Change is coming to Portland—you can feel it.
Change is coming to Portland—you can feel it. Don’t take my word for it, though; just listen to Blazers general manager Rich Cho, who was asked recently how likely it is that his staff will make a trade in the coming weeks.
“I’d say the chances are pretty good,” was Cho’s reply. “We are being pretty active—put it that way.”
Cho’s statement isn’t groundbreaking news, but it’s certainly a re-enforcement to the idea that something needs to be done with this roster soon. The stakes for winning an NBA championship have been raised with “Dream Team”-like super-rosters such as the LA Lakers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic dominating the upper echelon of the league. Meanwhile, two of the Blazers’ franchise players are currently sidelined with serious injuries.
If mediocrity meets your standards, then the world isn’t completely falling apart. Portland is still hanging on. It’s just past the halfway point in the season, and the Blazers are clinging to the eighth seed in the Western Conference by two games over the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that’s never made the playoffs in the history of its franchise.
To be fair, there’s been a handful of good sprinkled in as well. LaMarcus Aldridge deserves to be an all-star and has singlehandedly kept Portland in the playoffs. Since Brandon Roy’s absence, he’s averaging 23.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shooting 51.5 percent from the field. But perhaps the biggest statement came earlier this week, as he exploded for a 40-point career-high against Tim Duncan and the first-place San Antonio Spurs.
This season, Aldridge has not only become the Blazer’s best player and most valuable asset, but he’s become the only untouchable player on this roster. If there was a realistic offer made for Greg Oden or Roy, I’m certain the front office would take it under serious consideration. The same goes for any other player on the roster, aside from Aldridge.
Sure, this Blazer team is fun to root for. They’re a gutty and hard-working group of underhanded underdogs. Still, I wouldn’t recommend becoming too emotionally attached to anyone. One of the downsides to emotions is that they can cloud your perspective—something all fans can be found guilty of at one time or another.
Remember future Blazer “all-stars” such as Martell Webster? Travis Outlaw? Or Jerryd Bayless? What happened to them?
The truth is that if Portland wants to reach the next level and become a true contender, then head coach Nate McMillan needs another all-star level player who can create offense for himself and his teammates.
Wesley Mathews is a solid young player and has played well recently, but isn’t a bonafide superstar who can get into the lane and consistently wreak havoc off the dribble. The same goes for Nicholas Batum. Ditto for Rudy Fernandez.
The NBA landscape operates under similar principles and rules as most open markets in the world. The best thing for the Blazers to do is cash in while the value of their assets is high. Mathews and Batum are both desired by other GM’s around the league, and Fernandez has even regained some of his trade value. Andre Miller is older, and because of his expiring contract, he is almost as equally valuable as a trade catalyst as he is as a player.
It makes sense for Cho to take advantage of the situation. I’d be surprised if the Blazers didn’t put together a deal by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, even if it’s just a small deal to acquire a future draft pick or clear up more cap space.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Cho held off on making a major deal until the off-season, if nothing jumps out at him. The first-year GM has emphasized that there are no “quick fixes” and that he’s not willing to sacrifice the team’s long-term future for a short-term boost. But regardless of when it arrives, one thing’s for sure: Change is indeed on its way. ?