CJ McCollum sees tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers as the “final closure” on the trade that sent him to the Pelicans, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. McCollum’s family joined him in New Orleans recently, but this week marks his first time back at his Portland house since the February 8 deal.
“I had conversations and was able to talk to some of my teammates and obviously I still talk to them to this day,” said McCollum, who spent his first eight and a half NBA seasons with the Blazers. “I talked with the staff. It’ll be good to see (coach Chauncey Billups), talk about our teams. Talk about our football teams. Just kind of catch up and get back to business. Get the win and get outta here. This is the final step. You know this is going to happen at some point. But it’s good that it’s happy emotions opposed to the opposite. I like to call it a happy breakup. One where you’re not bitter at your ex.”
Although McCollum was a fan favorite in Portland and loved playing there, it was clear by the trade deadline that it was time to move on. He has quickly become a team leader with the Pelicans, averaging career-best numbers with 25.9 points, 6.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 19 games.
“It was a team I kind of zeroed in on and they obviously zeroed in on me,” McCollum said. “I knew what I signed up for and what I was going to be asked to do, and I’m doing it. They held up their end of the bargain as well. I’m happy to be in this situation.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Zach Collins‘ return from injury and Jock Landale‘s emergence late in his first NBA season have stabilized the Spurs‘ frontcourt rotation, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio is especially happy with Collins, who is delivering on the three-year, $22MM gamble the organization took on him after missing nearly two full seasons and undergoing three ankle surgeries. Landale is giving the team a reason to consider guaranteeing his $1.56MM contract for next season.
- Brandon Knight was on the court tonight, one day after rejoining the Mavericks on a 10-day contract, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Knight flew to Cleveland to meet the team, which needed backcourt help with Spencer Dinwiddie, Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina all missing the game.
- The four-year deal the Pelicans gave rookie guard Jose Alvarado when they converted his two-way contract carries a $1.1MM guarantee for next season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Years three and four are non-guaranteed, and the team holds an option on the final season.