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McCollum, Aaron Gordon Trade, New Season Highlight Trail Blazers Mailbag

The Blazer’s Edge Mailbag tackles CJ McCollum trades, Aaron Gordon rumors, the compacted off-season, and more!

NBA: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NBA Draft, free agency, and the start of the 2020-21 NBA season will be upon us before we know it. The unusually short off-season this year will curtail the amount of Blazer’s Edge Mailbagging we’re able to do. We usually tackle all manner of odd and interesting questions during the dog days of summer. This year, we’re going to pack it all into one day, right now.

Here are a dozen Mailbag questions that we could answer in shorter form than normal, squeezed in before we get to draft week and then a hurried, flurried free agent mess.


How do you think the new schedule will affect things? It seems like we’re not going to have a real free agent time this year. Is everybody going to get scooped up instantly?


This off-season will be strange. There’s about ten days between the start of free agency and the opening of training camp. You’re right...that’s a short period in which to make long-term deals.

Just look all the uncertainty swirling around the next month! This year’s draft class is a huge question mark to begin with. The lack of in-person meetings complicates things. How valuable will those picks, or the players selected with them, be?

Then you have an underwhelming free agent class, with most every player stuck in the mushy middle. What are they worth? Without clear-cut stars, who makes a difference to whom? Most teams are bumping up against cap limits, which makes every dollar decision more important.

Some teams haven’t even played for almost a year. Unless it’s patently obvious, how do GM’s know who grew together, who upped their games, and who to give up on?

This off-season will be like taking a multiple-choice quiz, except the answers are in a language you’ve never heard of. Teams will sign free agents and draft players. That’s guaranteed, of course. We will see draft-day and post-moratorium trades too. But I wonder if the early months of the season and trading deadline won’t be more popular for trades. Mid-season waiver signings might be hot too.

Rumors say the end of November will see a flurry of activity. Teams like Chicago and Charlotte know they needed to make deals and reform their rosters, regardless of circumstances. Those franchises will be primed and ready, no matter what. The picture may be murky for a while for everyone else, which makes me think it may be more muted than advertised.

Dear Dave,

Point blank, do we make a major deal before the season starts?


I find it unlikely that they’ll make a significant early move unless it involves someone with an expiring contract, traded for a longer-term piece. The Blazers are deliberate in the best of times. They’ve shown commitment to their core forever. I don’t see them being rushed to get a deal done in the next three weeks when they haven’t made one for four years.

I do see the trade deadline being a potential hotspot for the Blazers. If they’re doing well, they might pluck fruit from teams that aren’t. If they struggle in the early season for the umpteenth year in a row, that’s a sign that the experiment really, really, NO, REALLY isn’t working any better than it has, and they might be more likely to consider change.

(Also, watch the waiver wire. That could be huge again for Portland this year.)

Seriously, you guys want to trade CJ? He’s only one of the best guards in the league when guards are the best players to have! Why do you keep beating this drum? Can’t you see NO knows what he’s doing and the Blazers are successful because of it? I don’t know what you guys call yourselves but you’re not fans.


Ok, can we stop this already? The only untouchable player on the roster is Damian Lillard.

Here’s a clue: if you would say yes if someone offered you Giannis Antetokounmpo for Player X, then Player X is tradeable. After that, it’s just a matter of arguing about degree.

So far I’ve heard only one person, our own Dia Miller, indicate that they might turn down a Giannis for CJ swap. For the rest of us, CJ trade discussion remains open.


If the Sixers go to trade Simmons or Embiid, which do you want and why? Could the Blazers get them?


I’d be more likely to take Embiid than Simmons for a couple of reasons. First, people mention him in the same breath as Nikola Jokic as the best center in the league. Obviously we need to quibble about Anthony Davis and such, but seriously, it’s hard to get the best of anything in the NBA. He’s 25 years old too. I’m wary of the injury history, but I’ll take the chance.

I like Simmons better defensively. I also like that he’s young and one of those people who could defy positions. In Portland, he might be a small forward. Imagine having a three who passes as well as anybody on the roster, plus he defends, plus he’s 6’10.

The big thing is shooting. I think the Blazers would need to change their philosophical approach to feature Simmons as a major part of the roster. I might be ok with that though.

Honestly, I’m not sure the Blazers could get either. I don’t see Philly giving up that easily. But if it’s out there, they have to shop.


If you were to become a Blazer, what number jersey would you wear?


