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Portland Trail Blazers intend to be trade deadline buyers; 3 possible targets

Portland Trail Blazers

Like many teams in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers have flashed signs of being a playoff contender, but mostly they’ve been inconsistent this season. With the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline less than a week away, the Blazers are currently in ninth place, on the fringe of contention.

While Portland is much improved over last season, thanks in large part to Damian Lillard’s return from injury, this roster still doesn’t currently have the makings of a title contender. For Lillard, who’s 32 and has always been outspoken about his desire to win, that could grow into a problem.

Yet, the Blazers may be prepared to make more roster changes ahead of the trade deadline. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Trail Blazers are “absolutely in a buying mode” and are “attempting to add pieces.” With that in mind, here are three potential trade targets for the Blazers.

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Jarred Vanderbilt solves rebounding woes

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Utah Jazz
Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers have plenty of guards capable of scoring. One area they could benefit greatly from improving in is rebounding, as Portland ranks just 24th out of 30 NBA teams at 42.1 per game. Outside of Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers don’t have a big who consistently wins the rebounding battles on the glass.

That’s where Utah’s Jarred Vanderbilt could become an impact player in Portland, all thanks to his ability to do the dirty work, whether it’s diving for loose balls or somehow pulling down 17.9% of all rebounds when he’s on the floor, good enough for 18th in the NBA.

At 6-foot-9, Vando isn’t the largest player on the court, but his non-stop motor always helps him stand out over the course of the game. He’s a player any team could use, and at 23, Vanderbilt’s offensive abilities continue to develop to the point where he’s now comfortable attempting 1.1 three-point shots per game, which he’s hitting at a career-high 33.3% clip in Utah.

Vanderbilt is under contract for a very reasonable rate of $4.3 million this season and another $4.7 million in the final year of his deal next year. The Jazz are said to be seeking a first-round pick for the power forward. The Blazers hold all of their own first-round picks through 2029, meaning if that’s the true cost, Portland would appear to have what it takes to swing a deal.

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Deandre Ayton offers Portland Trail Blazers rim protection

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one area the Trail Blazers may need to address more than any other positional target, it’s size. At 6-foot-11, Nurkic is the tallest rotation player on the roster. Even power forward Jerami Grant is just 6-foot-8, and at 210 pounds, he isn’t much of a paint presence, as he spends just as much time on the wing. Yet, with Grant in the final year of his contract, earning $20.9 million this season, he could potentially be on the move at the deadline.

Deandre Ayton, like Nurkic, is a large human being at 6-foot-11 as well, and just like the Blazers’ current center, he is an excellent rebounder who manages to pull down 18.7% of the rebounds available when he’s on the floor.

There’s no reason for the Blazers to move on from Nurkic, yet rumors have suggested that the ‘The Bosnian Beast’ could also be available with the team willing to consider many different avenues to build a competitor around Lillard. If the Blazers ultimately get to the point where they can get strong value in return for Nurkic in a separate trade while landing Ayton, perhaps they can emerge with a better roster capable of winning now.

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OG Anunoby’s defensive versatility would be perfect in Portland

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The ultimate prize for the Blazers at the trade deadline would be to emerge with a two-way wing such as Toronto’s OG Anunoby. He’s one of those players who may not quite be an All-Star, but he’s in the very next tier. At 6-foot-7, with a ridiculous 7-foot-2 wingspan, Anunoby is a defensive menace who averages a combined 2.9 steals plus blocks per game.

For a team that ranks second-to-last in steals and just 23rd in blocks per game, Anunoby’s presence on the wing would be a picture-perfect way to improve the starting five.

Yet, as you can imagine, the Raptors don’t want to part with their 25-year-old NBA Champion. He’s started 272 games for them since becoming the 23rd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and Toronto is said to be asking for at least two first-round picks via trade, if not more. There are also reports that they would prefer at least a projected top-10 pick for their defensive wizard.

Again, the Blazers have plenty of draft picks to offer, but are they willing to pull the trigger on Anunoby? Is he even truly available at this trade deadline? We should know the answers to both questions soon enough.

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