Hello Blazer fans, Antonio here. After three straight wins where the Portland Trail Blazers seemed to be surging, it all has fallen apart over the last two games. On Sunday, Dallas waltzed into Moda and beat around the Blazers before leaving with a 40 point win. The Nets, without both Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, used James Harden and Joe Harris to take down Portland by four.
To call this basketball season “turbulent” would be an understatement of the word. The Blazers seem to swing from a championship-caliber team one game to a bumbling pile of open threes the next. With the trade deadline looming, we need answers. Let’s take a closer look.
Stott’s Job Safe?
All over Blazers twitter, there’s two ravenous packs of fans that go to war over Coach Terry Stotts. One half praises his abilities while the other pleads for a coaching change. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Stotts is a likable players’ coach that can get you wins but often struggles with in-game adjustments. He can gameplan you into a game, but is sometimes out-coached when presented with a barrier into a game. While this (and Portland’s defense) has been frustrating, I do not see the Blazers moving on from Stotts.
Stotts is the epitome of reliability. For a small market like Portland, it’s good for players to see a familiar face that can get the job done. While this may not lead to ultimate playoff success, GM Neil Olshey knows that the team likes him too much, and his results are just good enough to keep him around.
Earlier in the week, it appeared that Portland was vying for Magic forward Aaron Gordon for what seems like the fifth straight year. Gordon is consistent and the exact fit for Stott’s offense, but unlikely. Unfortunately, the Blazers seem to be out of the running for the Magic big man, and it looks like he may stay in Orlando.
Looking at Neil Olshey’s history with trade deadline moves, he is almost sure to make at least one. Do not expect a home run hit, though. Portland is much more likely for the strategic bunt than a swing for the fences. Olshey has made clever moves in the past, trading for Jusuf Nurkic and Rodney Hood, and has used the buyout market to pick up Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony.
Portland is greatly missing more big men. Jusuf Nurkic is over his broken wrist, but is now nursing a strained calf. Harry Giles has not played meaningful minutes since late January, and it’s unsure if Zach Collins will play at all this season. Enes Kanter shoulders the load himself, and while he has been killing it, the Blazers have been struggling internally.
Looking at his past moves, I expect Olshey to move Rodney Hood for a competent backup PG. Anfernee Simons could be on the trading block too. Both Hood and Simons have shown small flashes, but have not played up to standard. The Blazers will try to go for a DJ Augustin or Corey Joseph, which should greatly help the flow of the offense.
The LaMarcus Aldridge to Portland buyout claims have subsided as the former Blazers All-Star is expected to go somewhere where he can get a ring. This leaves one thing left for the Blazers to do: play games. The speculation is fun and all, but the product on the court is much more important.
Portland’s brutal stretch begins. 16 of the next 20 games are against playoff teams. Now is the time where we find out what Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Terry Stotts are made of.
But hey, the Beavers and Ducks are fun to watch!
Next Up; A TNT road matchup against the Heat.
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