It has been no secret that star point guard Damian Lillard has been a little unsettled in Portland. He wants to compete and win now. Lillard met with the front office a little over a week ago to discuss the direction of the team and encourage the Blazers associates to pursue players who can help him bring a championship to Portland. The Trail Blazers of course have Lillard and fellow guard CJ McCollum who they would love to build around. Both players are considered to be one of the best in the league at their respective positions. However, the front court needs work in Portland. The Blazers currently sit in sixth place in the western conference, which would be good enough for a playoff berth but beating Golden State or Houston in a seven game series with the lack of a dominant front court in Portland seems almost impossible. The Trail Blazers front office must act fast to prove to Lillard that it is worth staying and show that competing for the title is a real possibility within the coming years in Portland.
A good starting point for Portland would be strengthening the front court before the NBA trade deadline on February 8. Portland could enquire about players like Julius Randle, DeMarre Carroll, or DeAndre Jordan. The Blazers have been starting games with Al-Farouq Aminu, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Evan Turner on the floor.
Randle would be the cheapest option to strengthen Portland’s front court. However, DeMarre Carroll and DeAndre Jordan bring more experience to the table. Jordan would definitely be the biggest upgrade out of either of the three options. The Clippers recently dealt Blake Griffin to Detroit, but it is uncertain if they are pushing to move Jordan before the trade deadline as well.
Randle, Carroll, and Jordan have all been productive in their own right throughout this season. Randle and Carroll have found more success than Jordan with putting the ball in the basket over the course of the year, both averaging around thirteen points per game in comparison to Jordan’s eleven. However, Jordan is averaging almost fifteen rebounds per game this season, which is significantly more than both Randle and Carroll. No Trail Blazer is averaging double-digit rebounds per game this season, thus if Jordan comes to Portland he would comfortably slide in as the Blazers leading rebounder. In order to acquire Julius Randle from the Lakers I could see Portland offering a future first round pick and a younger player like Noah Vonleh. DeMarre Carroll might come at a cheaper cost than Randle or Jordan, so I could see Portland sending Maurice Harkless to Brooklyn for Carroll. Finally, DeAndre Jordan would demand the biggest trade package. I could see Portland trading both Vonleh and Harkless along with a first round pick to Los Angeles for Jordan or possibly weaving Meyers Leonard in the trade as well to ensure the salary cap works out on both ends.
Acquiring further talent in the front court should be a point of emphasis for the Blazers front office. Trading for a player like Randle, Carroll, or Jordan could be the first step to improving the roster and becoming legitimate contenders for the title in years to come. The clock is ticking on Portland to make a move before the trade deadline window slams shut and they are stuck with the same guys until the offseason. It should be interesting to see how Portland approaches revamping the roster, so we will sit back and see what the Blazers front office has in store.