The Portland Trail Blazers swap with the Atlanta Hawks
Why the Trail Blazers do it:
In this deal, the Portland Trail Blazers add two young players who can contribute immediately and help Cronin build for life after Damian Lillard.
De’Andre Hunter offers the Blazers the athletic 3-and-D wing that Dame has needed for years; the Mikal Bridges to Lillard’s Chris Paul if you will.
Hunter should fit in seamlessly in Portland, tasked with guarding the opponent’s primary wing scorer and finishing off wide-open looks from deep on offense — which Dame should provide plenty.
Onyeka Okongwu is much less proven than Hunter, but both have a considerably high ceiling compared to their price points. The former USC Trojan was drafted on his promise as a lockdown defender and interior finisher.
Unfortunately, he entered the league with a toe injury and by the time he returned, was buried under newly acquired center, Clint Capela.
Since then, he’s been in and out of the Atlanta Hawks’ lineup due to various injuries and coaching decisions but has shown flashes in his limited playing time.
Watch how effortlessly he contains this Tyrese Maxey-Joel Embiid pick-and-roll, sliding gracefully to contain Maxey’s drive before stuffing him in the paint.
On the season, he’s averaging 13.8 points, 10 boards, and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes, while shooting 77 percent from the field — albeit on only nine appearances so far.
If Okongwu can stay healthy, he’d make a perfect enforcer behind Lillard in the Trail Blazers’ next era.
Danilo Gallinari is viewed as a negative in this transaction, due to his contract, but can be a useful offensive piece moving forward. Portland can also flip him to another team that could use his shooting, size, and secondary playmaking before his contract is up.
Portland also nabs a pair of first-round picks to either use in further moves or to grab a young player on a rookie-scale salary.
Why the Hawks do it:
This move accomplishes a multitude of goals for the Atlanta Hawks this season: shed the responsibility of paying for De’Andre Hunter’s next deal while navigating the luxury tax, get off of Danilo Gallinari’s albatross of a contract, and add useful veterans to help Trae Young’s playoff campaign.
Robert Covington offers Atlanta a versatile defender inside, as well as a reliable sniper to finish off Young’s drive-and-kicks. RoCo also provides the Hawks with a nearly $13 million salary-cap figure that expires this offseason. This will help them skirt the luxury tax if they choose to let him go.
Larry Nance Jr. replaces some of Okongwu’s defensive prowess and offers Ice Trae another lob threat on offense.
Norman Powell gives Atlanta the perfect backcourt partner for Young; a seasoned veteran who can create for himself and finish plays that their star point guard crafts out of thin air.
Powell can tag the opponent’s most threatening guard and help Atlanta hide Trae on defense.