With a 15-21 record and cheap jerseys sitting ninth in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers could potentially use C.J. McCollum as a trade chip to acquire the frontcourt presence they desperately need.ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes reported Wednesday the Blazers are holding firm in not making McCollum available in trades. As part of an offseason spending spree, the Blazers gave McCollum a four-year, $106 million extension that goes into effect starting next year. Portland also re-signed Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless and spared no expense to bring in Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli as free agents. According to Spotrac, the Blazers’ payroll climbed from 27th in 2015-16 ($66,562,366) to third in 2016-17 ($113,260,408), and that’s before McCollum’s extension is added to the books. In October, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that some around the league thought general manager Neil Olshey was essentially acquiring pieces he could later package into a big trade down the road. Stein also classified McCollum and Damian Lillard as “backcourt bedrocks.” The trouble for Olshey now is that trading McCollum may be the only way for Portland to get the players who can turn the team around. Crabbe and Turner are having disappointing years, while Harkless is a solid but unspectacular small forward. After winning the league’s Most Improved Player Award in 2015-16, McCollum is averaging 22.9 points per game on 47.9 percent shooting. His three-point percentage has also improved from 41.7 percent last year to 43 percent. Trading a player of McCollum’s ability would be risky and likely evoke comparisons to the Oklahoma City Thunder sending James Harden to the Houston Rockets in 2012, which was more so for financial reasons. That is likely to be the only way, however, for Portland to strengthen its roster to a point where it could make a deep playoff run this season.