The NBA trade deadline is usually a time for teams to make big moves, but this year’s deadline was relatively quiet. Most of the biggest names on the market ended up staying put, and some of the biggest names were traded before the deadline.
The who will be blazers next coach is a question that has been on the minds of many Blazers fans. There are two potential candidates for the job, but it is unclear if they will be hired.
The Portland Trail Blazers have already been energized by rookie coach Chauncey Billups and his coaching staff’s relatability, attention to detail, and desire for responsibility. Damian Lillard has made it plain that he is completely committed to the Blazers for the time being, and he enters this season more optimistic than ever that his dreams of winning a championship in Rip City will come true.
Needless to say, Portland’s upbeat, positive demeanor as training camp starts is a far cry from what was anticipated in the aftermath of the franchise’s most contentious summer. But just because they’re enthralled by the prospect of 2021-22 doesn’t imply it’s limitless. The Blazers are still at least one rung behind genuine Western Conference contention, and they maintained during Media Day that they’re embracing the feeling of urgency engendered by Lillard’s summer struggles.
Here are two possible trade targets for Portland that might help Lillard, Billups, and the rest of the team climb the league’s championship ladder.
Candidates for trade by the Portland Trail Blazers
The most apparent trade option for the Blazers also increases their ceiling the most.
Say what you want about Simmons’ inability to score beyond the paint and his seeming aversion to shooting in general. The idea that he’s only a role switch and a system fit away from being a pumped-up Draymond Green is also ridiculous. Simmons isn’t anywhere near Green’s level as a help defender, especially around the rim, and has shied away from taking on a secondary playmaking role to thus point. The comparison of an unleashed Simmons playing with four shooters against Giannis Antetokounmpo is even more ridiculous.
However, just because Simmons isn’t the player everyone wants him to be doesn’t mean he couldn’t assist Portland, particularly with Billups’ motion-based offense and aggressive defensive system. When he goes beyond halfcourt, Lillard is an extremely rare superstar facilitator who commands the attention of several defenders, frequently providing the advantage chances in space Simmons needs to be his best. His presence on the other end is arguably more important for a club that ended last season with the second-worst defense in the NBA. Simmons may not be as good defensively as Green, but he’s still a stout on-ball defender with the flexibility to cover several spots and the reflexes to cover up his teammates’ errors.
In the contemporary NBA, there isn’t a perfect match for a guy like Simmons, at least if he wants to play like a ball-dominant great offensively. Portland may be the closest thing, and the pressure Lillard placed on the club over the summer won’t go away until his team makes a playoff run. With their present nucleus in place, the Blazers will always be longshots to win a title, no matter how optimistic they are as the regular season approaches.
But swapping Simmons for a deal that includes C.J. McCollum? If everything—literally everything—broke right, Portland would at least have a feeling of uncertainty that might be expressed as genuine conflict.
Warren, who became a regular with the Indiana Pacers after bursting as a scorer in the Orlando bubble, has become somewhat of a forgotten after missing all but four games of the 2020-21 season due to a stress fracture in his left foot. Despite being nine months away from his initial injury, Warren is still out indefinitely, with the Pacers stating in early September that he is not recovering “at the rate originally anticipated.”
Warren’s contract situation further complicates things. Warren is a free agency at the end of the season, and any hopes of a contract extension between him and the Pacers have gone while he attempts to return to the court. Indiana is also reportedly smitten with first-round pick Chris Duarte, adding another complication to Warren’s contract negotiations next summer.
Is it possible that Kevin Pritchard and Rick Carlisle would rather get ahead of those tense talks by selling Warren for anything of value before the deadline than risk him leaving in July? It definitely seems possible, particularly considering that doing so would allow the Pacers to take advantage of the mid-level exception in free agency, which would be their greatest opportunity to acquire an impact player.
Portland would be taking a big risk by acquiring Warren. Despite his reduced worth and precarious condition, he would not be cheap in a deal. With Lillard’s long-term future still uncertain, the Blazers aren’t in the greatest position to bring in a player with an injury history that extends beyond Warren’s present predicament. Lillard’s heyday is coming to an end.
But that’s also why putting a lot of money on Warren might pay off. In 2019-20, he established himself as one of the game’s greatest two-way wings, honing his three-level scoring abilities while also making major improvements as an individual defender thanks to increased speed and general involvement. Warren’s scalability, both offensively and in terms of lineup flexibility at forward, makes him a perfect match for Portland on both sides of the ball—at least at his prime.
Let’s hope Warren is able to make his long-awaited comeback to the court soon, whether in a Blazers uniform or not.
The 76ers have been a team that has been in the news for trade rumors recently. There are two potential trade candidates that could be sent to Portland, but nothing is certain yet. Reference: 76ers trade rumors.
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