Not the kind of basketball gambling one does at an NBA betting establishment, mind you, but the kind that teams, and coaches, and owners and whatnot do with players, such as trading them to other teams at the behest and request of other coaches, and owners, etc. Which in the case of the Portland Trail Blazers could be a serious gamble indeed, if one were to pay attention to sportsball talking heads. Some say Damian Lillard should go. Others give C.J. McCollum the thumb down. Which of course beg the question, why would Portland want to ever trade its two best players?
Lillard is averaging 26.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game, while McCollum is posting 23.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. The problem is that, as good an offensive duo as they are – and they are pretty damn good –, they can’t play D to save their lives. Or even a slightly less critical situation, such as winning games. So Lillard isn’t very good on the defensive end of things and neither is McCollum, and as my rhetoric professor taught me, two wrongs don’t make a right. But which one would NBA betting experts trade?
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor would pull the trigger on McCollum because, of all the potentially available players that could palliate the Blazer’s defensive woes – namely, Dallas’s Andrew Bogut, Phoenix’s Tyson Chandler, and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel –, Noel is the one that Portland could get more mileage out of, and “McCollum is exactly what the Sixers should look for to pair with (Ben) Simmons.” It would have yet to be seen whether Philly would actually want to part ways with Noel, though he will a free agent this summer, so the Blazers could just wait a bit if they really want him. On the other hand, if the Sixers really wanted McCollum, they are actually one of the few teams with the salary cap space to accommodate his contract.
Counter intuitively to what most basketball gambling experts would think, Justin Rowan – via FanSided via Hoops Habit – would let Lillard go instead of McCollum, for several reasons. First off, Lillard would have a higher trade value – that is, other teams would give more for him than they would exchange for McCollum. Second, other teams would also take someone like, say, Evan Turner, if it meant getting Lillard, thus allowing Portland to kill two birds with one stone on the way to improving their NBA betting chances. Rowan was quick to point out that he doesn’t believe Lillard is what’s wrong with the Blazers.
But you know who does believe Lillard to be the problem? Former head coach and current old coot George Karl, who said in a recent interview that the Blazers are “not working” and “the problem is Lillard.” Karl added that Portland coach Terry Stotts “is a great coach,” which did not prevent Stotts from telling Karl to “stay in his own lane” to start off a rant on his erstwhile mentor. Stotts’s impassioned defense of Lillard doesn’t make it seem as if would easily part with him. And Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler has said there is no indication at all of the Blazers trading McCollum either. So Portland basketball gambling fans need not start planning to riot just yet.