CJ McCollum

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Pelicans Bench, Wood, McGee, Wall

CJ McCollum has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out for Friday’s game against the Grizzlies, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In his first full season as a starting point guard, the Pelicans veteran is averaging 18.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.1 APG and 1.2 SPG on .410/.342/.794 shooting through 17 games (35.1 MPG). The rebounds and assists represent career highs, but the FG% and 3PT% are career lows. McCollum has never shot below 37.5% from long distance, so his current figure should rise over time.

With McCollum sidelined in Wednesday’s victory over the Spurs, second-year guard Jose Alvarado started in his place, with Devonte’ Graham and Dyson Daniels receiving more playing time off the bench. That should continue until McCollum is cleared to return.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans‘ bench has been a major reason the team has withstood short-term injuries to stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram thus far in 2022/23, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com (subscriber link). “It’s extremely important if you want to go far in the postseason,” head coach Willie Green said. “Having your second unit come in that can execute, that’s fearless. They play together. They play with joy. It makes all the difference in the world of how far your team can go.” As Clark notes, Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. have been standout performers off the bench, but multiple players are contributing to wins for the 11-7 Pelicans.
  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News questions why Christian Wood hasn’t received more playing time after the Mavericks dealt their 2022 first-round pick to acquire him from Houston in the offseason. Sherrington writes that the Mavs knew Wood wasn’t a great defensive player when they made the trade, and he’s been highly productive when on the court, averaging 17.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG on .585/.447/.697 shooting in just 25.3 MPG through 15 games. On the other end of the spectrum, Sherrington states that JaVale McGee has been a disappointing free agent addition thus far and probably shouldn’t be getting rotation minutes.
  • Both Wood and head coach Jason Kidd responded to questions about Wood potentially entering the Mavericks‘ starting lineup after Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the Celtics, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think I’m gonna just keep that that personal opinion to myself,” Wood said. “But what I can say is I’m enjoying my time here. I love playing for Dallas. These guys, they support me. They pick me up when I have a bad game. So things are going great.” Kidd said he talks to his staff about possible changes every day, and suggested one might be coming soon. “You’ve got to look at all the combinations you got to see who’s playing well,” he said, per Townsend. “And just understand that sometimes change has to happen. It’s just the nature of sport. There’s no hard feelings or anything personal. This is their job and we’re trying to win ballgames. We’re trying to put the right combinations out there.”
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, former Rockets guard John Wall talked about mentoring the team’s young backcourt and his relationship with head coach Stephen Silas, among other topics. Wall signed with the Clippers over the summer after being bought out by Houston, and is averaging 11.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.7 APG and 1.1 APG through 15 games (22.1 MPG) as Los Angeles’ backup point guard.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, McCollum, Daniels, Lewis, Alvarado

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Tuesday’s game vs. Memphis due to a right foot contusion, but the injury isn’t expected to sideline him for long.

According to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link), head coach Willie Green said on Tuesday that Williamson has a chance to be back in the lineup on Wednesday vs. Chicago. The former No. 1 pick will be evaluated today after resting on Tuesday.

Once Williamson is available, the Pelicans will continue trying to figure out how best to use him on offense. As Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes, after Williamson dished six assists to go with 26 points on Saturday, Green said the team trusts Zion to “make the right play” with the ball in his hands and will try to use him in a ball-handling role more often going forward.

“I think it’s adding more layers to our offense,” Green said. “We recognized that from the past, with Z handling the basketball and trying to take advantage of mismatches, it’s something we need to exploit.”

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • After making just 15-of-55 (27.3%) field goal attempts in his previous four games, CJ McCollum knocked down 11-of-23 in Tuesday’s win, scoring a season-high 30 points. According to Clark, McCollum had been dealing with a viral infection that seemed to be affecting his play. “I’ve been playing like s–t,” McCollum said. “I’ve been feeling like s–t. I have been shooting the ball really poorly, which is uncharacteristic. I’m normally not good at the other things, but I can always shoot. That was frustrating: not being able to help my team the way I wanted to but not having the energy.”
  • Dyson Daniels hasn’t seen regular playing time so far in his rookie season, but Green said on Tuesday after Daniels played 17 minutes that he doesn’t have any reservations about using the 19-year-old. “He understands the game at a high level,” Green said, per Clark. “I feel comfortable putting him on the floor. I’m super excited about what he did tonight.” Daniels scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting on Tuesday, but grabbed nine rebounds and was a plus-13 off the bench.
  • Kira Lewis was assigned to the Birmingham Squadron in the G League earlier this week to regain his rhythm as he continues to make his way back from an ACL tear, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Asked by Lopez if he feels faster than he was before the injury, Lewis said that he does, since the rehab process forced him to focus on specific parts of his body that he never had before. “With therapy, you have to slow down and work on every part of your leg,” Lewis said (Twitter link). “… My movements feel more efficient. … I definitely feel faster.”
  • James Herbert of CBS Sports profiles Jose Alvarado, examining how the second-year guard became an important piece of the Pelicans’ backcourt after going undrafted last year.

