As Monday became Tuesday, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum appeared to be on the brink of being traded.
A crowded field seemed to push the New Orleans Pelicans' long pursuit of McCollum to a quick finish. Both the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks had held recent discussions to acquire the veteran from Portland, sources told B/R.
The Blazers ultimately dealt McCollum to the Pelicans on Tuesday morning along with Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, in exchange for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 protected first-round pick and two second-round picks.
From conversations with league personnel, Jaxson Hayes' recent success at power forward reinvigorated his value among New Orleans staffers, which played a key factor in the calculus that prevented Hayes from heading to Portland in the exchange. The framework most often mentioned by league personnel in New Orleans' pursuit of McCollum had always centered around Hart, Satoransky, and one of Hayes or Alexander-Walker.
The Trail Blazers had already signaled their interest in shedding long-term salary by trading Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, rookie guard Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick. That deal set a difficult precedent for Portland to command a rich return for McCollum, as rival teams believed McCollum had less trade value than Powell.
Add in the upcoming payday that is surely awaiting 22-year-old guard Anfernee Simons, and Portland remains focused on maintaining greater financial flexibility, sources said, with a goal of staying under the luxury tax threshold even after awarding Simons his next contract. The Blazers expressed minimal interest in taking back any future salary in McCollum negotiations.
New York's efforts to acquire McCollum were seemingly nothing more than exploratory. Either Evan Fournier's four-year, $73 million agreement or the five years still remaining on Julius Randle's colossal deal would have been needed to get close to matching McCollum's roughly $30 million salary, quite the opposite return of Portland's stated objective. The Knicks also discussed sending Fournier's salary to the Indiana Pacers before the Pacers moved Caris LeVert to the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told B/R.
For Atlanta to have met Portland's strict financial requirements, a deal structure of Danilo Gallinari's $20.5 million contract—with only $5 million guaranteed for 2022-23—and Delon Wright's expiring deal would have been enough to match McCollum's salary. McCollum being traded to New Orleans perhaps now increases the likelihood of a Danilo Gallinari-for-Goran Dragic trade framework that has circulated around the league.
Elsewhere in Portland, after initial trade conversations, Jusuf Nurkic appears unlikely to be moved, as the veteran center and Trail Blazers brass have mutual interest in agreeing to a new contract this offseason, sources said. How that impacts Portland's previous interest in acquiring Pacers center Myles Turner remains unclear. Yet if the Blazers are willing to repackage any draft capital obtained in a McCollum trade, numerous league personnel have pointed to Bledsoe's salary as a matching value for Turner's $17.5 million deal that expires after 2022-23.
Turner is still being monitored by team executives as a strong trade candidate. In addition to the Blazers, the Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings have all registered interest in Turner but so far balked at Indiana's high price. While Indiana has clearly shifted toward a rebuild following an initial deal that sent Caris LeVert to Cleveland, the Pacers are still said to be seeking at least two first-round picks for Turner and an even greater package for Domantas Sabonis.
Toronto and Indiana have discussed a trade framework regarding Dragic and a first-round pick, sources told B/R, an outgoing concept the Raptors have used in exploratory talks around the league. As with the McCollum conversations, New York remains active in exploring avenues to bolster its roster and compete for the play-in tournament while clearing room for Cam Reddish in Tom Thibodeau's rotation.
Sacramento has engaged Indiana on both Turner and Domantas Sabonis, sources said. While it's unclear how much progress the Kings and Pacers made in those conversations, De'Aaron Fox has at least been mentioned in some capacity. New York and New Orleans held exploratory conversations for Fox as well.
The Washington Wizards are the other team most often connected to Sabonis, although it still appears unlikely any suitor will reach Indiana's benchmark of a return similar or greater than what the Orlando Magic netted for Nikola Vucevic a year ago—multiple first-round picks plus a blue-chip young player.
A handful of personnel around the league have recently mentioned the Phoenix Suns' intriguing interest in acquiring Sabonis. But while the Suns are not expected to make any major move this week that could jeopardize the chemistry and momentum of the NBA's winningest team, league figures have pointed to a potential sign-and-trade this offseason that would conclude the Suns' contract standoff with Deandre Ayton and in exchange land Sabonis in The Valley.
For now, Indiana is searching for pathways to move Ricky Rubio's expiring contract, sources said, by taking on future salary in exchange for additional draft capital. The same dynamic applies to the Pacers' conversations regarding injured forward T.J. Warren. Jeremy Lamb is another strong trade candidate in Indiana.
Other notes from around the league:
Despite widespread interest in Jerami Grant from Washington, Los Angeles, Utah, Chicago, Minnesota and others, it seems unlikely any rival team will be willing or able to meet Detroit's lofty asking price of multiple first-round picks. Grant has a strong relationship with Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, and there have been clear indications of Weaver's interest in keeping Grant entrenched within Detroit's rebuild, sources said. If Grant is not dealt before the deadline, there remains a strong possibility the Pistons will revisit Grant trade scenarios around the NBA draft.
Before the Cavaliers landed Caris LeVert from Indiana, they were in contact with the Clippers about sending Rubio's expiring deal for Luke Kennard, sources said. League personnel are prepared for Los Angeles to continue tinkering its roster ahead of the deadline in the lead-up to a bolstered run at next season's championship. Serge Ibaka continues to be mentioned as a Clippers trade candidate.
In the latest development of Boston's Dennis Schroder talks, the Celtics and Bucks have discussed a framework that would send Schroder to Milwaukee in exchange for Donte DiVincenzo, sources said. The Bucks have also expressed interest in landing Grant Williams in that scenario.
The Lakers are the latest team to have been linked to Boston's efforts to trade Josh Richardson.
Dallas remains invested in retaining both Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith, despite wide-ranging interest in both Mavericks. The Pistons are believed to have particular interest in Brunson, and Detroit can make a strong offer for the point guard in free agency to pair alongside Cade Cunningham—similar to his fit next to Luka Doncic.
Washington has communicated its interest in parting ways with Spencer Dinwiddie, sources said, although a market for the point guard remains unclear.
While New York is active in numerous trade scenarios, Alec Burks has generated the greatest interest from rival teams amid the Knicks' efforts to shed salary.
San Antonio remains hopeful to find a trade partner interested in paying draft capital for Thaddeus Young. Minnesota has so far engaged the Spurs in Young conversations with Taurean Prince as a centerpiece, sources said. League personnel believe Prince would prefer a buyout if he is traded from Minnesota, just as Young is expected to reach a buyout agreement if he's not moved.
Jakob Poeltl remains a highly coveted center on the trade market. Chicago has recently been mentioned as another interested team in addition to Toronto and Charlotte. The Bulls are searching for reinforcements in the frontcourt, sources said, behind Nikola Vucevic.
JaMychal Green and Facundo Campazzo are considered available for trade in Denver.
League personnel expect Orlando will find a new home for Terrence Ross in a similar deal structure that saw the Magic part with Evan Fournier for two second-round picks last season. Meanwhile, Gary Harris has been painted as a potential buyout candidate if he is not moved.
Elsewhere in the buyout market, Paul Millsap, Tristan Thompson, D.J. Augustin and Tomas Satoransky have been categorized as likely candidates to become free agents.