The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t among the top teams in the NBA last season, but things could look much different by September. The team’s two biggest stars are working to recruit forward Carmelo Anthony, an impact scorer who’s spent much of the summer on the trading block.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum form one of the best backcourts in the league. They, along with center Jusuf Nurkic, give the Trail Blazers a core that looks capable of another postseason appearance but severely undermanned compared to rosters like the Warriors and Spurs.
That’s where Anthony comes in. The 10-time All-Star is still under contract with the Knicks, but he has reportedly expressed a willingness to waive his no-trade clause for two teams: the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both Lillard and McCollum say they’ve reached out to Anthony within the last few days, trying to convince him to add the Trail Blazers to that list. McCollum believes that Anthony is exactly what Portland needs to reach the next level.
“He can help us a lot; we can help him,” said McCollum, according to The Oregonian. “He wants to play in the playoffs and be competitive. He’s a very talented player. I think if we get him — when we get him — I think [we’re] top three in the West, easy.”
Anthony is reportedly still waiting on the Knicks to trade him to Houston, but that deal has stalled for now. Sources say that the native New Yorker isn’t interested in a move to Portland, but that hasn’t stopped the Trail Blazers guards from trying to gain every advantage.
“Obviously, with [a trade] being out there and that being a real possibility, I don’t see why I wouldn’t reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual, if he’s interested in us,” Lillard said. “We had a conversation…so he knew that it wasn’t just the team — but it was myself and CJ — [that] would love to have him here.”
The NBA has seen a flurry of big moves this offseason, with some of the biggest involving established stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler moving from the East to the West. Lillard and McCollum haven’t been shy about trying to get in on the action, taking their recruiting efforts to Twitter and Instagram.
“I know [adding talent] gives us a better chance,” Lillard said. “You have the best teams out there trying to improve their roster, so I think we should be trying to do the same. And I think we are.”
The Trail Blazers went 41-41 last season, getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Warriors. Meanwhile, Anthony averaged 22.4 points per game for the Knicks.