Earlier today, according to ESPN’s Adrian Worjnarowski, the Los Angeles Clippers are sending Eric Bledsoe, Justice Winslow, Keon Johnson and a future 2nd round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers who will have to give up Robert Covington and Norman Powell to get those assets from LA. To me, the Clippers got a steal in this trade. All this shows, to me, is that Damian Lillard could be sent somewhere else by the end of the week. Possibly C.J McCollum as well. Portland is trying to free up as much cap space as possible. Also, getting Keon Johnson, a rookie forward is another step toward rebuilding. Don’t expect Portland to have 1 of Lillard or McCollum by the trade deadline, at the latest, the start of next season. Below is why this trade makes perfect sense for LA and what the Blazers could possibly do with Keon Johnson, Justice Winslow and Eric Bledsoe in what could be their short time there!
There was no reason for the 21-31 Blazers who have suffered so many injuries this season, to hold onto Norman Powell’s 90 million dollar contract and Robert Covington’s 46-47 million dollar contract. Again, all of this is filling up cap space and starting the rebuild in Portland. But for LA, this is a perfect move for them. With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both possibly returning around play-in tournament – playoff time, someone is going to have to step up for them to make the playoffs and give Kawhi and PG13 a chance to do their thing. Norman Powell and Robert Covington are much more valuable pieces than Eric Bledsoe’s 70 million dollar contract, Justice Winslow’s inconsistency and Keon Johnson’s lack of playing time. Covington improves their perimeter defense while Leonard and George rehab and Powell gives them a reasonable scoring option. To me, this deal helps the Clippers more once Kawhi and George return.
Kawhi Leonard suffered an ACL tear in the playoffs against the Jazz and has not played yet this season. Paul George suffered an elbow injury that he played a couple of games on until he was noted that the injury was a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Now, can these 2 both return in time. Well, in the last 20 hours, we heard the Clippers coach Tyron Lue does not expect Kawhi Leonard to return this season. Also, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that Paul George could be having surgery on his elbow which would sideline him for the rest of the season. This is why I said possibly above as for if these 2 would return by playoff or play-in tournament time. However, there is still a chance both of them play for a playoff run, especially George. Paul George will be taking an MRI on February 24th so we can’t make an official statement on that until the results of his MRI come out.
Like I was saying, whether it’s this season or next season, the Clippers will be a dangerous team with this crew together. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both might not play full minutes to start the season so Robert Covington’s depth might be even more important than it already is. Also, if George and Leonard both need to put their energy into defense for a couple possessions, I would be able to trust Powell to get a couple of buckets and help the Clippers win. To me, the overall ability from these forwards will be hard to stop once they all get on the court together.
As for Portland, I don’t think any of the players they got in return for Powell and Covington will make a difference. Eric Bledsoe’s contract is clearly tradable and I don’t see him getting a lot of minutes on a team that is trying to develop young guards like Anfernee Simons. Justice Winslow has gone from team to team the last couple of seasons and his inconsistent play as a 25 year old who isn’t developing just isn’t someone Portland will play a lot to develop. He will get minutes with them for the rest of the season though. Offseason is a different story for Winslow in a Portland jersey or getting minutes in a Portland jersey. I was somewhat high on Keon Johnson going into the draft but I did not live up to the hype that he was a top 5 draft pick type player. To me, Johnson’s defense is a valuable asset. He is only 19 years old as well. However, his lack of scoring ability will hurt him, kind of like how it is hurting Mattise Thybulle. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a valuable player on a contending team but it means you won’t get a big role on a team. Unless he develops that in Portland, I think he will be a quality NBA player that will go from team to team. And of the course the 2nd round pick doesn’t hurt to have. I do think this is the start of a rebuild process from Portland and freeing up cap space was the right move. However, I do think for as good players as Covington and Powell are, a couple guys that will be off the team in a couple of years and a 2nd round pick isn’t the kind of value I would except.
But, this is just the start of crazy moves at the deadline. The Clippers will probably be quiet on Feb. 10th (the day of the trade deadline) but Portland could be making some big moves involving Lillard or McCollum. Also, players like Bradley Beal and Ben Simmons around the league could also get moved. To me, this is just the 1st of many trades that will make a big impact for both teams! I am looking forward to seeing what this year’s trade deadline brings!
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