Chad Buchanan seems like a nice and hard working guy. His opinion on the feasibility of picking up high level players, however, would indicate that he spends more time playing with the Trade Machine than working the phones. To wit:
Our draft picks are going to be available. If there’s a chance to get an established, proven player using a pick, we will definitely go that route.
In the course of the same interview, Buchanan mentioned the specific needs to be targeted were point guard and center. That sounds like it could be the Miami Heat: we’re pretty well set at 2-3-4, but we need a 1 and a 5. What Chad DIDN’T mention is that the Blazers actually only have two good players, and they are both forwards. That means in a 10 man rotation, the Blazers should be expecting to add about six more warm bodies (assuming Elliot Williams and Wesley Matthews are still here and Elliot gets to play).
The myth of Portland exceptionalism
Does Chad Buchanan have any idea how hard it is to acquire that many rotation-level players? The Lakers are trotting out Devin Ebanks and the rotting corpses of Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. The Wolves had to pay over four million a year for marginal rotation player JJ Barea. The Kings found nothing better to do with their capspace than pay Chuck Hayes, while the Rockets went with Samuel Dalambert. And of course our very own Blazers could find nothing better than Jamal Crawford for five million dollars a year.
How far is our capspace and two picks supposed to go in this kind of market? And why do we think we’ll do better than a team like the Pacers? The Pacers had tons of capspace and tons of desireable young talent next season. They chose to play it slow, partially because they are cheap, and that is the direction they headed, but also because turning capspace into a contender is incredibly difficult.
Of course though, the Blazers have an all-star. That seems to be a consistent theme of why the Blazers are in a great situation to sprint headlong forward and mortgage the future instead of smartly using the picks and building slowly. But how different does that make the Blazers? According to Kevin Pelton, 14 different teams had a player who was more productive than LaMarcus Aldridge this year. I doubt Minnesota or Utah is rushing to mortgage its future to take advantage of the primes of Kevin Love and Paul Millsap. In the case of Utah, we know that youth development remains the priority with a young cast of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter.
Ultimately it seems the plan of an instant rebuild is based on a delusional view of just how difficult it is to pull off winning transactions in the NBA. A best-case scenario seems to involve a starting lineup of Dragic, Iguodala, Batum, Aldridge and Asik with Matthews off the bench. That’s the best-case scenario, basically hitting the best trade target, and the two best free agent fits. And that team still probably is in the bottom half of the West playoff bracket.
Beyond that, that team has virtually no depth, with a single frontcourt injury potentially being fatal. It also has basically traded all the picks in the near future, meaning the possibility of an infusion of upside before the end of Aldridge’s contract is basically nil. So even a best case scenario where the pick is traded for an all-star level player like Iguodala creates a team that is likely first round fodder, with little depth, and no obvious room for improvement. Chad Buchanan, you are smarter than to trade those picks.