The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for a very specific package in exchange for Anthony Davis. The Portland Trailblazers could be a surprise third team in the negotiations.
The big media markets on the coasts have dominated the Anthony Davis trade rumors since he first told the New Orleans Pelicans he wanted out. Boston rounds out the top five most obvious trade partners for AD. The two remaining big markets would not be much of a surprise either. Chicago is Anthony Davis’ hometown and Houston is a huge market run by Daryl Morey.
David Griffin has named his price, providing the outline required to complete the deal. Some teams lack the assets, others the imperative, to go all in for one year on Davis. It would not fit their timeline.
However, there are a few surprise small market teams positioned to be active participants in the Anthony Davis transaction.
The Portland Trailblazers fit the bill. This year’s Western Conference finals appearance gave Portland hope. The Trailblazers could make a move to get them into the Finals next season, much like Toronto did this season.
The Portland Trailblazers could package CJ McCollum (27), along with Jusuf Nurkic (24), Zach Collins (20), or Meyers Leonard (26) in a three team deal. They would have to include at least one future draft pick, though picking up another from a third team would greatly aid their efforts.
CJ McCollum would be the most established star offered to New Orleans. The Pelicans could use a top class ball handler that can shoot. McCollum carried Portland in several games during the playoffs, while Damien Lillard was kept in check. His shooting range would alleviate much of the Pelicans’ spacing issues.
Zach Collins is still a young project, but has just as much upside and playoff experience as anyone else offered. The Boston players have seen their stock diminished this season. The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram has blood clotting worries and no playoff experience. Collins was last seen excelling in tough postseason minutes.
Meyers Leonard would be a top end rotational big. He shot 45% from deep and 82% from the free throw line. As a bridge year piece that could actually work out for several years, Leonard could see an increase in minutes if traded to New Orleans.
Leonard ended the playoffs as a starter and the third scoring option behind McCollum and Lillard. His game matches the Pelicans’ timeline for next season, and possibly into Zion’s second contract.
Jusuf Nurkic would be the first big man offered as he could be the odd man out in Portland next season. Nurkic was out injured during Portland’s playoff run. Nurkic sat on the sidelines as Collins and Enes Kanter elevated their stock.
Their success likely cost Nurkic his starting spot in the Trailblazers’ lineup. Still, Nurkic was starting for a reason and could step into the minutes vacated by Anthony Davis.
Portland will have the same versatility as the San Antonio Spurs, concerning a three team trade for Anthony Davis. If Portland wants to chase Davis and a ring, they can offer a huge package.
Portland could just act as facilitator, sending Nurkic along to acquire an asset and become more financially flexible for later moves. Either way, the opportunity is available for any team on the fringes of the finals to find their way into the Anthony Davis trading poker game if they can meet the New Orleans Pelicans’ demands.