NBA, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings

Blazers deal Kent Bazemore to Kings

The Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to send Kent Bazemore and filler to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza and filler. Here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.

Mark the Portland Trail Blazers down as the latest team to fall into the Trevor Ariza trap.

As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Blazers will be sending Kent Bazemore to the Sacramento Kings. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski quickly clarified Rip City will also send Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks to Sac-Town in exchange for Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel.

According to The Athletic‘s Sam Amick, the picks being included in the trade are Portland’s own second-rounders in 2024 and 2025. The trade cannot go through until Jan. 21 due to a signing restriction on Gabriel’s contract.

Trail Blazers Get

Trevor Ariza

Caleb Swanigan

Wenyen Gabriel

Kings Get

Kent Bazemore

Anthony Tolliver

2 2nd-round picks

This trade is unlikely to change Western Conference playoff picture too drastically, but anytime we’re blessed with a new trade, it’s time for some NBA Trade Grades. While it’s possible neither team is done making moves, which could provide added context to this deal, here’s how the trade currently shakes out for both the Blazers and the Kings.

Portland Trail Blazers

….Have the Blazers watched Trevor Ariza over the last two years? Like, at all?

In theory, trading for a proven veteran like Trevor Ariza will not only help the locker room, but bolster Portland’s 3-point shooting and perimeter defense. However, the truth is he’s been bad this year (and last year), and will hardly make much of a difference unless another change of scenery is what finally lights a fire under his butt.

In 32 games for the Kings this season, Ariza has averaged 6.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals in his 24.7 minutes per game. He’s shot a dismal 38.8 percent from the floor, though he’s made 35.2 percent of his 3.8 3-point attempts per game.

Ever since that infamous one-year, $15 million contract he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2018 (where he was moved by mid-December), Ariza hasn’t looked like a guy who cares very much. Sure, he’s played for three bad teams in the Suns, Washington Wizards and Kings, but it’s not like the Blazers are currently a playoff squad at 18-25. They’ve been underwhelming at best, and relying on Ariza to spark a midseason turnaround is a fool’s errand at this point.

True enough, Bazemore (32.7 percent on 4.0 attempts per game) and Tolliver (33.7 percent on 2.7 attempts per game) were having dreadful seasons shooting the 3-ball in Portland, but at 34 years old, it’s unlikely Ariza is suddenly going to rediscover his old 3-and-D self. Portland may have just been better off riding it out and hoping Bazemore and/or Tolliver turned it around at some point.

Bringing Swanigan back to the team that drafted him is a happy story, but neither he nor Gabriel is likely to have an effect on Rip City’s playoff odds, and both are expiring contracts. The only real benefit to this deal is cutting down on the Blazers’ luxury tax bill:

Newsflash: Cutting down on luxury tax bills is not something fans should care about, since the only person it really affects is the team’s owner. The financial benefits are clear, but in terms of the on-court product, Ariza won’t be the linchpin that turns Rip City’s season around.

In other words, it’ll be fun for the first 5-10 games when Ariza tries, but let’s just say it’s a damn good thing only $1.8 million of his $12.2 million salary for 2020-21 is guaranteed.

Grade: C

Sacramento Kings

Getting rid of Ariza’s deadweight is fine, but this isn’t exactly a winner for the Sacramento Kings either. Of the three prominent players included in the deal, Ariza is (somehow) the best 3-point shooter of the bunch for this season, which could really make a tough 2019-20 campaign even harder if Bazemore and Tolliver don’t snap out of their funks.

Bazmore is having his worst season since he first became a notable NBA name, averaging 7.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 34.7 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from deep. He’s not a risky acquisition as an expiring contract, but with Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harrison Barnes already on the roster, he’ll have to find a way to make impact games in minimal playing time.

As for Tolliver, his path to minutes isn’t very clear either, since Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, Nemanja Bjelica, Richaun Holmes and Harry Giles all have better cases for frontcourt minutes. As a career 37.4 percent shooter from downtown, Tolliver has a better chance than Ariza or Bazemore of getting back on track in a new environment, but he’s also 34 years old. There’s a possibility he just doesn’t have much left in the tank.

Both Bazemore ($19.3 million) and Ariza ($1.6 million) are expiring contracts, which should provide a bit of breathing room in free agency this summer. Adding two second-rounders for a player who’s become useless is always good, though it’s impossible to project their potential value at this point. Sacramento probably wins the trade overall, but it’s not anything to get particularly excited about outside of addition by subtraction.

Grade: C+

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