Back in 2007, when Portland won the draft lottery and their choice of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, one of the rumors floating about was that the Spurs called up Kevin Pritchard and offered Tim Duncan for the pick, straight-up.
Needless to say, the Blazers said no. Tim Duncan, while older than dirt, is still in the league. Oden is not.
With that in mind...a quick and simple hypothetical.
Assume New Orleans general manager Dell Demps calls Neil Olshey on the phone--or vice versa--and offers the following deal:
The #1 pick in the NBA Draft, and Emeka Okafur
LaMarcus Aldridge, #6, and #11.
Trade works fine under the salary cap. Okafur is a decent enough player, but considerably overpaid for his production, and has three years left on his deal. Injuries have been a concern for him, and he's never lived up to the potential that caused him to be selected #2 in 2004, behind Dwight Howard.
Anthony Davis is the consensus #1 pick in the draft, and a prospect that draws comparisons to Kevin Garnett.
LMA is an All-Star, a borderline All-NBA player (he just made the cut last year, but given the turmoil around the team, it's hard to hold that against him), and far and away the best player on the Blazers. He's also been in the league six years, and entering the prime of his career. He's had a few medical scares, but has generally been rather durable.
Good prospects are available at #6 and #11, but the talent level appears to drop off considerably after Davis.
On the other hand, the draft is fundamentally a crapshoot. While most of the league likes to pretend otherwise, drafting Oden was the consensus choice in 2007. Many other high draft picks have turned out to be busts--Hasheem Thabeet, Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic, just to name a few. There's no such thing as a can't miss prospect in the NBA--any player could simply fail to adjust to the pro game, suffer a career-derailing injury, or worse. While LMA is unlikely to become a top-five, top-seven player in the league--the Blazers will likely need to find another superstar to contend for a title--he's an established player, and he's still in the front end of his NBA career.
The question is: Would You Do This Deal? (And would the Hornets consider such a thing)?