In the NBA there are often blockbuster trades for superstars. Teams often make moves to contend in the now and pair their star or stars with another star via trade. We've seen that during the 2020-21 season when the Brooklyn Nets added James Harden to a core that already included Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Now, the Brooklyn Nets are widely viewed as the favorite to win the title.
Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report has recently shared a trade scenario involving the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. The move involves two stars in Paul George and CJ McCollum, and it would certainly be a big move for both teams.
Los Angeles Clippers receive: CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, and 2023 first-round pick (top-five protected)
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Paul George, Ivica Zubac, and Luke Kennard
While this trade may seem crazy for a variety of reasons, it is also mentioned that there are three conditions for this trade to happen. Here is what Buckley had to say about how this scenario could come about.
There's plenty to unpack here, starting with a few this-only-happens-if caveats. This only happens if...
1) The Clippers and Blazers are both bounced in the first round and become convinced major roster moves are needed.
2) Kawhi Leonard stays put in free agency (after presumably declining his player option) and gives his blessing for L.A. to trade his hand-picked running mate.
3) Damian Lillard really has moved past his old rivalry with Paul George and OKs the trade of longtime backcourt mate, CJ McCollum.
Those are some massive ifs, but if every box is checked, this could be a fascinating attempt by both franchises to capitalize on their championship windows.
The Clippers collectively improve their shot-creation and playmaking around Leonard with McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Even if neither matches up to George individually, together they could offer more offensive relief to Leonard and help get the ball moving. L.A. would miss George on defense, but it could still blanket opposing wings with Leonard, Robert Covington and Marcus Morris Sr., plus it would have Nurkic as insurance on the back line.
L.A. would also add a first-round pick for trading the best player in this deal.
The Blazers would give overdue attention to their fatally flawed 29th-ranked defense. Their yearslong search for two-way wings might be over in an instant with George in town and Norman Powell potentially back in free agency (after a presumed opt-out). Between Zubac and another big (maybe a re-signed Enes Kanter or Zach Collins), Portland may not lose much on the interior, and it would gain a perimeter scorer in Luke Kennard.
The Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers are both currently 2-2 in their series. They may both yet win those series. Even if one of them manages to get out of the first round, the first condition will not be fulfilled. Zach Buckley mentions that there are some "massive ifs" required for this to happen, and he is absolutely correct.
However, those ifs aren't impossible yet, and both teams would have something to gain from this scenario. It would certainly be crazy for this trade to happen during the offseason as it would have huge implications on how the Western Conference contending landscape looks next season.