Little Hope For The Blazers

Bill Simmons is out with his annual ode to “War and Peace,” otherwise known as his ranking of the NBA players with the most trade value. A couple Blazer-related notes:

— Nicolas Batum doesn’t quite make the list of the Top 50, but Simmons has him as one of the players who just missed, writing: “The geek-friendly teams (San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, etc.) have circled him for years, fully expecting him to become Battier 2.0 on the right contender. He’s getting an offer sheet next July that will make you say, “Wait … WHAT?????” Be prepared.”

And to think the Blazers could have locked up Batum earlier this season. You know, before he went on a tear that fully validated those who have long considered him a future All-Star. On the other hand, the way the Blazers are going right now, everybody’s trade value is sinking.

— LaMarcus Aldridge is 14th on the list, with Simmons writing: “Here’s what you’re getting: 21 points and eight rebounds a night, decent defense, and someone who needs to be double-teamed (when he’s feeling it) at an extremely fair price. You argue he’s the most properly paid player in the league: $12.87 million this year; then $14 million, $15.1 million and $16.26 million. And on that note, I’m mailing in the rest of this paragraph just like the Blazers mailed in the 2011-12 season.”

And that’s it for Blazer mentions. Which kind of points out the problem, doesn’t it? If the Blazers have one of the top 50 players in the league in terms of trade value — and two of the top 60 or so — there’s not a whole lot of talent, is there? And if they don’t have a lot of valuable trade pieces, there’s not a lot of hope for a big trade to right the ship, is there?

That’s no excuse for Portland’s tank job the past couple weeks. The Blazers shot four free throws the other night at Minnesota, then watched Boston go on a 57-20 run for a 65-30 halftime lead.

Both instances are shameful examples of a lack of effort. Four free throws in an entire game represent a team that A) Has no desire to pass the ball inside and B) Has no desire to drive to the basket. And a 65-30 halftime deficit is simply inexplicable in an NBA game.

The Blazers have quit on each other and on their coach. Given the fact that, as Simmons believes, they have little of trade value on the roster, the only big change would be to fire Nate McMillan. At this point it seems inevitable.

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