Pelicans Notes: AD Trade, Jones, Marshall, McCollum

The Anthony Davis trade continues to look great for New Orleans, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, who writes that the Lakers‘ failures will be the Pelicans‘ successes for at least two more years.

After receiving Los Angeles’ first-round pick in 2022 and using it to draft Dyson Daniels, New Orleans has swap rights with L.A. in 2023 and will get the Lakers’ first-rounder in 2024 (with the option to defer it to 2025). Given the way the Lakers have been playing, that means the Pelicans could have at least one more lottery pick headed their way, even if they make the playoffs.

In addition to the draft picks the Pelicans secured in the Davis trade, Brandon Ingram has turned into an All-Star caliber cornerstone for the organization. Plus, Josh Hart – who was part of the Davis blockbuster – was a key piece of the outgoing trade package in the 2022 deadline trade that sent CJ McCollum and Larry Nance to New Orleans.

The Pelicans will visit the Lakers on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Athetic’s Mike Prada, Jovan Buha, and Will Guillory also revisited the Davis trade, debating whether it can be viewed as a successful deal for both teams, given that the Lakers won a title with AD in 2020.
  • Pelicans forward Herb Jones appears to be ready to return to action after missing three games due to a hyperextended right knee. He has been listed as probable to play in Wednesday’s game in Los Angeles.
  • Naji Marshall, who is on a minimum-salary contract that runs through 2023/24, has been an important contributor for the Pelicans with Jones and Ingram sidelined as of late, Clark writes for NOLA.com. Marshall has scored 15 points and shot at least 53.8% from the field in each of his last three games, all starts. “Naji’s a dog, but he’s also very coachable and from a teammate perspective, like if you tell him, ‘Naj, maybe you should do it like this,’ he’s not gonna fight you on it,” Zion Williamson said. “He’s just gonna go out there and he’s going to do what’s asked of him. You love to have players like that on your team.”
  • In a Q&A with Mark Medina of NBA.com, CJ McCollum discussed his adjustment to a point guard role, how he’s dealing with a sprained finger, and where he thinks the Pelicans fit in the Western Conference pecking order. “It’s the Warriors and everybody else,” McCollum said, adding that New Orleans still has “a lot we have to learn and improve” after losing in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Southwest Notes: Dieng, Primo, McCollum, Jackson Jr.

Gorgui Dieng was signed by the Spurs on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract. Dieng’s influence in the locker room is the main reason why the team wanted the veteran big man, who has thus far only appeared in three games, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

“We just love Gorgui,” teammate Doug McDermott said. “I’ve been on six (NBA) teams, and you don’t see guys make a connection that quickly in a locker room. It usually doesn’t happen.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • While details regarding the Spurs’ abrupt decision to waive Joshua Primo have leaked out, coach Gregg Popovich refuses to comment on the situation, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. “I think under the circumstances, I think it’s inappropriate for me to say anything beyond what we have already put out for our statement,” Popovich said. Primo allegedly exposed himself to multiple women.
  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum prefers to give his teammates an honest and sometimes blunt assessment of what they’re doing wrong. That’s his style of leadership, he told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune. “I am going to be very direct. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear,” he said. “I think you can respect that because of how consistent I am.”
  • While the Grizzlies are 4-2, their defense has often been lacking, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. They have given up more than 120 points in four of their first six games. The absence of Jaren Jackson Jr. during his injury rehab has contributed to the problem, as he’s adept at contesting stretch fours in addition to protecting the rim.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, McCollum, Ingram, Jones

Within an in-depth feature by Howard Beck of SI.com, Pelicans star Zion Williamson said that he was in “dark places at times” while he spent last season recovering from a broken foot.

“I couldn’t play basketball. I could only do limited rehab things. And then just seeing how the world reacted? It took a lot. It did a lot on my spirit,” Williamson said, acknowledging that the criticism he faced from outside observers took a toll on him and his family.

Having leaned on assistant coaches Teresa Weatherspoon – whom Williamson described as being “like a big sister” – and Corey Brewer to help get him through the year, the former No. 1 overall pick believes he’s grown a lot and is in a much better place heading into the 2022/23 season, both mentally and physically.

After signing a five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Pelicans in the offseason, Williamson has also gotten a reprieve from questions about his commitment to New Orleans. Speaking to Beck, the fourth-year forward laughed off the speculation that he’d want to leave the Pelicans after getting a first-hand look at the team’s second-half surge and playoff appearance last season.

