Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 28
Trail Blazers receive: Anthony Davis and E’Twaun Moore.
Pelicans receive: CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Caleb Swanigan, unprotected 2019 first round pick, unprotected 2021 first round pick, protected 2023 first round pick
The Portland Trail Blazers have been mentioned as a dark horse in the AD sweepstakes. While it is clear Davis’ – or perhaps his agent Rich Paul’s – intentions remain to become a Los Angeles Laker, New Orleans would be fools not to take the best offer they receive, whatever it may be. Portland would be betting on the idea of Davis loving the two-man game with Damian Lillard while still being able to play power forward, his desired position, alongside a good center in Jusuf Nurkic and re-signing long term.
The Pelicans would get a proven scorer in CJ McCollum, a player who is entering his prime and could help in the short term should NOLA want to keep Jrue Holiday and retool; if not, they could always trade him later. Add in Al-Farouq Aminu, an expiring contract included for salary matching purposes, and Caleb Swanigan, a young but promising big that Portland was high on and the Pelicans can develop into a solid starter. The two unprotected and one protected first-rounders make up for the lack of star talent the Pelicans would get in return. The Blazers own each of their currently available first round picks, so giving up three of them for a superstar-level player should not hurt too much.
The Blazers are getting a bargain in Anthony Davis – an MVP-level, franchise-altering superstar – while also adding E’Twaun Moore to replace CJ McCollum. Moore cannot create his own shot nearly as easily as McCollum can, but he is a capable starter and a great outside shooter who still has room to improve. Having a Lillard-Davis-Nurkic trio surrounded by complementary role players for years to come could eventually turn the Blazers into a top 2 team in the West. Portland’s cap situation is still complicated next season, but with a handful of bad contracts expiring in 2020, the Blazers might be able to convince Davis to stay if they are aggressive enough in pursue of the right teammates and eventually become genuine contenders.