CJ McCollum
Photo: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Portland Trail Blazers would love to convince Damian Lillard the team could contend for a title next season, as the Oakland native hopes to see improvements to the team’s title chances.

However, the Blazers are not actively shopping the second-best piece of the team, CJ McCollum, who is by far the player who would bring the most in return.

Jason Quick of The Athletic reports:

“The obvious and easiest path to acquire talent is trading shooting guard CJ McCollum. Not only can his $30.8 million salary bring back a player, or players, of value, but also Portland already has his replacement in Powell, who is a natural shooting guard. That would allow Portland to explore landing an upgrade at small forward or power forward (Robert Covington can play both forward positions).

But it sounds like Portland is not actively shopping McCollum. I don’t know whether that is because Portland doesn’t agree with how teams value McCollum, or whether Neil Olshey is overly infatuated with him, but the general tone I’ve heard is the Blazers won’t move him just to have a different look next season. The trade has to make them better, and so far, other teams haven’t met that bar,” Quick wrote, per NBC Sports.

The Blazers’ front office hopes that a head coach change (Chauncey Billups replaced Terry Stotts) is enough for the team to improve dramatically, after another first-round exit this past season.

Last season, McCollum averaged 23.4 points, 4.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 47 appearances with the Trail Blazers. He shot 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep in 8.9 threes per contest.

So far, Portland’s moves have been to swap out Cody Zeller in place of Enes Kanter and add Ben McLemore as a reliable back-up option for the perimeter.