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CJ McCollum trade: Pelicans get star guard, Portland’s return includes Josh Hart, first-round pick, per report

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The Portland Trail Blazers are finalizing a deal to send CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans for a package centered around Josh Hart and draft compensation, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. McCollum has spent his entire eight-year career sharing the Blazers backcourt with Damian Lillard, but is now set to move on to a New Orleans team desperate for his scoring punch. 

It’s a seven-player deal in total, with the Pelicans also receiving Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Blazers are getting Nickeil Alexander-WalkerTomas Satoransky and Didi Louzada in the deal. The Pelicans will also receive New Orleans’ 2022 first-round pick (with protections) and two future second-round selections, per Wojnarowski.

  • Pelicans acquire: CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell
  • Blazers acquire: Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky, Didi Louzada, 2022 first-round pick (protected), two future second-round picks

The move is just the latest part of a teardown from interim Portland GM Joe Cronin. The Blazers traded Robert Covington and Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers to help duck the luxury tax last week, and now, they’re giving up a franchise icon in yet another step toward a rebuild. McCollum averaged 19 points per game in his eight seasons in Portland, but he never got the Blazers beyond the Western Conference Finals. Now, they appear to be retooling.

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The Pelicans may be near the bottom of the Western Conference standings (they enter Tuesday in 10th, a half-game ahead of the Blazers), but they have acted as buyers throughout this trading period in an attempt to build a winning roster for the eventual return of Zion Williamson. When Williamson — who’s missed the entire season to date with a foot issue — does make it back to the floor, McCollum and Brandon Ingram will give him a strong group of supporting scorers, but beyond that, McCollum’s presence will balance out the young roster with another veteran presence. Williamson will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason, and rumors have persisted that he might hesitate to sign it. McCollum is proof that the Pelicans are serious about putting a winner around him and keeping him happy in New Orleans.

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McCollum’s acquisition may help one star, but it’s unclear how it will affect another. Lillard has been adamant about wanting to win in Portland, but the Blazers have now traded three of his four fellow opening day starters. The fifth, Jusuf Nurkic, is also on the trading block due to his expiring contract. Portland is clearly angling toward a rebuild, but it isn’t clear what part Lillard will play in it. He has reportedly been open to the idea of the Blazers getting younger around him, but he will turn 32 in July. By the time a younger roster is ready to win, will he still be? Will the Blazers want to commit the money it will take to extend him knowing that his prime will likely be over when those young players and picks bear fruit?

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That is the major question here. This deal has a perpetual lottery team taking a step toward the playoffs and a perpetual playoff team taking a step toward the lottery. Only time will tell if now was the right moment for either team to make such a drastic move in that direction.


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