The NBA trade deadline is less than a week away. The first big trade went down between the LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers. Although it didn’t involve any stars, it was a sizeable move for both teams that significantly shakes up their rosters.
As it was reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers traded Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, rookie Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick in exchange for Norman Powell and Robert Covington.
With the Clippers navigating injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Blazers pondering what the future is with Damian Lillard, they each decided to tweak their rosters. Here’s how each team made out in the deal.
LA Clippers: B
With this trade, LA definitely got better. Head coach Tyronn Lue said that he is just focused on his team playing hard. His new additions will help the team continue to do just that.
Powell is a strong scorer that competes well on defense. He is averaging 18.7 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point land. For a team that needs offense badly, Powell is a great fit in the starting lineup while the Clippers’ stars recover. He is also under contract for several more years and will fit nicely alongside Leonard and George. This is a strong addition for LA and could be worth trading Johnson, who they just used a first-round pick on and hasn’t shown much yet.
Covington is best served as a bench piece. In 29.8 minutes per game across 48 games (and 40 starts) this season, he is averaging just 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. He has shot well from three in the past, though this season he is shooting just 34.3 percent from deep. Still, he is a sold veteran on an expiring contract.
The Clippers, at 27-27, will have a tough time staying in playoff contention without their stars. This trade doesn’t get them much closer to a top seed in the Western Conference. The addition of Powell should make the Clippers more dangerous when the stars return, even if it’s next season.
Trail Blazers: C
Angelo Guinhawa ·
The Blazers’ mediocre grade is due to their asset mismanagement and lackluster return for Powell.
Although the draft pick may be near the top of the second round and Johnson has intriguing potential due to his unreal explosiveness, those assets are far from certain to pan out into anything legitimate. They’re nice additions to the future Blazers core but could very well turn into nothing. Bledsoe can be a strong backup point guard option but Winslow probably won’t provide much.
At the last trade deadline, Portland traded for Powell and gave up promising young wing Gary Trent Jr. Then, they resigned Powell in the offseason only to trade him for a package that offers minimal upside at the moment. Did they really need to make more room for the emerging Anfernee Simons so badly that they dumped Powell for an unimpressive haul?
Johnson has appeared in just 15 games this season after being drafted 21st overall. His ability to produce at the NBA level is unknown. Maybe he blossoms when given a bigger chance but that is not certain to happen. Overall, this trade doesn’t get Portland any certified building blocks for their future or make them better. At 21-31 and in 10th place in the conference, the odds of them missing the playoffs only grows.