The Portland Trail Blazers currently have the 2nd highest payroll in the NBA behind only the Cleveland Cavaliers but Damian Lillard could demand a trade at any point. Even though, he’s admitted to wanting to stay with Portland, even if he never wins a ring. I still believe this to be false because Portland isn’t even competing right now.
2 of the last 3 years, Portland was the first round out. The only reason, they made the semifinals in 2016 was due to the Los Angeles Clippers losing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injury. Years of mediocrity and a little help will get to you, some way or another.
In this article, I am going to discuss 4 different scenarios via trades or signings that can make this Trail Blazer club all the better. Again, these are just scenarios. Anything can happen in the NBA.
4. Vince Carter
Vince Carter is going to be a free agent in 2017 and if he cannot finally get a championship with Memphis, why not consider joining forces with a rising Portland Trail Blazers team. His veteran leadership and playoff experience will mean so much to a young Portland team. Carter would fit just right in a sixth man role for this Portland team. He could easily put up 10-13 ppg off the bench. Carter would help to make this squad all that much deeper too. They could sign him to the veteran’s minimum due to their current cap situation.
Vince Carter could serve as a great mentor to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. This is where 19 seasons (he would have played another season) of experience could pay its dividends. Obviously, Carter in his current state of being does not make them a contender by any stretch of the imagination but it's a start. To get deeper in the second unit and acquire that much needed veteran presence is an amazing feat for Portland.
3. Thabo Sefolosha
Thabo Sefolosha has been a very consistent player throughout his career and if he accepts a veteran contract, he can help Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum next season.
Despite being almost 33 years old, Sefolosha is still quick, especially on the defensive end, and he can contribute from the bench and bring some experience for the playoffs.
If they don’t land Vince Carter, the best 3 & D option remaining would definitely be the former Thunder, as the Swiss veteran has proven to be one of the peskiest defenders in the league, although he’s a complete nonfactor on offense.
2. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is currently 21 years old and does not fit well in the Orlando Magic’s system. A change of scenery would only do him good. Aaron Gordon’s potential is going to waste in Orlando. If, he were able to play along with some of the best shooters like McCollum and Lillard maybe they could help him figure out his shot. In any event he projects as a better option at the PF than anyone they have currently. A duo of Gordon-Nurkic in the front court bolds well for the future. A possible trade like Aaron Gordon, Jodie Meeks, and DJ Augustin to the Blazers for Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis and the 26th pick would make a lot of sense for both teams.
Vogel would finally get a gritty defender in Aminu that would work better at the SF position then Gordon did previously. Also, a better 3 point shooter at that too. In addition to that another draft pick in what projects to be a loaded draft. Meanwhile, Portland would get more bench depth in the form of Meeks and Augustin. Potential deep threats that could help them playoff time. Outside of Lillard and McCollum, Portland had very little shooters to go to.
Gordon projects as a future star and maybe a change of scenery would help him to unwrap that potential. In this league you never know.
1. Paul George
Damian Lillard retweeted from a fan's tweet that wanted him and PG13 to play together. Paul George would be best to be acquired by a trade due to Portland's cap situation. If, George lets the Pacers know on certain terms that he is going to opt out and test free agency waters, then it may force the Pacers to trade him in order to get something return for him. This is where Portland could offer Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Jusuf Nurkic and future draft picks for Paul George. Ultimately, Indiana does this trade because something is better than George bolting in free agency. In either likely scenario, the Pacers will have to rebuild. A frontcourt of Myles Turner and Nurkic is pretty good going forward. The Trail Blazers do this because this move would immediately make them a contender. Imagine a big three of Paul George, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard. This team would be able to contend for the next 5 years.
We know that these are just possible scenarios but in any event, Portland needs to help Damian Lillard. His loyalty to Rip City is beyond amazing but underneath it, all winning rings should be every star player’s goal. Dynasties aren’t built passively, they are built from the bottom up strategically.