10. Reminds me of my high school days and it’s also the rating on my jump shot,


Do you really even answer these questions? Because I’ve written in four times and you haven’t answered yet.


Yes, I answer them.

Dad, can I stay up until midnight to finish my YouTube marathon?


No, son. The NBA has done plenty of studies showing that sleep deprivation negatively affects performance. Now please stop emailing me. I’m working.

Here are a few from WAY back. Sorry I didn’t answer these at the time!


Who goes on your Trail Blazers Mt Rushmore? Not just players but you can count anybody.


Haha! I remember when “Mt. Rushmore” talk was everywhere! Seems like years ago. It was, like, four months.

Anyway, mine are Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Damian Lillard, and Bill Schonely.

Dear Dave,

Because Dame just made a Mount Rushmore of wrestling I want to know who’s on yours.


Depends on what you mean. If you’re talking impact in an objective sense, I’m thinking it’d be Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Vince McMahon. If you mean my, personal favorites, it’d be Macho Man Randy Savage, The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Rip “The Crippler” Oliver. My Rushmore 2, “Whatcha Gonna Do?” includes Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Austin, and Ted DiBiase.


If you could have any coach for this team, who would you pick?

Brian P.

Terry Stotts is the near-perfect coach for this team as it’s comprised. I know people don’t want to hear that, but he really gets the most out of the most important players on the squad. If the Blazers had to move on, my next choice would be Monty Williams. A couple years ago, I thought that if Portland was going to make a change, they should try to snag him. Phoenix got there first. Brad Stevens wouldn’t be a bad pick either. Since those two are tied up, stick with Terry.


How about an Aaron Gordon trade? Do you think it can be done and would we do it? Would it be a good move? I assume it has to be CJ.


It wasn’t my favorite move last year, but given the march of time, I’d think about it. If the Magic are willing to trade Gordon and, say, Khem Birch for McCollum, the salaries match. If they want more in return—or if the Blazers do—the deal gets sticky quickly.

The deal isn’t a perfect fit for the Magic. I guess they move Terrence Ross to small forward full-time with CJ coming over? I really like what McCollum would bring to the lineup in theory, but they’re also dropping almost $70 million on CJ, Ross, Markelle Fultz, and Evan Fournier. That’s a solid rotation of smalls, but they don’t have much left in the frontcourt. Add in Nikola Vucevic and they’re now approaching $100 million in guaranteed salary with 4/5 of a starting lineup filled. They have only one proven, big-minutes bench player (maybe two if Al-Farouq Aminu is healthy), and no clear path to a title. It might make some sense if the Magic asked for Zach Collins too, but then what would the Blazers want? Maybe Fournier if his contract stays intact?

I can see my way to deals I’d like here, but it’s still a little fuzzy. We need a clearer indication where each team is headed before we green light this one.


How do you choose your questions? I notice you don’t go after the most popular topics always. In fact some of your choices sometimes seem odd. I was wondering why we don’t see more obvious questions and answers?


It depends on my mood and also how the question is written. Despite what you see here, people write a LOT. I love reading those emails! Fire away, everybody! There’s a difference between reading personally and copy/pasting them wholesale, though.

Every once in a while I’ll post unedited questions. They’re often as long as my responses. I don’t expect readers to digest that continually, nor do I expect people writing in to have pristine grammar and sentence/paragraph construction, both of which are necessary for long, published pieces.

Ironically long story short, if I can condense a question down to 2-4 sentences, it’s much more likely to make the column.

As far as hot topics, once a certain line of questioning reaches critical mass in the mailbox, it does go to the top of the list. When more than half a dozen people ask the same thing in a 24-hour span (once it was, like, 36 people in a single day!), that needs to be addressed.

You’re also missing one factor that contributes to the perception that I don’t tackle hot questions of the day in the Mailbag. “Of the day” involves time, and time is a little different at Blazer’s Edge. We’re usually good at anticipating upcoming issues. When we do, we tend to talk about them. By the time a topic hits “of the day” status for most of the world, it’s likely we’ve already discussed it 2-3 times here, minimum. We unpack some topics months, occasionally years, in advance, digging in repeatedly from multiple angles. At that point, what more can I say? I much prefer questions that can be twisted to find a new angle, unpacking latent assumptions or twisting perceptions sideways. Those are the kind I tend to choose on your normal, average day.

Thanks for sticking with us! Feel free to send along any questions you have to and we’ll try to address them too!

—Dave ( / @DaveDeckard / @blazersedge)