The NBA landscape is changing. The Warriors have been dethroned and there’s a new King in the North. The man known as the King has a new running mate in LA and the breaking news which took place recently was the Utah Jazz traded for Mike Conley, finally giving the Jazz a consistent second scoring option at the guard position.
As this landscape begins to shift, there are about 10 teams in the West that could think they have a legitimate chance to push for a Finals appearance this coming season.
The NBA draft is just one day away and about every hour you can check Bleacher Report, Hoopshype or Twitter and find some NBA news. The postseason has been over for roughly 7 days but NBA offseason has become a season of its own. Speculation, trade suggestions, trade rumors, the NBA Draft, prospects and draft night trades. Then finally, we hit free agency. Everyone has a take and everyone has an idea of what their team needs to take that next step.
There are multiple reasons to expect the Blazers to make some kind of deal tonight. I’d expect this to be more likely than the Trail Blazers actually making a first-round selection. Teams such as Cleveland and Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis have been reported to being interested in first round picks. It’s safe to assume the Blazers front office is certainly making calls leading up to the draft preparing for all options.
Fans continue to ask us, “What will the Blazers do draft night?” If I had to guess, I’d say they trade the first round pick. Possibly only for a future first-round pick. This, in my opinion, is what they should do. By moving out of the first round they avoid signing a guaranteed contract with a rookie. The Blazers need to shed just two million dollars in cap space in order to have the full Mid Level Exception available to them which is roughly $8.7 million. This could be used to retain the likes of Rodney Hood which should be the team's main priority. Outside of retaining the players they own bird rights to, Al Farouq Aminu and Jake Layman. Because of their bird rights the Blazers can spend more money to retain these players.
Of course, there have been a number of “big trades” suggested, some would call rumors. Names like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Otto Porter Jr. are all names that have been floated around most. Lessly touted names like TJ Warren of the Phoenix Suns, Robert Covington, and Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves have also been mentioned. With all these names being thrown around we need to keep in mind we’re talking about a team that’s coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance. The same team that following a first-round sweep elected to keep the team together and add just a few ancillary pieces. They then reached the freaking Western Conference Finals! It would be wise to not expect them to do anything major.
This offseason there is a list of free agent wings likely looking for a payday that could get passed by the teams with cap space this offseason. Hood being one of those wings, if he leaves, someone like Jabari Parker might be a type of under the radar guy that Neil Olshey is more commonly known to go after. With his injury history, the former number two overall pick is coming off a season where he signed with Chicago and was then traded to the Washington Wizards in a deal that brought Otto Porter Jr. to the Windy City. After showing the ability to score, he has also been proven to be limited defensively. Washington owns a team option on Parker. With the Wizards currently in luxury tax hell, I would expect them to move on from Parker who would be guaranteed $20 million if he is retained.
The Blazers are in a position to make a trade or buy in on this roster that just got one step away from the Finals. Teams looking for cap relief could see some value in contracts like Evan Turner’s or Moe Harkless. Proven NBA veterans who have played in multiple playoff series and established a winning NBA culture. Those same teams could be looking for cheap young guys to develop. The kind of guys you get late in the first round.
We saw it yesterday with the Jazz and Memphis trade, we’re hearing it from reporters like Woj. Lowe, and Shams. There are deals to be made this year leading up to draft night.
Rip City, what’s a possible less talked about trade package you want to see the Blazers pull the trigger on draft night? Or is there a young prospect you’re completely sold on?