NBA Finals prove Portland Trail Blazers must pursue Anthony Davis
Following the Raptors’ dominance in game one of the NBA Finals against Golden State, the Portland Trail Blazers must try to emulate Toronto’s success.
For the last five years, the Golden State Warriors have domineered over the rest of the league. Their vice grip has netted them three championships (so far), 16 all-star selections and the record for most wins in a season. However, on Thursday night the Warriors appeared vulnerable in the face of an upstart team with nothing to lose.
The Portland Trail Blazers must make every attempt to emulate the Toronto Raptors’ strategy this summer. Kawhi Leonard’s presence an injected a new sense of life into an organization that just could not seem to ever get past LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. The Blazers have similarly been blocked in the West due to the Golden State dynasty. However, the departure of ‘King James’ to the Lakers opened a hole in the East just waiting to be filled. This summer, Kevin Durant presents that same flight risk to the Warriors. The parallels between Toronto and Portland are uncanny.
Last summer, Leonard became available on the open market due to an ongoing dispute with San Antonio. This year, Anthony Davis’ feud with the Pelicans’ management poses the same opportunity to acquire a legitimate top ten player in the league. Although Davis may seem like a serious flight risk due to only having one remaining year on his contract, that didn’t scare Toronto off either.
In fact, the Raptors were so sure of their decision, they shipped away beloved star DeMar DeRozan. The same DeRozan who leads the franchise in total points scored, most games played, and countless other meaningful statistics. Portland is now at a point where they must face the grim reality of their situation and commit to a move that could drastically affect their future.
Yes, the thought of it hurts. How could they do this to CJ? Let it sink in before you’re ready to come back to reality and join the discussion. The Portland Trail Blazers make this move because Davis is better than CJ. And Nurkic. And anyone else they could offer to team Davis up with Damian Lillard. Danny Ainge was criticized for being heartless after sending away Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving. But it was the right move. Masai Ujiri was also criticized for swapping DeRozan for Kawhi. But it was the right move. Recent years have made the simple truth abundantly clear: when the right guy is available, you have to go get him.
Having two genuine top ten players in the league working in tandem would be a real force in the competitive Western Conference. Both Lillard and Davis are capable of taking over on any given night. While the price tag may seem steep in comparison to what the Raptors dolled out for Leonard, there will be many more suitors in play for Davis this summer driving his value up.
McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are better than most of the players the likes of Los Angeles, Boston and Brooklyn are willing to give up. By including a pair of future assets, New Orleans would likely be content with a move that keeps the team competitive while also adding long-term assets to either develop or trade away. McCollum lines up perfectly with the Pelicans timeline, being one year younger than Jrue Holiday. A frontcourt of Zion Williamson and Nurkic would be a fearsome duo capable of dominating the opposition in the paint.
By including future assets in the deal and taking back the net negative that is Solomon Hill, the Portland Trail Blazers can manage to keep just enough complementary pieces around to remain title favorites. Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard next to Davis make for an exciting frontcourt rotation.
This move would put the Blazers’ payroll at just under $120 million, giving ample breathing room to sign this year’s draft pick, retain Rodney Hood and still be active in the hunt for waiver wire additions without exceeding the luxury tax. If the front office decides to step over the tax line, the roster could be upgraded even further.
The ball is now in Neil Olshey’s court. The Blazers are closer than ever to being champion material once again. Get on the line and bring Anthony Davis to Portland.