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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Trail Blazers Send CJ McCollum to Pelicans in 7-player, 3-pick Deal

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After last Thursday’s widely lambasted deal sending Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazer fans and media were waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop – as the Blazers front office shifted their goal from chasing wins to accumulating ping pong balls for this summer’s NBA lottery.

That shoe fell today when Portland dealt CJ McCollumLarry Nance Jr., and Tony Snell to the New Orleans Pelicans for Josh HartTomas SatoranskyNickeil Alexander-WalkerDidi Louzada, a protected first-round pick this year, and two future second-rounders. (The first rounder goes to Portland if it is between fifth and 14th.)

Shedding the $66 million remaining owed to McCollum over the next two years became inevitable after Thursday’s questionable deal. But this one returned three more shooting guards to the Blazers roster, leaving Jusuf Nurkic, Trendon Watford, Hart, and Justise Winslow as the only healthy forwards available tonight against Orlando.

So unless Chauncey Billups has plans to run five guards out on the court at a time, there will no doubt be another move or two made before Thursday’s deadline. If not, the Blazers’ run to the bottom of the NBA standings will be swift and spectacular.

Satoransky’s contract expires in July and Louzada’s isn’t guaranteed beyond his sub-$2 million salary for next season, so neither of them are likely to be Blazers long.

Hart has been helpful off the bench for New Orleans, averaging 13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 33.5 minutes per game for the Pelicans this year.

Alexander-Walker has progressed each of his three seasons since being drafted 17th by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019 draft; he was dealt twice on draft night, first to Atlanta and then to New Orleans. He’s averaging 12.8 points in 50 games this season, 19 of them starts.

Aside from the salary cap relief and young talent, the Blazers also replenish their depleted stockpile of draft picks, making this deal a great deal more palatable than the one that came before it. We’ll see if interim GM Joe Cronin can further redeem himself by balancing out the roster before Thursday’s deadline.

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