Should Neil Olshey Have Accepted The Trade For CJ McCollum?

It has recently been reported by multiple sources that Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey declined a trade offer from the Philadelphia 76ers. The proposed trade would have seen Ben Simmons join the Blazers. It would have seen CJ McCollum go the other way, as well as three first-round picks and three pick swaps going to the Sixers. Olshey did not think the trade was the right decision for the Blazers but did he make the right choice?

What could the Blazers have had?

The proposed trade would have seen Ben Simmons be the only asset to join the Blazers. Simmons and the Sixers have had a very public standoff this offseason, with the all-star guard still refusing to join the team in their preparations for the 2021-22 season. Despite the Sixers already playing pre-season games, Simmons still refuses to join the team. 

His dispute with the Sixers goes back to last season and comments made by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers. Last season, the Sixers lost in the eastern conference semi-finals, with a disappointing loss in game seven against the Atlanta Hawks. After the game, Rivers was asked whether he believed Simmons could be a point guard on a championship-winning team, and he answered, “ I don’t know the answer to that right now.” 

It was a damning statement of Simmons and drove a wedge between the two. This was part of the reason for Simmons refusing to join the Sixers and so demanding a trade. It means that he is not unhappy about vaccines or anything else; he does not want to play for the Sixers or Doc Rivers anymore. 

Simmons would provide a lot of what the Blazers are looking for. Based on last season, they were the 5thbest offense in the league and the second-best three-point shooting team. Their problem was defense. The Blazers ranked as the 8th worst defense in the league, conceding more points per game than the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers. 

If you look at their starters, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic all provide excellent scoring options, but their starting five lacks some defense. Simmons would undoubtedly add some much-needed protection. Simmons is rightly criticized for his poor shooting and lack of finishing ability. But Simmons has been all NBA defensive first team the last two years in a row and being the steals leader in 2020. 

Simmons could bring that needed defense to the Blazers and be an even better partner for Damian Lillard. 

 What would the Blazers be giving up?

The Sixers have asked for a lot in return for Simmons, with the significant part of the deal being CJ McCollum going the other way. Both McCollum and Damian Lillard have been subject to trade rumors over the summer. Lillard has been publicly critical of some of the roster decisions the Blazers have made in the past but seems to be happy with their choices currently. 

So this newfound faith between Lillard and the Blazers front office could be because McCollum is on the trade block. CJ is a great scorer, having put up over 20 points per game over the last six seasons. He has been a great second option for the Blazers. However, McCollum is yet to add to any other elements of his game. McCollum is a pretty average defender and only putting up around four assists a game over the last five seasons. Scoring is his main attribute which he is very proficient in. 

Simmons is probably a better player than McCollum, but the Sixers’ request for three first-round picks and three pick swaps is way too much in this trade. Olshey would have much more likely accepted a straight exchange of Simmons and McCollum. But the picks are just way too much for the team to take.

The Blazers would be giving up a large amount of their future for a flawed Ben Simmons. 

Should Neil Olshey have accepted the trade?

I think that Olshey was right not to accept the trade. First off, I don’t believe that is any slight on Ben Simmons. Simmons is an excellent player and would be a wonderful addition to the Blazers. Simmons seems like a perfect fit for the Blazers and would gel very well with Damian Lillard. 

The problem Olshey has with this trade is how many draft picks the Sixers are demanding. Three first-round picks and three pick swaps are a lot for a player of Simmons’s quality. Using one of the most recent superstar trades as an example, the Nets gave up three first-round picks and four swaps for James Harden. If this is the standard for a player of Harden’s quality, then it is way too much for Simmons. 

Simmons is not worth that many picks. He is still developing on offense and has proven in the past that he can be a liability in the playoffs. It is just way too much to give up for the Blazers. 

The other major part of the situation that should drive down Simmons’s price is that everybody knows that Simmons wants to be traded. By not turning up to training camp and refusing to join the team, Simmons has made it very clear that he has no intention of playing for the Sixers ever again. With this information, Simmons’s price should be much lower than what the Sixers were asking for. 

I think this is simply the case that the Sixers have put out an initial offer, so it would be no surprise to see the price for Simmons decrease as this goes n. With the Aussie having no intention of playing for the Sixers ever again, he could very quickly end up in Portland if Neil Olshey can create a package that the Sixers would be happy with.