ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks have laid out a path for Portland Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey to make a win-now move for the 2020-21 season.
The quality and value of Portland’s assets were raised on today’s Lowe Post podcast, as the pair speculated on the future of Boston Celtics wing Gordon Hayward who holds a $34 million player option next season.
Lowe initially highlighted potential Hayward packages involving the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers but said he “really liked” a possible pairing with Portland — as long as there was enough interest in Zach Collins outside of Oregon.
He added that the Blazers were no certainty to make the playoffs next season and needed to make a move to stay in touch with the west’s elite.
“I just think Portland has a move to make that makes their team click a little bit for next season and I think they need to click a little bit with given how good the west is going to be next season.”
Both Lowe and Marks agreed that a deal involving Collins at $5.4 million, Trevor Ariza at $12.8 million and Rodney Hood at $6 million and a protected first round pick was the most likley package for Hayward.
However, Marks added that the deal would only work if Hayward opted out of his player option and agreed to a sign and trade at roughly $25 million a year.
He said it would allow Portland to retain some cap flexibility and provided options with sign and trade contracts required to be at least three years long with ontly the first year guaranteed.
“Ariza is going to be gone from me next year, Hood might be gone from me next year. I’m really just trading for Collins and I have to be really bullish on Collins as probably my future five to make that deal,” Lowe said.
“I need to do some canvassing on what the league at large thinks of Zach Collins because I was really excited to see him play this year.”
“I thought he was really essential for them in the playoffs in 2019 whenever the hell that was. If he can get that three to a point where – he’s never going to be an elite three-point shooter – but if he can be Brook Lopez then he becomes a really interesting player.”
Marks agreed, suggesting Collins was the team’s best asset outside Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic.
Lowe said the possibilities and potential for Portland adding Hayward — without relinquishing its big three — were promising.
“Gary Trent Jr. really emerged for them in the playoffs, I think Gary Trent’s really good. Is he big enough to be my starting 3?
“In a west that is going to be an absolute bloodbath next year. Portland’s not even guaranteed to make the playoffs next year, let alone get deep into the playoffs.”
“If I can get Hayward, I can play Hayward some at the 4 with Trent at the 3. I can start Hayward and somehow find another power forward and Nurkic.”
Lowe also touched on well known — and not necessarily factual — rumors surrounding a McCollum for Aaron Gordon trade.
He added that depending on Collins’ value, the team could possibly trade for the Orlando Magic forward without giving up Lillard, McCollum or Nurkic.
“The CJ McCollum for Aaron Gordon fake trade has been an NBA Twitter favorite. I don’t think that was ever even remotely real, I don’t think there was a phone call in which that was discussed in any real way.”
“I wonder if Gordon’s value has dipped, I do think it has dipped despite a nice run after the All Star break.”
“Again, you got to be a big believer in Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons or somebody like that.
Marks suggested the Blazers could probably bring in Gordon for a package involving Collins, Ariza and a pick.
Lowe and Marks talk about the Blazers 38 minutes into the podcast. Listen here.