Death, taxes and CJ McCollum trade talk after the Trail Blazers exit the postseason. The three constants of life in Rip City.
Once again, the Blazers’ organization is headed into an offseason where they must retool around their star backcourt in an effort to maximize Damian Lillard’s title hopes during his prime. But is trading McCollum in blockbuster move the only viable option that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has at his disposal?
The Ringer’s Dan Devine respectfully disagrees with that premise. Earlier this week, Devine outlined that McCollum’s scoring chops are a crucial ingredient to a roster that is likely to recover in the standings next season.
I’m kind of sick of the framing that the only answer for the Blazers is trading McCollum—who, it’s worth remembering, is a filthy one-on-one scorer who shoots about 40 percent from 3 on volume, and whom the face of the franchise trusts implicitly—for Insert Roster-Balancing Wing Here. I get the underlying reasoning, but the Blazers clearly disagree with it; they have never been interested in taking that road, preferring instead to bank on the backcourt bond that’s led to seven consecutive playoff berths and the seventh-best winning percentage over that span. They’ve even lined up Dame and CJ’s contract extensions, ensuring they’re locked up for the same stretch. Whether or not you think they should trade CJ, they’re not. So: what, then?
Devine goes on to detail how a sequence of modest moves this offseason could push Portland over the 50-win threshold.
If Portland uses the $9.3 million midlevel exception to find another veteran rotation helper, it could be right back in the mix for 50 wins and a top-four playoff seed—and maybe more than that, if president of basketball operations Neil Olshey can package a combination of youth and matching salary for one more quality piece. With a little luck, the Blazers may well be only one move away from something serious. It just might not be the move everybody keeps talking about.
You can read the full story from Devine at The Ringer.