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    Deadline Deals Saved Trail Blazers From Despair – Blazer&39s Edge

    general manager joe cronin used last february’s trade deadline to turn the tide for the portland pioneers. The then-interim executive made three moves before the Feb. 10 buzzer beat, two of which scrapped four rotation key pieces, earning in the realm of $70 million annually, over the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans.

    In exchange, the Blazers shed a bunch of salary, generating a $20 million trade exception. The deals also produced a couple of interesting pre-prime players, an unwanted veteran guard, a rookie with potential, an additional first-round pick and a bunch of names who are unlikely to be NBA players beyond their existing contracts.

    Reading: Portland trail blazers trade news

    Many Portland fans criticized the moves, particularly the Clippers deal, which sent Norman Powell and the dying Robert Covington to Southern California. For their troubles, the Blazers received a second-round pick, the greenest of green prospects in Keon Johnson, veteran guard Eric Bledsoe, and Justise Winslow, a highly touted former talent, who has succumbed to injuries and sticky situations.

    the reason given for the exchange was to make the blazers subject to the tax to enable them to execute other agreements. And while some might have thought Powell’s five years, $90 million wasn’t horrible, many inside and outside the organization argued that the length of the deal was particularly prohibitive.

    The subsequent Pelicans trade saw CJ McCollum move to Louisiana after seven years as Damian Lillard’s second-in-charge. Next to him was the versatile great Larry Nance Jr. and disappointing flanker Tony Snell as a conditional first-round pick, said trade exception Josh Hart, Didi Louzada, Tomas Satoransky and Nickeil Alexander-Walker all traveled the other direction. Satoransky and Alexander-Walker were dealt again the next day, this time in a three-team deal involving the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, with the Blazers receiving the expiring contract of injured Australian veteran Joe Ingles, Elijah hughes and a second-round pick.

    If it wasn’t clear to viewers that the Blazers were collapsing, the team announced that pending free agents Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, and later Hart, would sit out, while a cavalcade of unknowns wrapped up the season.

    while the pelicans initially thwarted the blazers’ chances of earning a second lottery pick by making the playoffs, the milwaukee bucks’ consolation pick of 2025 proved enough to achieve what seemed like the long-term goal of the team, jerami grant, the day before the draft. .

    come draft night, rumors were a flurry suggesting the blazers were focused on dishing out their own seventh pick for the likes of og anunoby and john collins. Instead, Cronin chose and kept Shaedon Sharpe, a young Canadian who did not show up for Kentucky, despite being touted as a potential franchise-changing contributor.

    I repeat, to many entrenched in Blazers fandom, the moves were criticized and calls for Cronin to be fired, even before he was named current GM.

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    With the benefit of hindsight, we now compare where the team is today to where it could have been if cronin had stood his ground at the deadline.

    where are they now?

    portland sits slightly under the luxury tax now, thanks to didi louzada’s resignation and stretch. they also have a list of valuable assets that could arguably be moved relatively easily. blazers have versatility. they have expiring contracts that are likely to be valuable to other teams at hart, winslow, nassir little, and grant (although it has probably been extended).

    portland owes its 2023 first-round pick to the chicago bulls. His lottery-protected status, which carries over to future seasons if Portland misses the playoffs, increases his ability to deal with subsequent first-round players. But if the Blazers were desperate to include future picks in a trade, they could probably just remove the protections and give the pick to the Bulls no matter how they finished next season.

    johnson (for all intents and purposes the first round pick on the clippers deal), sharpe and jabari walker could be good and in sharpe’s case great, especially if the franchise opts to part ways with lillard in favor of a young man. movement in the coming years. while not necessarily competing this year, the blazers have assets and young talent to improve for the long haul.

    team as is looks like the following with brandon williams on a two way deal.

    • damian lillard, anfernee simons, nassir little, jerami grant, jusuf nurkic
    • josh hart, gary payton ii, shaedon sharpe, justise winslow, trendon watford
    • keon johnson, jabari walker, greg brown iii, drew eubanks.

    where could they have been?

    This is where we get to the purpose of this article. if cronin had sat idly by before the deadline, what kind of headaches would the franchise currently face?

    Let’s start with how the team would have finished the 2021-22 season. on February 10, the Blazers had a record of 22-34 and ranked 11th in the Western Conference. While Damian Lillard was out, the team still had McCollum, Nurkic, Powell and Covington. Nance Jr. he wouldn’t be ready to leave until April, as he was recovering from knee surgery.

    The team finished with a 27-55 record, with the tank full after the all-star break. But if the above names were still on the roster and playing, the franchise would likely have fallen below 500, say 35-47, perhaps nabbing the Spurs’ 10th and final playing spot.

    You never know, they may have beaten the Pelicans and Clippers and made the playoffs from 10th place. But there’s no question they would have been eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round, even if Lillard returned for the postseason.

    tell me if you’ve heard this before, a portland team in the tax kicked out in the first round of the playoffs? and it wasn’t getting better.

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    Financially, this team would have stalled in 2022-23 paying Lillard ($42.5 million), McCollum ($33.3 million), Powell ($16.7 million) and Larry Nance Jr. ($10 million). Let’s assume they bring back Simons ($22.3 million) and Nurkic ($15.6 million) in the same deals they signed. Robert Covington was a pending unrestricted free agent and, by all accounts, had no intention of returning.

    This is a team, at best, that maybe sneaks into the playoffs while costing the franchise $140 million for just six players. the cap for this season is $123 million and the tax is $150 million. yes

    the rest of the list is completed by nassir little ($4.1 million), greg brown iii ($1.5 million), trendon watford ($1.5 million), with the 14th pick or no first-round pick and any minimum contract veterans they might attract. . if the blazers were still interested in jabari walker, they may have been able to make that happen, but who knows.

    forget trading for the jerami grant or having something like the non-contributing midlevel exception to hook gary payton ii.

    As a result, the computer looks like this:

    • damian lillard, cj mccollum, norman powell, larry nance jr., jusuf nurkic
    • anfernee simons, nassir little, jabari walker, greg brown, trendon watford

    Don’t get me wrong, this list probably hits the low end of the play-in, but there’s barely any defense, small size and expensive, bloated contracts with few compelling assets that other teams would look at twice.

    We’ve all seen this movie before. This team would remain mired in mediocrity for the duration of McCollum’s contract, which was scheduled to expire in 2024.

    conclusion

    While the Blazers, as currently constructed, may also be fighting to avoid play-in this season, they have room to move, room to improve and a talented young prospect who has the potential to seriously raise the roof of this team for years to come.

    And while the young Canadian may not be as good as advertised, there are other options. hart is an incredibly valuable trading asset, winslow can generate something, the Celts supposedly have an interest. Young players like Johnson could be attractive to teams that are rebuilding. the roster is balanced, not only by height, but also by contract and there are few, if any, negative value offers to go forward with.

    I am by no means scheduling a championship parade for June of next year, but this team now has options, something the previous incarnation could only have dreamed of. if both rosters played in parallel dimensions this season, they would likely end up in similar positions. but the future beyond 2023 looks much brighter in this dimension.

    See also: Box and 1 Defense – Complete Coaching Guide

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