Danilo Gallinari

The big-time players the Trail Blazers are probably NOT going after

The big-time players the Trail Blazers are probably NOT going after

Earlier this week, I wrote about what the Trail Blazers might do in the wake of the injury to Rodney Hood and the troubles the team is having winning games without its injured players.

I said I did not expect any moves to be made that were not long-term moves – trades that would help beyond this season.

It’s time to go more in-depth on that topic because there are rumors out there about players who do not fit into that category. Portland will be shopping the expiring contracts of Hassan Whiteside and possibly Kent Bazemore, in order to swing a deal for a major piece – perhaps the last big deal the team will be able to make for a few seasons.

So, quite obviously, that means acquiring players with more than this season left on their contracts. In other words, unless they get stuck without a better deal, they would probably not be looking to trade an expiring contract for another expiring contract.

If you look at their search in that context, you can eliminate several talented players who have been mentioned as possibilities by the national media.

Among those players whose contracts expire this season:

Danilo Gallinari

Gordon Hayward

Paul Millsap

Bogdan Bogdanovic

DeMar DeRozen

Otto Porter Jr.

Anthony Davis

Andre Drummond

Understand, too, that it appears Davis and Drummond are expected to stay with their current teams and most of the other players on that list would probably not commit to re-signing with Portland without first testing the market this summer. Porter is a player the Trail Blazers have coveted, but without a commitment to re-sign here that they could trust, it would be a gamble.

Trading the expiring contract of Whiteside is perhaps the team’s last best chance of landing a big-time starter for what this team expects to be a championship core. Would you do it for a player you cannot count on to be back next season? Especially with what’s going on this year. What was supposed to be a run at the Finals is looking more and more like a pipedream. But with the expected return of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins next season and beyond, the hope of a big run is still alive.

That’s why the players with major seasons (and major money) left on their deals are the most likely targets. The most-often mentioned are Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Love has been mentioned frequently, but is a question mark. There was a report that Portland is his favored destination, but I have not been able to substantiate that and, in fact, have been told by people close to him that the report is not necessarily true. And the other concern with Love – who is obviously a terrific player with championship pedigree – are his injuries. Over his last three seasons, he has played 60, 59, and 22 games. At an average salary of $30.1 million over the next three seasons, his availability is a concern.

Griffin, also a spectacular player, has the same problem. Over the last six seasons, he’s played in an average of only 38 games per season.

Aldridge, more durable than the others, carries some concern at 34 years old, that his career would be nearing a decline – and he also has only one season left on his contract.

One other thing should be mentioned, too. There is a very good chance that Whiteside’s contract alone might not be enough to land any of these players. Some sweetening might be required to make a trade for players who have been all-stars.

Would the Trail Blazers include a first-round pick in a deal? Yes, I think they would. But would they be willing to throw in Collins? Anfernee Simons?

I don’t know. I do believe that over the next couple of seasons, any of the three players just mentioned would be better for them than the young ones. But after that, not so sure. If they include one of their promising young players, that would mean they are going all-in for the next couple of seasons in a search for a championship. And perhaps paying a price for it in the seasons after that.

Portland Trail Blazers ‘expected’ to pursue Thunder F Danilo Gallinari

Portland Trail Blazers ‘expected’ to pursue Thunder F Danilo Gallinari

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Portland Trail Blazers are “expected” to pursue Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari.

The Blazers may look to upgrade their wing rotation, especially following the season-ending injury to starting small forward Rodney Hood, who tore his achilles on December 6th against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Gallinari has averaged 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As a member of the Clippers last season, he averaged 19.8 points per game and even got some All-NBA and All-Star consideration around the league. He was traded to the Thunder in the blockbuster Paul George trade this offseason. 

On December 15, all players signed this off-season will be eligible to be traded. The Blazers will most likely use the expiring salary of either Hassan Whiteside ($27.1 million) or Kent Bazemore ($19.3 million) to match Gallinari’s $22.6 million expiring salary. 

[RELATED: Kevin Love 'prefers' Portland Trail Blazers as his trade destination]