The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into a pivotal offseason. With LeBron James getting older, the team only has so many more years of being title contenders. Despite some early-season success, the roster the Lakers put together wasn’t good enough to win a championship so running things back with the same roster would be a mistake.
Landing a third superstar to pair alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron isn’t likely but that doesn’t mean the team won’t have strong options. According to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard won’t be a realistic option but one of his top teammates could be a perfect fit:
Lillard’s teammate CJ McCollum is almost certainly at the top of [Rob] Pelinka’s wish list … if he’s at all available. He checks every box aside from defense: 3-point shooting, shot creation for teammates, clutch credentials, experience leading bench units, you name it. There isn’t a more perfect offensive fit on the market, but for the time being, there’s little evidence that McCollum even is on the market.
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McCollum Would Be a Great Pickup for Lakers
The Lakers have put a lot of focus on defense since hiring Frank Vogel as head coach. While that’s worked out well for the team so far, they need more offensive firepower. McCollum wouldn’t bring much on the defensive side of the ball but he shoots 39.8% from three throughout his career and averages over 20 points a game over the last six seasons.
He’d be the legit third scoring option the Lakers have been longing for without having to pay him max money. It’d be tricky figuring how to pry him away from Portland but could be worthwhile for Los Angeles.
How Could Lakers Land McCollum?
McCollum has spent his entire eight-year career with the Trail Blazers and has a contract extension kicking in for next season. He’s not going to force his way out anytime soon. He also has a great relationship with Lillard. Portland isn’t going to do anything to upset their superstar. Everything the Trail Blazers do going forward should be to make Lillard happy.
That said, what the team has put on the court year after year clearly isn’t good enough to win a championship. Lillard is untouchable until he requests a trade, which makes McCollum their most appealing trade piece. That’s where the Lakers come in.
Portland had the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA this season while the Lakers had the best. The Trail Blazers need to add some defensive stoppers. If they’re willing to play ball, Los Angeles could dangle strong defenders like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and/or Kyle Kuzma. If Dennis Schroder would be willing to go to Portland in a sign-and-trade, that would make things a lot easier. He’s not the scorer that McCollum is but is solid on offense while being a really good defender. A package of Caldwell-Pope and Schroder for McCollum could be a win for both sides.