The Portland Trail Blazers are currently 11th in a packed Western Conference, sitting a half game below .500 at 25-26. Despite that disappointing record after a surprisingly strong start to 2022-23, though, the Blazers look like buyers leading up to the trade deadline, hoping it’s not too late to capitalize on another stellar season from franchise great Damian Lillard.
As February 9th fast approaches, Portland has “emerged as a strong suitor” for Jarred Vanderbilt of the Utah Jazz, among several teams that have eyes for the Utah Jazz’s versatile, defense-first big man, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and STADIUM.
“The Portland Trail Blazers have emerged as a strong suitor for Utah Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt, sources tell me. Portland is among a few teams showing interest in Vanderbilt, who appears increasingly likely to be dealt ahead of the February 9th NBA trade deadline.”
Western Conference playoff contender emerges as strong suitor for Utah’s Jarred Vanderbilt: pic.twitter.com/WMzNyGEVzS
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 2, 2023
Vanderbilt was acquired by the Jazz in early July, part of the blockbuster trade that sent three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and one steal in 24.2 minutes this season, recently moved to the bench to accommodate the rise of rookie center Walker Kessler after starting 41 games.
Though limited to stretching the floor from the corners and lacking the vertical pop necessary to be an imminent lob threat, Vanderbilt would nevertheless be an impactful addition for Portland on both sides of the ball.
He’s one of the most switchable defenders in basketball, with quick feet and long arms at 6-foot-8, and is an absolutely relentless offensive rebounder. Jazz coach Will Hardy has used Vanderbilt more as a playmaker this season, having him bring the ball up the floor and initiate offense from the elbows, a role he could duplicate with the Blazers. Not a full-time center, Vanderbilt could nevertheless see plenty of minutes at the five in the Blazers’ small-ball lineups, teaming with Jerami Grant to give the Blazers rare defensive flexibility up front.
It’s unclear what it would take for Portland to pry Vanderbilt from Utah, but a package built around multiple second-round picks and Justise Winslow—plus a young player like Keon Johnson, perhaps— makes sense from the Blazers’ perspective.