“I have a lot of love for Portland… A place I always saw myself playing. A place I prayed about getting too.” said Kent Bazemore in an Instagram post Saturday night, just hours after being traded to the Sacramento Kings.
It’s a sad part of basketball when a player is traded away from a team he loves, especially after only just arriving there a few short months ago but that’s exactly what happened to Bazemore, who along with big man Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks was traded to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel.
Here’s a look at why each team made the move and what impacts it could have down the line.
For the Blazers
For Portland, this trade is simply about money. They have the highest salary in the league at over $147 million dollars and are deep in the luxury tax. By getting Bazemore’s $19 million dollar salary off the books Portland has saved almost $13 million in luxury taxes and another $5 million in pure salary.
On the court, this trade doesn’t have a huge influence on Portland. Ariza and Bazemore have very similar playstyles as 3-and-D players, although Ariza has the extra height to be able to guard a wider variety of players.
Caleb Swanigan could get some rotation minutes until Nurkic’s return but beyond that doesn’t project to be any more than the garbage time player that he was during his first stint with Portland.
A piece that many are overlooking in this trade is Wenyen Gabriel, the 22-year-old power forward out of Kentucky. He has room to improve and has looked great in the G-league this season for the Stockton Kings, averaging almost 20 points and 9 rebounds a game. If he can continue his rapid improvement so far this season he could see some time in the rotation, especially with Zach Collins expected to miss several more months with a shoulder injury.
For the Kings
Bazemore is a nice addition for the Kings and is much younger than Trevor Ariza. He has solid upside as a quality defensive player and three-point shooter, especially if he can find his shooting stroke which has evaded him so far this season. He’ll have extra motivation to perform well since his contract is up at the end of the year.
Anthony Tolliver is likely to see some rotation minutes but won’t add a whole lot to the Kings except for a bit of extra three-point shooting if he can find his form.
The most value in this trade for the Kings comes in the form of the two second-round picks. The Kings have been stockpiling second-round picks in recent seasons and now have 13 over the next six seasons. The Kings can either use these picks in future trades or keep them for themselves. These picks will be even more valuable in the future if the NBA decides to lower the draft age to 18 which is a big possibility.
Both the Blazers and the Kings get what they want in this trade and it seems like both sides are going to come out satisfied.
The Kings got two solid rotation pieces in Bazemore and Tolliver as well as two second-round draft picks which they can either decide to use themselves or as trade assets.
The Blazers part ways with a solid player in Bazemore but at least get a capable short term replacement in Trevor Ariza, an intriguing prospect in Wenyen Gabriel, and save millions of dollars in luxury tax.