CJ McCollum was having his best season as a pro averaging over 26 PPG, and pushing for an All-Star spot in the Western Conference. Now, an injured left foot is expected to keep him out for at least the next four weeks. With a current record of 8-6 and sitting at 6th in the West, there is still plenty of time for McCollum to heal up and return, but it will be tough for Portland to keep things afloat while he is out.
Star center Jusuf Nurkic recently went down with a wrist injury that will likely keep him out at least six weeks. Averaging a double-double to start the season, losing Nurkic is a tough obstacle the team will work to overcome. Enes Kanter is a solid veteran center who will suffice while Nurkic works his way back to the active roster. There is very little room for error in the West, and the Blazers will have to play extremely well in the coming weeks to stay relative in the already highly competitive playoff race. While he has become a key piece to the Blazers core, staying on the court has been a tough task for Nurkic and Portland may be ready to make a move to more durable pieces to build around.
Damian Lillard is an elite PG which is why the panic button hasn't quite been pushed yet in Portland. Though Dame has the ability to carry a team, the Blazers could be players in the trade market going forward. Recently signed forward Robert Covington has had a horrible start to the season and may not be a great fit long-term. Cleveland has a plethora of centers and are expected to deal at least one before the trade deadline. Trade Covington in a package to acquire Andre Drummond and disgruntled young forward Kevin Porter Jr. To make this kind of deal happen they may have to send another big contract like Jusuf Nurkic. While this could be a risky move given the chemistry between Lillard and Nurkic, Drummond is an elite talent at the center position and acquiring him along with a lottery pick only a year ago in Porter, might be too much for the Trail Blazers to pass up. While this may not be the answer to the team's problems, there could be plenty of options out there to redeem their strong start to the season. Come playoff time, having Lillard and McCollum is an elite backcourt and having a third piece on the team that can produce at an elite level would give Portland a legit opportunity at making a deep playoff run. Will that 3rd star going forward be Nurkic or someone else?