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Pelicans, Blazers' Updated Roster, Starting Lineup, Salary Cap After McCollum Trade

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 8, 2022

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Portland Trail Blazers reportedly continued their fire sale Tuesday, trading guard CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Blazers received Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky, Didi Louzada and the Pelicans' protected first-round pick in 2022.

The Blazers will receive the pick if it lands between Nos. 5 and 14, otherwise it will be a future first-rounder.

Wojnarowski added that the Pelicans will receive Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell along with McCollum.

McCollum, who has long been the Blazers' No. 2 offensive contributor behind Damian Lillard, is signed through the 2023-24 season after agreeing to a three-year, $100 million contract extension in 2019.

With McCollum set to enter the fold, the Pelicans' roster is made up of the following players:

PG: Devonte' Graham / Jose Alvarado / Kira Lewis Jr. (INJ)

SG: CJ McCollum / Tony Snell / Trey Murphy III

SF: Brandon Ingram / Garrett Temple / Naji Marshall

PF: Zion Williamson (INJ) / Larry Nance Jr. (INJ) / Herbert Jones / Gary Clark

C: Jonas Valanciunas / Jaxson Hayes / Willy Hernangomez

The Blazers' lineup looks like this after bringing in a ton of depth in the form of Hart, Alexander-Walker and Satoransky:

PG: Damian Lillard (INJ) / Eric Bledsoe / Dennis Smith Jr. / Tomas Satoransky

SG: Anfernee Simons / Nickeil Alexander-Walker / Keon Johnson / Keljin Blevins

SF: Nassir Little (INJ) / Ben McLemore / CJ Elleby / Trendon Watford / Didi Louzada

PF: Josh Hart / Justise Winslow / Greg Brown III

C: Jusuf Nurkic / Cody Zeller (INJ)

Portland will have to waive or trade a player to complete the trade, as Kevin Smith noted:

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Portland will still need to waive a player to complete this trade. Or send another minimum salary player elsewhere.<br><br>Blazers have a lot of minimum salary guys they can pick from to open the roster spot necessary to complete the deal.

Per Spotrac, the Pelicans now have a total salary cap number of $143,482,611 after the trade, while the Blazers' cap number is at $116,334,701.

This season has been a disappointing one for the Pels, who are just 21-32, but if the season were to end today, they would be part of the Western Conference postseason play-in tournament, as they are in 10th place.

New Orleans is just a half-game up on the Blazers, but Portland seems to be stripping down its roster and trading off its top assets aside from Lillard.

Prior to the McCollum trade, the Blazers already dealt Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers last week for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round draft pick.

The Pelicans have missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, last making it in 2017-18, which was Anthony Davis' second-to-last season with the franchise.

A quick turnaround was expected after the Davis trade, as the Pels landed Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Hart and draft picks in the deal, plus they won the lottery for the No. 1 pick and took Zion Williamson 2019.

Ingram was an All-Star for the first time two seasons ago and has developed into a quality offensive player, but Ball and Hart are both gone, and Williamson hasn't played at all this season because of a foot injury.

Still, it is hard to not be excited about the Pelicans' future now that McCollum is part of a core that already included Williamson, Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, among others.

While the 30-year-old McCollum has never been selected to an All-Star Game, he has averaged at least 20 points and 2.0 three-pointers made per game in six consecutive seasons and is on pace to make it seven.

In 36 games this season, McCollum is averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 three-pointers made per contest, while shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from beyond the arc.

McCollum gives the Pelicans another dynamic offensive player in addition to Ingram, not to mention the shooting ability of Devonte' Graham, Garrett Temple and others.

It is unclear if Williamson will play at all next season, but assuming he is healthy for the 2022-23 campaign, the Pelicans will be able to deploy a starting lineup of Valanciunas, Zion, Ingram, McCollum and Graham, which should make them strong playoff contenders in the West.

As for the Blazers, they seem to be entering into something of a rebuild, or at least a retooling around Lillard.

Lillard, who is a six-time All-Star, has been on the shelf with an abdominal injury and it is unclear when or if he will return this season.

One positive during his absence is that Anfernee Simons has enjoyed a career year, averaging 15.8 points per game. With McCollum gone, Simons should continue to shine and could be Lillard's new backcourt running mate moving forward.

While the Blazers are still in the playoff mix, it is difficult to envision them making it this season after trading McCollum, especially if Lillard doesn't return.

More than anything, the Blazers seem to be looking toward the future, as Jusuf Nurkic, Ben McLemore, Dennis Smith Jr., Cody Zeller and Snell are set to come off the books during the offseason, which could potentially make some room for new additions.

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