the Portland Trail BlazersThe 2021-22 season is over. The coming summer will be full of decisions for the club. They fielded 27 different players during the regular season. Not all of them are with the team yet, but there’s no way the Blazers could hold them all…if they even wanted to. A 27-55 record would argue against a high retention rate, but asterisks abound despite the dismal performance.
In this question-filled swamp, Dave Deckard and Dia Miller with their annual review of Portland’s list. They talk about each player and then decide whether or not to keep (discard) the player in the coming year. Performance, fit, age, salary, and team priorities/direction are all open for discussion.
Today we’re tackling a player who hasn’t played for the Blazers once: Joe Ingles. The longtime Utah Jazz forward came to Portland at the end of the mid-season trade wave, thanks to a three-way deal with the Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers also acquired Elijah Hughes in the trade. Hughes played afterwards, but a knee injury kept Ingles sidelined for the rest of the year.
The 34-year-old forward has played 45 games at Utah this season, averaging 7.2 points, 3/5 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 24.9 minutes. He shot 40.4 percent from the floor, 34.7 percent from the three-point arc, both career lows. In 2020-21, he shot 45% from range, 49% overall. He is appreciated as an intoxicating and versatile veteran who can strike from a distance. He is also an unrestricted free agent this summer. Would it make sense for the Blazers to keep him?
David: Okay, that’s hard. How do you judge a player who has never been in the team? I guess the track record with Utah. Additionally, Ingles appears engaged with Portland, if social media is any indication. What are your feelings for holding him back?
Diameter : I love banter with Joe Ingles and the crew. He seems absolutely locked up here. His article about his daughter choosing a Portland jersey for a school sports day was enough to make any Portland fan love him off the field. It’s hard for me. I like the idea of Ingles, but where does he fit in the list? Is he? It’s really hard to know. So tell me that, Dave. What are the options? If it doesn’t stay in Portland, can it be used in a trade?
David: He can’t because his contract is about to expire. And here’s some other fun news: it will retain a cap of $19.5 million through the summer. Unless the Blazers waive him (in which case they lose any obligation to cap him) or re-sign him (in which case his new contract amount is capped instead of withheld), they will have 19.5 million. space dollars locked up against the possibility that they might sign it.
So far, we’ve talked about players like Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons, whose caps are lower than their probable new offers. Portland will probably want to wait as long as possible before committing to these two. Ingles is the reverse. If they want him, they’ll want to sign him early and cheap.
You’ll probably be able to tell their summer plan – or at least something about it – based on what they do with Ingles. If they re-sign him early, they’re probably keeping everyone significant. If they release it early, they might have plans to free up the ceiling space, which would require more releases. If they just let him sit, it’s basically the same as re-signing him earlier.
The question is, do you want it? He is a career 41% three-point hitter. There’s worse for the Blazers on the roster right now. He will be 35 at the start of the season. This is definitely a “build for today/win now” movement. What do you think?
Diameter : I think this is exactly the mode the Trail Blazers should be in. Earn now. Or at least win within the next two years. I don’t think it’s a secret. So, in my opinion, Joe Ingles could play a big part in that. Honestly, Joe Ingles and Damian Lillard would be a potentially fantastic combination. Ingles brings a lot of veteran experience, and it looks like he could actually be a very good fit for Portland.
David: The cost, then, is that you fire the same team, with Ingles and whoever they get with the draft pick (or whoever they acquire in a draft pick trade) and they’re done… not just for this year, but capped for a while. Granted, I’ve argued that keeping salary slots active for trade is more practical than saving cap space for the Blazers right now, but unless Ingles is really cheap, this may be a step too far, even for me. You’re going to have Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons locked in multi-year deals, Josh Hart inheriting a player option and Nassir Little coming into restricted free agency next year. That’s a lot of batter committed to a cake that isn’t all that spectacular. Is it really a championship composition? I think Ingles might fit too, but they’re not really improving. It looks more and more like a commitment to mediocrity. Help me out, Dia! That’s what I see.
Diameter : I think it’s a better composition than a lot of people give credit for. It’s amazing how quickly we forget how good these players are. That’s a solid workforce on that list you just named. And honestly, a lot of that depends on how creative the front office is? If they don’t keep Ingles, what one player difference factor can they get instead? Someone who adapts better than him? Is it available and purchasable? I don’t know, Dave. This list looks like it can compete. I also don’t think there can be a way to create a solidly contending team this offseason without the pick we lost to the Pelicans. We don’t have a lot of leeway. So do we keep someone like Ingles and try to do our best with that lineup and work out a plan moving forward? The truth is; I think this list might be better than we think.
David: I think that’s typical of Blazers: they look great in two weeks, but in the end, they can’t put it all together. There are two ways I think Ingles could make sense, though. Either on a super cheap contract or on a limited time contract, like two years with a team option. If it’s going to be expensive or long term, I just can’t see keeping it.
And you, readers? Do you believe in this team enough to re-sign Joe Ingles? It probably won’t make a huge difference to their cap space this year, unless they have to live with his cap instead of a new contract. Are you going there? Record your opinion in the comments section below!
Our story so far…
Anfernee Simons: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Jusuf Nurkic: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Ben McLemore: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Keep
CJ Elleby: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Yeet
Nassir Little: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Trendon Watford: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Drew Eubanks: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Justise Winslow: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Keep
Josh Hart: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Greg Brown III: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Keon Johnson: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep
Joe Ingles: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Keep