Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Hierarchy Of Trade Value: 2010 Trail Blazers

Normally, this fan can not stand Bill Simmons, but his annual NBA Trade Value Rankings got me thinking. The February 18th trading deadline is quickly approaching and as usual, the Trail Blazers are always in the rumor mill mix one way or another. All fans have their favorite players, but we also love to play "armchair GM" and have our own differing opinions of who should be available to go this deadline and who should be strictly off limits. From a Trail Blazer perspective, this list breaks down each Trail Blazer player's trade value, from "Don't even ask" to "Yeah, we're listening" based on these criteria: age, talent, contract, injury history, intangible assets, and their fit.
The Untouchables Brandon Roy Realistically, in the world of the NBA, there is only one player whom, if you had him, you would not listen to any offer, regardless. His name is LeBron James. Even though there are a few better players in the league than Roy, Portland should not, and would not entertain any offer for Brandon, even if Cleveland came a calling with LeBron at hand. Roy is Portland. He is the franchise. There is no coincidence that when the Blazers drafted him back in 2006, their fortune took a humongous turn for the better, including him being there in New Jersey, representing the Blazers at the 07 Draft Lottery as we miraculously won the lottery after only being given a 5% chance. It just wouldn't feel right if the Blazers didn't win the title without Roy during his tenure in the league. Not to mention Roy is still relatively young, 25, loves the city of Portland, and is locked up for the next 5 season. You're Wasting Our Time Even By Asking Nicolas Batum For a player only averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds, #2 would seem extremely high on the trade value list, but Nico excels in all the criteria. He just turned 21, still has at least three more years on a deal that won't net him more than $2 million in the coming seasons, and brings exactly what the Blazers need to the table, defense. In only his 2nd year in the NBA, he is already the best perimeter defender and his length and athleticism, give him the versatility to guard anyone from Kevin Durant to Deron Williams. The Trail Blazers shouldn't even entertain a trade offer including Batum unless it nets back another legitimate superstar to play along side Roy. Greg Oden Although the plethora of injuries has caused G.O. to miss 154 games through three NBA seasons, he still is an agile 7 ft. big man whom the Trail Blazers have invested a lot into. His value is as low as it can be, but there is still hope he can recover to be a healthy NBA player and show more signs of improvement as he did before he went down with the kneecap injury. Portland is better off right now holding onto him, at least through his contract, which still has two more years before a qualifying offer must be made, and hope he lives up to at least half of the hype rather than trying to cut their ties now and get a poor return on their investment. No On Must Know We're Talking! LaMarcus Aldridge Athletic, long, 6'11" forwards who can run like gazelles and possess great footwork do not grow on trees and the Blazers would be absolutely foolish to move him. Aldridge is only 24 and, like Roy, is inked through the 2012-13 season. LaMarcus has All-NBA talent, but so far has had a tough time bringing borderline All-Star production to the hardwood, as averages of 17 points and 8 rebounds are not quite as impressive as many Blazer fans would like to see from the type of skill set the L-Train attributes. On the plus side, LaMarcus is well-liked by his teammates, the perfect 2nd or 3rd option as he has no problem deferring to Roy, and is the perfect fit once Oden returns, as he is able to spread the floor with his mid-range game. Don't Come In Here With That Weak Offer Jerryd Bayless Like a lot of his Blazer teammates, Bayless is incredibly young, 21, still on his rookie deal through the 2013 season, and has shown flashes of brilliance, which makes him incredibly attractive for teams looking to decimate and rebuild their current squad. Like Batum, Bayless provides something this team desperately needs in his ability to get to the the foul line at will. Outside of Roy and Outlaw, Jerryd is the only other Blazer able to create his own shot. Although questions still arise as to whether he can be a full-time point guard or be relegated to scoring 6th man, I would look to keep Bayless at all costs unless someone completely overpays for him, because Jerryd plays with a chip on his shoulder and I get the feeling he would definitely haunt the Trail Blazers the rest of his career every time he matched up with us. Dante Cunningham Dante could have been put into really any of the below categories, but he has the makings of one of the great Trail Blazer role players ever to put on the red and black. Again, this list ranks players value to the team from a Portland vantage point more so than whom outside general managers would rank them. What I love about Cunningham is he doesn't play like someone who he is