There are two teams that are clearly sellers as we near the February 10 trade deadline, as the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers have both already made trades in the last few days to move some key players to gain cap flexibility and draft assets moving forward.
The Pacers sent Caris LeVert to Cleveland for a package with the main prize being this year’s first round pick from the Cavs (lottery protected), and Indiana still has a number of players that teams will have interest in, starting with stars Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, but also including some lesser names in the rotation like Justin Holiday. That is likewise the case in Portland, where Norman Powell and Robert Covington were sent to the Clippers to get the Blazers under the tax line and it seems they still are open for business.
CJ McCollum has had his name brought up in trade rumors for years, but with Neil Olshey gone and a major retooling (if not rebuilding) under way in Portland, this deadline seems like a very real possibility he gets dealt. On Monday’s edition of NBA Today, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pelicans and Knicks have both been “fairly aggressive” in pursuing McCollum, and while Portland will likely take talks into Thursday’s deadline, it’s very likely the Blazers have a very different roster at the end of this week than they do now.
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Matching McCollum’s $30.8 million salary this season is a trick, but New Orleans can package a group of Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, and Garrett Temple together and make the money work, with the Pelicans gaining $13 million in cap room going forward as Satoransky is an expiring. The Knicks likewise can piece together a few deals to make money work (i.e., Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker), but don’t have a bigger expiring like the Pelicans that would sweeten the deal for a Blazers team clearly looking to remake its cap sheet going forward. What New York does have is young players that might be more enticing to Portland, if they’re willing to part with them, and someone like Obi Toppin is what the Blazers would likely be pushing for.
While so much of the talk around this deadline has been about the Ben Simmons situation, which seems more likely than not to go unresolved by 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, there are some major moves that could be on the way and McCollum could be one of the big names changing teams this week.