The NBA team with the highest payroll each of the last five years (record):
- 2015-16: Cavaliers (57-25)
- 2016-17: Cavaliers (51-31)
- 2017-18: Cavaliers (50-32)
- 2018-19: Thunder (49-33)
- 2019-20: Trail Blazers (18-25)
Sitting 10th in the Western Conference, Portland is no longer content to spend so much on a losing team. So, the Trail Blazers will send Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks to the Kings for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Portland has traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver and two second- round picks to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Wendell Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 18, 2020
Assuming this trade becomes official Tuesday (the first day Gabriel can be traded), Portland is in line to save $12,657,456 (salary: $2,532,078, luxury tax: $10,125,379).
The Trail Blazers are now $6,129,275 over the luxury-tax line. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to dodge the tax entirely. Hassan Whiteside, Rodney Hood, Mario Hezonja, Ariza, Swanigan and Gabriel are all candidates to get dealt in cost-cutting moves.
Portland is also still trying to make the playoffs. Ariza should help. He fills a clear need as a bigger wing who can defend and hit open 3-pointers. He has shown clear signs of decline at age 34, but he has outplayed Bazemore this season.
Ariza has $1.8 of his $12.8 million salary guaranteed next season, the only money due beyond this year to a player in this trade. That and the second-rounders are the cost of the Trail Blazers getting an immediate upgrade while saving major money now. Looks like excellent value.
Ostensibly, the Kings are also still trying to compete this season. They remain the fringe of the underwhelming playoff race. Ariza is not a big loss.
This trade was seemingly primarily about the picks for the Kings.
Bazemore and Tolliver could also help in the locker room. There’s plenty of frustration in Sacramento. Better chemistry could go a long way.
Interestingly, Tolliver and Swanigan return to their former teams. The King gave Tolliver his biggest payday in 2016. The Trail Blazers drafted Swanigan No. 26 in 2017 then traded him to Sacramento last year. Both Tolliver (age 34) and Swanigan (limited interior big) appear in danger of washing out of the league.