NBA Trade Deadline week started with a bang as the Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly sending Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers in a five-player deal. The big question from a Detroit Pistons perspective is this — does this mean the Blazers’ are no longer interested in forward Jerami Grant?
Not that a deal is likely, and there is no certainty that the reported previous interest in Grant from Portland was legitimate. This is rumor season, after all. But considering Detroit’s entire deadline seems to revolve around the will they or won’t they regarding a Jerami Grant trade, it makes sense to look at it from that perspective.
First, the deal that reportedly went down. Adrian Wojnarowki of ESPN reports the deal in the works will send Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, rookie Keon Johnson and a future second-round pick (originally owned by Detroit, incidentally) to Portland with the Clippers receiving Norman Powell and Robert Covington in return.
On one hand, the deal seems to indicate that the Blazers were much more interested in getting off Powell’s recently signed long-term deal and getting under the luxury tax than it was in getting value for the two forwards it sent out.
On the other hand, guard was the team’s deepest position and the team will have to pay a high price to keep soon-to-be restricted free agent Anfernee Simons long term. So if the Blazers truly are still interested in being competitive perhaps it was more about long-term financial allocation among the position groups, and the already guard-heavy Blazers were about to get even more lopsided.
They could still be interested in an impact forward like Grant, and the newly acquired Bledsoe is a close enough salary match for Grant. Bledsoe makes $18 million this season with a $19.3 million hit for next season that is only $3.9 million guaranteed.
However, if the Pistons aren’t terribly intrigued by Portland’s young players (Johnson or Nas Little), it’d hard to see the Blazers as a match. Portland owes its 2022 first-round pick to Chicago so it’s hard for them to send out future picks until that conveys.
It’s the same predicament Detroit finds itself in with an outstanding protected pick owed to Houston.