Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons and making sense of messy Blazers

Portland Path Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are the NBA’s longest-running backcourt pairing. When McCollum signed up with Lillard in the beginning lineup to start the 2015-16 season, 2 groups now expecting their prospective break up — the Philadelphia 76ers and New York City Knicks — began guards Isaiah Canaan, Hollis Thompson, Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic. Portland has actually adhered to its weapons for that long.

No more playing around the edges. It’s about time the Blazers trade Lillard or McCollum.

The duo endured seven-time All-Star huge male LaMarcus Aldridge’s exit and invited center Jusuf Nurkic at the 2017 trade due date. More than 20 various forwards have actually given that begun with Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic, as long time basic supervisor Neil Olshey eventually scrolled through a rolodex of restricted returns.

That turning cast has actually varied from Wenyen Gabriel to Carmelo Anthony and consisted of a variety of quality function gamers, consisting of the present pairing of Norman Powell and Robert Covington. We have actually seen adequate to identify that it’s not simply a failure to determine an increasing star at the league’s crucial position that has actually decreased Portland’s ceiling listed below champion level. They have actually optimized their 2 little(ish) guards.

Sports jackets in top-to-bottom chaos

Following a month-long examination into Olshey’s supposed function in cultivating a hostile work environment, the Blazers fired the executive to end their nine-year collaboration, changing him in the interim with assistant Joe Cronin. This industrialized months after Olshey dealt with criticism for his hiring of newbie coach Chauncey Billups, who in 2000 settled a civil suit with a lady who implicated him and 2 other guys of sexually attacking her.

A 2nd straight first-round playoff exit and discontent in Portland over the hiring of Billups led Lillard to highly think about asking for a trade from the only NBA group he has actually understood, however the super star and his brand-new coach discovered commonalities in their champion goals, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. 

Simply 24 video games into their collaboration, Billups is freely questioning his lineup. Playing without Lillard, the Blazers followed Thursday’s 114-83 loss to the 12th-place San Antonio Spurs with a 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. Later on, Billups released on his group for a 3rd time in as numerous weeks.

“I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters,” stated Billups, whose group ranks dead last in the league in protective ranking. “That shit is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around.”

Lillard is likewise tired of Portland’s 11-13 start to the season, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick. Other than, this time Lillard is supposedly thinking about a trade that would send out McCollum packaging.

Portland's Damian Lillard is reportedly excited about the prospect of playing with three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Portland’s Damian Lillard is supposedly thrilled about the possibility of playing with three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Damian Lillard ‘want to play with’ Ben Simmons

The Athletic pointed out several sources in reporting that Lillard “would like to play with” Sixers star Ben Simmons — an offer that would deliver McCollum to Philadelphia in return. According to Charania and Amick, 76ers executive Daryl Morey asked for McCollum, 3 first-round choices and 3 first-round choice swaps in exchange for Simmons, while Olshey countered with McCollum, a first-round choice and either Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons. Fulfilling someplace in the center appears like a rational advance for both groups.

Unless Morey wants to await Lillard to ask off the Blazers. What other viewed upgrades are out there in exchange for McCollum, who is owed $100 million over the next 3 seasons? The All-Star trade market is very dry. Christian Wood might not be long for the Houston Firecrackers. Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis may be had from the Indiana Pacers. Any of those relocations most likely needs moving Nurkic, too, which still seems like shuffling less than a complete deck. Lillard and Simmons are no warranty to prosper, either.

Beyond trading McCollum and Nurkic in multi-team offers that returned Simmons and Wood — a set of still-improving increasing stars who would attend to a few of Portland’s prospective spacing and protective issues — it’s tough to picture a lot of circumstances that might raise the Blazers’ ceiling to Lillard’s preferred level. Olshey stopped working to establish his choices given that landing Lillard and McCollum in back-to-back drafts, and among the 3 first-rounders he traded for Covington and Larry Nance Jr. is still impressive, making complex settlements.

Exploding the Blazers

To put it simply, the Blazers needs to likewise seriously think about the option: A complete reconstruct. Trade them all.

Lillard would bring an enormous haul, regardless of his own battles with a stomach pressure that has actually hindered him given that the Tokyo Olympics and cost him the previous 3 video games. He is among the 75 biggest gamers ever and a top-10 active entertainer when healthy. Morey’s Sixers are desperate for a star of Lillard’s quality, and the Knicks would likely go into a bidding war to bring Dame Time to Madison Square Garden.

Parting with McCollum, Nurkic and other veterans would even more restock Portland’s scarcity of young skill and draft possessions, while likewise providing a chance at the 2 most sought after gamers in 2022 — Seattle native Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren. Unexpectedly, that is not such a bad reboot, particularly if Simmons is amongst the gamers returning to the Blazers. It is at least worth having the discussion.

Just, who do the Blazers desire leading that discussion? Sports jackets president of company operations Chris McGowan stated in September that “the team’s not for sale” by owner Jody Allen, who acquired the franchise from her bro Paul in October 2018, however McGowan resigned in the middle of the examination into Olshey to accept a comparable function with the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Little Caesars Pizza.

Cronin was offered the interim basic supervisor title. Bulls GM Marc Eversley and Knicks GM Scott Perry are both prospects for the full-time position, according to Haynes. Who precisely will be accountable for working with Olshey’s replacement is a genuine concern, as is whether that is the individual you desire making the most essential choice the franchise has actually dealt with given that it started its run of 8 straight playoff looks.

Lillard needs to be questioning both, which implies Portland remains in a race to choose how to construct around its super star or danger losing him amidst top-down unpredictability. It is about time to trade McCollum, or explode the whole lineup prior to Lillard ends up being qualified this summertime for a two-year, $107 supermax extension that would keep him under agreement through 2027, so the Blazers much better start addressing the tough concerns now.

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is a personnel author for Yahoo Sports. Have an idea? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.