Portland Trail Blazers Trade Rumors: Lack Of Defense Forecasting Team Fire Sale?

Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors continue to focus on how terrible the team has been on defense during the 2016-17 NBA season. Many NBA analysts projected that the Blazers could struggle on defense, but not many predicted that the Blazers would have the worst defensive rating (110.5 percentage) in the entire league. Losing 11 of their last 13 games, the Blazers have fallen quite a bit in the latest NBA standings. A bad loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday (Dec. 30), dropped the team to 14-21 on the season.

After a hot start that made it seem like the Blazers could overcome deficiencies on defense by simply out-scoring opponents, the team has settled into a pattern of losing that could be difficult to survive. The 110-94 loss to the Spurs was exceptionally ugly because the Blazers had a 32-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. Over the last three quarters of the game, the Spurs would outscore the Blazers 88-62. It didn’t help that Damian Lillard missed his third straight game, as it hindered any potential comeback from the Blazers in the final 12 minutes.

Enter the Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors as the front office may decide that it is about time to make some big moves. In order to fix the defense, it may become necessary to deal starting shooting guard C.J. McCollum. He has been playing very well this season and his value has only gone up since putting together a really good year during the 2015-16 NBA season.

Blazers Point Guard Damian Lillard
[Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]

In 34 games this season, McCollum is averaging 22.1 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 47 percent from the field, 43.1 percent from three-point range, and 89.5 percent from the free throw line. An argument could even be made that he has been more valuable to the team this year than All-Star Damian Lillard. The problem is that neither starting guard plays great defense, putting the team at a disadvantage every night. Could the team consider dealing both Lillard and McCollum to go into a full rebuilding period?

The Portland Trail Blazers are averaging an impressive 107.6 points per game this season, ranking the team among the best in the NBA. The problem is that the Blazers are also giving up 111.5 points a night, which is the third-worst mark in the NBA. The only two teams with worse numbers are the Phoenix Suns (113.6) and the Brooklyn Nets (114.4). Calling the Suns and Nets terrible would be a compliment, underscoring how the Blazers would not want to be associated with those franchises. Could a coaching change shift how the team works together?

Several teams have been linked to the Blazers, with the common thread being that those teams have big men who could be available before the NBA trade deadline. Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers, and even Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans have come up in trade rumors. It’s likely very safe to assume that the Pelicans aren’t going to deal Davis and that the least expensive big man in the group would be Noel.

Blazers Coach Terry Stotts
[Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]

Nerlens Noel is set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the current NBA season. This makes him the most likely candidate to get traded by his team this year. The Philadelphia 76ers continue to flounder in the Eastern Conference, with the team in desperate need of top-tier guards. C.J. McCollum might be the perfect fit for the organization, but he is worth much more than Nerlens Noel in any deal. Maybe if the 76ers were to send Noel and a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft it would get very interesting.

A reality is that Blazers fans felt the team was improved this year and could make a run at one of the lower playoff spots. It has not turned out that way as the additions and subtractions to the roster haven’t worked out at all. While there is still a lot of time left in the 2016-17 NBA season, fans might want to start preparing to hear that the Blazers are dealing away players to improve for the future. The season is very close to being lost, which makes it very unsurprising that some of the latest Portland Trail Blazers trade rumors suggest a fire sale on the horizon.

[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]