Domantas Sabonis has emerged as a popular potential trade target for the Portland Trail Blazers as his team looks to tweak a roster that clearly tops out below legitimate contention in the Eastern Conference. Does the Indiana Pacers' state of flux seem familiar?

The similarities between Portland and Indiana's on-the-fly retooling is reason enough for the Blazers not to trade for Sabonis, widely regarded as the middling Pacers' best player. Here are three more.

More of the same defensively

There is no easy fix for what ails Chauncey Billups' team, but replenishing his personnel with long, athletic, versatile defenders would go a long way toward addressing Portland's biggest weakness. Recent reporting about Damian Lillard's desire to play not just with Ben Simmons, but any forward with real defensive chops who isn't a liability on the other end was hardly surprising. The Blazers have been absent that increasingly crucial player archetype for years; most title contenders feature multiple iterations of it.

Sabonis, obviously, doesn't come close to fitting that bill. At 6'11”, 240 pounds with relatively short arms and lacking quick-twitch athleticism, he's a man without an island defensively, too slow-footed to chase power forwards yet not effective enough at the rim to serve as the last line of defense. Indiana's solid 108.8 defensive rating dips to 111.7 with Sabonis at center, per Cleaning the Glass, right in line with the Houston Rockets' 23rd-ranked season-long mark. Among 43 bigs contesting at least 4.0 shots per game at the basket, his 59.8% shooting allowed is 27th, per

At his absolute best, Sabonis is slightly below-average defensively. Portland just shouldn't be seeking interior reinforcements who aren't abject positives on that side of the ball. No matter what spot he's playing in the frontcourt, Sabonis needs to be protected. Any prospective trade target to whom that reality applies won't give Lillard and the Blazers what they need most to finally level up in the Western Conference, and in Sabonis' case, especially considering the price it would to acquire him.

Lagging offensive flexibility

Sabonis began his career shoehorned into a floor-spacing role with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite that early foray beyond the arc and his impressive overall touch as a scorer, he's yet to emerge as a threatening three-point shooter. Sabonis is at 30.6% on threes this season while taking a career-high rate of his shots from deep. There's just nothing to indicate he'll ever be able to stretch the defense.

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Sabonis compensates by being a hub of scoring and playmaking from the mid-range and closer. He's scoring 1.26 points per possession as a pick-and-roll dive man, per, tied for sixth-best in the league with Jusuf Nurkic. But the context of those rolls to the rim is crucial. How many of them came with Myles Turner, the prototype 3-and-D center, spacing the floor on the weak side or with Indiana sacrificing defense by putting Sabonis at the 5 to make his offensive environment most fruitful?

The Blazers wouldn't have the luxury of putting a three-point-shooting, shot-blocking unicorn next to Sabonis. It's not like he's Nikola Jokic as a passer, either, lifting all boats around him with the constantly rising tide of elite all-court facilitating. He's much closer to Nurkic as a playmaker, finding cutters from the elbows and high post in the flow of the offense rather than creating good looks for teammates from his own ingenuity or penchant for drawing double-teams. Sabonis is even a bit overrated as a post player. He routinely struggles to score efficiently when guarded by longer bigs who can match his physicality.

Sabonis is a very good offensive player. Portland simply needs to prioritize stylistic flexibility his interior-oriented, ground-bound approach doesn't provide in a potential replacement for Nurkic.

A barely-vaulted Blazers ceiling

Interim general manager Joe Cronin made clear last week that the Blazers' impending renovation is all about raising their ceiling. Extending Portland's league-leading streak of consecutive playoff berths to nine seasons running isn't Cronin's goal. Neither is the hope of winning a single playoff series. The Blazers want more, and are finally prepared to make the changes necessary allowing for that possibility.

Does leaving the asset cupboard bare to bring in a quality yet objectively limited player like Sabonis qualify? Almost certainly not. He presents too many questions defensively and doesn't answer enough of them offensively to become the star second banana Portland needs to maximize Lillard's championship window.

It's foolish to expect Portland to trade for a ready-made All-Star who offers positive two-way impact. Ben Simmons is the only one on the market, and his offensive value is more volatile than ever. But there are available players, like Turner, whose influence on both ends of the floor would help the revamped Blazers' whole become bigger than the sum of their parts.

The throwback, hardened nature of Sabonis' strengths and weaknesses, despite the inevitably big numbers he'd put up in Rip City, ensure he's not among them.