The Boston Celtics could be in the market for a third star to pair with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this offseason. Might they target Damian Lillard's sidekick?
The Celtics "could be interested in a player like" Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, The Athletic's Jason Quick reported this week. Quick's report comes after Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix and The Athletic's Jared Weiss both named McCollum as a player they'd like to see on the Celtics.
Mannix noted in the clip above that McCollum has been told he isn't being traded this offseason. But Quick believes the likelihood that Portland moves McCollum this summer is "probable, if not certain."
The 29-year-old is set to make $33.3 million per year over the next three seasons and is the Blazers' best player outside Lillard, but Portland has yet to get over the hump with the Lillard-McCollum duo, so it may be time for general manager Neil Olshey to shake things up around Lillard by moving McCollum.
So, would McCollum make sense for the Celtics? He averaged career highs in points (23.1) and assists (4.7) per game last season and shot 40.2% from 3-point range. That's while playing alongside a volume scorer in Lillard, so he could be a nice complement to Tatum and Brown as a legitimate scorer and playmaker.
McCollum carries a $30.8 million cap hit in 2021-22, though, so even if the Celtics send Marcus Smart and his $14.3 million salary to Portland, they'd need to add several more players to make the deal work.
The C's also just traded Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City in part to gain financial flexibility, so they'd need to be convinced McCollum is the right fit before committing $100 million to him over the next three years.
McCollum is an intriguing possibility whose addition would signal that Brad Stevens and new head coach Ime Udoka are going all-in to compete for a title next season. But it seems more likely that the C's would attempt to re-sign Evan Fournier and extend Robert Williams before paying another player north of $30 million.