The Portland Trail Blazers can deny it all they want, but the writing is on the wall. The backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is not working like they hoped it would. But there is a solution to their problem, and the answer is the Los Angles Lakers. The Lakers are trying to rid themselves of Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, according to Bleacher Report, and the Blazers might just be their answer.
The Blazers could swing a deal that sends McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Lakers for Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Julius Randle. While it may seem one-sided, it’s really not. The Blazers are thin up front. Not thin in terms of bodies in the frontcourt but in terms of production. The Blazers’ forwards read like a who’s who of big men. Any given night, Terry Stotts can have a rotation that includes Aminu, Meyers Leonard, Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, and Noah Vonleh. While they are deep, none of them averages more than nine points per game.
For the Lakers, they’re in the same boat as Portland. Too many bodies in the frontcourt, however, they might be getting too much production with not enough minutes to go around. The Lakers have tried to trade Randle and Clarkson as early as last season and to no avail. Now, with the emergence of Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers are getting desperate to shed some weight.
Moving McCollum will be a shock, but so was losing LaMarcus Aldridge. By adding Clarkson, the Blazers will get a player who’s similar to McCollum. While McCollum is viewed as a better scorer, that might be due to his higher usage than Clarkson. McCollum plays 36.6 minutes, takes 17 shots per game, and averages 20.7 points on 44 percent shooting. Clarkson, however, plays just 22.5 minutes, takes 12 shots, and averages 14 points on 45 percent shooting. If the Blazers were to give Clarkson that additional 14 minters per game, his stock would rise.
— Blazers Nation (@Blazers__Nation) December 18, 2017
But where the deal will make sense for both teams is Larry Nance Jr.
Nance is versatile to play both forward positions and the Blazers could use him to slide right into the small forward position. As for Randle, he’s exactly what the Blazers need. While it may seem that Randle has lost a bit of his mojo, that could be due to the constant trade rumors hovering over him. Pairing Randle (12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds) with Nance (8.3 points, 6.6 rebounds) with Jusuf Nurkic (14.5 points, 7.4 rebounds) will give the Blazers one of the most versatile, top rebounding and athletic frontcourts in the NBA.
The Lakers will seem to get everything they want in this deal: Randle and Clarkson gone, a great backup forward in Aminu, and a deadly perimeter player in McCollum. The deal seems like a good one with the only issue being the Blazers holding on to what they think can still work. The Lillard and McCollum backcourt may get them to the playoffs, but if there is no help from the frontcourt, then the Blazers will find themselves always on the outside looking in. By adding Randle, Clarkson, and Nance, Lillard will have the pieces he needs to contend with the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.
Sometimes letting go is the only way to move forward. The Los Angeles Lakers are willing to try, so what’s stopping the Portland Trail Blazers?