The Trailblazers caught the injury bug and have gone from a for sure playoff team in the West to being on the outside looking in. With Jusuf Nurkic already out until the all-star break and Zach Collins being out indefinitely makes them thin in the frontcourt. The only big men available for their team right now is Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Tolliver, and Skal Labissiere. Whiteside is a very good center for Portland to anchor the middle and play around 30 minutes a night. In Tolliver, your getting a stretch 4 that’s physical but is having a slow start to the year offensively as he is shooting 6/22 from the 3 point line which is good for 27.3%. This is nothing to overreact about though as he has been an above-average 3 point shooter for years now so he should escape this slump. With Skal, he is athletic and has some size, but is not highly skilled. He isn’t a player that can be a regular contributor for a team trying to make the playoffs, especially in the West. So where does Portland go from here?
If Portland wants to be a legitimate threat, then they can’t settle with Skal being the best option off the bench. The Trailblazers also know that anyone available in free agency or the G-League is there for a reason and won’t be able to fill in and keep this team in playoff contention. The Blazers need to find a trade that will make sense for them and their franchise.
The trade that I Propose would be:
Portland Trailblazers receive- Marvin Williams and Celtics 2020 2nd round pick (no protection)
Charlotte Hornets receive- Kent Bazemore and Trailblazers 2020 1st round pick (top 5 protected)
How the Hornets benefit:
The Hornets are a rebuilding team. Adding as much draft capital as possible should be priority number 1 as well as trying to lose as many games as possible. The Hornets are 4-5, but this a team that still needs to accumulate more talent. With Portland’s pick, whether it’s a late lottery pick or even if it becomes a later 1st round pick in the 20s, that pick still holds value whether they use that pick and package it with their 1st round pick to move up if they are unlucky in the lottery or you have an opportunity to draft another young player to bring in to your team. Losing Marvin Williams is losing a player who can be a leader, but the Hornets still have vets like Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum, and Michael Kidd Gilchrist. The Hornet are a mediocre 4-5 right now, but they can’t expect this to continue, because this is one of the worst rosters in the NBA. With Kent Bazemore, this would be a buyout candidate if the Hornets don’t play him the minutes he’s expecting. This deal can still help the Hornets even if they do buy Bazemore out. They would have to realize that they are gaining a 1st round pick for a player who isn’t a part of their future and that has to be the mindset of this franchise.
How the Trailblazers benefit:
The player that is the perfect candidate is Hornet’s player Marvin Williams. He is a true stretch 4 that competes on the defensive end and still has a lot to offer for a team. Williams could come in and be the starter for the Blazers for the immediate future. Including this year, Marvin has shot 40% or more from the 3 point line in 3 of the past 5 years. He has also been an ironman as he hasn’t missed more than 7 games since the 2013-2014 season. Williams could come in and immediately help this team that is sinking. If Portland does nothing, their chances of making the playoffs are slim. The Trailblazers can afford to move off of one of Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, or Mario Hezonja. Since Bazemore is the only salary that can match Marvin Williams, he is the best candidate. Both players are on expiring contracts as Williams is making about $15 million, while Bazemore is making about $19 million this year. The Blazers would have to tighten its rotation is the downside to losing Bazemore.
The rotation would be as follows:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: C.J. McCollum
SF: Rodney Hood
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Hassan Whiteside
6th: Anfernee Simons
7th: Anthony Tolliver
8th: Mario Hezonja
Portland has a player in Anfernee Simons who is ready to be the 6th man for them and they can go with multiple guard lineups and play him almost starter minutes. This would be the most consistent 8 man rotation, but they definitely could rely on Skal Labissiere, Gary Trent, or Nassir Little to play a few minutes here or there. The Blazers have enough young talent as they’ve accumulated young talents like Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons, and Nassir Little over the years. They don’t need the 1st round pick. Portland also has two all-star caliber players in Lillard and McCollum who are both in their prime now. In this scenario, I also have a top 5 protection on the pick. This would ensure the risk of if they do miss the playoffs and do jump up in the lottery, they wouldn’t miss out on that opportunity. Portland needs to take risks and this trade would be a risk worth taking.
Article written by Bradley Patten
All stats, rosters, and team records found on NBA.com (https://stats.nba.com)
All contracts found on spotrac (https://www.spotrac.com/nba/charlotte-hornets/marvin-williams-2208/)
To ensure that the trade would work, I used RealGM (https://basketball.realgm.com)
Photo credit to Streeter Lecka/Getty Images (https://keepingitheel.com/2019/06/12/unc-basketball-alumni-marvin-williams-picks-15m-player-option/)