The Portland Trail Blazers have lacked consistency this season. Their impressive 4-1 road trip on the East Coast is now overshadowed by a disappointing 0-4 home stand. Outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum—and even the latter has had shaky outings —there isn’t enough to depend on night in and night out. Jusuf Nurkic has been hard to pin down. Maurice Harkless has fallen off. Evan Turner is still the same player. Al-Farouq Aminu has dealt with injury.
DeMarcus Cousins is the opposite of inconsistent. The big man has averaged 20+ points the last four seasons. He’s averaged 10+ rebounds five of his seven seasons in the league. He’s also an impending free agent and hasn’t had a full season with Anthony Davis. In theory, the Pelicans could trade Cousins if they feel an offseason departure is imminent. Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report speculates on possible destinations for the big man, including Portland.
Portland Trail Blazers Get: Cousins
Pelicans Get: Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, Jusuf Nurkic, 2018 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
The novelty of the Jusuf Nurkic experiment may have worn off.
Despite starting his Rip City career in dominant fashion, the big man hasn't been nearly as effective for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017-18. The per-game numbers (15.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.3 blocks) seem fine, but they're masking diminished shooting percentages from the field, less involvement as a passer and severe backsliding on the defensive end.
Nurkic isn't Cousins. No one is. And that's exactly why the Blazers might be so keen on seeing what the All-NBA center can do alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum—even if it means parting with a rotation wing (Maurice Harkless), frontcourt depth (Nurkic and Ed Davis) and a first-round pick sure to fall outside lottery range.
At first glance, this might be a homerun for the Blazers. They get an All-Star, All-NBA big man to pair with their two All-Star caliber guards. But, he might only be half-season rental given his 2018 free agency. There are no guarantees that Cousins would want to stay in Portland, either. It’s a similar to the Paul George situation last summer.
There is also no guarantee that the Pelicans would want to do this deal. Going from Cousins to Nurkic is a huge downgrade. Harkless isn’t even a bargain at about $10 million a year. Davis is expiring. Parting with Cousins would also break up the league’s best frontcourt with Davis after only a year or so. Superstar marriages often take much longer to smooth out before they find their footing.
Would you like Cousins in Portland? Does Nurkic provide enough for New Orleans to want to do this deal? Are Harkless and Davis worth much to opposing teams? Let us know in the comments.