With the eventual Ben Simmons trade seemingly set for an end sooner rather than later, the Sixers are somewhat in damage control mode.
One player who was connected to the Sixers early on and may be the best option for a trade is CJ McCollum. While he has been overshadowed by his superstar teammate, Dame Lillard, it may be time for the Sixers to set their sights on the Lehigh graduate.
Dame Lillard Situation
Despite being a perfect fit to play alongside Joel Embiid, it seems as if Dame Lillard is set on starting the season with the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard has been the story of the offseason so far due to his rumored frustrations with the Portland front office. The 31-year-old wisely realized his championship window needs to be capitalized now and attempted to kick Blazers’ GM Neil Olshey into gear.
Dame is as loyal as an NBA superstar comes; there is, however, certainly a chance this relationship blows up if the season starts poorly. Trading Ben Simmons to the Blazers would likely be a move that would decrease the likelihood of Dame becoming available, but given his current value, McCollum may be the best short-term option as far as players available. Continuing to stay away from Portland in hopes Lillard demands out is a gamble. With the clock ticking on Simmons’ time in Philly, this may need to be a dream they are forced to give up on.
How Does CJ Fit Sixers?
From a skillset perspective, CJ McCollum is a near-perfect fit for the Sixers. He can handle the ball, create his own shot, and would be the best perimeter scorer they have had since Jimmy Butler. Last season the 6’3 guard averaged 23.1 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc.
In order to get over the championship hump, the Sixers are desperate for a top-level perimeter creator. CJ McCollum is a fine player, but he is a notch below this. If they are motivated to pull the trigger on this deal, the Sixers would have to be hopeful that McCollum has more in the tank than he has shown. At 29-years-old, this is may not be a great bet to make, but it is worth noting that Lillard takes the primary perimeter looks for the Blazers, which would not be the case in Philly.
In the 33 games that McCollum has played without Dame Lillard in his career, he has averaged 28.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. While it is likely these aren’t sustainable numbers (and the efficiency splits would support the belief that it is not), this would be the biggest scoring threat that Embiid has been paired within his career.
What Trade Would Look Like
It would be disappointing to ship out Danny Green, but adding more versatility with Robert Covington and providing the picks and young talent of Anfernee Simons would leave the door open moving forward. In a perfect world, this is a trade centered around Dame Lillard, but the circumstances seem that this is not a possibility.
Do I think CJ McCollum is the Kobe to Embiid’s Shaq? Nope. But at the moment, this may prove the best option for the Sixers. That’s especially the case considering this move would still allow the Sixers to have future flexibility. Using a combination of young players on the roster and the team’s increased draft capital, the Sixers could certainly make another move even this season.