Looking at the NBA landscape with days remaining before the 2019-20 regular season kicks off, it can be argued that none of the league’s 30 teams have a trio of players worthy of being called a “Big Three.” Although this could point to additional parity and a less predictable race to the playoffs, Bleacher Report recently predicted that some NBA teams may soon start “maneuvering behind the scenes” to complement their two superstars with a third top-level player.
In a list of five hypothetical trades that could allow teams to form a new “Big Three,” the publication suggested two involving the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that has long relied on the high-scoring backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Aside from recommending a trade for Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love, who has often been linked to his hometown Blazers, Bleacher Report proposed that Portland could also make a move for another top Eastern Conference power forward — Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons.
In the suggested deal, the Trail Blazers would get Griffin from the Pistons for a trade package featuring recently acquired center Hassan Whiteside, youngsters Zach Collins and Gary Trent Jr., and two future draft picks, namely a top 20-protected 2020 first-rounder and a 2022 second-rounder. Bleacher Report explained that Griffin could be a better fit than Love because he has been more productive in recent seasons, while also being more “dynamic” than his Cavaliers counterpart.
As the publication further speculated, a “Big Three” featuring Griffin, Lillard, and McCollum could increase the Blazers’ potential of going far in the postseason, provided all three superstars can agree on how to share the ball.
“Put [Griffin] in Portland and he’d add another elite shot-creator to the mix, provide an above-the-rim element to this pick-and-roll game and, so long as his shooting holds up, give Lillard and McCollum more room to work,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley. “Griffin is a bit more ball-dominant than Love, so the acclimation process might take longer, but the ceiling would sit even higher.”
As for the Pistons, Buckley noted that if the team starts the 2019-20 season out slower than expected — given they may have the NBA’s easiest schedule prior to the All-Star break — they could possibly explore the idea of trading the 30-year-old Griffin, who has three years and $110.2 million remaining on his contract. Meanwhile, forward/center Collins, shooting guard Trent, and the future draft picks were projected as key contributors in the event Detroit chooses to tear down its roster and start rebuilding.
Interestingly, Buckley did not make any mention of how Whiteside may be utilized if he gets traded to the Pistons, considering he has the same weakness as erstwhile starting center Andre Drummond — below-average outside shooting. However, he did point out that the veteran big man’s lucrative contract expires after the 2019-20 season, thus giving Detroit some much-needed salary-cap relief next summer.