Amid the ongoing Damian Lillard saga in Portland, general manager Neil Olshey and the Trail Blazers are not “actively shopping” Lillard’s backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, despite Lillard’s request earlier this offseason for the team to upgrade its roster.
This is according to Jason Quick of The Athletic, who added in a recent report that Olshey and the Trail Blazers “won’t move (McCollum) just to have a different look next season.” A potential deal, Quick reported, would have to make Portland better, not merely get McCollum off the roster.
There is nothing wrong about ascribing high value to a player in McCollum who has been near All-Star level for several seasons and is a consistent playoff performer. The issue, as Quick also lays out in the piece, is that trading McCollum is one of the only ways that the Trail Blazers could hope to improve the roster according to Lillard’s wishes.
With about three years and $100 million left on his current contract, McCollum maintains cost control for what is an eternity in NBA time, and his big salary could theoretically be used — along with young players and draft picks — to fetch a star.
Yet the most commonly discussed deal among NBA fans, with McCollum going to Philly for Ben Simmons, represents a clear step down from the price that the Sixers seem to have for Simmons. And as the dust of free agency clears with players like Pascal Siakam still seemingly unavailable, there is not an obvious option for McCollum via trade that would improve Portland’s chances in 2022.