The Trail Blazers are back from a dud of a road trip, in which they lost all three games against East teams, and that has put their playoff hopes on shakier ground than they’d like. Still, as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches, Portland is not looking at a major move �� not yet, at least.
Teams have come around asking about the possibility of a deal for budding star guard C.J. McCollum, but Portland has routinely rejected those discussions. McCollum is averaging 21.8 points and making 42.5 percent of his 3s. He and backcourt mate Damian Lillard combine to make $50 million-$60 million over the next three seasons, which accounts for more than half the team’s cap space.
Executives around the league told SN that McCollum will continue to be a target in the offseason, especially if the team struggles to make the playoffs or falls out of the picture altogether.
While those conversations were premature �� Ball has been a different player in the 10 games since and has plenty more room to grow �� it goes to show how much of a roller coaster his rookie season has been thus far.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what Ball has displayed on both ends of the floor with the Lakers to get a better understanding of his long-term potential in the NBA.
Fisher played over 22 minutes per game in the 2012 playoffs and helped the Thunder reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Diaw signed with San Antonio in March of 2012 following a buyout from the historically bad Charlotte Bobcats. (The team’s .106 win percentage is still the worst in league history.) He started in all of the Spurs’ postseason games in 2012. San Antonio reached the Western Conference finals where the Spurs lost to a young, talented Thunder team.
Diaw re-signed with San Antonio in the 2012 offseason and spent the next four years of his career there. He proved his worth as a valuable long-term asset for the Spurs, posting averages of 6.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists in a 2014 NBA Finals victory over the Heat.
The salary cap shouldn’t be an impediment to any moves the team hopes to make. Given how often the Patriots are in sub packages, a safety such as the Saints’ Kenny Vaccaro could possibly pique their interest if the price is right. But more than anything, retaining their own free agents — starting with left tackle Nate Solder and running back Dion Lewis — seems like a sound strategy. — Mike Reiss