The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly rejecting trade offers for their star-studded backcourt.
Lowe specifically mentioned the Cleveland Cavaliers as a potential trading partner for McCollum. However, he noted Kevin Love and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets‘ first-round pick figures to be too heavy a price for Cleveland to pay, while replacing Love with Tristan Thompson in the package might not be enough for the Trail Blazers.
This comes after Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reported Jan. 23 that Lillard met with team owner Paul Allen to discuss the organization’s direction. Haynes noted Allen was worried Lillard would ask for a trade, but that never materialized.
Even if the Trail Blazers don’t move Lillard or McCollum before Thursday’s trade deadline, they could deal from elsewhere on the roster. Lowe pointed to the fact they are $3 million over the tax, granting “when a non-contender gets that close, it usually tries to duck it.”
He said wingman Maurice Harkless is a possible trade piece, considering he will make about $11 million per season through 2020.
Portland may not be a title contender, but it is 29-25 and tied with the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed. It is just one game behind the fifth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder but a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans and one game ahead of the ninth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.
There is an opportunity to move up in the standings and avoid a disastrous first-round matchup or fall out of the playoffs entirely, depending on how it plays down the stretch.
Keeping Lillard and McCollum figures to be critical in the postseason push, since they are the two go-to playmakers and leading scorers at 25.1 and 21.8 points per game, respectively.
Barring an unbelievable offer, it appears as if the Trail Blazers will keep their franchise cornerstones.
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