The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled, to say the least, at the beginning of their 2021-22 campaign. Currently sitting at 12-18 (11th in the Western Conference), the Trail Blazers seem to be moving in the wrong direction. However, the front office does seem to be taking action as of recent. After last season’s disappointment, the Trail Blazers and former head coach Terry Stotts mutually agreed to part ways. The Trail Blazers had the second worst defensive season in NBA history last season (115.3 DRtg), and hiring a veteran, defensive-minded head coach in Chauncey Billups seemed like a step forward. However, even with the recent hiring, the acquisitions of Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell, Cody Zeller, and Ben McLemore have proved to be inadequate in the organization’s effort towards winning a championship.
With the recent firing of ex-GM Neil Olshey, the Trail Blazers have made it clear that they are looking to investigate trade possibilities to improve the talent on the current roster. The following development, discussed on the Hoop Collective Podcast, contributes to that idea.
“I talked to an executive this week who told me every single Portland Trail Blazer is available with the exception of Dame.” – Brian Windhorst, ESPNHoops Hype
Despite recent struggles, Damian Lillard has reiterated his commitment to the franchise that drafted him and has made it clear he has no intentions of leaving Portland. However, it is worth noting that he is not entirely satisfied with some of the media surrounding his situation, stating “when our team is going through it and I’m in a little bit of a struggle, I see certain people not giving me the same respect. So that’s why I’m a little irritated in here.” Portland has been reluctant to trade in the recent past, so this is rather exciting for Trail Blazers fans.
If the Trail Blazers do look into league-altering trade options, they don’t need to look far. Rumors are swirling around about a potential move involving the Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers, and a third team. Additionally, there have been recent discussions regarding Lillard’s interest in playing alongside Ben Simmons. Assuming the report via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is accurate, a blockbuster trade involving Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons could shed light on a new backcourt in Portland. Simmons, arguably the most versatile defender in the NBA, would significantly improve Portland’s defensive problems. Simmons has also played as a point guard for the entirety of his NBA career, so seeing how he would be implemented alongside Damian Lillard would be interesting. The Trail Blazers have been adamant about maintaining their backcourt duo, so how “available” McCollum actually is remains to be seen.
According to Shams Charania, the 76ers offered Ben Simmons to the Trail Blazers during the offseason in return for CJ McCollum, 3 first-round picks, and 3 pick swaps. The Trail Blazers rejected the offer and trade talks involving Simmons and the Blazers dissipated shortly after. However, with the recent advancements and Ben Simmons retaining his mindset of moving away from Philadelphia, the 76ers may be willing to reconsider their offer.
With more than 100 free agents becoming trade eligible on December 15th, it is officially trade season. It will be interesting to monitor the Trail Blazers’ aggression to trade in the midst of a season that has been disappointing thus far. These are simply rumors as of now, however, the Trail Blazers’ front office is showing encouraging signs.