The Portland Trail Blazers need to choose between Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum
The Portland Trail Blazers are in a unique situation. According to Basketball Insiders, the Trail Blazers have $132,928,775 worth of player salary tied up next season, although $122,411,782 is guaranteed money.
The NBA luxury tax threshold currently sits at $113,287,00 which would mean the Blazers would be $9,124,782 OVER the luxury tax. Those numbers are easily contender numbers, but what makes this situation unique is that Portland currently sits at the 10th spot in the west – meaning that if the season ended today, they would not make the playoffs.
With C.J. McCollum’s extension kicking in this summer and having re-signed Allen Crabbe last summer to a generous contract, the Blazers will have approximately $89 million tied up just in their backcourt next season. There will be no way for the Blazers to justify such high spending on their backcourt alone and not be contending for a championship, let alone a playoff team.
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The Cleveland Cavaliers current payroll is sitting at $126,654,786 for the season which would only be roughly around $4 million more than the Blazers would be sitting at next season with only 12 guaranteed contracts.
The Portland Trail Blazers will need to bolster their frontcourt through trade as they will not have any unallocated salary this summer in order to make the playoffs next season. They tried to do just this before the February 23rd trade deadline as they attempted to trade for the Philadelphia 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor.
They also attempted to trade for the Detroit Piston’s big man Andre Drummond, before quickly turning face on the idea once the Pistons requested for C.J. McCollum to be part of the deal. The Blazers seem to be leaning towards McCollum being their high paid guard as they also reportedly dangled Damian Lillard’s name in trade talks prior to the trade deadline.
The Blazers did get their big man Jusuf Nurkic but they ended up trading their uniquely skilled center Mason Plumlee in order to get him. Nurkic doesn’t solve any of the Blazers’ problems as he has seemingly regressed since his rookie season in which he bullied some of the best big men in the NBA.
Damian Lillard didn’t make the all-star team this year but he is widely regarded as not only an all-star but as a franchise point guard and a superstar. Why should they trade one of their two dynamic guards you ask?
Well, their starting backcourt will be eating up around 52% of the NBA salary cap next season. If they can find a way to flip one of them for either a wing to run along side the player they choose to keep, they will have a better chance of making the playoffs.
Even if they end up moving their backup guard Allen Crabbe who will be making $19+ mill next season, they should be able to clear some salary space and/or get some much needed help for their front court. According to a chart made from Basketball-Reference, Damian Lillard has a small advantage over McCollum in multiple area and currently holds a lower TOV% with a higher usage percentage.
Lillard also holds a higher assist % by nearly 10 percentage points. One thing that McCollum has going for him is that he is currently one year younger than Lillard and he has a slightly better true shooting percentage.
If you were Neil Oshly and had to trade one of these two dynamic guards, who would you move and why? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section or tweet me @RafaelTorresNBA