The NBA trade deadline is a week away and the rumor mill is already in full swing.
The latest rumor to drop involving the Portland Trail Blazers has them reportedly very interested in acquiring Utah Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt.
The Athletic/Stadium first reported the news and an NBA source has confirmed the Blazers’ interest to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Acquiring Vanderbilt wouldn’t be an earth-shattering, contender-making deal, but he would give the Blazers something they sorely need: effective size with experience.
The 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt, a second-round pick in 2018 (Orlando), is averaging 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in 51 appearances with 41 starts in his fifth season.
Vanderbilt is effective around the basket while shooting a career-high 33.9% on threes. His defensive rating is just 113, but it was 108 last season with Minnesota.
Regardless of his weaknesses, Vanderbilt offers height and length, something the Blazers sorely need. Plus, he comes with a cap-friendly contract. He is making $4.3 million this season and is due $4.6 million next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
Other players loosely linked to the Blazers are Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder and Toronto forward OG Anunoby.
Crowder is a holdout while seeking a long-term extension. He was scheduled to make $10.2 million this season. Milwaukee and Chicago have been most closely linked to Crowder.
According to ActionNetwork.com, the Blazers could have interest in acquiring Crowder, who would add a bit of size, plenty of toughness and defense to the lineup. Last season he had a 105 defensive rating while averaging 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Anunoby was on the Blazers’ radar last summer while they dangled the No. 7 pick in the 2022 NBA draft that they ultimately used to select Shaedon Sharpe.
Toronto reportedly wants three first-round picks for Anunoby. This could rule out the Blazers, who do not outright own their 2023 first-round pick, which is lottery protected.
In 2021, the Blazers used that pick in a three-way deal with Cleveland and Chicago to acquire Larry Nance Jr. from the Cavaliers while Lauri Markkanen went to Cleveland from Chicago.
In hindsight, the Blazers should have simply traded for Markkanen, who has developed into an All-Star in Utah.
Regardless, the pick dealt is lottery protected through 2028. Should the Blazers make the playoffs this season, that pick would convey to Chicago. If not, the Blazers would keep the pick, and so on.
That uncertainty makes it difficult for the Blazers to offer that pick or multiple picks because they don’t know if they own this year’s pick or next year’s pick.
Such a deal involving first-round picks for Anunoby would require Toronto to accept waiting to find out when they can collect on their bounty of picks from the Blazers.
That said, the Blazers acquiring Anunoby would likely land them in the playoffs and solve the uncertainty this offseason.
In reality, acquiring Anunoby might require a package built around either Anfernee Simons or Sharpe and both options would appear to be unlikely from Portland’s perspective.
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts
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