The Portland Trail Blazers have suffered an inordinate amount in terms of injuries, from losing Greg Oden consistently to dropping Brandon Roy suddenly. That said, the team has been a relative picture of health (Oden aside) this season, with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews -- the team's core -- remaining largely fit. Raymond Felton, the fifth Beatle, so to speak, has been fit in terms of health but not fit in terms of fitness, and it shows as he's had a disastrous season.
But that doesn't mean that he still wouldn't be an improvement for some team. Hi, Lakers.
NEEDS & TARGETS
The Blazers need backcourt help, as Felton's been amazingly bad and Jamal Crawford, who has been good, isn't a point guard by any stretch of the imagination. Frankly, the team should never have traded Andre Miller for Felton -- Miller's problem in Portland was that he struggled to play well with Roy. He worked quite well with Aldridge, Batum, Matthews for a short period Wallace.
That said, the Blazers could also stand to lose some of the current backcourt. Matthews has been disappointing after earning our the first year of his contract last season. Batum will be a restricted free agent in July, and will be due a big payday. (There's already talk about the cap-rich Kings making a big move for him.) Wallace can also become a free agent, but chances are that he'll pick up his $9.5 million option and tie up Portland's space. So it's a tricky balance: you'd love to get something, anything for Felton or even Crawford (who has an option for 2012-13), but you also, y'know, need some guards.
The Lakers could take Felton off of Portland's hands because, stunningly, Felton would be an upgrade for L.A. We think. L.A. has an appropriately sized trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal. Crawford's suitors would be the usual suspects: playoff contenders with bench scoring needs.
SALARY CAP SITUATION
Because Felton and Camby come off of the books at season's end, the Blazers are slated to have at least $18 million in cap space next season, according to ShamSports.com. If Wallace and Crawford decline their options, that could increase to a whopping $33 million. There is some flexibility here.
For more on the Blazers, check out Blazer's Edge.