Trail Blazers News: Trade Proposed to Offload Pricey Young Portland Star

Should the team look to move on for future assets?
Mar 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) and center Deandre Ayton (2) on the bench in the final few minutes of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) and center Deandre Ayton (2) on the bench in the final few minutes of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have a timeline problem.

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the team is already into the luxury tax this summer, and is currently $1.3 million into the league's first salary cap apron. Portland boasts several veteran players on major contracts, including guards Malcolm Brogdon and Anfernee Simons, forwards Matisse Thybulle and Jerami Grant, and centers Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams III. While 24-year-old Simons and 25-year-old Ayton seem young enough to be part of the club's future, they're on reasonable-enough contracts and played well enough last year to probably net some serious draft equity if Cronin opts to include them in deals.

Marks proposes offloading Anfernee Simons (who essentially was CJ McCollum 2.0 alongside now-ex-Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, as an undersized shooting guard who's a defensive sieve) to the Orlando Magic, who are badly in need of some scoring and shooting off the dribble in the backcourt, in exchange for young reserve point guard Cole Anthony and a pair of lottery-protected 2025 first round draft picks, the Denver Nuggets' top-5 protected first rounder, likely to land in the 20s given Denver's awesomeness, and the Magic's own lottery-protected first.

Simons, a 6-foot-3 "shooting" guard, enjoyed a solid individual season in 2023-24, averaging 22.6 points on a .430/.385/.916 slash line, 5.5 dimes, 3.6 boards and 0.5 swipes a night, although he only appeared in 46 bouts with various ailments, most recently left knee tendinitis. Despite his limitations, he's still capable of scoring in bunches, and would perhaps be optimally employed as a microwave-scoring, change-of-pace sixth man off the bench for a contender. He'll earn $25.9 million next season, in the third year of a four-season, $100 million deal.

More Trail Blazers: Previewing Portland's Point Guard Rotation in 2024


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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

Clyde, Rick Barry, and Pistol Pete Now these players, could never be beat.