Monday morning's edition of the Blazer's Edge Mailbag addresses the hot topic of the weekend, Bill Simmons' suggestion that the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers swap CJ McCollum and Kevin Love. If you have a burning Blazers-related question for consideration, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Simmons thinks the Blazers should take Kevin Love off of the Cavs for McCollum. I'm spinning in circles here. It's Kevin Love, the guy who's the next best thing to LaMarcus Aldridge right? The Blazers could get right back in the playoffs if he plays like he did for the TWolves. But then I think, CJ? No way! Get your hands off my young star! Haven't heard from you on it yet. Where do you stand on this?
I have no objection to trading CJ McCollum at the right time for the right player. There's little chance the Blazers think that now is the right time to make that move; there's almost no chance that Love is the right player.
From a casual point of view, Love would make sense in Portland. He's 27, the same relative age as his prospective peers. The Blazers would have no problem absorbing his salary. You want a stretch four? He'll stretch it farther than President Taft's underpants. His three-point shooting would fit Portland like a glove and McCollum's departure would leave enough shots available to make Love look every bit as productive as he did in Minnesota.
But oh...my...god the defense. McCollum and Damian Lillard are pretty bad on the defensive end of the court but guard tandems are seldom brought into the same play directly. Kevin Love is the Grinch Who Stole Your Team's Self-Respect and he's a power forward. Opposing coaches could erase their entire playbook and write, "Whomever Love is guarding sets the screen." Arenas league-wide would need to add a fourth digit to their scoreboards as the Love-Lillard duo defended pick plays.
Right now McCollum is averaging around 21 points per 36 minutes. If Love returned to his career high of 26 points per 36 the Blazers would end up +5 in that department. It wouldn't surprise me to see them give it all back on the other end, reaching Sacramento levels of badness.
There's enough wiggle room [read: slight hyperbole] in that guess to agree that adding Love would put the Blazers back in the playoffs, but to what end? It's ironic that Simmons said that fielding two small guards would doom the Blazers to post-season mediocrity for years. That's exactly what a Love-Lillard tandem would do too. It might look a little fancier--or at least more orthodox--but the results would be the same.
You have to understand that even when they make sense, trade suggestions like this are coming from a different perspective than you want your team to take. Bill Simmons doesn't care if the Trail Blazers win a championship. To his mind--and to the mind of most casual observers--they have little or no shot with either Love or McCollum. In that scenario, getting better is its own justification. Encouragement and pity mingle.
That's why you should view these suggestions as if you were having a conversation with your friend about dating prospects.
You: "Man, I sure want to date [Brad Pitt/Jessica Alba]."
Friend: "You know, I saw a really nice cat at the shelter the other day. Your life would be much better with a cat. It'd keep you company."
You're a Blazers fan, Bill Simmons is your friend, and Kevin Love is that cat. Your friend might be correct that you'd be less lonely with feline companionship. He might even be right in the unspoken assumption that Brad Pitt and Jessica Alba are out of your league. But you don't want a damn cat. You want a relationship! Given that, you need to take a swing at your true desire. You either need to ask Brad or Jessica out or find someone who will make you just as happy.
If and when the Blazers make a trade, they shouldn't do so for the sake of getting marginally better. They need to make moves that give them a shot at the real prize: a championship. The path from here to there doesn't go through Kevin Love, at least not a this point. Therefore I'd pass on this deal like Dame passing to CJ for an elbow three.
We do have a more interesting deal for you to debate and consider, though. That's coming tomorrow.
CJ McCollum will almost certainly be a Blazer on March 28th when we send 2000 underprivileged kids to see Portland play the Sacramento Kings. You can help sponsor some of those kids. It's easy! Just donate tickets to the cause through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.
PLEASE consider sending a child or two! Donations have been strong but we've had a LOT of requests and we're not to 2000 yet. Help if you can.
--Dave email@example.com / @DaveDeckard / @Blazersedge