The Portland Trail Blazers are in desperate need of a change. For a team that surprised everyone last season with a trip to the second round of the playoffs, they have taken two steps back this year.
The Blazers are led by their high-powered backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Combined, they are one of the best tandems in the NBA on the offensive end but fall short on the defensive side.
While the Blazers were in the same boat last year they did manage to improve this offseason but the moves made were not enough to fix their defensive woes. The blame can be passed around but the end results will always point to the lack of brute force in the paint.
As either a big man or guard driving to the rim, there is no fear of a rim protector or anyone willing to take that hard foul to let players know that there will be no easy baskets. Mason Plumlee is a skilled player offensively but defensively he takes after Brook Lopez. And the same can be said for Meyers Leonard and Ed Davis. So what are the Blazers to do?
A trade has to be made.
Rumors seem to have the Blazers ready to reach out to the Philadelphia 7ers for Nerlens Noel and the Phoenix Suns for Tyson Chandler. But, if given a choice, which player do they go after? Noel is young and cheap but he lacks on the offensive side of the ball. Chandler is a 15-year vet but his price tag may be a bit high for a team that hit free agency hard this past offseason. Chandler is not much of an offensive threat himself but he is one of the better defensive post players in the league.
What the decision will boil down to for the Blazers are assets. What will they have to give up for Chandler or Noel? Chandler is a vet but he’s also making $13M up until 2019. What will the Suns ask in return? Is Chandler worth a first round pick? No, and he’s not worth an Evan Turner or Maurice Harkless either. The Blazers must be careful not to seem too desperate here and give away precious salary cap space or young talent in return for a player that has injury problems and is close to 35 years old.
Noel is young, still on his rookie contract and will not take much offense away from the Blazers backcourt. He will enter the team with a chip on his shoulder, with something to prove to not only the Blazers but the 76ers as well. Noel has never played for a team that’s in contention and that alone may light a fire under him to perform well.
If the Blazers can make a move for either player, their defensive issues will certainly vanish. The only problem is what will they have to give up in order to get better?