Following the announcement that LaMarcus Aldridge is unlikely to return to the Blazers next year and the Nicholas Batum deal, it wasn’t too surprising to see Portland making more aggressive moves on draft day.
Although this one appears to render the services of centre Robin Lopez surplus to requirements, the Trailblazers added another young piece, to go along with the likes of Damian Lillard and Noah Vonleh, by swapping veteran guard Steve Blake and the 23rd overall pick (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) for Mason Plumlee and the 41st overall pick (Pat Connaughton).
From a Portland perspective, this trade, coupled with the others they’ve made to date, seems to suggest that the franchise is looking to move away from the veteran core that took it to the first round of the playoffs this season, a series they lost 4-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies.
That said, Plumlee proved last year that he’s more than just a project, as he averaged 8.7 PPG and 6.2 RPG whilst shooting .573 from the field during the regular season, not bad for a sophomore campaign. Those numbers are lower than the ones he put up during his rookie season and he does struggle from the line, as he made just .495 of his free throws last year, but despite his relative lack of experience he has made sixteen postseason appearances, something that’ll serve him well in Portland going forward.
As for the Nets, Hollis-Jefferson is the draw here, as he’ll bring bundles of energy and effort, not to mention some much needed defensive-prowess, to an aging roster in desperate need of an overhaul. Plus, Steve Blake will add valuable minutes off the bench as he has done throughout his career, playing behind existing guards Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack, assuming they’re still in Brooklyn come October.
Until we know exactly what happens to Aldridge it’s quite hard to assess the true impact of this trade. That said, Portland has a new, young front court that should continue to improve for years to come, while Brooklyn added a solid young piece in Hollis-Jefferson and a veteran with just a year left on his current deal in Blake.
Not a bad day’s work for either party.