Shooting has been an issue for the Boston Celtics over the last couple of seasons, with a lack of veterans coming in as a close second.
With a bench unit predominantly filled by second and third-year players, the Celtics often find their production falling off a cliff once their starters go to the bench. Of course, both Ime Udoka and Brad Stevens have attempted to stem this issue by staggering one of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown with the bench unit, but if one of those two are out injured, things get complicated pretty quickly.
As a result, the Celtics continually find themselves linked to veteran scorers around the league, with the rumor mill heating up every year as the trade deadline inches closer. This season has been a little different, though. Due to Ben Simmons’s precarious position on the Philadelphia 76ers and Damian Lillard’s tentative relationship with the Portland Trail Blazers front office, we’ve predominately seen Boston linked to trades for star guards rather than sharpshooters.
But, with the trade deadline now only a month and a half away, the Celtics are being linked with shooters again, and all feels right in the world.
Proposed Trade Sends CJ McCollum to Celtics
The Portland Trail Blazers’ issues go deeper than Damian Lillard being displeased at a perceived lack of competitiveness. There’s a growing feeling that Portland will try to restructure their roster around their star guard rather than lose him and enter a complete rebuild.
In a trade proposal from Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, the Celtics could find themselves snagging one of Portland’s best players in return for a haul of impactful rotation pieces and some young prospects.
- CJ McCollum
- Ben McLemore
- Juancho Hernangomez
- Romeo Langford
- Josh Richardson
- Robert Williams III
“McCollum is more essential in Boston, which needs another from-scratch scorer and additional shooter. He doesn’t put pressure on the rim and doesn’t have a timetable for his return from a collapsed lung, but when healthy, he’s a mid-range artist who has honed his off-the-dribble three,” Favale wrote as he explained his reasoning behind the trade proposal.
However, losing both Langford and Williams would be a tough pill to swallow for the Celtics due to the defensive upside of the young pairing. Still, productive centers are easy to come by during the off-season, while Aaron Nesmith could fill Langford’s minutes if the trade were to take place.
McCollum, 30, is in the first year of a three-year $100 million contract (per Spotrac) that will expire at the end of the 2023-24 season, which fits the timeline of Jaylen Brown’s next contract renewal perfectly. A trade such as the one proposed by Favale makes sense for both sides – Boston gets their third scorer, who can also create for himself and others, while the Blazers get two high-upside talents that would instantly improve their perimeter defense.
McCollum Is Due to Miss the Rest of the Season
Earlier this season, it was announced that McCollum would likely miss the remainder of this season due to a collapsed lung, with no timeline set for his return to basketball activity.
Before the awful news sidelined the Trail Blazers two-guard, he averaged 20.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game on 42.4% shooting from the field, 39.3% shooting from deep, and a 70% success rate at the free-throw line, per Basketball-Reference.
McCollum has been in the league for nine years, with all of them being spent wearing a Trail Blazers uniform, now. As he enters the latter stages of his prime, a new opportunity may be appealing to him. Unfortunately, due to his current injury status, it remains unlikely that Boston or any other team around the league would risk trading for him until they were sure of when he would return to basketball activities.
Shockingly, McCollum has never made an All-Star team despite his lofty scoring numbers and success playing alongside Lillard, but he was named as the 2016 Most Improved Player.
While the proposed trade remains unlikely, this is one of the better hypotheticals we have seen this season and shows that the Celtics have options to strengthen their roster without putting Brown as capital. And if the team can improve while keeping their star wing pairing together, a deal seems far more likely to materialize.