It is not particularly surprising that Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum survived the NBA trade deadline. Barring a blockbuster deal, he will be in Portland for the long haul, playing alongside three-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard. We’ve heard this time and time again from President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, who reaffirmed the team’s commitment to its blistering backcourt duo last week. That, however, may not stop teams from inquiring about McCollum this summer, league executives tell Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
Executives around the league told SN that McCollum will continue to be a target in the offseason, especially if the team struggles to make the playoffs or falls out of the picture altogether.
”They have a lot invested in those two guys [McCollum and Lillard], and if they’re not making progress, they’re going to get a lot of good offers,” one general manager said. “They are excited about [forward] Zach Collins, but they need help at the forward spots long-term. And everyone likes C.J. McCollum.”
Should the Trail Blazers falter on their path to sustained progress, their resolve to build around Lillard and McCollum could be tested by emboldened suitors.
The team was supposed to go into rebuild mode following the 2015 departure of LaMarcus Aldridge, but surprised many by remaining a perennial playoff participant. That unexpected success may have pressured the front office into a ‘go-for-it’ approach prematurely, and now the Trail Blazers are saddled with hastily signed albatross contracts of 2016 and a star that turns 28 in July. If they do not find a way forward with the current core, they risk wasting Lillard’s upcoming prime—hence the perceived window of opportunity for teams hoping to land McCollum while the Trail Blazers fight conference mediocrity and bloated salary.
Presently, it remains unlikely that McCollum will be moved in the near future.