December 15, an important landmark in terms of NBA trades where free agents signed the past summer are now able to be traded, has passed, and a month left before the deadline, meaning that it’s officially time to fire up the Trade Machine. While the Blazers have a good team this year, our previous playoff series showed that the team has flaws, there are areas they need to improve. While most Blazer fans love the team and the players on it, some of Rip City’s faithful are growing increasingly frustrated over the lack of improvement in recent years. These fans want General Manager Neil Olshey to move the needle and take a risk instead of banking on internal development. So what do the Blazers need? We will look at areas that the Blazers are struggling, and players who could potentially take the team to the next level.
3 and D (Small Forward)
One of the biggest issues the Blazers have dealt with in previous playoff runs is consistency. The issue during the Blazers previous playoff runs is that teams forced the ball out of Dame and CJ’s hands and try to make players such as Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless win the game by making their three point attempts. For the most part, this strategy has worked. While the forward tandem does wonders for the team defense, neither of them are consistent knockdown shooters. Finding someone who can shoot well while providing similar defense can do wonders for the team’s depth.
It is widely known that the Blazers are/have been strapped for cash since the infamous summer of 2016, which has hindered their ability to make improvements on a team with a solid foundation. While it is probably ignorant to clear cap space in hopes for a max free agent, trying to find ways to fill holes could be what it takes to take the team to the next level. While players such as Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, or Evan Turner, the recipients of the 2016 boom, are great members of the community, if the team can clear their contracts out while receiving a player with a similar value, it could both benefit the team now and in the summer.
Photo via AP
The Jefferson High product is having a resurgence shooting the ball for the Orlando Magic. After toiling in Toronto due to both depth and inconsistency, he seems to have found a niche as a part of the second unit. Despite his previous deficiencies, he has always been a valuable piece to a team as a shooter. Now that some of his other skills seemed to have found consistency, he could prove valuable to a playoff contender such as the Blazers. An additional benefit to this deal would be the benefit of playing in his home town, which would be a great storyline for the team whose has not had a local player in recent memory.
Photo via SLAM
While Prince is not widely regarded as a trade piece across the league, there have been some rumblings that the Hawks would deal the third year forward. Prince had a breakout season in 2017-18, blossoming as a perfect 3 and D player. Hawks fans hoped that over the offseason, Prince could develop his off the dribble game. While this has not been the case, leading to lower efficiency in 2018-19, he is still an effective player, especially in the role that the Blazers need. He would probably demand a higher price than the other players on this list due to his team control(not an expiring contract) and low salary, but if the price is right, Prince could be a key piece both this year and in the future.
Photo via Rob Schumacher (azcentral sports)
As bad as Phoenix has played, they have one thing that many other teams do not: a surplus of wings. Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, and the newly acquired Kelly Oubre, who are just the ones on their rookie contract. Since the Suns seem to be resetting for yet another rebuild, it makes sense to get some value from their one wing in his prime. At 6’8”, Warren can play either forward position. His greatest skill is to put the ball in the basket consistently, and he has now expanded his game to all three levels of the floor. He also provides athleticism on the defensive end, which should give at least an average level production on that end.
Photo via NBCSports
This would only work if the Kings drop out of the playoff picture, which seems unlikely for the immediate future as the team is tied with Memphis and Portland for the 8th seed. The Kings took an accelerated step in their rebuild this year, and many of their young players are shining, including wings Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Justin Jackson. This leaves the free agent to be seemingly out of the future picture. While he is a tad undersized for a small forward (6’5 1/2”), his wingspan makes up for his lack of height. If people think that Shumpert is washed up after seeing him banished from Cleveland at the 2018 deadline, they are sorely mistaken. Much of his decline last year was due to lack of health, and after an off-season of recovery, he is back to being one of the better defenders in the NBA and is now surprising everyone as a shooter, which could really help Portland come playoff time.
Photo via Getty Images
The story of Rodney Hood has been a series of ifs and buts. When he entered the NBA as a rookie out of Duke in 2014, he was tabbed as a player with the potential to become a player with an all-around offensive skillset and the size to keep up with the best of the best on defense. Almost 5 years later, these skills have rounded into form. Sure there have been flashes of brilliance throughout his career, BUT he has not been able to put together consistent enough production to be able to justify playing minutes for a meaningful team. However, he has done one thing well throughout his career, which is to shoot the three consistently. While Harkless and Aminu have shot the ball well enough to keep the team in the playoff picture, it would be a boon to have a player with Hood’s skillset in the waiting. And while this is unlikely given past production, if he somehow unlocks defensive consistency, this could potentially be a steal for the Blazers.
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