The explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has been the main reason behind the Portland Trail Blazers’ success in the past few years. However, since the team struggled this season, rumors are once again circulating that the Trail Blazers may consider breaking up their star duo this summer. If they win the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report suggested that the Trail Blazers may consider sending McCollum to the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, acquiring the No. 1 pick and trading McCollum doesn’t necessarily mean that the Trail Blazers would be beginning a full-scale rebuild. Using the No. 1 pick, the Trail Blazers could find Lillard’s new backcourt partner in the draft, while engaging in a trade deal with the Sixers involving McCollum would allow them to improve their frontcourt and boost their performance on the defensive end of the floor.
In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Trail Blazers would be trading McCollum to the Sixers in exchange for Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle, and a 2020 second-round pick.
“If the Blazers use the top pick to replace CJ McCollum (with Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball), then this trade would beef up their frontcourt,” Bailey wrote. “Rookie Matisse Thybulle already looks like an elite defender (12th overall in FiveThirtyEight‘s defensive ratings). Al Horford’s ability to man the 4 or the 5 and play inside or out makes him a fit with any of Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins or Nassir Little. With one trade, Portland could jump from 27th in defensive efficiency into the upper half.”
The departure of McCollum would undeniably break the hearts of Trail Blazers fans, but Portland would need to explore all possibilities to prevent themselves from being stuck in mediocrity. Improving their overall defense could be a major step forward for the team, and if they aren’t interested in either Ball or Edwards, they could use the No. 1 pick to target an established veteran superstar who could be available on the trade market this summer.
Meanwhile, the potential deal is a no-brainer for the Sixers, as it would enable them to hit two birds with one stone. Aside from successfully getting rid of Horford’s lucrative contract, the suggested trade would allow the Sixers to acquire a legitimate superstar. McCollum would tremendously improve the Sixers on the offensive end of the floor.
His ability to efficiently knock down shots from beyond the arc makes him a perfect fit alongside Sixers franchise cornerstones, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Compared to the Trail Blazers, joining forces with Embiid, Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson in Philadelphia could give McCollum a better chance of competing in the NBA Finals and winning his first championship.