The NBA playoffs haven’t even started yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for trade ideas. Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale put together a provocative proposal, centered on CJ McCollum of the Trail Blazers and Jimmy Butler of the 76ers:
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jimmy Butler, Jonah Bolden or James Ennis III (player option)
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: CJ McCollum, 2020 first-round pick (top-eight protection), 2022 second-round pick
Potential obstacles abound here.
First and foremost, Jimmy Butler must want to join forces with Damian Lillard in Portland. After that, the Blazers really have to want him, while the Sixers really have to want something for his departure.
In the event everyone’s wants align...things stay difficult.
Butler will only be worth $20.4 million in outgoing salary to the Sixers, so they cannot accept more than $25.7 million in return. They’ll have to include another contract if they’re getting McCollum.
Throwing in James Ennis III doesn’t sting, but he’s most likely opting out of his contract unless he’s dead set on being an Early Bird free agent next summer. Treating Jonah Bolden as an add-on is tougher to reconcile. He’s 23 and under team control for another three years, and the Sixers are already thin enough up front behind Joel Embiid.
Portland can toss in this year’s first-rounder to help move things along. (That doesn’t violate the Stepien Rule, which only applies to future drafts.) That’s a ton to give up for a free agent, but Butler is appreciably better than McCollum, and general manager Neil Olshey doesn’t have any way of digging up the cap space to sign him.
Deal or no deal?