Trade exception candidates for Portland
Heading into free agency, the best and most realistic chance for the Trail Blazers to improve is to acquire a player through the use of traded player exceptions gained in the past year.
The Blazers have untilto use a $13 million trade exception gained in the Allen Crabbe trade to Brooklyn. They also have until February to use a $3.5 million exception gained in the Noah Vonleh trade to Chicago.
A trade exception means the Blazers can make a trade for a player up to $13 million without having to give up a player in return. A likely partner is a team trying to shed salary.
On draft night, Blazers’ top executive Neil Olshey said the Blazers are looking for wings in the offseason, but noted they have limited resources: the $5.3 million mid-level exception, and the traded player exceptions.
“We are going to have to be really judicious,’’ Olshey said. “We don’t have a ton of tools at our disposal without conveying players on the roster in terms of adding veteran help on the roster. But we have the next two weeks now to shift focus and address that.’’
Here’s a look at five potential targets for the Blazers:
1. Wilson Chandler, SF, Denver Nuggets ($12.8 million)
Chandler last week opted into the final year of his contract at $12.8 million, and the 31-year-old small forward is the type of veteran, impact player Olshey has talked about acquiring.
Last season in 74 games, Chandler averaged 10 points and 5.4 rebounds in 32 minutes. A 6-foot-8 wing, Chandler shot 35.8 percent from three-point range last season (88-for-246).
Denver reportedly is looking to shave salary, perhaps to get in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, but also because they have indicated they want to re-sign Will Barton and Torrey Craig and possibly Devin Harris.
2. Robert Covington, SF, Philadelphia 76ers ($10.5 million)
The 76ers are hoping to be in the discussion for either LeBron James (free agent) or Kawhi Leonard (trade), and either way, they are looking to shed salary.
Even though Covington is coming off a great season, he might be the man out considering Leonard and James play his position.
The 6-foot-9 Covington, 27, is coming off a season when he started 80 games, was voted to the NBA all-defensive first team, averaged 12.9 points and shot 36.9 percent from three-point range.
3. TJ Warren, SF, Phoenix Suns ($11.7 million)
The Suns have a logjam of forwards, including lottery pick Mikal Bridges, and former lottery picks Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss.
The 24-year-old Warren might be the best of all them, but it’s unclear what style or what direction the Suns want to go with a new coach and new roster. Warren is a bit of a throwback in terms of NBA playing style. He thrives in the mid-range game and eschews the three-point shot. Last season, he aveaged 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and only 22 percent from three-point range (20-of-90).
Entering his fifth NBA season, he might be a little shy on the experience Olshey covets, but there’s no question he is a dynamic offensive talent.
4. Courtney Lee, SG, New York Knicks ($12.2 million)
The 32-year-old veteran can still shoot: the last two seasons he has shot better than 40 percent from three-point range.
Outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and the fill-in stints from Evan Turner, the Blazers are painfully inexperienced at guard, with Wade Baldwin, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. the only others on the depth chart.
The 6-foot-5 Lee could instantly become the top backup while Lillard and McCollum get their 12-to-14 minutes of rest a night.
5. Matthew Dellavedova, PG, Milwaukee Bucks ($9.6 million)
The Bucks reportedly tried to deal Dellavedova on draft night as they have an abundance of point guards with Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon.
Again, with the Blazers glaring lack of depth at guard, Dellavedova’s championship experience (with Cleveland) and solid defense are attractive.
He played in only 38 games last season because of knee tendonitis and a badly sprained right ankle, but over five NBA seasons the 27-year-old is a career 38.8 percent three-point shooter.
Other candidates: Toronto small forward CJ Miles ($8.3 million); Detroit forward Jon Leuer ($10 million); Clippers forward Wesley Johnson ($6.1 million).