not; he sticks to his boundaries. On offense he finds the open spots on the court to let his automatic jump shot fly and is always hustling or crashing the boards for every loose ball. While on defense, he plays great, intelligent ball denial defense, knows how and when to bring the double team, and lately has shown an ability to occasionally be a weak-side shot blocker. At 22 and making less than $1 million through next season, he is one of the NBA's best bangs for his buck. Great role players are not only vital to have on championship-caliber teams but are almost as tough to find as superstars, so keep Dante! Rudy Fernandez It has been reported lately that opposing GM's are really intrigued by two Blazer players. While those names have not been published, it is widely accepted that Baum and Rudy are the two in question. Why wouldn't general managers go after Rudy? At 24 he is still young in age but wise in terms of basketball experience as he has been playing professionally in his native country of Spain since being a teenager. Although Rudy has been assigned to shoot mainly 3 pointers, all NBA executives know what he is capable of if given a larger role as they all saw the show he put on in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, most notably showing off his sneaky hops by posterizing Dwight Howard. Rudy is lowest on the trade value list amongst the young Trail Blazer assets, because he plays the same position as Roy, but there is still Manu Ginobili-type play making potential off of the bench and a future three guard rotation of Roy, Bayless, and Rudy could be lethal. Not to mention, Rudy is a huge fan favorite so any trade involving him better bring back a big name that is a long-term fix He Means More To Us, Than You Travis Outlaw It's hard to believe Travis has been a Trail Blazer for seven years and is only 25 and with an expiring contract of $4 million this year, he is a very attractive trading chip for opposing teams looking to shed salary. Outlaw earns his paycheck by creating his own shot when the offense stalls and being "Mr. 4th Quarter", nailing clutch shots time after time. What makes him so much more valuable to the Trail Blazer franchise is he is our "glue guy." He keeps the team loose in the locker room and is friends with every player on the team. If there is a nicer Blazer on the roster, show him to me. This isn't a knock on the other players, but rather a credit to Outlaw. Joel Przybilla The only reason Przybilla isn't higher on this list is the injury suffered earlier this year in Dallas, which couldn't have occurred at a worse time for Joel personally. He has a player option in his contract which allows him the choice to opt out of the final year of his deal in hopes of cashing in one last big pay day. Rupturing his right patella tendon really puts any opting out ideas to rest as his value is pretty low around the league. Also, it must be mentioned that Joel is no spring chicken anymore. He recently turned 30 and it will be interesting to see how his body rehabs from such a major blow to the knee. Will he be slower laterally or be limited in his jumping, which is a major staple to his superb shot blocking? The reason he means more to the franchise is due to the loyalty he showed to us back in 2006, opting to re-up with the Trail Blazers, even after a lowly 21 win season which was worst in the league, and over comparable offers from the two prior champs, Detroit and San Antonio. Joel's blue-collar play on the court is beloved by fans and his "take no crap" attitude is embraced by the players, often playing the role of team intimidator. You'll Probably Have To Overpay Andre Miller At almost 34 years of age, the mileage on Dre's body is piling up but as the current NBA ironman, he shows no signs of breaking down. Having Andre running the show this season has been a breath of fresh air for Blazer fans, who haven't been blessed with a true point guard since Rod Strickland was "Lightning Rod' back in the mid-90's. My theory on how the Blazers have been able to keep nearly every single game competitive and even pull out some improbable victories, even with Roy out, has everything to do with Miler. He is a veteran presence on a team which needed one in the worst way. He looks to pass first, but also keeps the defense honest by scoring around 13 a game this year and 16 since the start of the New Year. According to GM Kevin Pritchard, "We have no interest in trading Andre Miller. Zero. None. Write it." Martell Webster Like Outlaw, it's difficult to believe how young Marty still is, just turning 23, and having already 4 and a half years of experience under his belt. Although his current contract will not pay him more than $6 million, he does have a pretty lengthy contract with a team option that could keep him in the Rose City through 2013. From the Blazers point of view, the deal is a steal as Webster is one of the better backup guard/forward combos in the league, averaging a career-high 10.8 points per game and becoming one of the better perimeter defenders on the team. He still has room to improve and if he does, it could make him one of the bigger bargains in the league. Thinking