C.J. McCollum

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Layden, Wolves, Craig

The Trail Blazers may have injured guard C.J. McCollum back in their lineup tomorrow, tweets Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum is listed as probable for a second straight division showdown with the Nuggets. He hasn’t played since suffering a left knee strain on March 16.

The return of McCollum, who is second on the team in scoring at 21.3 PPG, comes at an opportune time for Portland, which is trying to hold onto home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. After last night’s loss to Denver, the Blazers stand at 50-29, just one game ahead of the fifth-place Jazz.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves will decide the fate of GM Scott Layden after the season ends, with ESPN broadcaster Chauncey Billups and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth among the top candidates if Minnesota decides to make a change, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Wolves owner Glen Taylor was reportedly unhappy with Layden and former coach/executive Tom Thibodeau over the way they handled Jimmy Butler‘s trade request. Thibodeau was dismissed in early January.
  • A $9.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception will provide the Timberwolves with their best chance to improve this summer, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. All five starters will be under contract if Jeff Teague opts in to his $19MM salary, so Minnesota can use the MLE to try to fortify its reserves. Leroux suggests Marcus Morris, Tyreke Evans, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as possible targets.
  • Torrey Craig has become the Nuggets‘ most disruptive force on defense, observes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. The second-year forward has increased his stats across the board this season and is a valuable part of the rotation heading into the playoffs. “I hate to see guys comfortable, just dribbling easy getting to their spots,” Craig said. “So I make sure they try to feel me all the time no matter what, coming off screens or bringing the ball down court. I just want to be a physical presence on them the whole time.”

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Nurkic, Tolliver, Jensen

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has been sidelined with a left popliteus strain since March 16, but has ramped up his on-court work as he nears a potential return, writes Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. McCollum still wasn’t ready to commit to a specific return date, but sounded optimistic that he won’t be on the shelf for much longer.

“I think, having did some stuff today, I’m going to see how my body reacts, try to get through this week, see where I’m at and kind of go from there,” McCollum said on Wednesday. “When I first got hurt there were some dates that I kind of circled and I’m getting close to them, so I’ll see how I feel. But the biggest thing for me is to make sure I’m symptom-free, make sure I don’t have any lingering issues before I step back on the court.”

With four games left in the season, Portland has a two-game cushion on Utah for the No. 4 seed. The Blazers will finish their season against the Nuggets (twice), the Lakers, and the Kings as they look to secure home court advantage for the first round — it remains to be seen whether McCollum will be able to get back for any of those games.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers recorded their 50th win on Wednesday night, which means that injured center Jusuf Nurkic has officially earned a $1.25MM bonus. As Bobby Marks of ESPN.com details, Portland is now on the hook for another $2.19MM in tax costs, though that number will decrease a little when Maurice Harkless fails to shoot 35% on threes. Nurkic’s cap hit for 2019/20 will rise from $12MM to $13.25MM, since that 50-win bonus is now considered “likely” for next season.
  • When the Timberwolves faced the Mavericks last night, Anthony Tolliver could have been playing against the Wolves rather than for them, notes Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that he thinks Minnesota should have accepted Dallas’ trade offer of J.J. Barea and a second-round pick. Wolfson has previously reported that the Thunder and Raptors offered second-round picks attached to Patrick Patterson and C.J. Miles, respectively, for Tolliver, but those deals would’ve taken the Wolves into the tax.
  • In a discussion at The Athletic, Britt Robson and Jon Krawczynski look ahead to the Timberwolves’ offseason, examining the return from the Jimmy Butler trade, Ryan Saunders‘ future, and much more.
  • Jazz assistant Alex Jensen interviewed for the head coaching position at BYU this week, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link) first identified Jensen as a potential frontrunner for BYU.

McCollum To Miss At Least Four More Games

The Trail Blazers could be without their second-leading scorer, shooting guard C.J. McCollum, for the rest of the regular season, according to an NBA.com report.

McCollum will not accompany the team on its upcoming four-game road trip, coach Terry Stotts told the media on Monday. He hasn’t played since suffering a left knee strain on March 16.

McCollum is averaging 21.3 points while shooting 46.3% from the field, including 38.0% from distance.

The Blazers won’t have another home game until April 3 against Memphis. There will only be a week left in the regular season at that point.

McCollum’s health is a major concern for a team that is trying to avert a second straight postseason flop. The Blazers were swept by New Orleans last season. McCollum has two years left on his four-year, $106.6MM contract and has often been the subject of trade rumors, which will intensify if Portland doesn’t advance in the playoffs this spring.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Jokic, Millsap, Wolves

While teammate Damian Lillard says he’s mentally preparing for C.J. McCollum to miss most or all of the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, McCollum isn’t ready to specify a target date or even to provide a general recovery timeline. As Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com relays, McCollum says he’s simply taking the injury “day by day.”

