The way players feel, the way head coach feel and the way general managers/front offices feel about the approaching trade deadline is very different from one another. Asking those playing on teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or coaching the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers makes it seem like they’re all one, big happy family.
It couldn’t be more right when speaking about the Blazers, a team many thought was going to be at or near the bottom of the Western conference after losing four starting players, but by riding the scoring of their backcourt tandem Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, they find themselves 7th in the West and on quite a roll heading into the All-Star break, winning eight of their last 10 games.
While the front office might be entertaining thoughts about making some moves to improve the team’s chances of making the playoffs (or maybe weakening the ranks to get a lottery pick?!), the players, like Ed Davis, McCollum and Lillard, have been speaking to the media, saying they hope to see everyone still in the locker room once the deadline is over.
The Blazers do have plenty of cap space (more than $20 million under) which means they could help some cap-struggling team get rid of a bad contract while getting rid of some edge of the bench player, but sometimes when things work so well based on good chemistry, it’s dangerous trying to mess around with such things, especially for a team riding a shooting duo and not some offensive system that’s taking them places.
For Indiana (6th in the East, struggling lately) and the Bucks (22-32, not going to make the playoffs in a disappointing season) it seems both coaches, Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd, want to see the same team in the locker room when the deadline expires in four days. Kidd led the Bucks to the playoffs with this same team more or less a year before, and the overall feeling in the clubhouse is that there’s enough talent and potential, despite the rumors regarding Michael Carter-Williams (mostly, but there are others), to have long terms success with this group. Vogel, who is doing a great job with the revamped Pacers roster, doesn’t want to see anyone traded.
And then there are the Nuggets. A team that one local paper described as being on the first year of this team’s roster cycle. They’re five games behind the 8th spot in the West, which might make it tempting to mess up what they’ve been working on and bring in someone via trade to try and make the playoffs right now, but following the initial plan and building success through the maturing of this current group might be the smarter way to approach the next few days, even if it means missing the playoffs.