The Portland Trail Blazers continued to clean house on Tuesday ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday. The latest player to go was SG CJ McCollum, who had spent the first nine seasons of his career in Portland. McCollum is heading to the New Orleans Pelicans in a deal for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky and some draft capital. We’re going to break down who won the trade and give out some grades.
Trail Blazers grade: C-
The fact that the Blazers had to trade McCollum in any capacity is kind of an L for the franchise, right? We always kind of knew this was going to be the case and CJ would be dealt at some point given the state of the Blazers. Still, you kind of had the feeling Portland could at least get back a more promising player in return.
Hart isn’t a bad borderline-starter with some potential at the age of 26. NAW is a the big piece here and his ceiling appears pretty high. Portland also cleared a bunch of cap space for this summer to build around Damian Lillard. So overall, the package may appear underwhelming, but there’s a shred of hope for the future.
Pelicans grade: A-
If there’s anything that can keep Zion Williamson around, it’s making a big splash. Williamson still has one year left on a team option in 2022-23 before hitting restricted free agency. If the Pelicans can look anything close to a contender with McCollum next season, there’s a chance New Orleans can keep Zion away from the New York Knicks.
In the short-term, the Pelicans can try and make the play-in tournament in the West and gain some momentum toward next season. Herbert Jones has shown potential as a rookie. Brandon Ingram is an All-Star caliber starter. Jonas Valanciunas is one of the better bigs in the NBA. Adding McCollum will help the Pels become much more competitive. If Williamson is able to return before the end of the regular season, New Orleans could be a dark horse in the playoffs. Chances are slim, but not out of the realm of possibility.