After reaching the Western Conference Finals last year, the Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to be consistent with their performance on both ends of the floor. Before the NBA suspension due to the spread of coronavirus, the Trail Blazers were out of the playoff race, sitting in the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference with a 29-37 record. However, even if they miss the 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Trail Blazers are still highly unlikely to break up their explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this summer.
Instead of trading their best players, the Trail Blazers are expected to search for a third star that could complement Lillard and McCollum. According to Dan Knitzer of Fansided’s Sir Charles In Charge, one of the superstars that the Trail Blazers could target on the trade market this offseason is Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. After reports about his worsening relationship with Donovan Mitchell surfaced, rumors have started to swirl around Gobert and his future with the team.
The Jazz are currently doing their best to fix the issue between the two superstars, but if they fail, they could be forced to trade Gobert this summer. As Knitzer noted, Gobert would be an intriguing acquisition for the Trail Blazers, especially if they decide to retain the core of Lillard, McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony in the 2020-21 NBA season. Gobert would not only give them a very reliable scoring option and monster rebounder, but his arrival in Portland would also tremendously improve the Trail Blazers’ defensive efficiency that currently ranks No. 26 in the league, allowing 111.1 points per 100 possessions.
The potential “Big Three” of Gobert, Lillard, and McCollum would give the Trail Blazers a realistic chance of fully dominating the Western Conference that is expected to be more competitive with the highly anticipated return of the mighty Golden State Warriors next season. To acquire Gobert, Knitzer suggested that the Trail Blazers could offer a trade package that includes Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Rodney Hood, a 2020 first-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick to the Jazz in exchange for Gobert.
“This trade assumes former Jazz guard Rodney Hood opts into the next year of his deal, which seems likely, given his ruptured Achilles,” Knitzer wrote. “Jusuf Nurkic was nearly Gobert’s equal before his bad leg injury, and his contract is puny compared to Gobert’s, so – unless he regresses to a bench player – it shouldn’t completely cripple a team’s flexibility. Anfernee Simons is a nice second or third guard on any team, and Hood should be expected to return by the end of the calendar year.”
Accepting the Trail Blazers’ proposed offer won’t be bad at all for the Jazz, especially if Mitchell no longer wants to play with Gobert in Utah. The potential deal would enable them to acquire an immediate replacement for Gobert as their starting center in Nurkic, plus two players — Simons and Hood — that could boost their second unit. The Jazz could use the two future draft picks to add more young and promising talents to their roster or they could include it in another deal to further improve their team.