Celtics

Multiple NBA insiders speculate the Celtics as a team who could trade for CJ McCollum

McCollum has been the subject of trade rumors since the Blazers' first-round playoff exit.

CJ McCollum could be one of the top names on the trade market this offseason. StepChambers/Getty Images

The Celtics’ offseason has already been action packed. The team moved Brad Stevens from head coach to president after Danny Ainge stepped down, it traded Kemba Walker for Al Horford, and will hire Ime Udoka to be its next head coach.

The action might not end there.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, and the Celtics could be a team in the mix to get him, The Athletic’s Trail Blazers beat writer Jason Quick wrote in a mailbag column.

“I’ve also heard Boston could be interested in a player like McCollum, and I’ve always thought Marcus Smart and his defense would be a great pairing in Portland (obviously it would take more to make salaries match, but Smart would be a great start),” Quick wrote.

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Quick isn’t alone in thinking that a McCollum trade to Boston would make sense. Sports Illustrated NBA reporter Chris Mannix thinks McCollum is “the kind of player that would complement Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum well.”

“He’s a lead guard. He’s offensive-oriented. He’s played alongside a volume scorer in Damian Lillard before, so this isn’t going to be new to him,” Mannix said on NBC Sports Boston’s “Early Edition.” “I think a change of scenery would do CJ McCollum well. He’s also under contract for three more years. I think he’d be an excellent fit alongside these young guys.”

While Mannix said the Blazers have told McCollum that he won’t get traded this offseason, Quick believes it’s “probable, if not certain” that McCollum gets traded.

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Following another first-round exit, Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said “Nothing is ever off the table if it advances us closer to a championship,” signaling that any move could be made.

As mentioned by Quick, both teams would have to send matching salary amounts because they’re both over the cap. With McCollum set to make $30.9 million next season (and $100 million over the next three years), the Celtics would be in a tricky spot to match salaries without giving up Tatum or Brown.

In order to make such a deal work, the Celtics would have to give up either Al Horford plus another player or Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson. However, it doesn’t seem likely that the Celtics would trade Horford, who they re-acquired just last week, and the Blazers don’t have a need for him with Jusuf Nurkic in place.

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That makes the Smart and Thompson deal more likely of the two. The Blazers also have a bigger need for someone like Smart, a two-time All-NBA Defensive First Team member, as they had the second-worst defensive rating in the league this season.

For the Celtics, dealing their longest-tenured player would be tough, but there’s some potential upside in making the move for McCollum.

By trading Kemba Walker to the Thunder, the Celtics lost a guard who averaged 19.9 points per game for them over the last two seasons. McCollum scored 23.1 points per game this season while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point territory. In addition to his scoring, McCollum added 4.7 assists per game this season, roughly the same amount Walker (4.9) had and one less per game than Smart.

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McCollum is also under contract for three more years while Smart enters the final year of his contract. In addition, McCollum will only be turning 30 in September, putting his final prime years in line with a “win-now” window for the Celtics.

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