By Brett Martel – AP Sportswriter
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans acquired guard CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers in a seven-man trade, two people familiar with the situation said.
The Pelicans will also get forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell as part of the deal, while the Trail Blazers will bring forward Josh Hart and guards Tomas Staoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Didi Louzada, along with a draft of compensation in the form of a 2022 protected draft pick in the first round and two future second rounds. The people spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been made official.
The trade marks the end of an era at Portland, where McCollum has been paired with Damian Lillard in the backcourt since 2013. Portland has reached the playoffs every season since drafting McCollum. However, the Blazers struggled in the playoffs, reaching the Western Conference Finals only once while being knocked out in the first round five times.
McCollum, 30, is averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season.
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He gives the Pelicans a needed outside shooting threat at a time when New Orleans appears to be on the rise under first-year coach Willie Green – despite playing this season without star forward Zion Williamson . After starting 1-12, the Pelicans (21-32) entered Tuesday’s games on a three-game road winning streak and occupying the final Western Conference qualifying spot.
Williamson, by the way, was in Oregon trying to recover from offseason surgery to fix his fractured right foot. It is unclear whether he will be ready to return this season.
New Orleans is winning less than 33% from 3-pointers this season and they’re 29th in the league in 3-pointers. McCollum has shot no less than 37.5% from beyond the arc every season since the deepest every season of his career, while shooting 38.4% overall for his career.
In 2019, McCollum signed a three-year, $100 million contract extension that spans the 2023-24 season. It came into effect this season.
This is the second multi-player trade the Blazers have completed before Thursday’s deadline. On Friday, Portland sent Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow and Keon Johnson. The move was widely seen as financial, as it put the Blazers under the luxury tax threshold.
Lillard, a six-time All-Star, has been out since the start of the year with an abdominal injury that required surgery. Like Williamson, it’s unclear when or if he’ll return this season, but Lillard was at the team’s practice facility on Monday taking a few shots.
Hart this offseason agreed to a three-year extension with New Orleans that is worth $37.9 million and includes a third-year player option. He’s been a popular and productive role player in New Orleans since being traded to New Orleans in the 2019 offseason – along with forward Brandon Ingram, guard Lonzo Ball and two first-round picks — from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a deal. who paired Anthony Davis with LeBron James on the Lakers.
Ball has since been traded to Chicago. Hart averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.
Alexander-Walker was one of three first-round draft picks the Pelicans made in 2019. He went 17th overall, after New Orleans took Williamson first with his own draft pick and center Jaxson Hayes eighth with the first of two first-rounders acquired from the Lakers.
Alexander-Walker struggled to produce consistently in his first three seasons, but was prolific in spurts. He’s averaging 12.8 points this season with a season-high 33 points and a career-high 37 points last season.
The Blazers have lost five straight and sit 11th in the Western Conference standings.
The Pelicans were scheduled to host Houston on Tuesday night, when the Blazers were at home against Orlando. ___
AP Sports Writers Anne Peterson and Steve Reed contributed to this report.
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