Trade Deadline 2023: Portland Trail Blazers Mock Deadline

  • GM: Mat Issa, @matissa15

    Salary Cap: $150,010,398

    Luxury Tax: $256,602

    • They are right under the luxury tax threshold, and it’s highly unlikely they’d be willing to go above that, so they will probably only make a move where they shed salary unless they salary dump an end-of-bench player

    GOAL: Get upgrades where you can without going into the luxury tax


    • The Blazers may stand pat at the deadline because of their tax situation, but their biggest move may be locking up of their own….

    • Jerami Grant is eligible for a four-year, $112 million extension, this should be Portland’s priority to get a deal done

    o   Max extension Grant is able to sign:

    • 2023-24: $25,146,000
    • 2024-25: $27,157,680
    • 2025-26: $29,169,360
    • 2026-27: $31,181,040
    • Total: 4/$112,54,080

    o   This is a 20% raise with 8% raises each year… if Portland wanted to save a little money, would Grant accept 5% raises with the same starting salary?
    o   It’s also possible that Portland waits until this offseason to re-sign Grant because then they can sign him to a higher AAV with a declining salary instead so his contract becomes cap friendlier after new TV deal with an increased cap

    • The most I can see Portland doing is trading Justise Winslow for a cheaper alternative to clear space under the tax for more breathing room

    • Try to acquire an upgrade at backup center, if possible

    Players to Dangle

    Josh Hart (2/$25.9 with essentially a Mutual Option in ‘23-’24)

    o   Salary: $12,960,000

    o   Can match up to $16,300,000 if you’re in the tax or $17,960,000 if you can avoid the tax

    o   I can’t imagine Hart getting traded but I think he’ll at least be dangled in negotiations because a) his contract is team-friendly and he’s one of their only real mid-tier salaries they can use to package for an upgrade and b) there’s a shot he doesn’t re-sign this summer because he likely opts out, so Portland can trade him to get value for him

    Gary Payton II (3/$26.1)

    o   Salary $8,300,000

    o   Can match up to $10,475,000 for him if in the tax or $13,300,000 if you can avoid the tax

    o   He just signed there and made his season debut after offseason abdomen surgery, so it’s unlikely he’s moved, but any guy on a team-friendly contract that’s a mid-tier salary is always in danger of being in trade negotiations

    Nassir Little (5/$32.2)

    o   Salary: $4,171,548

    o   He can theoretically be traded, but any guy who’s poison pilled makes it highly unlikely they can be traded for salary matching purposes

    Justise Winslow (1/$4.1)

    o   Salary: $4,097,561

    o   Can match up to $5,221,952 if in tax or $7,270,731 if out of the tax

    Greg Brown (1/$1.5)

    o   Salary: $1,563,518

    o   If you can stay under tax, can match up to $2,836,156

    o   Would likely be a salary dump

    Trade Targets

    • Malik Beasley
    • Kyle Kuzma
    • OG Anunoby
    • Gorgui Dieng
    • Matisse Thybulle
    • Cam Reddish & Obi Toppin
    • Hamidou Diallo
    • Derrick Jones Jr.

    Assets Owned

    • Unable to trade away any firsts because of protections on the pick owed to Chicago, but can always amend those protections if Chicago agrees
    TPE: $6,519,912
    TPE: $3,261,480
    2023 1st (lotto protected to CHI, lotto protected every year through 2028 and if doesnt convey, then 2028 2nd)
    • 2024 1st
    • 2025 1st
    • 2026 1st
    • 2027 1st
    • 2028 1st
    • 2029 1st
    • 2024 ATL 2nd (top 55 protected)
    • 2027 2nd (to Knicks if 2025 1st from Bucks not conveyed)
    • 2027 NOP 2nd
    • 2028 2nd (to Chicago if ‘23-’28 firsts lotto protected don’t convey)
    • 2029 2nd


    Mock Trades to Date (Feb 2 Deadline)

    Cavaliers and Blazers swap wings

    TRADE: The Portland Trailblazers trade Josh Hart and Greg Brown to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, and CLE 2025 2nd round pick


    For Cleveland, the goal was simple: acquire wings. And that’s exactly what they did. Cleveland sent out Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, and Caris LeVert and turned those three guys into Josh Richardson, Josh Hart, Davon Reed, and Justin Holiday. The biggest issue with LeVert is that he thrives best with the ball in his hands, and with one of Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland on the court at all times, LeVert has been relegated to a sixth-man role as a result. However, Hart is an absolutely perfect fit. He can slide into this starting five, defend the opposing team’s best wing player, rebound well, and do the dirty work. While Cleveland was mindful to stay out of the luxury tax and accomplished that, they said they likely won’t be contenders this year. However, acquiring Hart with Richardson and Holiday off the bench vastly raises the Cavs ceiling. This offseason would be intriguing for Cleveland, as Hart, Richardson, and Holiday would all hit free agency this summer, as opposed to Cedi Osman or Isaac Okoro, who are both under contract next season. 

    For Portland, Hart is going to opt out of his de facto mutual option and test the free agency waters. Portland has a Jerami Grant free agency issue to worry about, and it’s unlikely they’d be able to lock up both while still avoiding the luxury tax. Here, Portland flipped Hart, picked up a second round pick, and added two wings that are under contract next year. Even so, Portland must be high enough on Okoro’s potential to take a swing like this. 

    Let me take a minute to note that both of these teams were within $2 million of the luxury tax before this trade was completed and both GMs, Evan Dammarrell and Mat Issa, did an excellent job of dodging the tax while still improving their rosters. While it’s easy as a fan to say “it’s not my money, go into the tax”, this is the largest luxury tax distribution ever, and it’s unlikely that a team that is able to avoid the tax is going to go into it under any scenario, especially if they have repeater tax issues later down the line. Excellent job.


    Rockets acquire more assets

    Rockets trade: Josh Christopher

    Trail Blazers trade: Jabari Walker, Trendon Watford, POR 2027 2nd, POR 2028 2nd, and CLE 2025 2nd


    Once they acquired Kawhi, the Rockets priority was to get off of Josh Christopher. Here, Portland was within a couple hundred thousand of the luxury tax, and this was a way to get guard depth. Houston was initially talking to Brooklyn about a Christopher trade, but the three second-round picks that Portland offered got this trade over the finish line. 

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