A Trail Blazers Trade Season Primer
Dec. 15 is the unofficial start of the NBA's trade window. Here's what to expect and what to look for.
Today is the unofficial start of the NBA's trade season.
Occasionally, a deal will happen in the opening weeks of the season. But Dec. 15 is the date most players who were signed as free agents this summer can be traded (a handful don't become trade-eligible until Jan. 15), so all kinds of possibilities are opened up that weren't previously. The two months between now and the Feb. 9 trade deadline are when deals actually get done.
I expect the Trail Blazers to be active as it gets closer to the deadline. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone—general manager Joe Cronin has said consistently since the summer that he doesn't view the roster as it exists right now as being good enough to contend and knows that more moves are needed.
This is what he said in his media day press conference on Sept. 26:
"We know that in order to compete at the highest level in this league, you have to be ridiculously talented and super-connected. At this point, I don’t think we’re either, but I think we have the potential to be. It will probably involve making additions soon, and definitely in the future. But I don’t feel a huge sense of urgency to not give these guys the chance first. I want to see these guys play it out."
The Blazers are firmly in that evaluation phase right now. All indications are that they're happy with where things are, not only when it comes to their record, but with the buy-in Chauncey Billups is getting from players and with their night-to-night effort. Given their injuries and tough early schedule, 16-12 isn't a bad place to be a third of the way into the season.
Still, this is an imperfect roster, with some obvious positional holes and long-term questions about where certain players will fit into the picture. In his first year on the job, Cronin has shown a willingness to take big swings like drafting Shaedon Sharpe and make uncomfortable decisions like trading CJ McCollum, all in the name of maximizing talent and upside. Look for that approach to continue this winter, especially now that his revamped front-office staff is fully in place.
With talks around the league about to heat up in a major way, more rumors and speculation will be out there than ever. Most of it isn't worth taking seriously and exists to make you mad when you see it aggregated on social media. You know who the reliable outlets and reporters are, both locally and nationally, and most of the time the phrase "league sources" from anybody else is just team front-office staffers and agents spitballing about potential deals that are legal but have no chance of actually happening. The great TrillBroDude of the You Know Ball podcast calls this "Slop Season." Be careful out there.
I wouldn't expect Cronin to do anything major until after the first of the year at the earliest, for a variety of reasons I'll get into below. But with the trade window now open, it's worth taking stock of what the Blazers have to work with, what they might look to do over the next two months and why.