The Ringer’s Bill Simmons spoke with his former ESPN colleague Zach Lowe on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Monday. The two discussed the NBA playoffs and looked ahead to some potential summer moves in a section Simmons titled “Most Shocking Summer Moment You’d Actually Believe.”
In that section, Simmons and Lowe both put forth the idea that CJ McCollum will not be a Portland Trail Blazer next season. They suggest several potential destinations for McCollum (starting at about the 51:00 mark):
Bill Simmons: Is CJ McCollum on the Blazers next year?
Zach Lowe: I’m going to say no.
Simmons: I’m going to no as well.
Lowe: Again, you’re forcing me at metaphorical gunpoint to make these calls, but I’m going to say no. I’ve said before there’s going to be crazy stuff that happens in the offseason because teams are taxed out and just kind of unhappy about life and Portland fits that to a T, so I’ll say no.
Simmons: The trade that makes the most sense is McCollum to Philly, and unfortunately, they don’t need Markelle Fultz back in that trade since they have Dame Lillard, and that has to become a three-teamer at that point, and that’s where it becomes complicated. Now, you could argue they just take Fultz back, but the trade fits Saric and Fultz or Fultz and the 10th pick. I don’t think Fultz for McCollum straight up is a fair trade.
Lowe: No, but that number 10 pick is a really interesting little trade asset.
Simmons: So Fultz and 10 go somewhere, McCollum goes to the Sixers, and whatever the third team is gives something to the Blazers I think is realistic. Now, another one that could work … how about McCollum on Indiana?
Lowe: There’s a lot of overlap with Oladipo, but enough shooting to make it work. How are we making that happen?
Simmons: Myles Turner? What kind of value does Myles Turner have right now in the league as an upside stretch five with a ton of potential—who, honestly, if he had been better in that Cleveland series they probably would have won? I don’t blame him for it because he’s young, but you could also make the case there’s never going to be some sort of leap, and he’s going to always be this tantalizing guy who could be all these things, but he just will never get there.
Lowe: Wildly variable for exactly what you just said. I think a year ago his trade value was really high, and now it’s sort of eye of the beholder.
The two go on to discuss other potential moves for the Pacers before circling back to potential McCollum trades.
Simmons: Is there another team we’re missing?
Lowe: The McCollum deal I floated once and is a favorite among league insiders is McCollum for Drummond—sort of two teams just exchanging big money contracts and trying to reset themselves.
Simmons: I wouldn’t do that.
Lowe: Portland thinks McCollum is way better than Drummond.
Simmons: He is!
Lowe: I don’t think they’re wrong. And they think Collins is going to be a really good stretch five. So I just don’t see it.
Simmons: If you were running Portland, would you keep McCollum and trade Lillard because he has more value?
Given framing of the conversation (shocking yet believable summer moves), it’s unclear if Lowe and Simmons are expecting Portland to trade McCollum or just that they wouldn’t be shocked by it.
Lowe later suggested that Jusuf Nurkic will eventually take the qualifying offer (around the 1:06:00 mark):
Lowe: You know who else is an interesting qualifying offer candidate: Jusuf Nurkic. I think there will be a few this summer because the market just isn’t going to be there and the teams aren’t going to offer—I mean the move for Portland is “OK, here’s what you get with the mid-level exception which many teams will pay you. Because we’re nice we’ll pay you $2 million a year more than that.”
You can listen to the whole podcast here.
What do you think? Do you like any of the trade suggestions for McCollum? Do you expect him to be in a Blazer jersey to start the season?