It is two weeks into the season, and things are starting to smooth out for many teams, but the Portland Trail Blazers have been struggling to string things together. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report suggests that a big-time trade for James Harden could improve the roster, but the Blazers would have to include CJ McCollum in the deal.
A Harden-Damian Lillard backcourt might be the Lillard-McCollum pairing on steroids. The defense might still be disastrous—though Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. and Jusuf Nurkic would still be around to help stop the bleeding—but the offensive fireworks would be magnificent. Even if it never became more complex than “your turn, my turn,” defenses would routinely face impossible pick-your-poison decisions.
While Houston probably wouldn’t think of McCollum as a long-term keeper, it could extract other assets from Portland in this exchange and then ship out McCollum for even more in a separate deal (or turn this exchange into a three-team deal). If the money could work for P.J. Tucker to join the trade, the Rockets might collect Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and draft picks.
Buckley also proposes a deal between the Orlando Magic and the Trail Blazers for Aaron Gordon.
With the right sales pitch, maybe Orlando can convince the Portland Trail Blazers that a Gordon deal would grant them equal footing with the West’s elite. It’s an optimistic take, sure, but a closing quintet of Gordon, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. or Gary Trent Jr. could be flat-out ferocious.
If Orlando can extract multiple prospects from Portland—Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons should top the wish list—that could prove quite the haul for Gordon.
You can read the entire list of trades for every team here.