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NBA Trade Rumors: Blazers' Strategy for CJ McCollum Deal amid Damian Lillard Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 14, 2022

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly shown interest in Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10, with CJ McCollum potentially being included in talks.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Friday on The Hoop Collective podcast (11-minute mark) the Blazers continue to focus on high-end trade targets despite Damian Lillard undergoing abdominal surgery that's expected to sideline him for at least six weeks:

"The Blazers don't want to trade these guys for second-year players. They want some guys who are going to instantaneously be re-contenders next year. They just want to retrofit what they've got and so that's where McCollum comes in. [Jusuf] Nurkic has been eligible for an extension and he hasn't gotten one. They haven't been able to work out a deal and so maybe Nurkic ends up staying because Nurkic and Lillard have been terrific pick-and-roll partners over the years. I don't think there's a desire to get out of Nurkic. One of the guys I've been told that the Blazers have some interest in is Myles Turner with the Pacers."

Portland has struggled throughout the first half of the regular season. It owns a 15-26 record, which ranks 10th in the Western Conference, and a 3-7 mark over the past 10 games. The poor performance has been driven by a miserable 2-14 record in road games.

Fading to the fringe of playoff contention combined with Lillard's injury raised questions about how the Blazers planned to move forward for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign and beyond.

McCollum, who's nearing a return from a collapsed lung that's kept him out since early December, could emerge as a key trade chip in the weeks ahead.

The 30-year-old Ohio native had struggled with his shot at times before the injury—his 42.4 shooting percentage represents his lowest mark since his rookie season in 2013-14—but his other numbers were either at or above his career averages.

Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer assessed McCollum's trade value on Thursday:

"Assessing the interest for McCollum is somewhat difficult given his recent collapsed lung and a decline in production at the age of 30. But former GM Neil Olshey's regime valued McCollum quite highly, and there's a sense among some rival executives that McCollum would have a sizable market at a lower evaluation than Olshey may have held."

Fischer also noted the Blazers' interest in Turner, though they are far from alone. He listed the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings as other potential landing spots for the Pacers star.

Turner, 25, is enjoying another strong season in Indiana. He's averaged 13 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks while shooting a career-best 51.6 percent from the field.

Like the Blazers, however, the Pacers have struggled to remain afloat in the playoff picture with a 15-27 record and could look to shake up their core ahead of the deadline.

It could set the stage for a blockbuster deal between the teams, though Indiana would likely want significant future assets included if the deal features a Turner-McCollum base.

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