A Trail Blazers 2023-24 Trade Season Primer
Today is the unofficial start of the NBA’s trade season. Here’s what the Blazers have to work with and what they might be looking for.
Trade activity around the NBA isn’t going to pick up until closer to the Feb. 8 deadline, but today can still be viewed as the unofficial kickoff. On Dec. 15, most players who signed free-agent contracts during the offseason are eligible to be traded, which opens up a lot of possibilities.
A year ago this time, the assumption was that the Trail Blazers would be buyers at the deadline. The season hadn’t gone fully off the rails yet, so the idea that general manager Joe Cronin would be able to package players and future picks to add another piece to a contender built around Damian Lillard was still a realistic goal.
What ended up happening was quite the opposite. They traded two rotation players, Josh Hart and Gary Payton II, for picks and young players. It was the precursor to both a late-season tank job and an offseason that saw them take Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick and then Lillard request a trade.
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There’s no need to go over all of that again, but suffice it to say that the state of the Blazers in December of 2023 is much, much different than it was in December of 2022. Nobody is under any delusions about this team making the playoffs, and the focus is firmly on individual development and giving Chauncey Billups the space to build the kind of identity he wants the team to have.
So far, the organization is happy with where things are at this early stage of the rebuild. When it comes to what they might do at the deadline, it’s pretty safe to say they won’t be buyers. But will they be sellers? At this point, it’s tough to say. We won’t know until closer to the deadline. But now that a lot more things are on the table, it’s worth taking stock of everything they have to work with and which players might or might not be on the block between now and February.