With the NBA trade deadline two weeks away, it feels like nobody is going to make a move until the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers do something.
Brian Windhorst went on Zach Lowe’s podcast and floated an extremely interesting trade idea: The Cavs send scapegoat Kevin Love back to where he was a high school superstar (Oregon), in exchange for Portland shooting guard CJ McCollum.
On the surface, everyone will say NO WAY! McCollum is only 26, and for the 3rd season in a row, he’s at 20 points per game, and shooting over 40 percent from the field and on 3-pointers. He’s morphing into a better player than Bradley Beal of the Wizards – their stats are extremely close, with McCollum having the most significant advantage in his 3-point shooting percentage – but doesn’t get near the publicity of Beal because he plays in the Northwest in the pacific time zone.
Would Windhorst have floated this trade idea if Portland star Damian Lillard hadn’t gone to ownership this week to ask about the direction of the franchise? Portland is in the bottom 10 in the NBA in three-point shots attempted and made, but is tied for 2nd in 3-point percentage (38%).
Kevin Love would certainly help in that department. But he’d come with questions: Can he play with Jusuf Nurkic? Who slides into the spot vacated by McCollum and his 21 points per game? (Yes, Shabazz Napier is playing fantastic in small doses, but he’s a 6-foot-1 shooting guard.)
Why the Love deal is a home run for Cleveland: You bolster one of the weakest backcourts in the NBA. And you get a guy who may have three more years left on his contract, but when LeBron leaves, McCollum is a legit #1 or #2 option to go with a high draft pick from the Nets as you rebuild. It’s unclear if Isaiah Thomas will be in the team’s long term plans. I’ve seen nothing so far to indicate he would be.