After eight excellent seasons in Portland, it is time for the Trail Blazers to trade CJ McCollum. The 2013 No. 10 overall pick has averaged over 20 points per game for the last six seasons and is generally considered one of the top guards in the league.
That said, it is time to trade McCollum in the 2021 NBA offseason. Here’s why.
Time is running out for Damian Lillard
Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is about to turn 31, and he’s yet to reach the NBA Finals. He’s only got out of the first round three times and made the Western Conference Finals once.
The team needs to shake things up for change because the Blazers’ ceiling isn’t getting any higher as currently constituted. While McCollum is outstanding, Lillard is great, and he’s the one you build around.
The fact is, Lillard and McCollum’s skillsets have always been too similar, so CJ needs to go to free up Lillard to do more and get a wing or a big who can add complementary, not competing moves on the court.
As good as McCollum is on the court, he’s not on the court all that often. He’s played 80 or more games three times in his career and exactly 70 twice. His other seasons have been 38, 62, and 47 games.
There’s an old sports adage that goes, the most important ability in the NBA is availability, and McCollum is unavailable too often.
Lillard has never missed more than nine games in an NBA season in his career. Again, this trade is all about maximizing Lillard’s prime, and he needs a running mate that is more durable than McCollum.
The Blazers can get a good return
The points above may make it sound like McCollum isn’t a valuable player, but that’s not true at all. Despite his shortcomings, he’s a very valuable player in the NBA, which is exactly why the Blazers should trade him now.
They can get back legitimate veteran NBA talent for McCollum, who can help Lillard win now, not down the road when draft picks come good.
There are several realistic options that the Blazers could get back for McCollum. These trades may involve additional players to make the salaries work or picks going one way or another, but these would be the principles.
McCollum’s two more likely options are either Dallas for Kristaps Porzingis or to Toronto for Pascal Siakam. Both these players are likely available, and the teams would like McCollum back. Porzingis and Siakam would both be very different than Lillard and change the whole look of the organization.
The two more “pie in the sky” scenarios involve trades for the LA Clippers’ Paul George or the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal. George would be ideal but, after avoiding a first-round upset, the Clippers are less likely to trade the star. Beal is similar to Lillard, like McCollum, but a better overall player. A Beal/Lillard Blazers team would be a supercharged version of the current squad.