Would Trading For Chris Paul And Jonathan Kuminga Be A Smart Move For The Portland Trail Blazers?

More than any other league, the NBA lends itself to imaginative speculation about trades. Something about basketball makes it easy for fans and team members to imagine players from opposing teams on their own. Unfortunately, the fake trades that most fans dream of never come true. But that doesn’t stop us all from thinking, “What if …” So, I took to Fanspo.com to utilize their NBA Trade Machine, avoided all of the complicated minutiae of the NBA salary cap, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Chris Paul & Jonathan Kuminga
Golden State Warriors Receive: Jerami Grant & Robert Williams III

While some Blazers fans might think that bringing in a 39-year-old Chris Paul is the opposite of progress, the true value of this deal is in how it affects the future of the team. Not only is Paul one of the greatest players in NBA history, but if you look at every team he joins, the young players consistently take leaps in their game. Before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to the first seed in the Western Conference, his first real playoff experience with any real pressure came alongside Paul in the 2020 NBA bubble. Since that season, SGA has exploded and surprised NBA fans around the league, becoming a player worthy of first-team All-NBA honors. Another example is Devin Booker. He spent the first seasons of his career mired in mediocrity and losses, but after having Paul on his team, he’s universally recognized as a top 10-12 player in the league. To put a pin in it: Blake Griffin and the Clippers were set to look like the early Booker Suns before David Stern forced CP3 onto LA. Following that trade, the Clippers were on the brink of winning a title for over a decade.

The point is, Chris Paul is a force multiplier. While he isn’t the kind of individual game-changing player he used to be, he still has one of the sharpest minds in the history of the sport and is a proven top-notch leader. So, I ask why Paul should not be brought in to mentor the young Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe. Who better to mold this young backcourt than the “Point God” himself?

While seeing what Paul can do for the young core of this team intrigues me the most, the prospect of getting Jerami Grant off the team is also appealing. Now, this is nothing personal against Grant. He’s a fine player and has made an incredible career in the NBA. But having Jerami on your favorite team is incredibly frustrating. While he’s an efficient scorer, he’s a ball-stopper. He over-dribbles and disrupts the flow of the offense. This kind of play is alright on a middling team on the verge of the play-in, but not during a rebuild—not when you’re letting these young players figure out who they are. While Grant isn’t the right player to plug in around a group of up-and-coming ball-dominant players, he can be a key contributor on a high-level team. There’s proof of this in his time in Denver during their run to the WCF in the bubble. Since leaving Denver, he has vastly expanded his offensive capabilities and proved to be a reliable scorer for a team that needs one. That team is the Golden State Warriors. Since Klay Thompson suffered multiple career-altering injuries, he came back and was still a crucial piece on an NBA title team. But even the Klay from the 2022 NBA finals seems like a distant memory compared to who we saw in the play-in game exit. He simply can’t carry the same kind of burden offensively that he used to. Who better than a battle-tested scorer who just shot 40% from three to help pick up the slack?

Outside of gaining Paul, the Blazers would also receive Jonathan Kuminga in the trade. Kuminga has been a polarizing young player. He’s shown flashes of defensive versatility and the ability to make a real impact on the offensive side of the floor but has also faced criticism for calling out his coach over a lack of playing time. Kuminga was in a tough situation in Golden State, having to buy in and contribute as a role player on a team with championship expectations while he was still trying to prove himself among the league’s young players. He has all the potential to be a core piece of a perennially competitive playoff team, but the situation needs to be right for him to grow into it. Given the chance to blossom in Portland, Kuminga could be the Swiss army knife the Blazers have searched for on the defensive end. It should be noted that Portland is also giving up Robert Williams III in this trade, which is a sad defeat for me as I’ve held stock in his potential for a long time. However, I don’t see a universe where he makes it through an entire season healthy.

Bringing in a 39-year-old point guard and a 21-year-old unproven kid doesn’t sound like the blockbuster trade every fan wants to hear. But you have to look further down the timeline during a rebuild and not prematurely deviate from your chosen path. If the Blazers want to invest in Scoot and Shaedon, they need to put players around them who can elevate and develop with them and a mentor who can guide these men through the circus of the league.