There’s a decent chance that the Portland Trail Blazers will trade C.J. McCollum at some point this summer. It just might not happen ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft next week.
According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, Portland has already turned down multiple trade offers that would have netted the team at least a top-15 pick in the draft.
“Teams are calling the Blazers and asking for CJ McCollum and, in return, offering Portland a chance to get into the top part of the draft. But Portland is not entertaining those offers because it is in a win-now phase and looking for veterans more than rookies to build around,” Quick reported.
Obviously, other moving parts were likely offered up to Portland in exchange for the veteran two-guard. But it appears that embattled general manager Neil Olshey is still attempting to win with his current core group.
McCollum’s trade value is not yet known. There’s been widespread reports that he could be flipped with other assets to bring back reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year finalist Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. A trade of that ilk might make sense. However, it’s not yet known whether Philadelphia would even be interested.
Blazers must find Damian Lillard a better running partner than C.J. McCollum
That’s the biggest backdrop here. Fresh off firing longtime head coach Terry Stotts and replacing him with a controversial figure in Chauncey Billups, there’s been numerous reports that Lillard is not happy. Portland losing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs for the fourth time in five years likely plays a role here, too.
While Lillard has stopped short of requesting a trade, he’s putting the onus on Olshey and Co. to build a better supporting cast behind him. Void of a pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, it’s going to be hard for Portland to do that without offering up C.J. McCollum in a package.
If we were to take Quick’s report at face level, it stands to reason that playoff-caliber teams selecting within the top-15 were those who offered up said pick with other compensation for McCollum.
That likely includes the Golden State Warriors (#7, #14), Indiana Pacers (#13) and Washington Wizards (#15). Heck, the New Orleans Pelicans are looking to move the 10th pick for a proven veteran to team up with Zion Williamson. At issue here is the other moving parts that would head to Portland and McCollum’s trade value.
A top-10 pick back in 2013, the Lehigh product has been a darn good No. 2 option behind Dame in Portland. He’s averaged north of 20 points per game in each of the past six seasons and is a career 40% three-point shooter. At 29 years old and with nearly $100 million remaining on his contract, it’s an open question how other teams value the guard — complicating things for Portland in the process.