“What, did they say I’ll be re-evaluated in one week?” McCollum said when asked about a potential return date. “So, just taking it day by day, I don’t have a timeline that I’m going to give you guys, but I think just based on the research, there’s not a lot of injuries like this that have happened. So timeline is different just depending on the age, how well your body heals, what you’ve done before that and kind of where you’re at. But hopefully I can be back sooner than later.”

As I noted on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers are in a competitive race for a top-four seed, but have an easier schedule than several of their Western Conference rivals, meaning they won’t rush McCollum back onto the court. The important thing for Portland is that the 27-year-old is as close to 100% healthy as possible when the postseason gets underway. He’s due to be re-evaluated this weekend.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • When the Nuggets clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap locked in bonuses worth $431K and $150K respectively, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.com, who adds (via Twitter) that both players will receive additional bonuses if Denver wins a postseason series. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports observes (via Twitter), Jokic and Millsap will have slightly higher cap hits next season now that those incentives shift from “unlikely” to “likely.”
  • Cameron Reynolds‘ new multiyear deal with Minnesota is actually a three-year contract that runs through 2020/21, tweets Keith Smith. That means the Timberwolves used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Reynolds. The deal still isn’t expected to include much – if any – guaranteed money beyond this season.
  • The Timberwolves‘ playoff hopes have been extinguished, but there’s still plenty to watch in Minnesota in the coming weeks, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Most pressingly, it remains to be seen who will be making the personnel decisions for the club this offseason or coaching the team next fall, Robson notes.

Lillard Preparing As If McCollum Will Miss Rest Of Regular Season

After suffering a left knee injury over the weekend, C.J. McCollum is expected to be re-evaluated this Saturday. However, Damian Lillard told reporters last night that he’s not necessarily counting on his backcourt mate to be back anytime soon.

As Jason Quick of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), Lillard wants McCollum to get back to 100% before he returns and is mentally preparing for him to miss the rest of the regular season.

“I don’t want him to have to rush it. And when he does come back, I want him to be himself and be healthy,” Lillard said, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (Twitter link). “So, in my mind, we’re going to finish the regular season without him.”

The Trail Blazers remain in a tight race for home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason. Currently, the team holds the No. 4 seed, with a 1.5-game cushion over the Spurs and Thunder and a two-game lead over Utah.

While Portland would certainly like to have McCollum back in its lineup as soon as possible to secure a top-four spot in the conference, it makes more sense to hold him out until he’s fully healthy — especially since the team’s schedule isn’t particularly brutal down the stretch. Outside of two games vs. Denver and two vs. Detroit, the Blazers don’t face any opponents above .500 the rest of the way.

Perhaps the ideal outcome for the Blazers would be to get McCollum back a few games before the end of the regular season. That could allow him to shake off the rust before the playoffs begin while potentially returning in time for what could be a crucial home-and-home set against the Nuggets on April 5 and April 7. We’ll have to wait to see how McCollum’s recovery progresses, however.

C.J. McCollum To Be Re-Evaluated In One Week With Popliteus Strain

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has avoided a major injury, with an MRI revealing that he suffered a popliteus strain in his left knee against the Spurs on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

McCollum will be re-evaluated in one week, Wojnarowski reports.

“God looked out for me,” McCollum told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). “Could’ve been a lot worse.”

McCollum, 27, exited Saturday’s game early after landing awkwardly on his knee. He appeared to be in significant pain, immediately being helped to the locker room and sending a scare throughout the Blazers organization. Initial X-rays were negative after the game.

McCollum has averaged 21.3 points, four rebounds and 2.9 assists in 68 contests this season, shooting 46% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. He’s in his sixth straight season with the team since being drafted 10th overall in 2013.

The Blazers are gearing up to make a playoff run behind the likes of McCollum, Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic and others, holding the fourth-best record in the West at 42-27 with less than a month remaining in the regular season.

MRI Set For C.J. McCollum

10:11pm: Blazers coach Terry Stotts said X-rays were negative and McCollum will fly back to Portland with the team for more tests, Quick tweets. McCollum also confirmed to Quick that it’s his knee that is hurting (Twitter link). He said the knee “does not feel normal” (Twitter link).

