It’s nothing new, and the recommendation was guarded to the point of being tepid, but Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report suggested today that the Portland Trail Blazers should be open to trading guard CJ McCollum. Highkin stopped short of saying All-Star Damian Lillard should also be on the market, citing his symbolic worth to the franchise, but he pushed the idea that moving McCollum could be key to Portland’s development.
Given the limitations of the rest of the Blazers roster and payroll, trading McCollum for a package of picks or younger players at other positions is one of the only impactful moves [President of Basketball Operations Neil] Olshey can make.
He explains why he thinks the chances of alternate deals making a difference are slim.
It’s hard to picture any team taking on the hefty contracts of guard Evan Turner (due $36.4 million over the next two seasons) and center Meyers Leonard ($21.8 million through 2020) unless the Blazers attached future first-round picks or promising second-year center Zach Collins as sweeteners.
The deals for forwards Al-Farouq Aminu ($6.9 million expiring) and Maurice Harkless ($22.3 million over two years remaining) are much more appealing, but those are role players, not pieces the Blazers would expect to receive a return that moves the needle.
Finally, he pronounces judgment on Portland’s current roster.
If Olshey doesn’t make a big move and opts instead to simply re-sign Davis, Nurkic and Connaughton, the Blazers will be running back a team good enough to make the playoffs every year but not seriously contend for anything beyond that.
There’s more to the article, including a discussion of Portland’s cap situation and potential deals for McCollum.