“People really out here think that I could witness something like that and then tell myself I don’t want to be (there)?” Williamson said.

Here’s more on Zion and the Pelicans:

  • Williamson left Wednesday’s preseason game with left ankle soreness, but the injury is considered minor, and the team only removed him for precautionary reasons, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “It was one of those things where it happened and I popped back up, like, ‘Yeah, I’m straight,'” Williamson said. “Played a few minutes after that, it felt fine. Then they sent me to the back just to double-check. We wanted to look at it, had a doc look at it, and he just said a little day-to-day soreness. But outside of that, I personally feel fine. Wasn’t bad news from the docs.”
  • CJ McCollum returned to action on Wednesday after missing two preseason contests with a sore right ankle, while Brandon Ingram (toe) remained out. According to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link), head coach Willie Green said that Ingram went through a full practice on Tuesday, and the forward himself told ESPN’s Lopez (Twitter link) that he thinks he’ll be able to play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday.
  • In his first diary entry for Andscape, McCollum (as relayed by Marc J. Spears) explains why he’s “genuinely excited” about playing in New Orleans and says he’s embracing the opportunity to be a vocal leader and the primary ball-handler and decision-maker in the backcourt after seeing Damian Lillard play that role in Portland.
  • In a story for The Athletic, Guillory profiles second-year forward Herbert Jones, who has the potential to raise the Pelicans’ ceiling if he continues to improve following a very promising rookie season.

Contract Details: Lakers, Galloway, DSJ, McCollum, More

When the Lakers signed Matt Ryan and Dwayne Bacon to non-guaranteed training camp contracts earlier this month, both players received Exhibit 9 clauses in their new deals, but not Exhibit 10s, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Exhibit 9 contracts are non-guaranteed camp deals that don’t count against the cap during the preseason and offer teams some protection in the event of an injury. Exhibit 10s are similar, but also allow teams to convert the player to a two-way deal (if he’s eligible) or to give him a bonus worth up to $50K if he’s waived and then spends at least 60 days with the team’s G League affiliate.

As a general rule, a player who signs a training camp contract without an Exhibit 10 clause is usually just competing for a spot on his team’s 15-man regular season roster and won’t end up playing for the club’s G League affiliate if he doesn’t make the cut.

Langston Galloway (Pacers), Dennis Smith Jr. (Hornets), LiAngelo Ball (Hornets), Cody Zeller (Jazz), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Suns), and Wes Iwundu (Trail Blazers) are among the other recently signed free agents who signed Exhibit 9 – not Exhibit 10 – contracts.

Here are a few more contract details from around the NBA:

Southwest Notes: Wood, Mavs, Vogel, Spurs, McCollum

After Jason Kidd told reporters on Monday that the plan is for Christian Wood to come off the bench in his first season for the Mavericks, the big man said in his own media session that he was hearing about it for the first time. Following up on that topic on Tuesday, Kidd admitted he hadn’t spoken directly to Wood about his role, but he also suggested the big man wasn’t totally in the dark about it.

“I haven’t really talked to him about that. I know my assistants have,” Kidd said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). “When you use the term, ‘When you check in with six minutes…’ that means you didn’t start.

“So we’ll get to talking about his role as we go forward. I’ve never coached him, so I want to first see what he’s capable of doing with different lineups and different combinations here in preseason, and then we’ll make a decision on where he’s going to play, if he’s coming off the bench or starting. But right now, he will not start.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Frank Vogel will be with the Mavericks in training camp for “a couple of days,” according to Kidd, who said the former Lakers head coach took him up right away on an open invitation to visit (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News). Vogel, who worked with Kidd in Los Angeles, doesn’t have a formal NBA job this season after being let go by L.A. in the spring.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t have any delusions about his team’s ability to seriously contend this season, telling reporters on Monday, “Nobody here should go to Vegas and bet on this team to win the championship,” as Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News relays. While his young players are hoping to defy the odds and win more games than expected, Popovich said the focus will be on player development and growth. “At this point, the job is really to start them out the right way,” Popovich said. “Just like a new baby, and giving that baby all the nutrients it needs to develop properly and in the best environment. That’s our goal. Whatever success we have will come from that.”
  • CJ McCollum‘s new two-year contract extension with the Pelicans has a declining structure, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). McCollum will earn $33.3MM in 2024/25 and $30.7MM in ’25/26.

CJ McCollum Signs Two-Year Extension With Pelicans

SEPTEMBER 26: McCollum’s extension is now official, according to Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin, who praised the veteran guard for “taking less money in his extension to keep this group together” (Twitter links via Andrew Lopez of ESPN and Christian Clark of NOLA.com).

