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NBA Trade Grades: Clippers Hit Home Run In Deal With Blazers

In the long-term, Los Angeles may have launched themselves back towards the top of the West after acquiring Norman Powell and Robert Covington from the Blazers.

With the trade deadline less than one week away, the Clippers are striking early. Los Angeles acquired Norman Powell and Robert Covington from the Blazers in exchange for Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson and a second-round pick Friday, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Powell, 28, signed a five-year, $90 million contract last summer which takes him through 2026. Covington, 31, will be a free agent after this season. The Blazers, with Damian Lillard out for the foreseeable future, currently occupy the last play-in spot in the West. This trade essentially signals a tank for PDX. Bledsoe’s contract is guaranteed for only $3.9 million next season, while Winslow, 25, is signed for roughly $4 million. Johnson, a first-round pick in 2021, has appeared in only 15 games this season. Let’s grade the deal for both sides.

Clippers: A

This really seems like a home run for the Clips. Powell is averaging nearly 19 points per game while shooting 40.6% from three this season. He will slot nicely into LA’s starting lineup, and Bledsoe had become expendable after the emergence of Amir Coffey. Powell fits the mold of a Tyronn Lue player—a great shooter who is switchable defensively. Especially once one or both of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return, Powell should feast on open threes on a nightly basis. (Powell also has experience playing with Leonard from their season in Toronto together.)

A core of Powell-Kawhi-PG that can be surrounded by Coffey, Nic Batum, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, Ivica Zubac and now Robert Covington, depending on the matchup or who is hot that night, gives the Clippers tantalizing depth once healthy. (Covington, by the way, is not a great on-ball defender, but he can still be valuable in Lue’s switch heavy scheme when playing off of other great stoppers. And he shoots 35.7% from three in his career to boot. LA will have his Bird rights to make it easier to re-sign him if both sides want that in the offseason.)

This trade not only makes the Clippers, currently eighth in the West, better in the short term, it should make them even more potent once their stars return. Hopefully, the aggressive nature of this trade means LA’s front office believes George or Leonard could still make it back to the court this season. Either way, LA has undoubtedly become more talented. Even if it has to wait until next season, the Clips may have launched themselves back toward the top of the West. There is at least one great front office in Los Angeles.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Norman Powell (24) drives on LA Clippers guard Luke Kennard (5) in the second half at Moda Center.

Blazers: C

I have no issues with Portland wanting to punt on this season. That’s definitely the right move. But turning Gary Trent into Norm Powell into…Bledsoe, Winslow, Johnson and a second-rounder is not really an ideal set of steps. Moving off Powell’s contract will certainly help the Blazers re-tool around Lillard if he stays put. Winslow is only 25 but he has never lived up to the promise he once showed in Miami and his shooting is nonexistent. Johnson, 19, was good enough to be a first-round pick though the jury is out on what kind of player he’s going to be.

Mostly, it feels a little underwhelming for Portland not to be able to squeeze out at least a first-round pick from a desperate contender in a market overflowing with buyers, but perhaps they’ve seen something they like in Johnson. For a team in need of a makeover, the cap flexibility this move affords is not nothing. It’s not a trade Blazers fans will be particularly excited about, either. 

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