PORTLAND, Ore. -- The NBA draft is only three weeks away and already trade rumors are starting to circulate around the Portland Trail Blazers.
On Thursday, the rumor mill started rolling when the Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported the Blazers were in discussions with teams looking to acquire one of Portland's three first-round draft picks.
According to Deveney, the Blazers were willing to attach a first-round pick to one of their high-priced players like Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner or Meyers Leonard in an attempt to shed salary. Deveney reported the Knicks and Nets had already talked to the Blazers about acquiring their draft picks.
ESPN's Ian Begley followed up with a report confirming the Knicks and Blazers had indeed talked. He added that the Knicks aren't interested in including their first-round pick (No. 8) in discussions and that one Blazers player the teams have discussed as part of a trade is forward Maurice Harkless.
Begley said talks are "believed to be in the early stages."
Sources: Knicks, Blazers talk deal for 1st-round pick. Additional POR player being discussed in one scenario. More: https://t.co/ITkcXpelKK— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 1, 2017
The Oregonian's Mike Richman spoke to a league source, who clarified that even though the Blazers are willing to trade their first-round picks in order to acquire a "proven veteran or other valuable assets," Portland's front office is not interested in a simple salary dump.
Update/clarification here: Blazers are exploring deals for 1st rounders but aren't necessarily looking for straight salary dump. https://t.co/oTXcWXYhUV— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) June 1, 2017
The Blazers are likely to be an oft-mentioned team in trade rumors the next few weeks, for a couple reasons.
First, Portland is the only team in the NBA with three first-round selections in the upcoming draft. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey has already said on the record he will listen to trade offers for the team's picks.
Second, the Blazers, with about $133 million in guaranteed contracts next season, are perceived around the league as a team that wants to shed salary to avoid paying the luxury tax. The luxury tax line for the 2017-18 season will be set at about $121 million.
Whether Portland wants to shed salary is a mystery. Regardless, teams will be reaching out to the Blazers to talk trade, especially if they believe Portland is willing to attach one of their draft picks in a salary dump.
Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW.
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