The Portland Trail Blazers have been eliminated from the 2021 NBA Playoffs and could be looking at a busy offseason. After what has been viewed as the best team to surround Damian Lillard fell short this year, who knows what is going to happen with this franchise. There is speculation there could be multiple trades, a new coaching staff, and perhaps even a new general manager. Only time will tell, as nothing will be set in stone until later in the summer.
The Blazers had a great roster, but just underperformed when it mattered most. They finished as a six seed, but considering the talent in the rotation, Portland could have been a top-four or three seed team in the Western Conference. Instead, they were in the middle of the pack and barely avoided the play-in tournament this year.
One thing for certain is that Damian Lillard isn’t going anywhere, as he was the only player in Portland to play consistently. The front office has to find a way to stay competitive, as nine players on the roster could be hitting free agency this offseason. Portland should be going under a complete makeover, starting with firing Terry Stotts.
Stotts has a history of getting the Trail Blazers to the playoffs but just can’t get them over the hump. He’s a great coach with a fantastic offensive mind, but his style brings a lack of defense that hurts Portland more often than not. The front office should look to balance out Portland’s approach and acquire some defensive talent.
For that reason, the Trail Blazers will have to give up some of their offense to equal out the team. Luckily for them, Damian Lillard is one of the best scorers in the league, and the bench squad can light it up when they’re hot. Losing some offense for defense would only be a good thing for this organization. With that said, here are two trades the Blazers must make to help out Damian Lillard next season.
Trade Robert Covington, Zach Collins, & CJ Elleby for Draymond Green
For a team looking to improve on the defensive end, why not go get the best defender in the league right now? Draymond Green is a fierce competitor and has the knack to light a fire under his teammates. We’ve seen him thrive alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durrant playing for the Golden State Warriors for quite some time. That fire and tenacity is something that’s been missing on this Portland team. By acquiring Green, the Trail Blazers suddenly improve their defense while gaining a playmaking power forward as well.
Trade CJ McCollum for Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, Brandon Clarke, and a 2022 first-round pick
CJ McCollum has served as Lillard’s sidekick since 2015 when he originally earned a starting role. He’s a pure scorer in the shooting guard position and plays with a similar style to Damian Lillard. The duo has created a monster backcourt that has caused fits for their opponents, but it’s not equating to championships. A smart move would be to trade for a rising star in Dillon Brooks, who has proven to be a tough defender at the perimeter. We caught a glimpse of his development during the Memphis Grizzlies’ playoff series against the Utah Jazz, where Brooks showed he has the ability to score as well.
Bringing in De’Anthony Melton would give Portland some insurance at the guard position, while Brandon Clarke is a solid prospect that would come off the bench behind Draymond. The 2022 first-round selection would just be the cherry on top of the deal but is also some nice insurance in case one of these new acquisitions doesn’t pan out.
The Blazers’ new roster would suddenly have the tools to make a long run in the playoffs, as their defense would drastically improve. Additionally, this year’s free-agent pool is stacked with shooting guards that could produce well for Portland at a cheap price. It’s a risky move, but one the franchise must make if they hope to improve.