The Portland Trail Blazers have yet to rediscover their old form as they currently sit at the 13th spot of the Western Conference with a 27-51 record. With the playoffs already out of reach, they are already looking forward to the next season where they will aim to get back into their winning ways.
Portland’s front office previously engaged in a major trade at the mid-season deadline where they shipped Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, and other assets. They didn’t really benefit from that trade except for the fact that it got them under the luxury tax for the 2021-22 season.
With Damian Lillard set to return next season, the Blazers would definitely need to assert themselves more in offseason transactions even if it means parting ways with some of their current players. Hopefully, they can get things right in order to put more weapons around their star player this time around.
Let’s take a look at the player that the Blazers must trade in the 2022 NBA offseason.
For the past few seasons, Eric Bledsoe has been a journeyman as he continues to jump from one team to another. He started the season with the Los Angeles Clippers but eventually found his way to the Blazers after being traded at the deadline.
All in all, the 2021-22 season has been quite rough for the veteran guard as his numbers have significantly dipped as compared to recent years. He only averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 54 games played. Currently, Bledsoe has already been shut down for the remainder of the season after experiencing pain in his Achilles tendon.
Looking back, there is no doubt that the mid-season trade with the Clippers looked quite odd at first glance. Everyone had an idea that Bledsoe might not suit up for the team at all and can eventually find himself on another team in the near future. Not to mention that it also significantly weakened Portland’s roster, given that they let go of two valuable contributors in McCollum and Covington.
Since the trade already served its purpose of getting the Blazers below the luxury tax for the 2021-22 season, the front office should now turn its attention toward improving the quality of its roster in the offseason. Trading Bledsoe is certainly on the table as he is set to have a $19 million cap hit in the last year of his current contract that will expire by the end of next season.
Realistically speaking, it will be quite challenging for the Blazers to find a trade partner for Bledsoe, given that his level of play has significantly regressed in recent years. He’s also not the same player that he once was and his recent injury history doesn’t help his case either.
Despite the challenge of manufacturing a trade involving Bledsoe, the Blazers should still find a way to do it in order to unload a player that isn’t going to be part of their plans moving forward. In return, they might get a few assets, be it a couple of bench players or draft picks that they can use to improve their roster for next season.
Trading away Bledsoe in the upcoming offseason won’t completely solve all the Blazers’ problems as they have a handful of other issues to deal with. However, it will surely get them in the right direction and allow them to have more players around who can rightfully contribute to their campaign in 2022-23.