With Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins dominating the NBA rumor mill, quieter teams like the Portland Trail Blazers are getting roundly ignored. That would be a mistake, though, as the Blazers are definitely on the market according to Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld.com.
Kyler quotes Blazers GM Neil Olshey as being open to some wheeling and dealing:
But look, we’re going to stay with our philosophy which is if we can find a deal that moves the needle on a long-term basis, we’re going to be as active as anybody, but we’re not going to take incremental moves that take away our long-term flexibility.
That doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of the team, but it could hint at some minor activity from Portland's camp before the trade deadline on February 21.
Examining the Blazers' roster, the team doesn't seem to have much to offer. The Blazers only have five players with any real trade value, and those happen to be their five starters.
Each of the club's starting five is probably untouchable, they have no piece on their bench of note and they don't even have a first-round pick in 2013.
That will limit what the Blazers are going to be able to do. Needless to say, they will not be in the market for Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins or any of the other big names.
Despite all these roadblocks, a trade is still possible to address the Blazers' No. 1 issue—their bench.
No team relies on its starters more than Portland, as those five guys have combined to average 83.2 points per game—85.5 percent of the team's total point production. The situation is just as dire in terms of minutes. Every starter on the team gets over 29 minutes per game. No player off the bench averages more than 17.
One player who makes sense for the Blazers is Chicago's Richard Hamilton. Hamilton would provide a potent scoring punch off the bench as well as excellent defense. He would allow the Blazers to give more rest to Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, who both average over 34 minutes per game.
Whether or not the Blazers have the pieces to acquire Hamilton remains to be seen, but the move would certainly provide an immediate upgrade and a veteran leader in the backcourt.
This trade is unlikely to happen, but the point is clear. The Trail Blazers need some talent off the bench to compete with the NBA's best, and they are committed to finding it. A more likely scenario would be a call-up from the D-League or one of the few remaining free agents available.
In sum, the Trail Blazers don't look to be active in the trade market despite their GM's comments. Either way, fans should be excited that this team is on the right path and they have a GM committed to excellence.
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