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Should the Blazers Hang On to CJ McCollum?

In a new series, Dave Deckard and Dia Miller make a fast call on retaining or bidding goodbye to Portland’s roster.

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers’ off-season is here! With it comes a new, quick-hitting column from your favorite podcast hosts, Dia Miller and Dave Deckard! When they’re not doing their regular show (coming to you each week all summer long), Dave and Dia are going to be playing a new game with Portland’s roster: Keep or Yeet.

The concept is pretty much like it sounds. Take one Blazers player. Do you keep him around for next season or show him the door?

We hasten to point out that voting “Yeet” (colloquially: to toss away with authority, somewhat gleefully) does not mean that Dave and Dia dislike the player, think the player has no talent, or regret the player being a Blazer. There can be a thousand reasons to yeet a given player, only some of which have to do with inherent qualities.

Similarly, voting “Keep” does not indicate that Dave and Dia think the player is perfect, just that the reasons for keeping him outweigh the reasons for letting him go.

We’re going to start off with a bang. In case you hadn’t figured it out, it’s CJ McCollum Week at Blazer’s Edge! Yesterday Marlow Ferguson, Jr. penned a column pointing out the ways McCollum might up his game next season. Tomorrow Dave will look at the ways he already has. Right in between the two, here’s your chance to weigh in along with Dia and Dave. Do you Keep or Yeet the starting shooting guard?

CJ McCollum Vitals

Age: 30 (almost)

2020-21 Stats: 23.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.9 RPG in 34.0 minutes, 47 games played 45.8% from the field, 40.2% from the arc

Contract: Signed through 2023-24 (3 seasons) at approximately $35.5 million per year

Keep or Yeet?

Dia: Dave. How could you? I don't know if I’m ready for this conversation right out the gate! Here’s the thing— CJ McCollum is one of my all time favorites for all the reasons I always list. I love watching him play, and he’s gotten even better this year. His chemistry with the team and antics on the court make him so much fun to watch. I also like CJ McCollum the person. He’s one of my favorite players to follow on social media, and he truly seems to be a wonderful human. The biggest reason I love McCollum is that my youngest son, Jesse saw McCollum’s red shoes and is now hooked on the Trail Blazers and his new favorite player—CJ. How do you argue with that? That being said, I also know moves have to be made, and looking at the team as it stands, McCollum seems to be the obvious choice. I still don’t know if I can 100% yeet him (also, what even is a yeet??)— I think in a lot of ways it makes sense, but I also worry we won’t be able to replace him with someone of his value.

Dave: CJ has been good for the Blazers. It’s hard not to love him. But he’s been the pivot point for years and they haven’t really pivoted. He’s a lock for 21-22 points a night, often more. Even at his worst he’s going to produce points. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But his defense was really lacking in the Denver playoffs series, even more so than usual. The combination with Damian Lillard just doesn’t work. There’s a glass ceiling with the tandem and the Blazers keep bumping against it. As loathe as I am to part with one of the best offensive players the franchise has known, the maestro of the mid-range, this is a yeet for me. It sort of has been for a while. It really, really is now. I just hope it’s not too late. This probably would have been easier two years ago.

The saving graces are two. First, the Blazers have the potential to re-sign Norman Powell. If they do that, their shooting guard spot is covered. That means they don’t have to get 1-to-1 value for McCollum, as the return for moving CJ is whatever they get in trade PLUS Powell. (I don’t believe he’ll stay if McCollum does, nor that the Blazers could afford it if he did.) They could take a combination of players or picks and still come out ahead overall. That’s a unique situation that allows them far more latitude in making trades than they had previously. Second, I maintain that McCollum needs a chance to shine as a true first option, or at least close. He looks good in Portland. He could look great on a team that needs his scoring badly. Moving him could be good for all parties involved.

So now, no more waffling Dia! Keep or Yeet on CJ?

Dia: I really hate this. Have I mentioned that?? This is an incredibly hesitant yeet. One that I hope he makes me regret by staying and playing the best season of his life.

Dave: Yup! Me too! How about you, Blazers fans? Keep CJ or yeet him? Vote in the comment section below.