The Portland Trail Blazers could make a tough decision in the upcoming offseason after being swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. The explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum may have made their presence felt in the 2017-18 regular season, but they failed to produce the same performance in the postseason. Should the Trail Blazers trade Lillard or McCollum this summer?
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Portland does not need to blow up their entire roster. They only need a shakeup to create a better “roster balance” in order to become a better team next season. However, with limited assets and high draft picks, the Trail Blazers should risk making a big move; a blockbuster trade that involves either Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum.
Being considered as the face of the franchise, O’Connor believes Lillard will be off the trading block this summer, making McCollum the movable piece. Several NBA teams who are in dire need of another scoring threat and floor spacer will surely express interest in acquiring the 26-year-old shooting guard, and O’Connor listed the Cleveland Cavaliers as one of his potential trade destinations.
In the proposed trade scenario, the Cavaliers would send Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick to Portland for C.J. McCollum. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. Love may not address the Trail Blazers’ defensive issues, but O’Connor thinks he could help them improve their offensive spacing and give them a secondary source of playmaking.
The Nets’ pick, which is projected to be the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, could be the most valuable asset the Trail Blazers will get in the potential trade. They could use it to draft a talented wing, Mikal Bridges, or another franchise-changer like Michael Porter, Jr. or Marvin Bagley III.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of C.J. McCollum may help the Cavaliers convince LeBron James to opt into his contract or sign an extension in the upcoming offseason. Like the Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers are also struggling in the first round of the NBA Playoffs 2018 and currently battling a very tough Indiana Pacers team. In order to fully dominate the Eastern Conference and return to the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers need a reliable secondary scorer next to James, a position that Kevin Love failed to perform since Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics.