Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers finish strong in win over Spurs

Now that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, let’s assess the West.

There was plenty of movement in the Western Conference in the last two days.

With the Trail Blazers making a deal with the Atalanta Hawks that sent big man Skal Labbisiere to Atlanta, the Hawks will be saving the Trail Blazers $2.8 million in luxury tax. 

In the deal, the Trail Blazers will also receive a protected second round pick in 2024 from Atlanta and a $2.4M trade exception. 

Heading into Thursday’s trade deadline, the Trail Blazers were $11.3 million over the cap, with a tax luxury payment of close to $20 million. 

But, after Thursday’s deal with Atlanta and the January 18th move that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyan Gabriel from Sacramento, Portland now sits just over $4 million over the cap, with a luxury tax bill of $5.9 million.

But, how do the rest of the West’s deals affect Portland?

Here’s a quick breakdown…

Since the San Antonio Spurs are currently one of the teams, just like Portland, on the verge of making the playoffs, could it mean that they are not looking to make the postseason since they didn’t make a move?

Possibly. 

The Spurs and Thunder are two teams out West that did not make any moves by the deadline, which is surprising considering San Antonio sits in the 10th spot and OKC is barely holding onto the sixth spot. The Thunder were rumored to be sellers at the trade deadline and eventually fall out of the playoff picture. They reportedly tried to get a multi-team deal done with the Heat that included Danilo Gallinari, but things fell through. 

Now, Portland must contend with an OKC Thunder team that stayed pat at the deadline. 

Portland is three games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

The bad news for the Blazers? The Grizzlies were making moves. A lot of them. Memphis was involved in a three-team trade where they received Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Gorgui Dieng.

February 6, 2020

Winslow has been dealing with various injuries, but can definitely help the young Memphis roster that has already proven to be better than most expected. At least this soon anyway. Winslow is averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

They’re not expected to keep Dion Waiters, who has been a consistent disruption in the locker room. 

Memphis also made another move Thursday, acquiring former Oregon Ducks Jordan Bell from the Rockets in exchange for Bruno Caboclo.

With their moves, the Grizzlies get some help at the forward spot as they continue to solidify their playoff position.

As for the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves trade, this will affect the Blazers more so next season.

Since it seems these two teams are looking to the future and not worried about this season, the Warriors get some much needed frontcourt help and the Timberwolves get some much needed backcourt help. Golden State trading D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota for a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick, makes complete sense considering each teams needs with their current roster makeup.

February 6, 2020

So, as Portland worked to cut down it’s luxury tax, they will continue to push for that playoff spot with their current roster. But lest we forget, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both set to return before the postseason.

And, the Trail Blazers have looked like a team that has found a groove with their current roster of adding Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan into the mix, minus Tuesday’ loss at Denver.

For now, it’s about trying to beat out the Grizzlies and Spurs or any other team on the fringe in the West. With the trade deadline now behind us, it will be interesting to see if any of the bubble playoff teams in the Western Conference decide to go a different direction and not make a final push for the postseason.

Because, as long Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing, there is no doubt they will do everything in their power to get to the postseason.   

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