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CJ McCollum is on course to be the next victim of Portland’s impending sale

On Friday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers announced to the NBA world that they were open for business.

Portland sent veterans Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in an act of surrender in the 2021-22 season. But their work is not yet finished. With the NBA trade deadline just days away, the Trail Blazers could lay the groundwork for a trade involving longtime guard CJ McCollum.

CJ McCollum reportedly available for trade talks

At 21-32, few expect much from the Blazers this season. Especially with franchise star Damian Lillard recovering from abdominal surgery. The pessimism wasn’t confirmed until Powell and Covington were shipped off in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick.

It should therefore come as no surprise to see McCollum on the trading block.

According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, rival league executives believe the Trail Blazers will move McCollum before the trade deadline or this offseason. McCollum is currently in the first year of a three-year, $100 million extension.

McCollum, 30, has been Lillard’s running back partner for the better part of a decade. Since entering the NBA in 2013, the 6-foot-3 guard has averaged 20 or more points seven times, including this season. Although his scoring efforts weren’t rewarded with All-Star appearances, the former Lehigh star was named Most Improved Player in 2015-16 after going from 6.8 to 20.8 points per game .

Trail Blazers leaving McCollum seems inevitable

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With limited playoff success, Lillard and McCollum have been at the center of trade conversations for several years. But with Portland determined to build around Lillard, his sidekick may have to play elsewhere.

The Trail Blazers’ trade with LA was an admission that their current roster fell short. Otherwise, why would they treat Powell, who last summer signed a five-year contract for $90 million? Add in Covington’s expiring contract, and Portland is rethinking much of its roster construction. That could very well mean leaving McCollum, who the Blazers built their team around with Lillard.

More importantly, McCollum is suddenly expendable due to the emergence of Anfernee Simons. The 23-year-old is averaging 20.6 points on 45.1% shooting from the field and 39.8% on three-pointers in 20 starts. With rising star Simons expected to enter restricted free agency this summer, Portland will need to make sure they have enough money to hold him back. One easy way to do that is to find a new home for McCollum, who boasts an average salary of $33.3 million.

Building around Lillard and Simons looks like the direction Portland wants to move in, especially after gutting Powell and Covington. If so, McCollum may only have a few days left with the only franchise he knows.

Expect McCollum to have plenty of suitors

With the guard’s time in Portland potentially coming to an end, many teams are ready to add CJ to their backcourt.

Scotto mentions the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks as two of the clubs that should sue McCollum. The Pelicans are right behind the Blazers in the West, but could see McCollum as a key player alongside Brandon Ingram and possibly Zion Williamson.

As for the five seeded Mavericks, they covet a real running mate for superstar Luka Doncic. McCollum fits that bill and could be the missing ingredient needed to enter the title conversation.

The Trail Blazers have hit their ceiling and are ready for a re-tool. After Powell and Covington, McCollum looks awfully likely to leave next.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and contract numbers courtesy of Spotrac.

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