The Trailblazers are on the hook for $137,343,153 according to Hoopshype heading into the 2017-2018 season. The Blazers decided to keep their core together last off-season, and made a number of deals that have severely hampered their flexibility heading forward. It was a nice idea at the time, but the idea of paying the repeater tax is not something owner Paul Allen would like out of a team might have a ceiling as a low playoff seed.
The Knicks have reportedly entered discussions about a deal involving one of Portland's three first round picks (15, 20 and 26). A later report also detailed that Moe Harkless' name has been thrown up as a potential trade chip as well.
The Blazers desperately need salary cap relief, but their on-court needs are a backup center and less pressing is an additional three-and-d type player. The Knicks, on the other hand, do have some salary cap space and using it to acquire additional first round picks is a smart idea. However, they should be picky when it comes to taking back a player, as their depth chart isn't balanced at the moment. Let's get to the trade ideas.
Harkless becomes a Knick, O'Quinn becomes a Blazer
- The Knicks get Moe Harkless and pick 26
- The Blazers get Kyle O'Quinn
This deal is perhaps the most logical for both sides in terms of needs. The Knicks have Joakim Noah (who will miss time early in the season), Willy Hernangomez and Kristaps Porzingis who can all take O'Quinn's minutes. Having said that, O'Quinn was first in blocked shots off the bench in 2016-17 and fourth in rebounds off the bench. He's also a weapon in the pick and pop and a versatile sixth man. Most importantly for the Blazers, he only makes $4 million next year, and he has a player option for slightly more than that in 2018-19.
For the Knicks, Harkless is the most desirable player. He's a slashing small forward who went from a poor three-point shooter to an average one this season. His scoring went from 6.4 points to 10 points in the last two seasons and he can defend either forward spot. He's on the hook for 30 million over the next three years, which is actually palatable for the Knicks. The kicker here is the Knicks would grab pick 26, which they could use to grab someone like Bam Adebayo from Kentucky and replace that hustle they would lose with O'Quinn's departure.
Crabbe becomes a Knick, Thomas becomes a Blazer
- The Knicks get Allen Crabbe and pick 20
- The Blazers get Lance Thomas
- Allen Crabbe's 2016-17 stats: 10.7 points per game on 46/44/85 shooting splits (played 79 games and 29 minutes per game)
- Lance Thomas' 2016-17 stats: 6 points per game on 40/45/84 shooting splits (played 46 games and 22 minutes per game)
Unfortunately, Lance Thomas had an injury-interrupted season, and as such his stats took a toll from his encouraging 2015-16 season. Crabbe maintained almost identical stats from the year before, and both were important defensive cogs for either team. The difference between the two? Well, Crabbe is 24 and Thomas is 28. More importantly for this deal, Crabbe will make $56 million over the next three years, while Thomas will make just over $21 million. If the Blazers think they can get similar output out of Thomas and save $35 million dollars, they should do it.
Crabbe is clearly the better prospect in this deal and pick 20 is a much nicer pick than 26; although it's likely the Knicks would push for pick 15 if they had to take on this much salary. It's not a no-brainer for the Knicks, but with Hernangomez and Porzingis on cost-controlled rookie deals for the next few years, it's worth a shot.
Leonard becomes a Knick, O'Quinn becomes a Blazer
- Meyers Leonard and pick 15 are sent to the Knicks
- Kyle O'Quinn becomes a Trailblazer
Meyers Leonard is not a good fit for the Knicks. He's going to make $30 million over the next three years in guaranteed money, plus his output declined significantly since he got his payday. After looking like a nice stretch big man who shot just under 38% from the three-point line in 2015-16, that mark dropped back by 3% last year. His minutes also fell off, as did his scoring average. He's not a good defender, and his best skills overlap with Porzingis, making it impossible for them to play together.
Why would the Knicks do this? Well, they'd have to demand pick 15 in this deal. That could be much more valuable than one of the other two picks. The plus side is, Leonard might not be as hard to trade in two years as teams are constantly looking at how they can improve their spacing.
The Blazers would have an instant upgrade in O'Quinn who meshes perfectly with their roster and would have no trouble starting if Nurkic gets injured. They'd also still have two first round picks and would save $22 million instantly. They'd probably try and keep pick 15 in most trade scenarios, but it makes sense to let it go in this deal.