Waves of Troubles for the Trail Blazers

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Updated: December 7, 2021
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Havoc has housed itself inside of Portland as the Trail blazers continue to sway back and forth across the line of indecision. An offseason firing of head coach Terry Stotts has been followed by the termination of GM Neil Olshey and the allegations of abuse and misconduct have left the franchise in turmoil. Unlike the Suns in Phoenix who have risen above their front office chaos, the new signing of coach Chauncy Billups started as a catastrophe and has continued to underwhelm the fans in Portland and the stars they cheer for. Twice already the hall of fame point guard in his first head coaching position has called out his players’ lack of effort. For a coach who has yet to prove himself as a leader, the quote is somewhat troubling, to say the least.

“Lack of pride, of course, that bothers me. If that doesn’t bother you, there’s something going on. Sometimes it’s not your night, cool, it happens. There’s a way I’m willing to lose, and that’s not the way I’m willing to lose. It was embarrassing…Competitive fire and pride, that’s something you either have or don’t have. That’s something you can’t turn off and turn on.”

Considering it was the hiring of Chauncy that sparked the flame under the Dame Lillard trade talk fireworks show, that he would try to ease his way into the position. However, they knew what type of personality he would bring to the head of the snake, and it is why they picked him over the countless other options that were available. The elephant in the room though is, that winning cures all, and losing causes cancer to spread. If the Trail Blazers were exceeding expectations none of these problems would be present or at the very least would be kept out of the public eye. 

But with the team dipping below 500 and continuing to struggle on both ends of the floor, the Dame trade talks inevitably again started to surface. The All-NBA point guard has changed his stance several times but at the beginning of the season attempted to bury the chatter by saying he’s set on staying in Portland and knew that there would be growing pains with the new personnel on the bench and the floor. However, with the firing of a GM, trade talks of superstars tend to make their way back onto the table with a new regime installed by ownership. An odd report came out from Dame’s camp that said, he doesn’t want to be traded and is happy in Portland…but would prefer New York if he was moved.

The most recent story was posted yesterday as Dame has apparently asked the front office to trade for Ben Simmons. The passive-aggressive request is an interesting one because it inadvertently is a public request for his long-time backcourt partner CJ McCollum to be moved. Since Norman Powell has recently signed an extension, he cannot be traded till after the deadline and without either CJ or Powell in the deal there simply isn’t enough to create a realistic trade package for Simmons.

The last discussions between the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland had a Simmons exchange for CJ + 3 picks plus swaps, which ironically 365 days ago would’ve been the steal of the season. The trade was turned down by Portland, and at that time a few weeks ago it appeared like they had a small upper hand on Philly in trade talks. Unfortunately for the new General Manager in charge, if that same deal is offered to Philly, they probably will ask Portland to attach something, in addition, to sweeten the deal in their time of turmoil. Young Anfernee Simons for instance could be asked of to finalize the trade.

The big question though is what Dame and Portland’s plans are moving forward. With how stacked the West is, if Kawhi and Murray came back even if Ben Simmons was added to the Trail Blazers, they still could end up being a first-round knockout if they even make it to the playoffs at all. Not to mention the last time Simmons was in the postseason he took a total of 0 shots in the last four 4th quarters in an elimination series. 

It really makes more sense for the franchise to send Lillard for Simmons if they can get Maxey plus picks attached. It would allow them to part off all of their vets for assets and start again next season with Simmons, Maxey, Anfernee Simons, and the flexibility of a rebuilding franchise with assets. But if they want to win this year, even at their modest level of success they have set for the last half-decade, they are a long way off even if Philly is still interested in McCollum.

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