The dream of Zion Williamson wearing a Portland Trail Blazers uniform is a live possibility.
In an extensive trade intel report released this morning, Action Network’s Matt Moore said the New Orleans Pelicans are still pursuing a trade up in Thursday’s NBA Draft to acquire Scoot Henderson. The pursuit puts them in position to trade with either the Charlotte Hornets or Blazers, who hold the No. 2 pick and No. 3 pick, respectively.
In negotiations around the draft pick between Portland and New Orleans, Moore said a relationship forged between the franchises from a previous transaction would assist in getting a Williamson deal across the finish line.
There’s a pre-existing relationship between the Blazers and Pelicans’ front office after their deal two years ago sending CJ McCollum and Larry Nance to New Orleans. That helps grease wheels. Williamson is a big-swing, high-risk, high-reward play. This potential trade doesn’t solve the defensive issues with Lillard, but if the options are a discount with the Pelicans for Zion or paying through the entire nose for OG Anunoby, Zion seems like great value.
Moore said the Pelicans, along with any team looking to jump into the top three, are interested in Henderson, not forward Brandon Miller out of Alabama. Meanwhile, the Hornets have indicated they want to select Miller, but that position has “started to soften,” Moore wrote. This puts the Hornets and Pelicans in an interesting position at the negotiation table, one clouded by uncertainty.
If you’re the Pelicans, chasing Scoot, do you talk to Charlotte, who by all accounts is leaning towards Miller, given that GM Mitch Kupchak openly said they were looking for fit, and Henderson isn’t one with LaMelo Ball, the franchise cornerstone? Do you dare the Hornets to not take the guy they reportedly want and risk not getting Henderson in a Williamson deal?
If you’re Charlotte, does Zion Williamson alongside LaMelo move you closer to contention than the No.2 pick would, regardless of whether it’s Henderson or Miller?
In the midst of this mysterious mess, Moore presented an idea: A three-team trade between Portland, Charlotte and New Orleans that theoretically leaves everybody happy.
This is my own speculation entirely, but one has to wonder if there’s a potential three-way trade that sees Henderson end up in New Orleans, Zion in Portland, and the No.3 pick with the Hornets alongside compensation for moving down so they can still take Miller.
Aside from the Pelicans, Moore reported the Toronto Raptors are another team interested in trading up to acquire Henderson. If that move were to happen, Moore said it’s more likely Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is the centerpiece of Toronto’s trade package, rather than 3-and-D specialist OG Anunoby. However, the Toronto front office’s stinginess is starting to turn off suitors.
Speaking of Anunoby, there is a growing sense among executives who have called the Raptors (albeit with some caution) that Pascal Siakam may be easier to deal with than Anunoby currently. One savvy executive did mention that he felt that was a means to judge market value if and when the Raptors do decide to trade Anunoby. However, it’s fair to say front offices are pretty worn out on the attempts by Toronto to get “blood from a stone” as one executive put it at the deadline in any deal. Multiple sources have described the Raptors as frustrating to deal with. So why keep calling? “There are only 29 teams to work with.”
As of now, it appears the biggest stars Portland can get in a deal for its top pick are Williamson or Siakam, according to Moore at least. However, Moore said he expects the list of teams looking to move into the top three to “expand rapidly this week.”
It should also be noted, tucked into this large report, was a tidbit about the Washington Wizards hoping to trade Bradley Beal to the Blazers for the No. 3 pick.
The Wizards’ preferred target in Beal talks was the No.3 pick from Portland, but multiple league sources have indicated not just recently but consistently for months that Beal is not a player who would increase Lillard’s satisfaction with the franchise.
You can read Moore’s full report here.