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Can the Blazers Swing CJ McCollum For Ben Simmons?

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report breaks down the unlikely options.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers’ shooting guard CJ McCollum has missed play in recent weeks due to a collapsed lung, yet despite missing time, the rumors regarding a possible trade for Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers have quieted but not abated. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report breaks down the possibilities for the various teams gunning for Simmons, and his look at McCollum notes that the Sixers would still prefer Lillard.

Does Cronin have the power to trade All-Star Damian Lillard? The consensus is no, and there’s no expectation Portland will move Lillard. If that’s the case, the Trail Blazers would need to include McCollum’s $30.9 million salary to Philadelphia for Simmons.

Naturally, the 76ers would prefer Lillard. McCollum is an excellent player, but Lillard is the headliner in Portland. McCollum is already 30 and is under contract for $100 million through 2023-24, which may also deter Philadelphia.

Some executives around the league view McCollum as a negative trade asset, one the Blazers would need to send with compensation to get him off the team’s books.

Because of the perceived negative value of McCollum, Pincus looks at what the Blazers might need to offer up on top for a deal to work.

While the Blazers can get to enough salary with players like Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, Norman Powell and Larry Nance Jr., none are as good as McCollum (let alone Lillard). Complicating matters, the Blazers sent their 2022 first-rounder to the Chicago Bulls in the deal that brought Nance from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Protections leave Portland with absolutely no firsts to offer unless the team can convince Chicago to take the pick unprotected in 2022 (perhaps with a second-rounder as compensation).

As far as young prospects, the Blazers can offer Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little, but any legit offer centered around McCollum doesn’t appear to have any momentum.

In short: don’t hold your breath on the Blazers trading McCollum for Simmons any time soon, even if Simmons has sat out the season and racked up considerable fines.

You can read about the other options here.