On Monday night, the Golden State Warriors put a Mortal Kombat finishing move on the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 to sweep their opening-round series. Now, the organization once again faces a litany of questions about their roster and their long-term philosophy as they head into the offseason.
Portland, despite all its cultural and geographical charms, is a notoriously tough sell for free agents, mostly because in the end it’s a small market and, let’s face it, homogeneously white. It’s why the front office had to settle for Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe last summer. Most would point to them as two of the biggest disappointments this season, but fickle Blazers fans have long had another favorite target for their collective ire: Meyers Leonard, suspect hairstyle decision-maker extraordinaire.
Before the final buzzer even sounded on Monday night, fans started a “please trade Meyers” chorus.
And they didn’t let up any during his exit interview.
Yes, Meyers Leonard is a big goofy white guy, and yes, he’s often too timid on the court and less than proficient in the basketball skills we generally expect most big men in the NBA to have mastered at some level. But he’s hardly the main culprit here. That would be giving him too much credit.
His stock is also so low at this point that it’s difficult to imagine getting back much value in return, unless Blazers brass can somehow package him with another player or two and/or maybe one of their first-round picks to try and swing a larger deal. If he does end up sticking around, Damian Lillard thinks he simply has to get tougher and step his game up.
Leonard showed flashes of potential a few seasons ago when he suddenly turned into a relatively-serviceable stretch-four who could knock down open threes within a system. But his deficiencies as a rebounder and defender are just too glaring to overlook. Like Dame said, he’ll need to put in some serious work if he wants to stick around the league much longer and not end up as a punchline.