The trade deadline is upon us and whether the Trail Blazers make a move or not, it seems pretty clear to me that it's time for this team to move into discovery mode with its young players.
Can Meyers Leonard play? Not sure, haven't seen enough of him. And I'm not sure if he's going to get much better without more playing time. What I do know is that among NBA rookies he ranks 15th in ESPN's Hollinger player evaluation ratings, which isn't bad, given that he's still a very inexperienced player. That ranking, by the way, puts him ahead of Harrison Barnes, Thomas Robinson, Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers.
I would like to see more of him, which of course means more mistakes, more fouls and probably some ugly turnovers for a while. So what? Is anyone out there still clinging to playoff hope? Is that realistic? You're probably asking for this team to win about two-thirds of its remaining games, which doesn't seem remotely possible.
I think it's time to recognize that as a reality, rest Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews and even Damian Lillard a bit, and go with some younger players. Will Barton should get a shot, as should Joel Freeland. I don't know what they can do and it may not be much -- but it's time to answer those questions so that heading into next season, it will be easier to make decisions about the future.
What's the worst thing that can happen -- more losses, which translates into a better lottery position. You have a problem with that?
This team is going to have cap space and will be open for business, if not before the trading deadline certainly prior to the draft and during the summer, for trades, free-agent signings and anything else that will make things better. But to do that, the Blazers need to know who they want to hang onto and who to keep. Allowing these guys to play is the best way to make that determination.
There will be plenty of changes next season, for sure. And it's time to get on with the process of determining who will be a part of this team's future.