HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Both Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton have been here before during their careers. So the roller coaster ride that is the NBA trade deadline rumor mill should be nothing new to the Portland Trail Blazers’ veteran guards.
With the March 15 trade deadline looming and the Trail Blazers stuck in neutral, losers of three in a row and currently on the outside looking at the Western Conference playoff picture, the speculation is that either one or both of them could be moved by the deadline.
The Lakers and Blazers have had exploratory talks about Felton, per Chris Haynes of the CSNNW.com:
A league source has informed CSNNW.com that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers have had “exploratory talks” regarding Trail Blazers’ guard Raymond Felton.
According to the source, talks have been ongoing for weeks and it is likely to involve Lakers’ guard Steve Blake in the deal.
CSNNW.com has also been told that terms of this potential deal “haven’t got off the ground” but it is one that is being considered by both sides.
This season, Felton is suffering a career-low in points per game (9.7), field goal percentage (.368), three-point percentage (.246), and rebounds (2.1).
Meanwhile, Crawford is apparently on the radar of the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves and drawing interest from the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, according to Sam Amick of SI.com:
With the Blazers underachieving and the 12-year veteran having struggled to fit in this season, sources say he’s available. Crawford signed a two-year, $10 million deal on Dec. 15, but the second season is a player option and he plans to opt out this summer to retest the free agent market.
Crawford wasn’t a natural fit from the start, as defensive-minded coach Nate McMillan was said to be wary of whether his new player would buy in on both ends. What’s more, McMillan’s use of Crawford as the starting point guard over Raymond Felton rather than playing him at his natural off-guard position is causing Crawford some consternation.
The 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year — who, for what it’s worth, would prefer to finish the season in Portland — is averaging 14.5 points in just 26.8 minutes per game. But his 40.2 percent shooting is his lowest mark since the 2006-07 campaign. While it’s not known whether the Clippers and Blazers have discussed a deal involving Crawford, a source close to him said they showed significant interest when he was a free agent but lacked the flexibility to get a deal done.
This is a dramatic turnaround from a few weeks ago, when the Blazers were being heralded as potential contenders in the Western Conference and one of the surprise (in a positive way) teams in the league for the way they were playing without Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.
But lingering point guard issues, the same ones that have seemingly always existed in the Nate McMillan era, simply will not go away. And now that the season has settled a bit and reality has taken hold, things don’t look quite as rosy as they did a few months ago.
If the trade deadline comes and goes without either Crawford or Felton getting moved, we’ll be surprised here at the hideout.