Trade for CJ McCollum Could Cost Celtics Smart, Jaylen Brown: Analyst

Guard CJ McCollum of the Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

Getty Guard CJ McCollum of the Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

Add another name to the ever-expanding group of potential Celtics trade targets circulating on the NBA rumor mill. This time, it is Blazers guard C.J. McCollum and while McCollum’s ability as a shot-maker—he is a career 39.7% 3-point shooter—would certainly get the attention of the Celtics’ brass, there is no indication that Portland actually would consider moving him.

Still, former Blazers big man and TNT analyst Channing Frye commented on some of the speculation going on around potential deals between the Blazers and the Celtics, considered among the likely landing spots if Portland ever did decide to put McCollum on the market.

Speaking on the Talkin’ Blazers podcast this week, Frye had two packages in mind for McCollum: Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart was the first, and a deal involving Hayward, Robert Williams, and Smart was the other.

“You would have to put, to be honest, if you want C.J. McCollum, you would have to give me Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart,” Frye said. “That is what I see C.J.’s value as. It would have to be Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward, or big Williams.”

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McCollum is a combo guard whose shooting would mesh well with Kemba Walker’s drive-and-kick ability and whose ballhandling would allow Walker to play off the ball more. He averaged 22.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season

Channing Frye: Celtics’ Marcus Smart a ‘Lockdown Guard Defender’

While Frye’s quote about what the Celtics would have to offer for McCollum grabbed the most attention, some of his other comments were more interesting—especially the importance that Smart could have if he were to be paired in Portland with Lillard. Both McCollum and Lillard struggle defensively, one of the main weak spots of the Blazers, especially in the Western Conference.

Here’s Frye’s full quote:

Honestly, I would trade C.J. for Marcus Smart. Here’s why—mind you, you’d have to get other stuff. You can take, now this is not that they’re equal because I think C.J. is ridiculous, but what the Blazers need is a guard-stopper. They need a big guard. Look at the guards in the West. Jamal Murray is a big guard, Luka Doncic is a big guard, James Harden is a big guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a big guard, Klay Thompson is a big guard, De’Aaron Fox, Ja Morant—they need someone to keep the ball in front.

That is hard when your two guards are relied on to score 50 points a night. If you can move Dame off the ball three-quarters of the game and you have a defender who can score and getting better at scoring. Let’s keep it real, Marcus Smart is a lockdown guard defender. You would have to switch, even though they aren’t even skill-wise, they are better for each other in the sense of what is best for Damian Lillard to be successful.

Blazers-Celtics McCollum Deal Would Be Difficult to Pull Off

It is doubtful, of course, that the Celtics would give up both Brown and Smart for McCollum. The team just inked Brown to a contract extension that kicks in this year, and he made a huge leap in his fourth NBA season. The Celtics are not inclined to trade Smart, either, but with a contract extension also due to Jayson Tatum, there could be financial pressure that forces Boston to at least consider a move.

A deal centered around Hayward and Smart makes more sense. Hayward is entering the last year of his contract, though he has a player option and could decide to become a free agent. His status with the team is very much up in the air and there has been chatter that Hayward wants out of Boston.

If he does opt in, at $34 million, he can be traded. If he opts out, the Celtics could re-sign him or he could sign anywhere he wants with Boston getting nothing in return.

But making the numbers work on a deal involving Hayward, Smart and Williams would be difficult. The Celtics would get back McCollum, who is owed about $130 million over the next four years, but Portland would have to include the likes of Trevor Ariza, Rodney Hood, Mario Hezonja and Nassir Little.

And more important: There’s no indication that the Celtics and Blazers have had any of these discussions. Portland has remained committed to the McCollum-Lillard pairing, and it is hard to imagine that changing.

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