Photo: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Trevor Ariza in a recent trade, it looked as if the team was going to try to make a late push for the playoffs.

This could still be true, but there may have been other reasons for making the deal, specifically, finding a way to deal big man Hassan Whiteside to get under the NBA’s luxury tax.

Dealing Whiteside alongside either Mario Hezonja or Wenyen Gabriel to a team in need of a star big man would net the Blazers enough in returning expiring contracts to avoid luxury tax penalties, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

It could be tough to part ways with Whiteside however, as he is having a very solid season.

Whiteside ranks fourth in the league in rebounds per game (14.0) and leads the league in blocks per game (3.0).

He also averages 15.5 points per game while shooting 59 percent from the field.

After making the Western Conference Finals last season, the Trail Blazers haven’t had the season they were hoping.

They currently are 18-26 and sit three games behind the No. 8 seed in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies.

With the emergence of teams like the Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns, the Trail Blazers will have to make some decisions in the near future.

Big man Jusuf Nurkic is still recovering and making positive strides from a devastating leg injury last season and there has been speculation as to when he might return to the court.

There were previous reports that Nurkic was targeting a return in February, but that will all depend on if the Trail Blazers can hang around in the playoff race.