The Portland Trail Blazers are at a crossroads. They’ve now misplaced within the first spherical in 4 of the previous 5 seasons. Damian Lillard is 31 and CJ McCollum will flip 30 this offseason. If they can not put a championship-caliber roster round that duo, it could be time for them to contemplate breaking it up earlier than Father Time makes that call for them.
In the meanwhile, Lillard has given no indication that he wish to be traded. McCollum hasn’t both, however as Portland’s second-best participant, he’s theoretically the commerce chip the Blazers can most simply use to reshape the roster round Lillard. The issue, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, is cash. A lot of the league reportedly views McCollum’s contract, which has three years and $100 million remaining, as having “barely destructive worth.”
McCollum could also be turning 30 this offseason, however he has been among the many extra sturdy gamers in basketball lately. A damaged foot held him out of 25 video games this season, however earlier than that, he had missed solely 25 video games within the earlier 5 seasons. His 3-point capturing suggests that he’s more likely to age effectively, and previous to getting damage, he was effectively on his method to his first All-Star choice by averaging 26.7 factors in his first 13 video games.
The truth that he has by no means made an All-Star group may need one thing to do with this evaluation. McCollum is getting paid like a famous person, and nearly as good as he is been for Portland, he simply hasn’t produced like one. That could be a symptom of sharing the ground with one other ball-dominant guard in Lillard. It won’t be. However that notion seemingly impacts his worth across the league.
In the end, magnificence is within the eye of the beholder in terms of commerce talks. There could be groups that view McCollum’s contract as too cumbersome to soak up, nevertheless it solely takes one group overlooking the cash in favor of his expertise to make a commerce attainable. Portland might actually discover a number of events for a scorer like McCollum. The higher query is whether or not or not they really plan to deal him.
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At current, it seems unlikely. Blazers GM Neil Olshey said after exit interviews that 80 % of his beginning lineup was already in place, with the implication being that re-signing Norman Powell to fill that final spot was the plan. He additionally mentioned that his subsequent coach would have to have the ability to construct a protection without drastic roster changes. However when Sean Highkin requested immediately about McCollum presumably being dealt, Olshey supplied a cryptic reply somewhat than an outright deal.
“Has something we have ever carried out gotten out in public earlier than it is occurred with regard to trades or free company?” Olshey asked. “We do not talk about our gamers in a public discussion board, it isn’t honest to them. It isn’t what we do right here… however we additionally perceive this can be a enterprise.”
The Powell commerce labored wonders for Portland. Lineups that includes him, Lillard and McCollum outscored opponents by 14.1 factors per 100 possessions within the common season and located comparable success in opposition to Denver. However the Nuggets received the sequence anyway, and it is price asking how a lot postseason upside a roster that includes three small guards actually has. The Powell commerce supplied Portland an alternate in the event that they select to hunt it out. He and Lillard might kind the brand new Blazers backcourt with McCollum being dealt for assist in different areas.
That does not make a transfer seemingly. Portland has given no indication of what it plans to do that offseason, and its teaching rent will seemingly be the primary sign of what course it plans to maneuver in. For now, McCollum is a Blazer. Which may change and it won’t, but when it does, Hollinger’s report is distressing. Portland would wish to get a considerable return on McCollum if it plans to make use of him as a launching pad into competition subsequent season.