A few days back, Marc Stein of the New York Times sent out a newsletter to his subscribers opining the Portland Trail Blazers would break up their vaunted backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum at some point this year as part of his New Year’s predictions.
On the surface this seems questionable, as they are clearly the two best players on a team in position to make its fifth straight playoff appearance. However, if you dig a little deeper, Stein’s prediction carries some weight:
“The Blazers don’t want to trade either one, especially when they awoke Wednesday ranked seventh in the league in defensive efficiency despite the annual external skepticism about the pairing’s capabilities at that end of the floor. But the easiest path to balancing the roster is by parting with one of their two guards — most likely McCollum — for a package headlined by a frontcourt player on their level. No one’s suggesting it’ll happen before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but Portland’s latest so-so season threatens to be the impetus that finally pushes the longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen in a new direction.”
By “balancing the roster,” one can assume Stein is referring to the talent disparity between Portland’s frontcourt and guards, as the team heavily depends on the backcourt.
It would certainly be a drastic change if this prediction came to fruition, but in the last decade or so Blazer fans have grown accustomed to major roster shakeups. But only time will tell in the case of Lillard and McCollum.
Do you think it’s time for the Blazers to make a trade of this magnitude? If so, what kind of player(s) or draft picks would you like to see return to Portland? Let us know in the comments.