Portland Trail Blazers fans are having to put up with more than just the heartbreak of yesterday’s season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets.
They’re now being bombarded by every NBA analyst explaining why the future looks miserable and that why trading one or both of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum might be the only logical step.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Herring spent more than 20 minutes tracing out the next steps for the Blazers on today’s Lowe Post. Lowe painted a pretty depressing view on the current state of the team.
“This is a disaster for Portland, they’re fully healthy other than Zach Collins which doesn’t get talked about, the Zach Collins injury is a big deal, it doesn’t get talked about because he doesn’t play the entire year. He was going to be an important part of this team.”
“And you can’t get to a Game 7 against that team, that’s a disaster for a Portland team that traded two picks to get Covington, made a win-now move for Norman Powell, Nurkic is healthy now and playing lots of minutes when he’s was’t fouling out.”
“This flashes you back to 2018 when New Orleans swept them and they almost fired Terry Stotts and it felt like Armageddon was coming.”
“It just feels like this was the one that feels the most demoralizing to me. If not Armageddon, it feels like something-ageddon is coming in Portland.”
Herring joined the chorus talking about whether it’s time for Lillard to be moved.
“I remember last year saying after the Rockets flamed out, you probably need to have the hard conversation about Harden and what you can get for him at this age.”
“And quite frankly, Dame is basically the same age that Harden last year is was right now to where you have to at least think about it. I think you only broach it if Dame wants to consider it himself because it doesn’t get better than him.”
“The other thing I would say is that you haven’t really explored what the roster looks like with a second co-star next to him so I wouldn’t be in a huge rush to explore the Dame stuff. Everything probably does need to be on the table but that would be the last resort. But certainly changing out the guys that play around him.”
Lowe then discusses the ultimate problem with trading McCollum.
“Could you trade McCollum for something that fits better around Dame? And I think the tough spot there is other teams view CJ McCollum as a very good player who’s a number three guy on a great team and I think the results in Portland bear that out.”
“The gap between number one and number two and maybe number one and number three is too big for Portland to compete on the biggest stages.”
“So if you trade CJ McCollum it’s not like you’re going to magically somehow get a great number two player in exchange for him that fits better with Dame, what you’re really trying to get is an equivalent player on the NBA’s total hierarchy who fits better with Dame and flipping a number three for a number three who fits better I don’t think changes your world.”
The pair then turn to the trade machine, with Lowe suggesting a McCollum trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris and Herring bringing up the New York Knicks without identifying a package.
“Tobias Harris, that’s seems like roughly, maybe a should-be All Star. That’s not changing your life if you’re Damian Lillard.”
“I think Portland is in a pretty tough spot that if they can’t find a way to meaningfully upgrade at the highest level around Dame ... I don’t know how you dont have a secret spit balling session about how much you get for Dame.”
Lowe then brings the Knicks and Boston Celtics teams as potential Damian Lillard trade destinations.
Would you trade Jaylen Brown for Damian Lillard?
Herring replies that Boston is one of the few teams that makes sense.
Lowe then suggests the Miami Heat throwing everything but Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at Portland for Lillard. He also brings up packages involving the New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram and the 76ers’ Ben Simmons.
“This does feel like the summer where, at the very least, there’s going to be semi-cosmetic changes in Portland and maybe something more.”
Listen to the podcast here, with the Portland discussion starting at the 18-minute mark.