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NBA trade machine: Will Trail Blazers break up Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum pairing?

We use the NBA trade machine to generate some hypothetical trades for the Blazers backcourt.

Portland Trail Blazers v Sacramento Kings
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers face the Sacramento Kings on November 24, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers have fallen short of expectations under new head coach Chancey Billups, leading to speculation about a potential breakup of the backcourt with Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum heading out. The Trail Blazers don’t have much to offer outside of either player when it comes to overhauling the roster, so those players are on the block as the trade market begins to heat up.

The problem is both players are dealing with injuries and are on big contracts. Using the ESPN trade machine, here are four deals the Trail Blazers could potentially make to give this team some life and a path forward.

Trade 1: Trail Blazers-76ers

Trail Blazers get: Ben Simmons, 2023 protected first-round pick
76ers get: Damian Lillard

This is the most obvious scenario on the board and would make sense for both teams. The 76ers would have to give up an extra asset with Lillard being the better player at the moment but this will allow Portland to either bottom out or re-tool around Simmons. Philadelphia gets a playoff-tested guard who can singlehandedly changed the outcome of a series or two. With Lillard and Embiid, the 76ers would become title threats.

Trade 2: Trail Blazers-Pacers

Trail Blazers get: Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, 2024 first-round pick swap
Pacers get: CJ McCollum, Nassir Little

This trade would allow the Trail Blazers to decide if they should hold on to Lillard. Re-tooling the entire thing around Sabonis’ contract is easier, and acquiring a future asset would be nice. The Pacers get McCollum to pair with Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt, while Little is the prospect who is slowly figuring things out. Indiana would bottom out assuming McCollum doesn’t play much this season and land a high lottery pick, which it needs to truly ascend in the East.

Trade 3: Trail Blazers-Lakers

Trail Blazers get: Russell Westbrook, 2026 first-round pick, 2028 first-round swap
Lakers get: Damian Lillard

The Lakers have long been interested in Lillard, and he reportedly did take a meeting with LeBron James and Anthony Davis this summer. The only problem here would be LA essentially admitting the Westbrook acquisition was a failure, not to mention sacrificing more future assets to contend in James’ final seasons. The Trail Blazers can get better offers but there also might not be many offers out there.

Trade 4: Trail Blazers-Grizzlies

Trail Blazers get: Kyle Anderson, De’Anthony Melton, Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round swap
Grizzlies get: CJ McCollum

The Trail Blazers get some rotation players and two future assets, with Clarke and Melton potentially growing into capable starters. Portland would ask for Desmond Bane or Dillon Brooks and the Grizzlies would say no. This is essentially a contract dump for the Trail Blazers because Anderson and Jones are on big one-year deals. Memphis isn’t going to be a free agent destination despite the young talent on the roster, so McCollum could be answer in a trade.