The Portland Trail Blazers are a perpetually good team: they almost always make the playoffs under Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. They're consistent at the very least, and for a smaller franchise, it is hard to risk consistency, even if it's for a chance at the ring. However, Damian Lillard is a transcendent player who can bring a team to the Finals. He has been loyal to the Trail Blazers, and the least they could do is risk it for a championship. Winning one in a small market isn't easy: but it makes it that much sweeter if a hometown hero can bring it to them.
There have been rumors surrounding James Harden, and the Houston Rockets star added the Portland Trail Blazers to the list of his preferred destinations. Assuming Lillard is untouchable, the trade would have to center around their next biggest contract and star, CJ McCollum. A possible trade would require a lot of assets out of Portland but perhaps they could give them up for a former MVP. Here's what a possible trade would look like.
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: James Harden
Houston Rockets Receive: CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, 3 future picks
Houston Rockets Re-Tool Post James Harden
The Houston Rockets would want two-things out of a trade package: some players for the future, and an established star. With this trade, the Rockets would get a giant trade package out of the Trail Blazers, perhaps using other team's trade offers to extract a similar deal. CJ McCollum would headline the package for salary and skill reasons. Pairing McCollum with John Wall and Christian Wood could lead to big things in Houston. The Houston Rockets are one of the few teams without any wins to start the season, and trading a disgruntled Harden could let the Rockets roster start winning. It would also let Harden leave Houston, something that he wanted.
CJ McCollum is an All-Star caliber guard. While he has never made an All-Star team, he is right up there with the top shooting guards in the league. McCollum has averaged 20.0 or more PPG consistent for the last few seasons alongside Damian Lillard and can create well for himself on the perimeter. McCollum is an elite scorer who can also play off-ball; he'd be perfect with a high usage point guard like John Wall. Rodney Hood and Zach Collins are both solid role players. Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little are both building blocks for the future; the three picks on top of that might seem like a bit much but remember that Jrue Holiday fetched three from Milwaukee: if the Blazers want to compete, they have to pay up.
Portland Trail Blazers Evolve To Being A Contender
James Harden and Damian Lillard would be a salivating duo to watch. They are both transcendent scorers and playmakers and could help each other reach a new level. Defenses already double and triple-team both of them: imagine both on the same team. Imagine for a second that James Harden drives to the rim and brings defenders to him, only to kick it out to an open Damian Lillard. They would immediately become one of the best guard duos in the league. They would be unstoppable on the perimeter. They might not be elite on defense; but does it matter if the opponent is being hit with a barrage of unguardable 3PT shots?
The Trail Blazers roster that would result from this hypothetical trade would be a championship contender. James Harden has been maligned as not being a clutch player: perhaps Damian Lillard could help with that. Damian Lillard in turn would get an offensive player who could draw extreme amounts of attention to himself: most people are not letting James Harden get single coverage and isolate against a weak defender. Essentially, this would be a match made in heaven for the two guards. Carmelo Anthony, Jusuf Nurkic, and Robert Covington would round out the roster: they are all elite pieces around two superstars. Essentially, trading for Harden would make Portland a championship-level team.