The Portland Trail Blazers are in the thick of the NBA Trade Deadline rumor factory. With a modest record, a luxury tax bill on the horizon, a potential lottery pick waiting at the end of the season, and talent languishing on an injured roster, the Blazers look like motivated movers on the trade market.
For years, guard CJ McCollum has stood at the center of Portland’s trade windstorm. His obvious talent, plus the development of guard Anfernee Simons behind him, will lift him into headlines and rumors over the next two weeks as never before.
It may seem odd to envision an 18-30 team as buyers of veteran talent, but Kushner has an argument for acquiring McCollum specifically, intersecting need and availability:
So why McCollum?
Because he fills the shooting void that has plagued the Pelicans for years, and he plays for a Portland Trail Blazers franchise not only eager to recalibrate under new management but also one with a perfect window for tanking the season.
As bait, he offers draft picks, New Orleans’ own plus any of a number acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis deal or the Milwaukee Bucks for Jrue Holiday. To make salaries and performance match, he offers a number of alternatives for young players, and maybe a veteran center off of the Pelicans roster.
Losing some combination of Jaxson Hayes, [Nickeil], Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. shouldn’t slow down a deal. Perhaps more steady performers such as Josh Hart or [Jonas] Valanciunas would be harder to part with, but they might be required as the cost of doing business in this circumstance.
So what about it, Portland fans? Are draft picks and decent, but not spectacular, players enough to pry McCollum away from the Rose City? If New Orleans called with this kind of package, what assets would get the deal done for you?