Trade No. 1: Blazers swing for the fences
Finally, we come to the No. 1 trade on our list, a deal that, without a question, has the highest chance of blowing up in Portland’s face. It also is the only deal on this list that can realistically lead to a championship while Dame is still on the team, which is why it lands as the top deal.
The New Orleans Pelicans are hungry to find their long-term point guard, and at the same time are growing weary of Zion Williamson‘s lack of maturity and discipline. Even while recognizing that he is being dealt at a low point in his value due to his injuries, the Pelicans might just decide the time is right to move on from Zion.
They certainly get a large return, as Williamson’s star power and upside when healthy demand a significant package. Henderson can be the point guard of the future, running the show for a young core headlined by Brandon Ingram that also includes Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and Dyson Daniels. They can keep Simons and try to move CJ McCollum, or more likely reroute Simons to another team for more draft capital.
Why does Portland do it? Because when he was healthy, Zion was one of the 10 to 15 best players in the league. His package of handling, scoring and explosion are truly special. The Blazers aren’t going to win a title with a low-end All-Star as Lillard’s wingman; they need another star, and Zion would be that star.
It’s an incredibly risky bet, but it has the most upside, and at this point in Lillard’s career, it’s time to swing for the fences. Drafting Scoot and trying to straddle two timelines is playing it safe. The Blazers need to stop being afraid of the risks and take a chance.