Portland just moved on from longtime head coach Terry Stotts. General manager Neil Olshey is certainly on the hot seat after four first-round exits in the past five seasons. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard could be questioning his future in the Pacific Northwest.
What does this all mean? The status quo of Lillard and McCollum acting as building blocks in Portland is not working. The latter could be dealt. If so, here’s a look at four ideal trade scenarios.
There’s a lot riding on what happens moving forward in the NBA playoffs. What we do know is that the current iteration of the Los Angeles Clippers have struggled in the postseason since they added George and Kawhi Leonard to the mix. Assuming Leonard remains with Los Angeles this offseason, moving off George could make a ton of sense even after he recently signed an extension.
A trade between two Western Conference rivals might not make a lot of sense. But it’s something that has been bandied about recently.
“A Western Conference executive floated the idea of the Clippers trading Paul George this summer if the team failed to meet expectations. Hence, a possible McCollum to the Clippers package,” Jabari Young of CNBC noted recently.
This particular deal pairs Lillard with George as the Blazers attempt to retool on the fly. In return, they must give up talented big man Jusuf Nurkic to go with McCollum. It almost makes too much sense for both sides.
We have absolutely no idea if Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren is going to suffer the same fate that Stotts has. What we do know is that president Kevin Pritchard is going to shake things up this summer after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. That could very well include trading both Sabonis and Turner. In return, Indiana nabs a traditional 2-guard to pair up with Malcolm Brogdon to form an elite scoring backcourt.
From the Blazers' perspective, this almost makes too much sense. Sabonis, 25, is a Portland native. His father, Arvydas, is a legend in the area having suited up for the Blazers from 1995 to 2003. The youngster is also averaging 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists since the start of the 2019-20 season. He’d form a great inside-out game with Lillard. Meanwhile, Turner should have been a Defensive Player of the Year finalist this past season. He’s exactly what the Blazers need on that end of the court.
Much like the Pacers, Toronto is coming off a terribly disappointing season. It may lead to front-office head Masai Ujiri rethinking the idea to build around Pascal Siakam. That’s especially true if franchise stalwart Kyle Lowry leaves in free agency this summer. With the Raptors also committed to Fred VanVleet, finding him a traditional 2-guard could make the most sense moving forward.
Regardless of who the new Blazers head coach is, they need to get more frontcourt help for Lillard. Still only 27 years old, Siakam is averaging 22.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game since the start of the 2019-20 season. He’s also a plus-level defender and can play all three frontcourt positions. Meanwhile, Baynes would give Portland the toughness it is currently missing in the low post.
Getting a three-and-D wing might be the best option for the Blazers in any potential McCollum trade. Not only is Middleton that, but he can create his own shot out on the perimeter and would benefit from Lillard’s passing prowess. The underrated wing has been absolutely stellar in recent seasons, averaging nearly 20 points to go with 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 47% shooting from the field since 2018-19. DiVincenzo would also give Portland a scoring option off the bench.
As for the Bucks, it’s rather simple. They have an excess of defensive-minded players to team up with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Why not get another top-end scorer to team up with the Greek Freak and point guard Jrue Holiday? This would be a franchise-altering move, one that could lead to consistent NBA title contention in Milwaukee.