The Portland Trail Blazers’ season hit a bit of a snag when it was revealed that starting center Jusuf Nurkic would miss at least eight weeks with a broken wrist. This came after fellow big man Zach Collins had to go under the knife for another ankle surgery.
The Bosnian Beast will be difficult to replace, even if he was off to a sluggish start this season compared to previous years when he was healthy. Nurkic was working his way back into his prior form when this unfortunate injury happened.
Enes Kanter is currently the starting center with Nurkic out, with Harry Giles set to see an increased role as well. Robert Covington can also play some center in small-ball lineups. However, the Blazers could still use an upgrade in the frontcourt as Nurkic recovers.
Here are some possible Blazers trades to help replace Jusuf Nurkic for the immediate future.
3. Robert Williams
The Blazers have an outstanding offense led by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but they’re still one of the worst defensive teams in the league and could use a legit rim protector. While Enes Kanter is a double-double waiting to happen, his defense leaves much to be desired.
This is where Williams comes in. He’s a bouncy, athletic big who can block shots, get steals and rebound. His offense is limited, but the Blazers have more than enough firepower with their backcourt.
The Celtics have Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson as their main frontcourt cogs, with Grant Williams also playing a key role. While Time Lord is a promising prospect, Boston can afford to give him up. Portland has a number of reserve wings on the roster who could be dangled in a trade, plus a potential first-round pick in the future (the Blazers traded their 2021 first-round pick already).
2. JaVale McGee
From Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP to key contributor on three championship teams, JaVale McGee has certainly come a long way. When McGee isn’t being a meme, he’s a stellar rim protector thanks to his height and massive 7-foot-6 wingspan.
Despite his limited playing time with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, he still swatted 1.4 shots per game. While McGee can’t play huge minutes, he could make an impact down low in Portland.
The Cleveland Cavaliers just traded for Jarrett Allen, so there’s a major logjam in the frontcourt. Andre Drummond would be a really nice upgrade for the Blazers, but it’s tough to find a trade that works due to his expiring contract of over $28 million.
Hence, Portland could go for the much cheaper McGee, and it wouldn’t cost much at all.
1. John Collins
After failing to sign an extension with the Atlanta Hawks, John Collins is off to a slow start, with his numbers well down across the board. A recent report came out suggesting Collins isn’t happy with the Hawks’ offense led by Trae Young, so one has to wonder if Atlanta will shop the big man ahead of his restricted free agency.
This would be an intriguing opportunity for the Blazers, even if Collins may have some of the same issues in Portland as he’s currently having in Atlanta. Collins wouldn’t help the Blazers’ defense much, but he would make them even more dangerous offensively and would be an upgrade over Kanter. Then, when Nurkic comes back, Collins could slide down to the 4 and move Derrick Jones Jr. to the bench to help that unit.
The asking price for Collins will certainly be high if he’s indeed put on the market, even with his restricted free agent status, but the Blazers have a number of young players and future picks they could dangle in a trade. While this trade would present some risk to Portland, the reward could also be great.