Ever since the Blazers concluded their playoff run earlier this month, falling to the Denver Nuggets in six games, the rumor mill has been churning about CJ McCollum’s future.
McCollum has been Damian Lillard’s co-star since being selected by the Blazers in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, but with Portland looking to shake things up this offseason following the mutual departure of Terry Stotts, many have wondered if the McCollum era has run its course too.
On a segment on NBC Sports Boston this week, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and The Athletic’s Jared Weiss discussed the possibility of McCollum landing with a team such as the Boston Celtics.
“I should first say, from what I’ve been told, CJ McCollum has been told he’s not getting traded this offseason, so it may be a moot point, but I think CJ is the kind of player that would complement Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown well,” Mannix said. “He’s a lead guard, he’s offensive-oriented, he’s played alongside a volume scorer in Damian Lillard before, so some of this is not going to be new for him. And I think a change of scenery would do CJ McCollum well.”
As Mannix mentioned, McCollum is still under contract with the Blazers for three more years playing under a four-year, $106.6 million extension signed in 2019. If Portland wanted to trade its second-best player, it would have to get a player as valuable as McCollum or better to make sense.
“The thing is, how do you even get CJ McCollum over to the Celtics? Does Portland want to bring in Al Horford at this point? I assume there not going to make that flip,” Weiss added. “Marcus Smart could be an answer with a bunch of good young players. So maybe get some more playmaking depth around Damian Lillard.
“You got to remember, Portland’s goal right now is to convince Damian Lillard that they are going to win with their new coaching hire in the next year or two. So, if you are trading away CJ McCollum, you have to get an upgrade for your team in some regard and there’s a huge gap between what the Celtics can offer between Jaylen Brown, which I feel like would be foolish to offer for CJ McCollum and Marcus Smart, who may not be enough for them.”
McCollum is coming off a season where he averaged 23.1 points per game after fracturing his foot earlier in the year. Prior to getting hurt, he was averaging 26.7 points per game in his first 13 games and looked to earn his first All-Star nod.
Despite rumors of a potential trade, McCollum made it clear he is unbothered by such talk.
“I’m not offended brotha,” he said. “I came from nothin. To more than something. I work hard, show up and do my job to the best of my ability. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. Even if that means they want to see me traded. It’s a part of life when you play this sport. Blessings.”
McCollum certainly has the most trade value on the roster outside of Lillard, but will 2021 be his last with Portland? Mannix says McCollum is staying put in Rip City, for now.
But what about President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey? “Nothing is ever off the table if it advances us closer to a championship."
Make with that what you will.