4. Insurance at center
Collins is an upgrade over Nurkic, but Blazers fans saw last year what can happen to a team that had no depth in the frontcourt. Trading for Isaiah Stewart wouldn’t put Portland over the title hump, but he’d be a nice addition to Billups’ center rotation.
Despite being 6-8, Stewart is strong at 250 pounds, athletic, and active. He averaged more than 8 rebounds each of the past two seasons. A frontcourt rotation of Collins, Stewart, and Drew Eubanks, if the Blazers re-sign him, is a dramatic upgrade over what they had last season.
Detroit created a log-jam at center after acquiring James Wiseman at the trade deadline and pairing him with Jalen Duren, who was named to the All-Rookie Second Team this season. They also have Marvin Bagley III up front and Bojan Bogdanovic, who fits in as a small-ball four. The Pistons could easily part with Stewart while remaining two-deep at power forward and center.
These trades would give the Blazers a starting lineup of Lillard/Sharpe/Jerami Grant/Siakam/Collins. They would also reduce Portland’s total salaries by about $1 million, which would leave room to re-sign Grant and potentially Matisse Thybulle and Cam Reddish. That would give Billups the above starting five, plus Thybulle, Reddish, Stewart, Trendon Watford, and Eubanks as a rotation.
This isn’t a perfect plan, but that doesn’t exist. The Blazers would be short on backcourt depth and bench scoring, two issues that plagued the team last season. But adding Siakam would bring extra scoring to the starting five, and Portland would still have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.2 million), bi-annual exception ($4.4 million), and future first-round picks to fill those spots.
These four trades would build an unquestionably improved roster. How far that would carry Dame and the Blazers in the postseason is up in the air, but it would get Portland to the playoffs and give the team at least a chance to make a run.