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CJ McCollum traded to New Orleans Pelicans; Four players and draft assets go to Portland Trail Blazers

The Pelicans acquire their main target for the window, while, with a second trade, the Portland Trail Blazers manage to create cap flexibility without needing to shift Damian Lillard

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CJ McCollum scores 29 points, six of them from the three-point line, in the Portland Trail Blazers' victory over the Toronto Raptors in Week 5

The Portland Trail Blazers are trading guard CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans for multiple players and draft compensation.

Guards Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky and Didi Louzada will join the Trail Blazers in exchange for McCollum, who has spent nine years with Portland.

Portland will also receive a protected 2022 first-round pick and two second-round picks from New Orleans, while the Pelicans will receive forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell along with McCollum.

This season, McCollum is averaging 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 43.6% overall and 38.4 per cent on 3-pointers. He has averaged 20-or-more points per game for seven straight seasons and missed 17 games earlier this season with a collapsed lung.

Nance Jr. was acquired by Portland as a part of a three-team offseason trade involving the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Blazers. He is averaging 6.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.0 apg as a reserve for the Blazers and is known for his ability to play the passing lanes and get steals. Snell is best known for his 3-point marksmanship but has struggled in that area this season. He's shooting 32 per cent on 3-pointers after a career-best 56.9 per cent last season with the Atlanta Hawks.

Hart has emerged as a reliable starting guard for New Orleans this season, appearing in 41 games (40 starts) while posting 13.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.1 apg and 1.1 spg. Alexander-Walker is averaging career-highs in several categories (12.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg) but has struggled with his shot (37.5 per cent overall; 31.1 per cent on 3-pointers). Satoransky was traded to New Orleans by Chicago in the offseason and is averaging near career-lows in most statistics (2.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.4 apg) as a reserve.

The trade marks the end of an era on Portland, where McCollum has been paired with Damian Lillard in the backcourt since 2013. Portland has reached the playoffs every season since they drafted McCollum. However, the Blazers struggled in the postseason, reaching the Western Conference finals only once while being eliminated in the first round five times.

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) seen playing the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA basketball game, Friday Dec. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John McCoy)
Image: Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in action – the franchise now has flexibility to build around him

In trading McCollum to New Orleans, Portland will move his deal and the remaining roughly $69.1 million still left to be paid on it. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans were interested in a high-level veteran guard after they were rebuffed by Kyle Lowry in free agency last summer.

Wojnarowski reports the Blazers' plan now is to reshape the roster around star Lillard thanks to creating potentially $60 million in salary cap space for the 2022 offseason. Lillard, a six-time All-Star, had abdominal surgery in January and is out indefinitely.

New Orleans is tenth the Western Conference standings and 0.5 games ahead of Portland in the Play-In Tournament standings. McCollum's move to New Orleans gives the Pelicans a needed outside shooting threat at a time when New Orleans appears to be on the upswing under first-year coach Willie Green - despite playing without star forward Zion Williamson all season.

Williamson, incidentally, has been in Oregon trying to rehabilitate from offseason surgery to repair his fractured right foot. It is unclear if he will be ready to return at all this season.

The trade of Covington and Powell was the first major move under interim Blazers general manager Joe Cronin. He took over when Neil Olshey was fired in December after a workplace environment investigation. When Lillard played in his last game - on New Year's Eve, 2021 - he started alongside Nance Jr., Powell, Snell and Nassir Little. Since then, three of those players have been dealt while Little is out for the season following shoulder surgery on Feb. 1.

With the Blazers seemingly heading towards a rebuild while Lillard mends from his injury, the Pelicans may be primed to not only make the Play-In Tournament, but perhaps rise higher in the West as the 2021-22 season wanes.

New Orleans Pelicans' Tomas Satoransky (31) drives against San Antonio Spurs' Dejounte Murray during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 112-97. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Image: New Orleans Pelicans' Tomas Satoransky drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray during the second half of a loss back in December

Louzada, 23, is sidelined with a torn meniscus in his left knee. He played in five games over the past two seasons, contributing a total of eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

Nance, 29, is averaging 6.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 37 games (11 starts) in his first season with Portland. The seven-year veteran has missed the past 17 games due to a knee injury.

Snell, 30, is also in his first season with the Blazers, averaging 2.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 38 games (10 starts).

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