If we are to believe the incessant chatter of NBA writers, the Blazers will be attempting some kind of trade before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Oregonian’s John Canzano reported in his blog Thursday that the team was considering a three-way trade that would send Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson to the Wolves for Wally Szczerbiac, Latrell Sprewell and Ervin Johnson. Disgruntled forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim would end up in New Jersey, and the Nets would send Jason Kidd to the Wolves.
It would seem that this is a bad deal for the Trail Blazers, but hold up. Rahim is in the final year of his contract, which pays him roughly $14 million and chances are high he won’t choose to resign at season’s end.
The Blazers desperately need two things at this point: consistent outside shooting and a major image boost. The trade would accomplish both goals. Szczerbiak is having a renaissance year of sorts. The sixth overall pick in the1999 draft is averaging 16 points a contest and is shooting 51 percent from the floor and 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Sprewell and Johnson are attractive simply because they have gigantic contracts that are expiring at the end of the year and would give the Blazers a "Get Out of Jail Free" card concerning new team cancer Darius Miles and his recently inked $36 million contract inked this past summer.
Sprewell is a question mark at this point. If he were to join the team, it is doubtful that he would be interested in playing his hardest. That apathy has already led the 13-year veteran’s stats to dip dramatically. Spree is averaging a career low 12.7 points a game on 41 percent shooting. If the Blazers could suffer through the remaining 30 or so games they would be rid of Spree and more importantly his $8 million contract.
A definite downside in the matter is losing Ruben Patterson, who used his preseason anger over the prospect of receiving limited playing time to change himself into the hardest working and most exciting Blazer to watch this year.
Patterson has excelled as a starter, bringing the energy and heart Portland lacks without him on the floor. His numbers as a starter are an impressive 15.5 points and 4.9 boards a game, all while shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Even with the addition of Patterson in the starting lineup hasn’t helped the Blazers win many more games. After an 87-95 loss to Indiana Wednesday night the Blazers record is a measly 21-30 and they have dropped 4 of their last 5 outings. Injuries have played their part, with Miles, Zach Randolph and Abdur-Rahim all missing significant amounts of time. Randolph has sat the last two games.
Another scenario has Portland trading for Toronto Raptors forward Jalen Rose, who has been upset about playing time and living in Canada. Though the details of this hypothetical transaction are fuzzy, the would certainly center around Rose and Abdur-Rahim.
Rose is a 32-year-old veteran and would bring another element of leadership to this increasingly young Blazer roster. Through 52 games going to the All-Star break, Rose has averaged 16.7 points a game and is shooting a healthy 38 percent from three.
Of course at this time all these scenarios are simply hearsay and whispers. Despite whatever actually happens before Feb. 24, they are a telling sign that Trail Blazer management knows that something has to change in order to save the season and possibly the franchise. The options are out there. All that’s left now is to find one to pull the trigger on.