are still questions to be answered about his work ethic and his mindset, but that will be answered with time. This is a high-upside prospect on a cheap contract. That is exactly what Portland is looking to collect.

14 – CJ McCollum. For some reason, everyone loves talking about trading McCollum. “Would you trade CJ for Boogie Cousins?”…. “Would you trade CJ for Kevin Love?”…. “Would you trade CJ for Carmelo?”…. I check my twitter all the time and get asked these questions far too often. McCollum is the reigning Most Improved Player in the NBA, and is having an even better season this season. McCollum is going to be a Blazer moving forward, you can comfortably buy your red and black number 3 jersey.

15 – Damian Lillard. The letter “O” isn’t going anywhere. Just put it to rest. The Blazers have built around Lillard, and have marketed Lillard harder than any Blazer since Brandon Roy. Unless the Blazers are offered LeBron James or Steph Curry, Lillard isn’t going anywhere.

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About Garrett Thornton 64 Articles
Garrett has been a Senior Writer for Oregon Sports News for 4 years. In that time Garrett has primarily covered the Portland Trail Blazers. He has also started his series "Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton", picking NFL games against the spread. Along with his coverage of the Blazers and NFL, Garrett covers Oregon Ducks football.