The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2019-20 NBA season with the goal of winning the Western Conference and the NBA championship. The explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is expected to make huge noise this season, but without any major upgrades on their roster, the Trail Blazers’ road to the NBA Finals will likely be tougher. Especially with the emergence of new powerhouse teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference.
If the Trail Blazers are serious about achieving their goal this season, they should continue addressing some of the issues on their roster before the 2020 February trade deadline. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, one of the areas that the Trail Blazers need to improve is the forward position.
“They have excellent guards and good centers, especially once Jusuf Nurkic recovers from a broken leg. But they are often forced to play natural shooting guards like Rodney Hood and Kent Bazemore at small forward while swinging a center like Zach Collins to power forward. And now Collins is hurt.”
When it comes to potential trade targets for the Trail Blazers, one name has been continuously surfacing since the 2019 NBA offseason: Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As Windhorst noted, Love “could fit in nicely” on the Trail Blazers, giving them an All-Star caliber big man who can knock down shots from beyond the arc. With the years he spent with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in Cleveland, Love wouldn’t have any problem accepting the role as the Trail Blazers’ third scoring option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, as of now, the Cavaliers haven’t shown any indication that they are planning to make Kevin Love available on the trade market before the February trade deadline. According to Windhorst, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari “would be easier to acquire” for the Trail Blazers than Love.
“A more feasible impact name could be Danilo Gallinari, who would likely be easier to acquire as he is in the final year of his deal on a restructuring OKC team. The Blazers have the big expiring contracts of Hassan Whiteside and Bazemore as well as promising young players in Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons.”
There are plenty of reasons why Danilo Gallinari is a better trade target for the Trail Blazers than Kevin Love. Gallinari may not be as popular as Love, but he could replicate his performance on the offensive end of the floor. Gallinari is a reliable scoring option, a great rebounder, and a floor-spacer, and unlike Love, he’s not a defensive liability.
In his first five games as a member of the Thunder, the 31-year-old small forward has been posting impressive numbers, averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from beyond the arc.
With his contract set to expire after this season, the potential acquisition of Danilo Gallinari would enable the Trail Blazers to boost their chance of contending for the NBA championship without affecting their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2020. Also, compared to Kevin Love, the Trail Blazers won’t likely be needing to make a godfather-like offer to the Thunder to convince them to send Gallinari to Portland.