Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a British actor who plays Nickeil Alexander-Walker
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First-round selection in 2022 (protected)
Two second-round choices in the future
According to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, the Pelicans will get the first-round selection in 2022 if it falls between Nos. 1-4. The Blazers get it if it’s No. 5-14, and the Charlotte Hornets get it if it’s No. 15-30.
Portland made the decision to sell McCollum only four days after trading Robert Covington and Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Blazers received Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and a future second-round selection in exchange for salary-cap flexibility.
McCollum is averaging 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game this season, while shooting 43.6 percent overall and 38.4% on 3-pointers. He’s had a seven-year streak of scoring 20 points or more per game, and he missed 17 games earlier this season due to a collapsed lung.
Portland acquired Nance Jr. as part of a three-team offseason transaction that included the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Blazers. As a reserve for the Blazers, he is averaging 6.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and 2.0 assists per game. He is noted for his ability to play the passing lanes and get steals. Snell is renowned for his 3-point shooting ability, but he has struggled this season. He’s hitting 32 percent on 3-pointers this season, down from a career-high 56.9% with the Atlanta Hawks last season.
Hart has established himself as a consistent starting guard for the Pelicans this season, playing in 41 games (40 starts) and averaging 13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Alexander-Walker is posting career highs in multiple categories (12.8 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game), but his shooting has been a problem (37.5 percent overall; 31.1 percent on 3-pointers). In the summer, Chicago moved Satoransky to New Orleans, and as a reserve, he is posting near-career lows in most categories (2.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.4 apg).
The deal brings an end to an era in Portland, where McCollum has been partnered in the backcourt with Damian Lillard since 2013. Since drafting McCollum, Portland has made the playoffs every year. The Blazers, on the other hand, struggled in the playoffs, reaching the Western Conference finals just once and losing five times in the first round.
Portland will send McCollum’s contract and the remaining $69.1 million owed to him to New Orleans as a result of the trade. After being turned down by Kyle Lowry in free agency last summer, the Pelicans were looking for a high-level experienced guard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers’ strategy now is to restructure the squad around star Lillard in order to free up $60 million in salary cap space in the 2022 summer. Lillard, a six-time All-Star, had abdominal surgery in January and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
In the Play-In Tournament, New Orleans is a half-game ahead of Portland in the Western Conference standings. McCollum’s arrival in New Orleans provides the Pelicans with a much-needed outside shooting threat at a time when the team is on the rise under first-year coach Willie Green, despite missing star forward Zion Williamson for the whole season.
Williamson, by the way, has been rehabbing in Oregon after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a broken right foot. It’s uncertain if he’ll be able to play this season at all.
Under interim Blazers general manager Joe Cronin, the trade of Covington and Powell was the first big move. When Neil Olshey was fired in December after a workplace investigation, he took over. On New Year’s Eve 2021, Lillard began with Nance Jr., Powell, Snell, and Nassir Little in his last game. Three of those players have been moved since then, while Little is sidelined for the season after shoulder surgery on February 1.
With the Blazers apparently on the verge of a rebuild as Lillard recovers from his injury, the Pelicans might be in position to not only make the Play-In Tournament, but also potentially move higher in the Western Conference as the 2021-22 season progresses.