The Season is over. The Portland Trail Blazers have been the most successful they have been since Neil Olshey became the team’s general manager. This postseason the Blazers made the Western Conference Finals. They did it without starting center Jusuf Nurkic. Enes Kanter was the famished one armed man. He and Rodney Hood haven’t even gotten to play a whole season with Portland yet. This Blazers team could grow as it is, should Olshey find a way to keep all the key players around.
As it is, there will be moves. Neil will make Portland better, as he has continued to do annually. The question becomes, is now the time to make his big move, and go all in for a championship. The Warriors dynasty finally has seemed to have collapsed. Durant could return, but will he or Klay Thompson ever be the same players, after Achilles and ACL injures? Will one or both of them leave in free agency? Will the Warriors rise again, or is the wicked witch truly dead?
These are questions you can bet Neil Olshey is asking himself. He is for sure looking at what the Raptors have accomplished by pushing all their chips in, and trading for a star that may leave in a year. The star in question is of course Anthony Davis. There is little chance the Blazers get him, even if Olshey called. Olshey tried this tactic back in 2017 to try and acquire Paul George. He offered any and everything outside of Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic. Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard laughed at him and hung up.
Many Portland fans are growing impatient. They are beseeching Olshey to call up David Griffin and offer the farm for Anthony Davis. The Blazers don’t really have an enticing offer. Yes, the Pelicans would be interested in placing young guys like Zach Collins, Jake Layman, and Anfernee Simons around Zion Williamson, but it is not enough. The Blazers have the 25th pick. Not enough. They could offer a bushel of future picks. It is probably still not enough to beat competing offers.
Olshey would likely try to dump Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, or Perhaps Maurice Harkless on the Pelicans. But, The Pelicans will want to squeeze Davis for all he is worth and get back young players that can fit with Zion and future and present picks, not juggernaut contracts that would give them cap space in a year. So if anyone is thinking Olshey is going to pull of some miracle trade and send all of his mistakes to New Orleans for Davis, it is not going to happen.
If the Blazers do somehow go all in and get Davis, it will be because they give up most if not all of their young players along with several picks. Giving up so many assets, for a one year rental is a heavy gamble. It paid off for Toronto with Kawhi Leonard. Sure, but Toronto gave up DeMar DeRozan, a highly overrated shooting guard, who isn’t really a star, Jakob Poeltl, and their 2019 1st round pick, which they probably wouldn’t have missed either way.
The Point is Toronto was already going to have to blow it up and start anew. They long had troubles in the playoffs, and fired their coach and General Manager. It was a win/win for them. They never going to win with a DeRozan/Lowry duo. They proved it time and again. They took a huge risk and it paid off. The Raptors have their first championship. Leonard will likely stay because of it.
It could just as easily have gone the other way. If they would have lost to the Warriors, Kawhi would probably leave and the Raptors would be rebuilding. There is still a chance he leaves and they rebuild again. But, hey they got a chip.
How does this translate to the Blazers. Portland would have to give up far more. They would have to gut their team to get Davis. The Raptors still have, Lowry, VanVleet, Siakam, Ibaka, Gasol, and Green if Kawhi leaves. Portland would likely lose McCollum, Simons, Collins, Layman, and Harkless, if not a sixth player as well. They would be gutted. Yeah they would have Dame and Nurkic still, but would be set far back with Lillard’s window closing if it didn’t pay off and Davis left to the Lakers in the summer of 2020.
It is possible the Blazers could pull off a Toronto with Davis, and have him fall in love with Portland and playing with his friend Damian Lillard. Who Knows. None of that is concrete. What is concrete is Neil would be giving up 5 years of building this team. It is a pretty irresponsible path to take. Especially since Olshey’s plan is working, the team is getting closer and closer to the promise land. Why give that up now. I exhort Neil to keep doing what he is doing. If it all happened and Davis came to Portland would I be upset? No. But, I would be worried as a Blazer fan. If Davis came and the Blazers won it all next year, would it all be worth it, if Portland goes back to rebuilding and chasing that trophy for another 49 years. Hell yes! But, it won’t happen that way. Toronto’s path was a lucky fairy tale that played out.
I don’t see Neil Olshey as someone who will push all his chips in and bluff when he knows he doesn’t have the best hand. He has learned about things backfiring, with Turner, Crabbe, and Leonard, and he has played things closer to the cuff. Neil is a low risk, high reward guy. He will keep building the team, being advantageous and sedulous. He will not make a deal, where he doesn’t get the best end of the stick. I don’t see him trading for Davis. He just can’t kill his darlings.