of it from an outsider's vantage point, Webster wouldn't be high on the pecking list of wanted Trail Blazer assets due to that same contact. With the economy still down, the current NBA salary cap could continue to decrease which means teams will only seek players on either one or two year deals. The only exception would be superstars who are signed for four or more years, because even available, good-to-great players with long and large deals like Andre Iguodala are being looked at twice due to the thought of a hard-cap being implemented when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached after the 2011 season. Juwan Howard Who would have ever thought Juwan Howard would be on pace to start 50 games at center for the Trail Blazers this year? When word first leaked out about the one-year deal he signed in the off-season, most fans believed him to just be along for the ride as well as being a veteran presence in the locker room and during practice. At $1.3 million, Juwan is one of the best deals in the entire NBA and frankly, I think he earned his whole paycheck after his tirade in the locker room after a recent home loss to the Thunder. At 37, unfortunately this could be Howard's last year, or maybe he gives us one more year of solid basketball. What really stands out about Howard is his willingness to take younger players under his wing. It's fitting that this attitude comes from his early days with the Washington Bullets, when former Blazer Kevin Duckworth did the same for him. His impact on the Trail Blazers is unquantifiable, even to the point that I would love to see him involved with the organization much longer after his playing days, such as a Trail Blazers ambassador. Unless another team is willing to seriously overpay for a stately veteran, it's highly unlikely he'll be traded. We're Listening Steve Blake Every contending NBA team needs players like Steve Blake, who are hard working, play to their strengths, and known for stepping up and knocking down clutch shots. One reason Blake slid so far down this list is due to his age, 30, and, up to this point, he hasn't been able to match his 2009 production this year. Last year was really a career-year for Steve, scoring 11 points a night, making 140 trifectas on 42.8% shooting from downtown; all personal bests. However this year, through 55 games, his scoring is down to 7.6, 3-point shooting slumped a bit to 37.7% and he hasn't been hitting the three as frequently as he would like, only drilling 78 to date. What opposing organization's love about Blake is his $4.9 million expiring contract, which can be very enticing for teams looking to cut costs and start over (ex: Washington moving Butler and Haywood for essentially four expiring deals.) Jeff Pendergraph When much-loved, oddball Channing Frye left Portland for Phoenix in the summer, it was wondered by many fans who would fill that void left in the locker room? Enter rookie power forward Jeff Pendergraph who has left his own quirky mark on the Trail Blazers, mainly from his pre-game "War Dance". Jeff is a high-energy, hustling player who has no problems playing spot minutes off the bench. He has great rebounding fundamentals which allowed him to record a career-high 14 boards earlier this year. He currently has a tendancy toget lost a bit too much on D right now, but once he gets more accustomed with the Blazers defensive philosophies his minutes and value should rise. As long he keeps his high energy persona, his sub $1 million contract over three seasons will be looked upon as a great deal. Patty Mills Potential, potential, potential. Unfortunately, this is all we have to go on in regards to Patty Mills, as being the 15th man doesn't allow him to showcase himself on the NBA stage. Like Rudy, he has shown the ability to hold his own on the international circuit against Team USA's best, apparently being too quick for Chris Paul to handle. Another positive sign can be found in his play down in the NBDL, scorching the D-League competition for the Idaho Stampede in multiple games for 30+ points. I remember reading back in 2008 how the body language for Josh McRoberts was pretty lackluster after being sent to Idaho, which was a major red flag in many people's eyes. Somehow McRoberts felt entitled to be apart of the Trail blazers and saw the less than luxurious life in the D-League as a demotion rather than a chance to improve on his game. Patty, only 21 and making less than $500,000, is a good young prospect to hang onto. Many believed he made a pretty big mistake leaving St. Mary's after his Sophomore season and those sentiments were cemented after he fell to 55th in the NBA Draft, but it is not out of the realm to assume he would go in the late 1st with another superb season with St. Mary's.


  1. Great Job on the article !

  2. Thank You! Would you move any player higher or lower on the Trade Value list?

  3. Thank you! I think this is well written. Unfortunately, Outlaw and Blake left. I don't really mind Blake leaving, but Outlaw is a different story. I also like this because it wasn't one of those pessimistic "Oh, Oden is a bust. Just toss him out." Oden's a beast, no joke. Well written.