If. It’s a dangerous word, one used in situations of uncertainty. Of doubt. It’s a word that Blazer fans know all too well. A dangerous conversation was had between Mike Acker of Rip City Project, myself, and Danny Nowell of PRS about the makeup of the current Blazers roster. The question was: Should Portland make a trade?
Acker was level-headed, and I tended to agree with him. Concerning LaMarcus Aldridge’s trade value, there’s not much that can be had for him. Not when other notable forwards are coming off the books this offseason who can be had without giving up prized draft picks. Indeed, Acker isn’t of the opinion that trading Aldridge for picks is a good idea.
In the real world? He’s right.
Because the NBA isn’t how it’s setup in 2k13. It’s not “a second-round pick”; it’s a second-round-pick protected through pick 45, protected through pick 40 in 2014, and unprotected in 2015. Seriously, have yourself a look at the current list of draft picks owed. It’s baffling.
What the Blazers need is someone who, although young, would fill a similar alpha role for them. The problem? Teams hardly give back even first round picks in trades that are not at least lottery protected. And that’s what Portland needs, a lottery pick.
If they want it, they’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way — by sucking.
That’s okay, because Portland isn’t any good. At least not right now. Aldridge, whether he likes it or not, is stuck in Portland with a nice fat contract. Bench woes, rookies, and unfamiliarity has the Blazers out of sync now but after a year of playing together, isn’t it reasonable that Portland could be a playoff team as soon as next year?
The crux is, of course, Damian Lillard. It requires him to stay healthy, and it requires him to continue to grow. He needs to be better on the defensive end and he needs to learn how to finish (or NBA refs need to learn his name so he can start getting whistles. Tomat-o…)
If Lillard develops into CP3/Rondo/Rose, there’s no reason to think that the Blazers won’t be a team in contention, not with Wes, Aldridge, Batum and a learning Meyers Leonard. Really, what’s not to love?
But there’s that little word again — if. The Blazers success hinges on so many variables that it’s hard to feel entirely confident. Lord knows Portland fans have been there before. What to do with JJ Hickson will be a quandary, and the bench needs shored up like a sailor with no limes.
Trading Aldridge (or anyone else) for picks is the same problem as keeping them here — there are no guarantees. There’s nothing that says that your top ten pick is going to pan out. And as I’ve pointed out before, the only real thing the Blazers should want in return is some kind of top three pick — the Muhammads and Wiggenses of the world. Are they going to get that back? I don’t think so. For the Blazers, it may be a good idea to stand pat, wait out this year and draft well themselves.
Oh, and start losing more games. I’ll still watch.