Deandre Ayton ice capades the latest embarrassment in Portland

The NBA trade market is buzzing with activity, and one team that is making it abundantly clear that they are open for business is the Portland Trail Blazers. While no official statement has been released by the team, the signs of rebuilding apathy are hard to ignore, especially when your starting center misses a game due to too much ice.

Deandre Ayton, the Blazers’ starting center, was unable to participate in their recent win against the Brooklyn Nets because he couldn’t navigate the icy conditions around his house. Now, it’s worth noting that there are some backwoods neighborhoods in Portland, and the US is currently experiencing a deep freeze. Ayton, who hails from the Bahamas, could have simply made an honest mistake. However, it’s puzzling that he didn’t reach out to the team for assistance, considering that dozens of other employees were able to make it to the Moda Center.

It’s not surprising that the Blazers are open to trade offers, as long as they continue to lose. General Manager Joe Cronin seems content with the idea of player development, coaching, and effort being optional, as long as it results in acquiring more draft assets and maintaining control over the front office. Every player on the roster seems to be performing as if they are ready to be traded.

The problem with this approach is that the Blazers have not fared well in recent trades. They traded Damian Lillard for less than his true value and have since moved other valuable players for less than desirable returns. It’s been a while since Portland “won” a trade. While they do have their own pick and the Warriors’ top-four protected pick (via Boston) in this year’s draft, they will have to wait until 2029 to use the first-rounders they received from Milwaukee and Boston. Compared to other franchises that have successfully executed rebuilding strategies, the Blazers’ assets pale in comparison.

Assuming that players like Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon, Matisse Thybulle, or Ayton will fetch valuable returns also assumes that they are performing well. However, they are all currently underperforming, likely due to the lackluster coaching efforts of Chauncey Billups.

The Blazers’ lineup is in constant flux, and it’s unclear who will be dressed for games, how much playing time they will receive, or what the game plan is. Promising rookie Scoot Henderson often sees playing time but struggles to make an impact. Shaedon Sharpe, arguably Portland’s most valuable asset, saw increased playing time due to injuries but now receives limited minutes.

It’s clear that Billups is neither winning nor developing talent, and his relationship with Cronin seems to be the only thing keeping him employed. Cronin is unwilling to admit any mistakes, as it would only further expose his questionable credentials as a general manager.

Somehow, someone has convinced (alleged interim) owner Jody Allen that this is what a rebuild is supposed to look like. The Blazers recently lost a game by 62 points, marking the fifth-largest margin of victory in NBA history. None of this is normal, including Ayton taking a “work from home” day because he didn’t shovel his driveway and couldn’t walk to a location that an Uber could easily reach.

In conclusion, the Portland Trail Blazers are clearly open to trade offers, and their lackluster performance on the court and questionable coaching decisions indicate that a rebuild is in full swing. However, their track record in trades and the current state of the team raise concerns about their ability to execute a successful rebuild. Only time will tell if their trade market activity will lead to positive results.

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