SEPTEMBER 24: The Pelicans and CJ McCollum have reached an agreement on a two-year extension valued at $64MM, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This deal, which was confirmed by McCollum’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Basketball, will run through the end of the 2025/26 season.

McCollum made an immediate impact in New Orleans after being acquired from the Trail Blazers in February. He averaged 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game as the Pelicans stormed back from a slow start and earned a spot in the play-in tournament. He was equally effective in the playoffs as New Orleans took the top-seeded Suns to six games in their first-round matchup.

The 31-year-old shooting guard is part of what looks to be a strong foundation that could keep the Pelicans in playoff contention for the next few years. Brandon Ingram provides another consistent scoring threat, and the return of Zion Williamson could round out one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.

All three players are now under contract for the next three seasons, notes Christian Clark of NOLA.com (Twitter link).

The extension was a priority for Pelicans senior vice president of basketball operations David Griffin and general manager Trajan Langdon, Wojnarowski adds. They were impressed by the way McCollum was able to transform the team with his production and leadership after the trade.

McCollum was a fixture in Portland after being selected with the 10th pick in the 2013 draft. He spent eight and a half seasons with the Blazers and ranks fifth on the team’s career scoring list.

McCollum will earn $33.3MM this season and $35.8MM in 2023/24 before the new extension takes effect.

Pacific Notes: Sarver, Sale Reaction, Lakers, Kings

Robert Sarver has announced his intention to sell the Suns and the NBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but it’s not likely to be a fast process, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Sources tell Shelburne that it could take months to go through the process of getting a new ownership group in place. Sarver has been suspended for a full year, so vice chairman and minority owner Sam Garvin will continue to run the team until a sale is complete.

Although Sarver only owns about one-third of the franchise, he has the authority to sell the team because of his role as managing partner, sources tell Baxter Holmes of ESPN (Twitter link). Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, is expected to profit significantly from the sale, with the potential price possibly topping $2 billion.

Appearing on NBA Today (video link), Holmes relayed a statement from one Suns staff member that read, “To be honest it just felt like justice! Like we can finally heal and know we won’t be working under that type of leadership. I swear there will be tears when senior executives are held accountable!”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA president CJ McCollum have both endorsed Sarver’s choice. “I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver tweeted shortly after Sarver’s announcement. “This is the right next step for the organization and community.” McCollum echoed those thoughts in his statement, writing, “We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community.”
  • The Lakers‘ trade talks with the Pacers continued this week, but they’re not willing to meet Indiana’s demand of two unprotected first-round picks, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). The Pacers have been seen as a possible destination for Russell Westbrook, with L.A. hoping to land Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in return. The Lakers only have two first-rounders that they can offer — in 2027 and 2029 — and Charania expects the team to be cautious about moving them. He points out that L.A. has a “long runway” with Westbrook and can wait to see how the season plays out rather than rushing into a deal. Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said earlier today that Turner will be with the team when the season begins.
  • Kings general manager Monte McNair has constructed this year’s roster around two players on their second NBA contracts, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, notes James Ham of Kings Beat. Ham says it’s a welcome change from continually trying to build the franchise around young prospects.

Southwest Notes: KPJ, Bane, McCollum, Nance

Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. appears to have earned a long-term look with the franchise. Houston and Porter have had initial discussions about the future of the extension-eligible 22-year-old, prompting Kelly Iko and Danny Leroux of The Athletic take a deep dive into what a new deal might look like for the fourth-year guard.

Leroux projects an annual number in the range of $10-15MM for Porter. Should the Rockets opt to not extend Porter and instead let him reach restricted free agency in the summer of 2023, Leroux notes that the market for the 6’4″ guard’s services could be dampened. Currently, just seven NBA clubs, including the Rockets, project to have cap space available to sign Porter for more than the mid-level exception.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Third-year Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane has evolved into a reliable locker-room leader, despite his relative greenness, writes Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal“I’ve always been a vet [in terms of personal comportment], but now I’m a vet for real,” Bane said. “I don’t really think that too much has to change. I’ve always been the guy to lead by example, put my best foot in front of the other. That’s half of leadership right there.”
  • Pelicans veteran players CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., new additions to the team at the 2022 trade deadline, are extension-eligible this summer. Will Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic consider potential extension contracts for both New Orleans players. Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes that McCollum contributed as a versatile scorer and consistent ball-handler, while Nance helped the team in the less-glamorous role of flexible bench big. Clark notes that both players have shown interest in sticking around long term with an exciting young Pelicans club hot off its first playoff appearance in four years.
  • In case you missed it, the lucrative new extension inked by Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson includes a caveat that requires him to get consistent weigh-ins by New Orleans. Should the total of his body fat percentage and weight exceed 295, the team will be able to reduce the guaranteed portion of his salary.