9:51pm: Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum will have an MRI on his left knee tomorrow after injuring it in tonight’s game at San Antonio, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

McCollum had to be helped off the court in the third quarter when he crashed to the ground on a drive to the basket and was stepped on by Spurs center Jakob Poeltl. He appeared to be putting some weight on the ankle as he exited, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Blazers announced that he was out for the remainder of the game and called it simply “a left leg injury,” tweets beat reporter Casey Holdahl.

It would be a huge setback for Portland to lose McCollum, who has helped to propel the Blazers into fourth place in the West. Part of a dynamic backcourt with Damian Lillard, McCollum is averaging 21.5 points per game and shooting better than 38% from 3-point range.

Blazers Players Discuss Team’s Deadline Outlook

The Trail Blazers figure to be among the teams looking for some extra help at the trade deadline this season, but Damian Lillard hopes that the club will only make a move if it’s clear upgrade — otherwise, he may not want to risk upsetting Portland’s chemistry, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“When you look around the league, you just see the talent. Teams are stacking up on talent,” Lillard said. “You see a lot of guys teaming up and guys wanting to be on the same team. When you want to compete with that — like on a championship level — you gotta try to fight that with firepower. For us, I think our chemistry, our style of play, and the coaching we have — that’s a big thing for us. So like, we lean on that. We’ve been successful with it. But when you talk about a championship level, it’s tough to compete with those ultra-talented teams — Golden State, Oklahoma City, teams that just have player after player after player.

“If we go away from (team chemistry and continuity), it has to be for certain that we are able to match (the West’s top teams) talent-wise,” Lillard added. “I’m not saying ‘Do it’ if we can get that, I’m just saying if we are ever going to sacrifice (chemistry), it would have to come with us being able to match a team with talent.”

As Quick relays, Lillard repeatedly cautioned that he wasn’t telling team president of basketball operations Neil Olshey what he should or shouldn’t do with the roster at the deadline. “It’s a hard job,” the star point guard said of Olshey’s position. “And that’s why I’m glad it’s not mine.”

Still, Lillard’s stance is an interesting one. Many players around the league would encourage their general managers to make whatever moves they believe will get their respective teams closer to a championship. Lillard, on the other hand, told Quick that he doesn’t want to be so focused on winning a title that he sacrifices teammates to get there.

“At the end of the day, I know in my heart I want to win. I want to win a championship for this city, but I’m not willing to put somebody under the bus to do it,” Lillard said. “That means more to me than saying ‘I won a championship, but now this guy has been traded to a bad situation, and now his team don’t like him as much and he might be out of the league in a year.’ I’m not going to have that. I’m not going to have that on me.”

Here’s more from Blazers players on the team’s trade deadline outlook, via Quick:

  • Lillard explained further why he doesn’t want to get too involved in telling Olshey and the front office what they should do at the deadline: “I’ve never been somebody to go out there and be like, ‘We need to do this, or we need to do that,’ because people’s lives are involved, and I don’t deal with that.”
  • When discussing the West’s top teams, Lillard also observed that it’s “hard to get that much talent to come to Portland,” acknowledging that the Blazers will be at a disadvantage against bigger-market teams when competing for top free agents.
  • Like Lillard, Evan Turner doesn’t envy the position Olshey is in: “It seems like we are up and down of where we want to go. You look at one half of the roster and it looks like a rebuild, and the other half is try-to-win, and see how far we can push it. So whatever (Olshey) does, I’m sure he will do what’s best for the organization. Hopefully, if he does deal, it’s a deal you can’t say no to, as opposed to a flip of a coin whether it’s going to work or not.”
  • While the Blazers are very unlikely to move C.J. McCollum, the standout guard acknowledged that he’s become accustomed to seeing his name pop up in trade rumors and speculation: “What’s his name … Bill Simmons has been trying to get me traded for like five years. There’s a proposed trade for me three times a year by him. I admire the fact that he thinks I’m worthy of being traded to … 12 teams.”

Northwest Notes: Grant, Westbrook, Mitchell

A nice surprise for the Thunder during their recent stretch of strong play has been the development from Jerami Grant, especially as he entered a new role in the starting lineup. As Maddie Lee writes for NewsOK, Grant is thriving as a starter and the team has benefited from his presence in the lineup.

Lee points out that Grant is shooting 52.7% as a starter, as opposed to 26.1% coming off the bench this season, which makes sense considering the offensive talent he is surrounded with in the starting lineup. Grant is having a career year across the board, posting career-highs in scoring (11.6 PPG), rebounding (5.2 RPG) and 3-point shooting (36.8% on three attempts per game).

It will be interesting to see if Grant can keep shooting at this level, especially when Andre Roberson returns, which would further cramp the floor-spacing in the starting lineup.

There’s more from the Northwest division: