If the Trail Blazers are going to get better in a trade this summer, it won’t involve Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, the Blazers’ top executive said on Tuesday.
Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, said the Blazers will look to improve the roster this offseason, but said that process will not include using one of their star guards for trade bait.
“The odds of anything ever coming up of commensurate value is so hard to even fathom,’’ Olshey said when asked whether Lillard or McCollum were off limits in a trade. “I could give you the trite answer that ‘Nobody is untradeable,’ but clearly they are.’’
Both Lillard and McCollum are under contract through the 2020-2021 season and both are coming off career seasons.
Lillard, who signed a five-year, $120 million extension in July of 2015, this season averaged 27 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range.
McCollum, who last summer signed a four-year, $106 million extension, this season averaged 23 points, 3.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds while leading the NBA in free-throw percentage (91.2). He also shot 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.
The Blazers have $132 million committed to contracts for next season, and many of those contracts figure to be difficult to move, or unlikely to garner a significant player in return, leaving some to wonder if the only way for the Blazers to make a jump is to trade one of their stars.
Also, Lillard and McCollum – both of whom are generously listed at 6-foot-3 -- are considered below average defenders, both because of their size and technique, creating an obstacle for the team’s long term success.
However, Olshey on Tuesday said it is his job to surround the guards with support.
“It presents a challenge,’’ Olshey said, noting that the size isn’t a problem when either plays the point guard position. “It’s my job to fortify the other positions to the point where they are not as vulnerable when they are out there together.’’
Olshey said the late-season addition of center Jusuf Nurkic helped cover some of the Blazers’ size deficiencies in the backcourt because the team’s overall size and length improved, and he noted the team’s defense jumped into the top 10 after the All-Star Break.
“I look at it like we are really blessed and lucky to have Dame and CJ, understanding it does present some challenges on the defensive end,’’ Olshey said. “So it’s my job, and the job of guys on my staff, that we support them and make them less vulnerable when they share the floor together.’’