Trail Blazers Prepare For The Future With Trade Deadline Moves
By sarahhecht Posted in: LaMarcusAldridge
This may be the understatement of the year, but it’s been a wild day to be a Trail Blazers fan. Trade Deadline Day 2012 shaped the franchise—or rather opened it up for shaping.
Parting Ways With Nate McMillan
Portland started the day with President Larry Miller announcing the end of Nate McMillan’s reign as head coach.
"Clearly the season to this point has not gone the way we had hoped it would and after talking with Nate we decided it was best to part ways," said Miller. "I want to personally acknowledge and thank Nate for his many contributions to this franchise and wish him nothing but the best for the future."
It was the first piece in a series of moves aimed at transitioning the franchise into a new chapter of Trail Blazers basketball. The front office and ownership acknowledge that what was on the floor this season wasn’t working. Owner Paul Allen said via Twitter, “@paulgallen: Some tough trades today & letting Nate go but had to face the reality of how the season was going. Now @pdxtrailblazers focusing on future.”
Current assistant coach Kaleb Canales will step in as Interim Head Coach.
Read the full press release.
Okur, Williams And 1st Round Pick Acquired From New Jersey for Wallace, C. Johnson and Oden Waived
Next the team announced a deal with the New Jersey Nets. In exchange for Gerald Wallace—who had a player option for next season—Portland received center Mehmet Okur, small forward Shawne Williams and New Jersey’s 2012 top-three protected first-round draft pick.
“This trade was very compelling to us because not only does it give us more flexibility in free agency, but we also acquire a very attractive first-round draft pick,” said Acting General Manager Chad Buchanan.
Okur has a sizable expiring contract, and Shawne Williams has a player option for next season. New Jersey’s first rounder is protected through the third pick which means Portland could land as high as the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Also, waivers were requested for centers Greg Oden and Chris Johnson.
“I’d like to thank Gerald, Greg and Chris for all they’ve done for the franchise and hope for nothing but the best for them and their futures,” Buchanan said. Thus ending the era of Greg Oden in Rip City
Read the full press release.
Thabeet, Flynn and 2nd Round Pick From Houston For Camby
Finally, Marcus Camby was traded to the Houston Rockets for center Hasheem Thabeet, point guard Jonny Flynn and a 2012 second-round draft pick. Thabeet and Flynn both have expiring contracts with team options allowing the Trail Blazers to free up even more cap space.
“We’re looking forward to what Jonny and Thabeet can bring to our team at two positions we can use help at and we’ve added an additional asset with the second-round draft pick,” said Buchanan. “We appreciate Marcus’s contributions over the past three seasons and we wish him the best for the future.”
Read the full press release.
Soaking It All In
There comes a time when a team’s style of basketball becomes difficult to watch. Not just when struggling in the win/loss column but when, as a fan, you see no effort. If thoughts like “why aren’t the playing with heart?” and “do they even care?” come to mind there is clearly a bigger issue.
Over the past few weeks the Trail Blazers have traveled down that road while the organization and fans watched totally perplexed.
Today the organization drew a line in the sand. Moves were made to better position the team to dramatically improve during the 2012 draft and free agency period. The Wallace and Camby trades both returned draft picks and expiring contracts to Portland. The first-round pick received from New Jersey has potential to be a major pick in a draft said to be stacked through the 20th spot. The expiring contracts open the door for serious movement in the 2012 free agent class boasting the likes of Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and Serge Ibaka. (See the full 2012 free agent class
Here’s the simple version of Portland’s flexibility this summer:
- Potential draft picks
- 1st round pick from New Jersey (top 3 protected)
- 1st round pick
- 2nd round pick: we have the right to swap our own 2nd round pick with Denver’s
second round pick
- 2nd round pick from Houston (It's technically Minnesota's pick but Houston had the rights to it.)
- Salary Cap
- Five current players have contracts through at least next year (Aldridge, Matthews, Williams, N. Smith and Babbitt. Crawford has a player option.)
- Portland will have ample cap space (enough to resign players, acquire a max player AND others)
With the extreme pliability the Trail Blazers gained they’re in a position to dramatically improve over the summer. This is the kind of flexibility that can launch a team into legitimate championship contention at break-neck speed.
What that means for the immediate future is yet to be seen. It’s not uncommon for teams who experience swift and meaningful change to rise to the occasion and play high-energy basketball with nothing to lose. On paper losing two starters is a huge blow and it may look like there isn’t a chance for this team to push to the post-season this year, but those squads can be the ones who surprise you.
Bottom line. Moves made today give Portland the ability to reshape the roster in the offseason and better position Rip City for the long-haul.
I’m sure there are MANY questions floating around, so pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can. And don’t forget there’s a blog contest
on the trade deadline moves where you can win media credentials!