The 2014 NBA trade deadline has come and gone. For the Portland Trail Blazers’ management, they decided the best move to make was none at all.
The 15-player roster that began the season will stay intact through the end, hoping to bank on the chemistry and effective play that marked this team early in the year. Both owner Paul Allen and head coach Terry Stotts told media sources they did not expect the team to make any trade deadline moves.
This lack of movement shows Trail Blazer fans one important facet of the team’s direction: The Blazers are preparing for the future. They will not jeopardize what they have already built for the chance of a one-year playoff run. This means management trusts the guys they have and expects improvement in upcoming seasons.
Regardless of this season’s outcome, it will be a big summer for Portland. They bring back most of their roster (everyone but Earl Watson is signed on for at least one more year), but will possibly have zero draft picks.
Their first round selection was sent to the Charlotte Bobcats in the Gerald Wallace trade. It is top-12 protected so will likely go to Charlotte. The second round pick was part of the Raymond Felton-Andre Miller trade, so it is the Denver Nuggets’ property.
Free agency may also be difficult, as the Blazers are $4 million plus over the salary-cap. Blazers’ general manager Neil Olshey will have to find creative ways to improve this roster.
Leading up to the deadline, speculation involved the Blazers acquiring a backup big-man, hopefully one who could provide a scoring punch off the bench. This need has been highlighted in recent games with injuries to the Blazers’ front line: LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard have all missed games in the last two weeks.
Around the league there were no earth-shattering moves this year, more like a few small shifts. Former University of Oregon standout Aaron Brooks went to the Denver Nuggets, while the Rockets got Jordan Hamilton in exchange. The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Spencer Hawes (who was discussed as a Portland option) from the Philadelphia 76ers for Earl Clark and two second-round picks. Former Trail Blazer guard Steve Blake—known as the prettiest guy in the league—was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Golden State Warriors for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.
Trade deadline rumors swirled around several key players who are assumed to be unhappy in their current situations. Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love has been the target of such rumors for several years now. In his sixth year and still without a playoff appearance, Love has been speculated as wanting to move to Los Angeles, where he played college ball.
Also in the news was the Cavaliers’ Luol Deng, who it is feared will leave the team as an unrestricted free agent. Both Deng and Love stayed with their respective teams past the deadline, a roll of the dice in hopes the franchises’ fortunes change.
After a rough last month, winning only five of their last 14 games, the Trail Blazers head into the final stretch of the season with their eyes on playoff seeding. Rip City has fallen to the fifth spot behind the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, a dreaded position where one must play primarily on the other team’s home floor, and face the number one seed if they do advance past the first round.
Ideally, the Blazers want home court advantage in the first round, at least so their rabid fan-base can propel them to the first playoff series win in over a decade.