Instead of targeting a defensive anchor in the middle, what about a dynamite wing stopper? It’s only becoming more common for wing-sized players like Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum to play a main role on an NBA offense, and having one of the few players in the league who can match up defensively could flip the switch for the Trail Blazers.
The New Orleans Pelicans just had a disappointing season of their own, missing the playoffs and having to slog through a season without Zion Williamson at full strength. Since he can’t be relied upon for good health, the team could benefit from a top lottery prospect to develop and a young scorer like Simons to pace the offense.
The Blazers would get both a better starting center for their defensive foundations and a certified shutdown player on the wing in Herb Jones. Jones has only been in the NBA for a few years, but he’s already become the team’s go-to option to slow down opposing star players, no matter how hard the matchup is on paper.
Although it’s hard to predict whether any of the fliers taken on role players Kira Lewis, Larry Nance Jr., or Garrett Temple will factor into the bench rotation, the Blazers will at least leave this trade with a better starting core around Lillard that is built to help him and the entire team to win in the playoffs.