Blazers' CJ McCollum Confirms He Will Participate in NBA Restart: 'I'm Going'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum pushes the ball upcourt against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Steve Dipaola/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers star guard CJ McCollum confirmed Monday he was going to Orlando, Florida, for the NBA's restart.

"I'm going," he told local reporters.

He said he had been leaning toward not playing last month and voted against the NBA restart, however.

"At the time, I felt like I didn't want to play. But, like, based on what I was hearing—circumstances, situations—I didn't want to play. Obviously, now, as we've progressed, this is—we're talking about this is a conversation that happened a long time ago; we progressed, have more information. Circumstances, situation, testing, everything that is kind of set up now, there is more information. But at the time, based on what I had been given, I didn't feel comfortable playing."

As Jason Quick of The Athletic noted, McCollum was dealing with some personal tragedy at the time, as his chef, Brandon Johnson, died. His grandmother was also having health issues.

"A lot of stuff has happened in my life," he said. "Life is more precious than the game."

Sean Highkin @highkin

CJ McCollum: "I did consider not playing. If the majority of players had decided not to play, I wouldn't have played as well. ... For me, I don't have little kids in the house. My grandparents don't live with me. ... I felt like it was in my better interests personally to play."

But with the NBA setting up a comprehensive testing and safety protocol for the players and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McCollum has chosen to play in Orlando. He'll be trying to get the 29-37 Blazers into the postseason.

Royce Young @royceyoung

C.J. McCollum says to his knowledge, the only players from the Blazers not going to Orlando is Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Rodney Hood.

They'll be battling with the Memphis Grizzlies (32-33), New Orleans Pelicans (28-36), Sacramento Kings (28-36), San Antonio Spurs (27-36) and Phoenix Suns (26-39) for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Outside of general seeding, that battle will be the one to watch over the course of the eight regular-season games once play resumes on July 30.

McCollum, 28, was having another strong year for the Blazers, averaging 22.5 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from three. If Portland makes the postseason, he'll be a major reason.