08 February 2010
For the past few weeks we’ve heard management’s stance on Portland making a move with the NBA trade deadline looming. And now with 10 days left until that deadline, chances are we’ll continue to hear the same “we like what we have” speak from Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan.
I buy that. I really do. Both Pritchard and McMillan couldn’t be more proud of their team. But that doesn’t mean the Blazers aren’t making phone calls, listening to offers and already planning ahead for this coming offseason in making improvements.
That’s where Steve Blake comes into play.
Right now, the veteran point guard - who is coming off a career year yet has struggled at times this season to find his groove with Andre Miller running the show – probably finds himself wondering if his future truly remains in Portland. Many are wondering the same, especially knowing Blake is one of the more expendable players on the roster.
Blake owns a $4 million expiring contact. That’s enough to make some GM’s around the league salivate over the next 10 days.
Teams have inquired about the availability of Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless. It’s uncertain where Blake falls into those discussions.
Pritchard’s track record speaks for itself. Making a move at the trade deadline isn’t his forte, unless you count acquiring Von Wafer’s expiring contract for Taurean Green trade two seasons ago between Portland and Denver. Even then, that was a move made for the future – which could play into the debate that now is the time to see what the Blazers can get for Blake.
Does Portland trade Blake for an expiring contract?
Before anyone gets too fired up on swapping Blake for a big man – with Kurt Thomas the fallback trade option – let’s remember who we are talking about here. Forget a package deal for a minute or trading the guy straight up. Blake is admired by management and the coaching staff. He is a Pritchard guy. When John Nash traded Blake away during the 2005-06 season, Pritchard brought him back in the summer of 2007. He is a McMillan guy. Why else was Blake starting over Miller when no other coach in the league would?
Still, when it comes time to evaluate your roster – regardless if that is over the next 10 days or in the pending offseason months – Blake becomes the question mark for Portland. They’ve proclaimed Miller is not available. You can pretty much make that same case for Bayless.
At least in the Blazers backcourt, Blake has reached a different point.
It’s likely the point of no return.
Count the Orlando Magic and Miami HEAT as two possible teams interested in the services of Steve Blake, according to one trusted league source.
"His value lies in the fact that he is a very serviceable and experienced starting point guard who, and as importantly, has a decent sized expiring contract," the source said when asked what teams - if any - are showing interest in Blake.
"(Jameer) Nelson hasn't been great for the Magic, so they could use a solid back-up to (Jason) Williams. Miami now has (Rafer) Alston to platoon with (Mario) Chalmers and (Carlos) Arroyo, but Blake would be an upgrade over those three. His expiring contract would be vital to any deal (Pat) Riley would make."
Alan Hahn of Newsday also chimmed in, letting me know to add the New York Knicks to the list.
After starting Chris Duhon at the point for much of the season, head coach Mike D'Antoni inserted Nate Robinson into the lineup for a short spell, only to return with Duhon as the starting point guard on Monday.
Not sure what's going to happen there at the point, and I'm not sure D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh know right now either. Clearly Duhon and Robinson aren't the answer.
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