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Blazers likely to make another trade before deadline

Blazers, Terry Stotts, Kent Bazemore

The Portland Trail Blazers saved some money by trading Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to the Sacramento Kings. They received Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan in exchange.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, the move is consistent with Portland’s desire to get below the tax line. Especially considering they have to account for the massive extensions handed to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum:

“The entire rationale for this deal from Portland’s end was to reduce or eliminate its tax burden, and it cost them their second-round picks in 2024 and 2025. The trade knocks the Blazers from $11.4M above the line to $6.2M, at the cost of a $1.8M obligation to Ariza next season. (Note: some “cap sheets’ online may show a different number for the Blazers’ tax overhang, but Jusuf Nurkic has a $1.25M “likely” bonus that gets removed from their sheet at the end of the year and won’t count toward their tax number. For any practical planning purpose, $6.2M is the number that matters.)”

Why The Blazers Could Make Another Trade

Hollinger also suggested the Trail Blazers are likely to make another move in an effort to get totally under the tax line and avoid penalties:

“Overall, however, the big takeaway on this trade is what it means for the rest of Portland’s trade deadline season. Look for at least one more deal to follow that positions the Blazers to get under the tax line entirely.”

Portland had been rumored to be a potential suitor for Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love. But it seems unlikely they could take on his salary without trading Hassan Whiteside and involving a third team.

The Trail Blazers are three games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It is entirely plausible that they merely attempt to trim money around the edges. Portland could still be boosted by the return of Jusuf Nurkic, who might be able to inspire a playoff run. Such a strategy could allow Portland to get below the tax line. It would also give them more flexibility to spend this upcoming summer.