After trading Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers, the sense from league sources was that CJ McCollum was on deck and likely would also be traded before the deadline. Portland is retooling its roster around Damian Lillard, and interim GM Joe Cronin doesn’t have the emotional ties to McCollum that the fired Neil Olshey had.
The Pelicans have reportedly been the most aggressive suitor for McCollum, but Marc Stein reported in his newsletter that the Knicks have entered the mix.
The most interesting trade scenario I heard all weekend: Two rival teams say that the Knicks are emerging as a legitimate trade suitor for Portland’s CJ McCollum. The Pelicans, until now, have been most frequently mentioned as the leaders of the McCollum chase if another trade materializes for the Trail Blazers after their Friday deal with the LA Clippers to send out Norman Powell and Robert Covington.
McCollum is making $30.9 million this season and has two years, $69.1 million guaranteed after this one. With the emergence of Anfernee Simons, the Trail Blazers feel they can move on from McCollum.
In New York, McCollum would give the Knicks a much-needed shot-creating guard, something they haven’t really had since Derrick Rose went out injured.
The Knicks can match McCollum’s salary with Alec Burks and Julius Randle, both of whom have been rumored to be available. The exact construction of a potential trade likely would be different — Does Portland want Randle or Burks? Do they see Randle as a fit with Lillard, and do they want to take on his four-year, $106 million guaranteed (up to $117 million) contract? Could Jusuf Nurkic and a Knicks center be part of any trade? Maybe Evan Fournier and/or Kemba Walker are in the trade? — but a deal can be put together.
There’s a lot of buzz about New York wanting to move a guard or wing in any trade, opening up a rotation spot and forcing coach Tom Thibodeau to play Cam Reddish. Any trade for McCollum will see at least one and maybe more perimeter players sent out of Madison Square Garden.
Expect the McCollum rumors to fly fast and furious over the coming days. Portland is changing the roster and he is one of the players almost certainly on the move, if not by Thursday than at the NBA Draft in June.