CJ McCollum’s New Home Potentially Revealed as Damian Lillard’s Blazers Press Rebuild Button

Published 02/08/2022, 8:15 AM EST
PORTLAND, OR – MAY 9: CJ McCollum (3) of the Portland Trail Blazers licks his chops during the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, May 9, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game six of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Moda Center in Portland. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Damian Lillard has been the frontman for the Portland Trail Blazers for quite some time. Together with CJ McCollum, the duo has wreaked havoc in the league for several years. In fact, it was because of their performances that the Trail Blazers made it to the Western Conference finals in the 2018-19 season. This has been the team’s best achievement since the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge to the San Antonio Spurs.

However, this season, the Blazers have been playing at a level that is far from success. With both Lillard and McCollum suffering from injuries this season, the team has won just 21 games and currently sits at 11th place in the Western Conference. As the franchise continues to drop games, and the trade deadline closes in, trade rumors have emerged to indicate a possible rebuild for Portland if they decide to part ways with CJ McCollum.

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Portland Trail Blazers highly likely to part ways with CJ McCollum

As the NBA’s trade deadline draws near, many teams will try to strengthen their squads by acquiring players who can help them win games. However, unlike these teams, Portland is likely to go into a rebuild by keeping Damian Lillard and parting ways with CJ McCollum.

As mentioned by ESPN’s Senior NBA Insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans seem to be highly interested in McCollum. Despite having recovered from a serious lung injury, McCollum continues to perform at a highly consistent level for the Trail Blazers, especially in the absence of Lillard.

Nov 23, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) dribbles the ball as Denver Nuggets power forward Aaron Gordon (50) defends during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports| Reuters

This makes him a precious asset to any team looking to make a playoff run. Added to this, Woj also mentioned that trading away McCollum could reveal a very different-looking Trail Blazers squad indicating a potential rebuild centered around Damian Lillard.

CJ McCollum on the Knicks vs the Pelicans

The New York Knicks have struggled a lot this season. Putting their trust in Julius Randle and RJ Barrett has not seemed to be a good payoff as they currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 24-30 record.

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However, the addition of McCollum to the Knicks will not just bring in a scoring improvement, but also much-needed leadership for the team, especially due to Barrett’s and Randle’s lack of playoff experience.

New Orleans Pelicans Duo vs New York Knicks Duo – Player Comparison (Stats valid as of 8th Feb 2022)

If McCollum were to join the Pelicans, the expectations on him would be similar. He would be required to bring the same leadership and scoring ability to lead a young and rising Brandon Ingram, while also partnering with Jonas Valanciunas, who has been a critical piece on this team. The only advantage that the Pelicans bring to the table is they are at the 10th seed in the West despite having won fewer games than the Knicks. This puts them in a position to make the playoffs via the play-in tournament.

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Sameer Prasad Koppolu

273 articles

Sameer is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Having graduated from Manipal Institute of Technology, he has always had a keen interest in basketball and the numbers behind the game. With a goal to become a Sports Performance Analyst for a professional sports team, Sameer brings insights backed by data.

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