CJ McCollum has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for forward Josh Hart, guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky and draft compensation according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the trade will also send Tony Snell and Larry Nance Jr. to the Pelicans, while the Blazers will receive the above and Didi Louzada.
According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers will receive New Orleans’ draft pick for 2022, but only if the pick is between nos. 5 and 14. If it doesn’t, Portland will receive it in the future.
The Portland Trail Blazers finally moved their long-term shooting guard after years of speculation, picking up a young player and cap space in return.
Selected 10th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, McCollum formed a high-scoring backcourt duo with teammate Damian Lillard in Portland for the better part of a decade. The two were often mentioned in the same breath as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as the league’s best guard tandem.
McCollum’s production peaked In 2020-21 at 23.1 points per game. He averaged 19.0 points over 564 regular season appearances during his career with the Blazers, shooting 45.3% from the field and 39.6% from the three-point arc.
Despite gaudy scoring numbers, Lillard and McCollum never found sustained playoffs success. Lack of defense and duplication of skills between the guards became chronic explanations for Portland failing to progress. That lead to near-continual speculation that McCollum would, or should, be moved.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a 6’6 shooting guard, drafted 17th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. In his third year with the Pelicans, he’s averaging 12.8 points per game shooting 37.5% from the field, 31.1% from the three-point arc. He is 23 years old.
Tomas Satoransky is a 6’7 combo guard from the Czech Republic. He was drafted 32nd overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and has played for the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, and the Pelicans in a six-year career. His high-water mark came in 2019-20 when he scored 9.9 points per game in 65 appearances with the Bulls. He’s played in 32 games this season, averaging 2.8 points in 15.0 minutes per. He holds career averages of 46.7% from the field, 35.6% from the arc, though he’s shooting below 30% from the floor and 20% from distance this season.
Josh Hart is a fifth-year swing forward, selected as the last first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He spent two years with the Los Angeles Lakers before joining the Pelicans as part of a trade for guard Lonzo Ball. He’s appeared in 41 games for the Pelicans, starting and playing 33.5 minutes per game. He shoots 50.5% from the field, 32.3% from the arc, scoring 13.4 points per game with 7.8 rebounds. He plays undersized at 6’5. He’ll turn 27 next month.
Didi Louzada is currently out due to left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He signed with the Pelicans in April 2021. Prior to the NBA, he played in Austrailia and his home country of Brazil. Louzada missed 25 games of the 2021-22 season due to violating the league’s anti-drug policy after testing positive for drostanolone and testosterone. Over two games this season, Louzada averaged zero points, one rebound, and .5 assists.
Following a theme for the season, the Blazers save cap space now and in the future with this move. McCollum has two years remaining on his deal after this season. He will earn $33.3 million in 2022-23, $35.8 million the season after. Hart’s contract is not guaranteed next season, but if they pick it up, they’ll owe him $13 million. Alexander-Walker is still on his rookie-scale contract. Satoransky’s contract expires this summer.