With the NBA trade deadline two weeks away, the rumor mill is picking up speed. According to a piece by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Portland Trail Blazers are considered to be one of the most active teams in trade talks ahead of the February 10 deadline.
Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum is one of the most premier players expected to be up for grabs on the market. Fischer said the New Orleans Pelicans possess the package most likely to lure the nine-year veteran away from the Pacific Northwest.
The destination most often linked to McCollum has been New Orleans, who could sensibly deal Jonas Valanciunas and Josh Hart. That would give the Blazers a center replacement for Nurkic, a strong veteran contributor in Hart and sneak Portland under the tax. It would seem the Pelicans would be more willing to part with Tomas Satoranksy and Jaxson Hayes over Valanciunas, however.
Whether Portland decides to embrace the tank to secure a lottery pick or fight for a playoff spot, the team’s primary mission remains to avoid the luxury tax. This means Norman Powell, Jusuf Nurkic, and Robert Covington are also all possible trade candidates. Some may doubt if Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin has the power to shake up the roster and part with valuable pieces. However, Fischer wrote Cronin is more than capable to take big swings.
For those wondering whether interim general manager Joe Cronin has the agency to make a move like trading McCollum, just look at what he’s already done. The executive has already hired and terminated various figures within Portland’s basketball operations, including the scouting department, public relations and medical teams.
When Cronin asked permission to interview former Cavaliers executive Andrae Patterson, the job offer came one day later, sources told B/R. Patterson will have significant input in the Blazers’ draft and free agency planning as an assistant general manager, with discretion to hire staffers. This Portland nucleus clearly has the authority to trade major pieces of this roster.
Portland is a part of a crowded race of suitors looking to make a deal with the Indiana Pacers. Fischer reported Indiana’s asking price for big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner remains higher than most teams are willing to give up. Yet, Portland still remains a viable destination for Turner, especially if his injury forces the asking price to drop.
Perhaps the Blazers could still make sense for Turner. Adding the center could fortify Portland’s frontcourt next season and also help the Blazers’ lottery positioning this season if his injury persists. Yet there’s an increasing likelihood that Turner remains in Indiana beyond the deadline before the Pacers engage trade overtures come draft time.
Along with New Orleans and Indiana, other rumored trade partners for Portland have included the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz. Fischer said Portland has emerged as one of the top suitors for Pistons forward Jerami Grant, a deal which may require Portland to part with Powell. While the Jazz have expressed interest in Covington, Fischer said a deal between the two teams appears “unlikely.”