C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

May 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston (34) during the second quarter in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers and guard C.J. McCollum agreed to a four-year extension Monday, which will pay him the maximum of $106 million. 

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported the news, which ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne confirmed, via ESPN.com news services. There will be no trade kicker or player option in the contract. The Blazers confirmed the deal on Wednesday.

McCollum reacted to his new deal in Rip City on Tuesday:

Depending on the formalities of the contract, the dollar figure could fluctuate. If McCollum's deal calls for the full max—25 percent of the salary cap in his case, barring a 2016-17 MVP—his starting salary is contingent on the 2017-18 cap figure.

The Blazers already used their designated player extension on Damian Lillard, so a four-year maximum is the most they could go with McCollum. The NBA projects a $102 million cap for 2017-18, per Basketball Insiders.

McCollum, 24, averaged 20.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game last season. He and Lillard emerged as one of the NBA's best shooting backcourts—almost a poor man's version of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

"They're so much alike," Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said in December, per Shaun Powell of NBA.com. "That's why they're great together. They complement each other well because of the problems they cause for other people and their ability to create for each other."

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Lillard commented on his teammate's newfound riches:

Widely expected to be a lottery team after the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge, the surprise Blazers wound up reaching the second round of the playoffs.

Their unexpected success has paved the way for a summer of curious—at best—spending. The Blazers have now invested roughly $250 million in McCollum, Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner—three non-All-Stars who functionally play the same position.

The Turner-Crabbe combo is particularly striking as a misallocation of resources, given the two combined to start 20 games last season. When Turner inked a $70 million deal to leave Boston, it stood to reason that Portland would allow Crabbe to walk—especially once the Brooklyn Nets lavished him with a $75 million offer sheet.

Instead, the Blazers matched and now have a cluster of high-paid young players at the wing. FanSided's Noam Schiller commented on the cost of the moves:

While the Blazers landed Festus Ezeli and re-upped with Meyers Leonard on team-friendly deals, their curious decisions with Crabbe and Turner forced their hand with McCollum.

In recent years, teams have become increasingly better at handling high-profile players coming off rookie deals. Because rookie-scale deals are comparatively small, teams have begun allowing guys they want to keep to hit restricted free agency in order to keep their cap holds low—all with an understanding they'll be taken care of later.

This allows them to pull off cap gymnastics designed to retain their young stars and add more pieces. The San Antonio Spurs notably did this last summer with Kawhi Leonard, allowing them to sign Aldridge. Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal also hit the market this year under similar circumstances.

The Blazers torched their cap room for next summer, so they had no incentive to wait. McCollum could have landed a fifth year had he waited until 2017, but he's been a starter for one season and was offered a nine-figure payday. It's tough to turn that down.


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