With the Portland Trail Blazers stuck in the .500 mud, thoughts are already circulating around the league about potential trade options for the team. On an episode of the Lowe Post podcast posted earlier today, ESPN's Zach Lowe discussed with NBA writer Marc Stein the options available for the Blazers going forward.
Conversation about the Blazers begins at about the 43:00 mark, and the big idea that Lowe floated was offloading Blazers guard CJ McCollum in a trade:
The problem is, (Mo) Harkless is playing his *** off, and (Al-Farouq) Aminu is really good, and they have under market deals, and they are the two best trade chips, they're also really valuable to the Blazers. Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe have mega contracts, and they aren't playing up to them, frankly there aren't even enough minutes for them to play up to them and they are going to be tough to trade, so when do you start thinking about trading CJ McCollum? I think that's the move that gets them lot of stuff in return. He and Dame are very similar, and are deadly together, but they just aren't going to be a good enough defensive team with those two together.
While McCollum is averaging a career-high 22.3 points per game this season, including four 30-point games, the Blazers currently rank no. 29 in the NBA in points allowed at 113.7 points per game, and are no. 27 in forced turnovers at 12.2 per contest. McCollum ranks no. 69 among shooting guards in defensive plus/minus and defensive efficiency, while Damian Lillard is no. 81 among 83 point guards (and 415th out of 419 qualified players) in defensive plus/minus.
A contender like the Indiana Pacers could certainly use an upgrade at the shooting guard position, as current starter Monta Ellis is having one of the worst seasons of his long career. Milwaukee would be a good fit for McCollum as well, and could easily push the Bucks into strong playoff contention.
Readers, tell us what you think: Should the Blazers offload McCollum? What trades make sense for Portland?