The Portland Trail Blazers need a defensive-minded center. Badly. That’s why Neil Olshey & Company are weighing their options when it comes to a trade for Phoenix Suns big man Tyson Chandler, according to a report from ESPN.
Chandler, 34, still has two years after this season left on the 4-year, $52 million deal he signed with Phoenix back in 2015.
While he would be an addition to Portland’s weary front line, Chandler has slowed the team’s activity in the past on seeking a trade as recently as last summer.
The Blazers, meanwhile, seem to have rebounded a bit defensively as of late. Portland changed their defensive scheme, with more active defense from their big men and with infrequent double-teams thrown in against major post threats like DeMarcus Cousins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Al-Farouq Aminu‘s presence in the lineup has also been felt, as the defensive-minded power forward has rejoined the team after missing significant time with two separate injuries.
Portland has been one of the more disappointing teams this season, one that many picked to finish anywhere from 4-6 in the Western Conference before the season began. Riding an unexpected wave to a second-round exit in 2015-16, many felt the Blazers would improve as they returned the most minutes in the NBA this year.
However, many of the team’s signings have not worked out. Evan Turner has been slow to adapt on both offense and defense, and RFA Allen Crabbe has backslid, perhaps due to his relegation with the addition of Turner.
The Blazers’ big man problems were supposed to be craftily managed with the addition of Festus Ezeli, who signed a cheap, 2-year contract that was team-friendly. However, Ezeli has yet to see the court for the Blazers and likely won’t this year — or ever — as he is considering season-ending surgery to repair his ailing left knee.
At publish time, Portland has clawed its way back to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, but their playoff lives are dependent on seeing the second-half improvement we saw from them last season.
Chandler might be an excellent addition, but it would mean giving up an asset of equal contract value with one of Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, or Evan Turner heading to Phoenix. And while the Blazers could trade their own pick or Cleveland’s 2017 first rounder, taking a big gamble on a 34-year-old center with a very young team doesn’t feel like it’s up Olshey’s alley.
The big question is what Phoenix sees ahead for themselves, and what they are looking to get in return for Chandler. It’s not clear what the market is for the Suns center at the moment, and if it’s a leveraging of Portland’s long-term big men and picks in exchange for an aging post like Chandler, that might be the most prudent route for all involved.