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The Portland Trail Blazers have seemed like a perfect trade spot for Aaron Gordon for years. He filled a position of need. He was (is) on a team-friendly deal. CJ McCollum was exactly what Orlando needed in a top-flight creator, but then McCollum became too good to trade. Was there another way to score Gordon? Leading up to Thursday's deadline, it seemingly came as close as it's ever come to happening. 

In the end, it didn't. Gordon went to the Nuggets in what registers as this year's most significant midseason move short of Brooklyn landing James Harden. The Blazers didn't come up empty. They landed Norman Powell from Toronto, but it cost them Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. Trent, in particular, is a big loss. His knack for hitting gigantic shots cannot be overstated for a Blazers team that lives and dies on the thinnest of margins. 

Powell is a better scorer than Trent, and he'll make Portland's three-guard looks alongside Damian Lillard and McCollum as potent as any in the league. Powell can space the floor as a 44-percent 3-point shooter and create his own offense at all three levels. He's long in the arms for his size, which allows him to defend above his height, but at the end of the day, he's still 6-foot-4. Portland is a terrible defensive team starting with its lack of size in the backcourt, and Powell doesn't change that formula the way Gordon would have as a power forward with multi-positional defensive versatility. 

Perhaps more importantly, the Blazers have long lacked a skilled four-man who can maximize the playmaking opportunities created from the high traps and double teams Lillard consistently sees, and will constantly see in the playoffs. Draymond Green has made a career of this with Stephen Curry in Golden State, flanked by shooters with a lob threat at the rim while playing 4-on-3 downhill after Curry has dragged two defenders out of the play. 

As it stands, the Blazers don't create much offense with this kind of tic-tac-toe, multi-option action. They are last in the league in passes, assists and potential assists per game, and rank No. 28 in secondary assists. They have taken the fewest amount of wide-open jumpers (defined as the nearest defender being at least six feet away) in the entire league. They have to create, and make, more tough, contested, one-on-one shots than pretty much any other team. They are a lot like Boston in this way. 

The Blazers survive, relatively speaking, because McCollum and Lillard are two of the best tough-shot makers in the world, and Powell will add to this dynamic of elite self-created offense. But as good as Powell has become, backcourt creation is the one thing the Blazers didn't need. 

Gordon would have made things so much easier from an offensive flow and versatility standpoint, not to mention the defense, and he was seemingly there for the taking. The Nuggets got Gordon for Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and a 2025 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. You look at what the Blazers gave Toronto for Powell, and it's not difficult to conceive a better offer for Gordon than Denver put forward. 

For starters, Trent is better than Harris. From there, the Blazers could've included Hood and Zach Collins, who is a really good young player if he can get healthy next season. If the Magic wanted a super young asset, which is to say if Hampton was really the enticing piece, Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little could've been included. Portland's first-round picks, based on where each franchise stands at the moment, will be at least as valuable as Denver's in 2025, if not more as their core is on an older timeline. 

Hell, the Blazers could've thrown two first-round picks in. Whatever it took to get it done. They don't have cap room, and they are not a marquee free-agent destination anyway. Denver has a long window with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray; Portland's is closing all the time; Lillard and McCollum will be 31 and 30 years old, respectively, when next season starts. 

Look, who knows exactly what was and wasn't discussed. All I'll say is this: If Portland didn't put just about every chip it has on the table for Gordon, it messed up. Powell is good. They'll be fun as heck to watch and a formidable postseason foe. But Gordon really would've moved the needle in filling a far more glaring need. It's disappointing a deal wasn't able to get done.