1. Portland Trail Blazers (19-19, No. 10 spot)
Just a few weeks ago, Charles Barkley on “Inside the NBA” was talking about how â€śscaryâ€ť this Portland Trail Blazers team is. Well, this same squad has only one victory and three L’s since the All-Star break, and only four wins out of their last 10 games.
The Oregonianâ€™s Jason Quick recently expressed his thoughts on this critical juncture: â€śBut never in the McMillan era has it felt more like change is needed. The dilemma, of course, is whether small changes now to pursue a low-level playoff seed is worth jeopardizing making a larger, more long-term overhaul in the summer.â€ť
That said, when you have a beast at the four-spot in LaMarcus Aldridge, every decision made should be based on who can flourish with him the most for the years to come. Just barely making the playoffs this year shouldnâ€™t be their focus, but rather how can they elevate into a championship contender with Aldridge as the cornerstone.
There hasnâ€™t been a team ravaged more by injuries in recent memory than the Blazers. Brandon Roy – who at his peak was arguably the second best SG in the game – was forced to an early retirement prior to the season. Greg Oden has had a history of injuries going back to his days in Ohio State. The potential three-some of Roy, Oden and Aldridge never being realized is one the biggest “What If?” scenarios over the past half-decade.
Aldridge is just getting his due by making his first All-Star appearance. When the greatest scorer of all-time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, comes out and says the following – â€śI know thereâ€™s one guy that posts up the same way that I used to. He plays for Portland: LaMarcus Aldridgeâ€ť – there isnâ€™t much better praise than that. The Blazers must assure themselves that their foundation isnâ€™t squandered within a middling team as he enters his prime.
Nate McMillan has bothered to experiment and play the ball-dominant Jamal Crawford as their starting PG because theyâ€™ve lost all trust in Raymond Felton â€” and rightfully so. Felton came into the season looking as out of shape as a roly-poly, and still isnâ€™t in adequate shape despite all the games played.
Blake Griffin and Kevin Love are at the top of the “best power forward in the game” discussion. But the common denominator they both have? A great point guard. Now why canâ€™t LaMarcus Aldridge be afforded the same necessity, especially when heâ€™s gradually without a primetime PG?
The Blazers couldnâ€™t come to terms to extend Nicolas Batum, which means they donâ€™t think that highly of his skill-set and can make him expendable. When a top-five point guard like Rondo is on the market, how can the Blazers not pounce on the opportunity to pair him up with L.A.? The ball is on the Blazersâ€™ court to drastically change the fortunes of a franchise thatâ€™s struck out of luck for far too long.
Which teams desperately need to make moves at the trade deadline?
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