The Portland Trail Blazers are sitting about $630,000 below the luxury tax. They have 1 open roster spot. They don’t have alot of flexibility. Their options are limited come the deadline, especially if they aren’t open to trading CJ McCollum, which they aren’t and won’t.
Option #1: Aldridge
The Blazers can wait and pray to the basketball gods that the Spurs can’t find a trade partner and buyout Aldridges contract. The Blazers don’t have the assists to trade for him. The Spurs likely will find a trade partner for Aldridge, so this one is probably not going to happen.
But, Aldridge and Lillard have said they want to play together again. Aldridge says he wants to retire a Blazer where he began. If slight chance prevails and he agrees to a buyout, the Blazers can sign him for vet min. If he doesn’t make it here at the deadline, keep your eye on him this summer during free agency.
Option #2: PJ Tucker
The Blazers could trade Rodney Hood and a pick for Tucker. The Rockets and Tucker have already agreed to part ways and Houston is looking for a trade. They probably are not to inclined to take Hood who is still trying to come back from an Achilles injury and has struggled, but they are collecting picks (ex GM Morey traded most of theirs away) to rebuild after Hardens exit.
Tucker is a career 35% three point shooter, but has shot better than that the past few seasons. He has been in a bit of a slump this season shooting only 31% from deep. But, a new team could revitalize his game.
Option #3: Trade Hood, Collins, Simons, Trent JR
The Blazers could trade a combination of Hood, Collins, Simons, and Trent for a proven player and fill spots with vet minimums off the buyout market.
Hood is struggling to find his old self after returning from his Achilles. He needs time to resurrect his game, but he is a minus on the floor. Collins is injured and a team would have to waive the physical, but Zach has been injured more than he has been healthy since Portland drafted him. Maybe someone else is willing to take a risk that he will find a way to stay healthy and be productive. He has shown some spark on both ends of the floor.
Simons is still young and taking time to develop. His winning the slam dunk contest and his shooting ability have him at his highest level of value.
Trent Jr has struggled, but he has been a lights out shooter when he has been on. He is a free agent this summer and will command more than the Blazers can give him. It might be best to use his value and move him now in a package for an upgrade to the roster.
Option # 4 – Sign Someone From The Buyout Market
The Blazers might not be able to get Aldridge off the buyout market, but there will be plenty others for the picking. Olshey can be patient, allow the roster to play healthy together. Wait for the cascade of trades to begin, and let the process play out as teams buyout and waive players. Take stock of whonis available and pick up a player on a pro rated vet min that keeps them under the tax and bolsters the roster for a run down the stretch.
Option #5 – Stand PAT
The Blazers have Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum coming back anytime. Zach Collins is out for the season and that’s a bummer, but maybe the Blazers best bet is to stay pat and do nothing.
Give the roster a chance as it is to see what it can do healthy with an in shape Nurkic. The bench has been allowed to develop in the absence of starters and the Blazers chemistry is strong.
Why mess up something good? Wait till the offseason to make moves. Be patient with Collins who will return next seasons. Let guys like Simons, Trent Jr, Little, and Giles continue to develop. See, what Trent Jr is worth and resign him if offers are not to toxic.
Choose continuity over musical roster spots.