One of the first names suggested as a potential trade partner for Ben Simmons, many initially laughed off the idea of McCollum returning to the Keystone State to guide another team into the playoffs, instead targeting bigger names like Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, and even Kyle Lowry.
… but now, with all of those players either re-committed to the teams or already traded to a non-Philly locale, the idea of McCollum making his way to the City of Brotherly Love in a trade for Simmons doesn’t sound all that bad, especially if the team can potentially even get one more asset in the “process.”
And if McCollum’s recent comments on trade rumors while talking to ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby are of any indication (listen to it here), he might just know that a ninth season in Portland is anything but guaranteed.
CJ McCollum might just be attainable for the Philadelphia 76ers after all.
He’s a 23.1 points per game scorer, an efficient outside shooter, and, at 29-years-old, is in roughly the same age range as the man who proudly wears the “Process” moniker with pride.
While one could knock McCollum for spending the bulk of his career as an off-ball Robin to Damian Lillard’s Batman, he’s proven that he can run a team solo sans his partner in crime for stretches over the past few seasons.
Whether tasked with running the point next to Seth Curry or at his natural two-guard spot opposite Tyrese Maxey – or, ya know, alternate between the two in any given game – McCollum is an ideal backcourt foil for Embiid both as a pick-and-roll driver or as an off-ball outlet pass.
So why, you may ask, would the Trail Blazers want to get rid of McCollum after fielding oh so many successful seasons with him at shooting guard?
One word: Defense.
While the Blazers have been able to score with the best of them since McCollum ascended into the starting lineup back in 2015, the team has been one of the least effective defensive units in the league regardless of which players have comprised their frontcourt.
With Chauncy Billups now in place as the team’s head coach and several bench performers swapped out for, well, different players, Portland may be willing to sacrifice McCollum’s offense for a defensive stud who can change up their dynamic after one too many first-round outs.
Hmm… whomever could that be?
Would a hypothetical trade of Ben Simmons and CJ McCollum be a one-for-one? Potentially so, potentially not. I could 100 percent see Neil Olshey throwing in some draft capital to make Daryl Morey look better or the teams swapping out bench players – Shake Milton maybe? – to better calibrate their respective rosters. Either way, the unique challenges of pairing McCollum and Embiid, in addition to Lillard and Simmons, would be a good problem to have, as it presents each franchise with a new dynamic unlike anything they have had in their current eras.
At this point in the offseason, what more could you ask for?
In the grand scheme of things, could the uncertainly in CJ McCollum’s voice be unnecessary? Could he report to training camp in a few weeks’ time, remain on the active roster in time for opening night, and remain with the team through the duration of his three-year, $100 million extension? Most definitely. But considering McCollum has fast become a favorite trade target of Philadelphia76ers fans looking to finally move into the future, it’s interesting to know that he may not be as deeply rooted in Portland’s organization as some may have initially assumed.