Rumor: Trail Blazers may look to trade for center to help lagging defense

Associated Press

Portland has the second worst defense in the NBA as you read this, allowing 108.3 points per 100 possessions (to answer your question, Sacramento is worse). Opponents are getting 32.3 shots per game within five feet of the rim and are hitting 56.2 percent of them, and those teams are getting a lot and making a lot of shots in the 5-10 foot range.

Portland has a great offense with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (and maybe someday Evan Turner will learn to mesh with them), but the defense is an issue. Effort is at the heart of it, but Zach Lowe of ESPN laid out the likelihood that Portland could make a trade before the deadline to get a big.

Portland looks ripe for a trade. Neil Olshey, the team’s one-step-ahead GM, chased Hassan Whiteside in free agency, and has a well-documented fondness for old-school low-post brutes like Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe, Nikola Vucevic and others. (It’s tempting to pitch a (Allen) Crabbe/Lopez swap since the Nets lavished Crabbe with a massive offer sheet, but Brooklyn cannot acquire Crabbe until the offseason — at least under current league rules.)

Portland has long been my favorite Vucevic landing spot, though the Magic should probably just stop taking Olshey’s calls after gifting him Harkless for nothing. Just about everyone is overstocked with centers. Portland might call Denver about Jusuf Nurkic, and it wouldn’t stun me if they expressed some interest in Tyson Chandler — even though Chandler is a decade older than some core Blazers, with two years left on a bloated contract….

Someone should be trying to steal Kosta Koufos from the Kings. As for another popular suggestion, let’s just say the league doesn’t quite know what to make of Nerlens Noel.

That’s a lot of speculation, but Lowe isn’t one to throw random speculation out there, you can bet there is substance to it. The idea also has the force of logic.

Portland needs to do something if they want to take a step forward off last season’s advance to the second round of the playoffs. Evan Turner has not been the answer (his role as a third shot creator when Lillard/McCollum are blitzed in the playoffs still makes a little sense on paper, but during the season the fit has been awkward).