The Portland Trail Blazers could potentially find themselves at a turning point this summer as it relates to star guard Damian Lillard.
Fresh off firing longtime head coach Terry Stotts and with the unpopular decision to hire Chauncey Billups to replace him, things are coming to a head in the Pacific Northwest.
Embattled general manager Neil Olshey must use his limited resources to find a better supporting cast behind Dame. In the past, rumors have suggested C.J. McCollum could be used as bait to appease Mr. Lillard.
Now comes this piece of information from Sam Amico of Hoops Wire suggesting that the Portland Trail Blazers are one of five teams being linked to Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star big man Kevin Love.
“Per sources, potential Love suitors include the Pelicans, 76ers, Heat, Clippers and Trail Blazers. It is believed Love is hoping to move on from the Cavs, but no trade requests have been made and sources say there’s no reason to believe a request is forthcoming,” Amico reported.
The question here becomes whether acquiring the aging and injury-plagued Kevin Love in a trade with Cleveland would be enough. We look at that question below.
Portland Trail Blazers could acquire Kevin Love on the cheap
Set to receive north of $60 million over the next two seasons, Love is not necessarily a valuable commodity on the trade block. This is magnified by the fact that he has not played in as much as 70 games since the 2015-16 season.
This past year saw the five-time All-Star average a mere 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds on 41% shooting from the field in 25 games. Again, this suggests Portland could nab him on the cheap. In fact, Cleveland might have to give up some young assets or draft picks in order to make this work.
Potential Kevin Love trade to the Portland Trail Blazers
- Trail Blazers get: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, future unprotected first-round pick
- Cavaliers get: Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons
The key here would be Portland receiving a future unprotected first-round pick to take Love’s bloated contract off the hands of the Cavaliers. It makes up for moving off two veteran starters in Covington and Nurkic.
The addition of stud young guard Collin Sexton helps out a lot, too. The 22-year-old guard is said to be on the trade block after averaging 24.3 points on a stellar 48% shooting from the field last season. Acquiring Sexton would give Olshey and Co. more flexibility to pull off a trade for another player. He could also potentially team up with Lillard in the backcourt should the Portland Trail Blazers move off McCollum.
As for Cleveland, Simons would represent the headliner coming back in this deal. He’s a more natural fit as a two-guard to team up with former lottery pick Darius Garland in the backcourt. With Simons, Covington and Nurkic on expiring deals, this would free up a resounding $28.9 million in 2022-23. The cost being a first-round pick down the road.
Is Kevin Love a fit with the Portland Trail Blazers?
It’s iffy. Let’s say that the Oregon native is able to return to earlier-career form. That is to say, averaging nearly 20 points on 40% shooting from distance. Well, this would give the Blazers three players capable of logging big time points on a nightly basis assuming they keep McCollum.
At issue here is Love’s struggles on the defensive end of the court. Even more so than adding more scoring to the roster, the Blazers must find a way to upgrade on defense. They yielded 114.3 points per game a season ago while boasting the second-worst defensive rating in the Association. How in the world would making a move for Love solve these issues? It wouldn’t.
While seeing Love return to the Pacific Northwest would be great, it just doesn’t seem to make too much sense for the Blazers. It also likely wouldn’t move the proverbial needle when it comes to keeping Damian Lillard around long-term.