Bill Simmons of The Ringer became a fount of NBA Trade suggestions today in an article titled “The NBA Trades That Need to Happen”. A couple of his speculative deals center around the Portland Trail Blazers, who are drifting near a .500 record so far in the 2017-18 NBA Season, trying to compensate for an imbalanced roster. He opened by suggesting the Blazers move Jusuf Nurkic and ancillary assets for Memphis Grizzlies Center Marc Gasol. Then he got more audacious, musing on a potential deal between the Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers: CJ McCollum for Markelle Fultz and change.
He started with the initial offer, ruling it satisfactory for the Sixers:
PHILLY GETS: C.J. McCollum ($23.9m, exp. 2021)
PORTLAND GETS: Markelle Fultz ($7.0m, RFA 2021), Amir Johnson ($11m), Philly’s 2018 first-round pick
VERDICT: If you’re Philly, throw all your baggage, biases and any other ego-related variables down the toilet. It doesn’t matter that you gave up Tatum and the Lakers pick for Fultz anymore. That happened already. Is the hope—repeat: HOPE—of the 19-year-old Fultz’s ceiling worth more than an established star like McCollum? There’s a unique window with Embiid and Simmons right now. Is hope the best you can do?
Jumping into Portland’s shoes, he demanded a higher price:
One problem: If I’m Portland, I want a little more. McCollum is one of the NBA’s 25 to 30 best players. Last season, he scored 23 a game and sniffed the 50-40-90 Club. Last June, maybe you’d flip him for Fultz at one-third the cost without blinking. What about now? Would they worry that Boston AND Philly gave up on Fultz for different reasons? Does he have the yips? Was he really hurt? Was this too big of a spotlight for him? Would a change of scenery help?
If I’m Portland, I counter with this idea …
PHILLY GETS: CJ McCollum ($23.9m, exp. 2021)
PORTLAND GETS: Markelle Fultz ($7.0m, RFA 2021), Amir Johnson ($11.0m), Dario Saric (2.4m, exp. 2020)
VERDICT: Gets the Blazers under the tax in 2018, chops $15 million off their 2018-19 payroll, lands them two young assets and creates enough cap room to re-sign Jusuf Nurkic next summer. I think they’d have to say yes.
Eventually Simmons ended up in no-man’s land, judging the first deal inadequate for the Blazers and the second prohibitive for the Sixers.
Would any permutations of this trade excite you? Do you agree that Fultz, Saric, Johnson, and a pick would cross the threshold of desirability?