COMMENTARY | We're a little more than a week away from the NBA's trade deadline, so the rumor mill is heating up about players who might be facing relocation in the near future.
No official word on whether the Portland Trail Blazers are shopping for anyone in particular or actively seeking to unload any contracts, but I know this much -- they should be.
This could be a great fit.
At just 23 years old -- he'll turn 24 in April -- Blair would be a nice addition to the young and still-rebuilding Blazers, who will head into the All-Star break at or near .500, far surpassing even their own wildest expectations for this supposed-to-be-transition season.
It's been no secret, though, that Portland's improbable first half has happened despite a serious lack of depth. The starting five of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson have carried most of the weight themselves, each ranking fairly high up on the NBA's list of average minutes per game.
The Blazers have done their winning without much -- and sometimes without any -- significant bench production, and they've done it with Hickson -- a true power forward -- playing extremely well but out of position at center. Can he keep it up over the course of a full season, and beyond?
Maybe, but certainly not without some help. Meyers Leonard is looking like he'll need more time to develop into an everyday player, and in the meantime, the Blazers could really use someone to help out on the boards and with interior defense, the latter of which is not exactly a strong suit of Hickson's.
Enter Blair, who is a good rebounder but simply hasn't been able to crack the rotation in San Antonio on a consistent basis, having battled knee problems (this is where Blazers fans say "yeah, but, Brandon Roy! . . . Greg Oden!) and because Tiago Splitter's emergence has helped keep Blair on the bench. He's averaging just under 14 minutes a game, with 5.2 points and 3.9 boards.
He wouldn't have as much difficulty getting court time in Portland, where depth and rebounding help would be welcomed. Best of all, he'd be a relatively cheap addition right now, making around $1 million this year on a contract that's set to expire at the end of the season. So if Portland were able to unload another contract off the books in a deal with the Spurs -- I've seen Joel Freeland's name thrown around -- then this could be another low-risk move for the Blazers, in the same vein as snagging Hickson off waivers last season.
That one worked out well, didn't it? The Blazers got themselves a significant contributor and their next starting center on the cheap. Now it's time for them to go after some depth without breaking the bank, as well, and all things considered, Blair would be a nice place to start.
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.
- Sports & Recreation
- Portland Trail Blazers
- DeJuan Blair
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