September 27, 2022
CJ McCollum wants to always "be there" for Zion

CJ McCollum expresses his support for Zion Williamson, who is wounded and sees a bright future in New Orleans.

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum offered empathy for third-year forward Zion Williamson. He dealt with painful injuries and extensive rehab himself.

Before the trade deadline, the Pelicans acquired McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers. He justified Williamson’s decision not to touch the base immediately afterward.

“He’s attempting to do some tasks on his own to rejoin the team,” McCollum told NBA.com. 

Last week, during NBA All-Star Weekend, McCollum revealed that he and Williamson had not spoken since the Pelicans acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 8. More criticism is level at Williamson’s commitment to the Pelicans. Although he spent the entire season recovering from his surgically repaired right foot,

McCollum has juggled his hectic schedule, including relocating to a new city. He’s adjusting to a new team and keeping in touch with his wife (Elise) and the six-week-old kid from afar (Jacob James). McCollum participated in the NBA’s 3-point contest and spoke at the NBA’s Tech Summit. He also presided over several meetings as president of the National Basketball Players Association during All-Star weekend. CJ McCollum intends to connect with Williamson again for a more in-depth discussion. But his hectic schedule has prevented him from doing so.

McCollum’s tone reflected Williamson’s dissatisfaction with missing the entire 2021–22 season. Due to several factors, McCollum missed a large portion of this season. While recovering from a partially collapsed lung, he missed 18 games. Before his first child’s birth, he spent time with his wife.

He stated, “I just want to be there for him and be a shoulder to cry on as he battles with injuries, doubt, fear, and everything else that comes with being cut from the squad due to injury.”

He’s a talented young player who has a lot on his plate right now. He believes that focusing on surgery and recovery is crucial. Everything else will take care of itself. When he returns, they will be ready to go. That is a man with the power to alter the course of any franchise.

When McCollum imagined how that dynamic would play out, he couldn’t help but smile and grin.

“It’s been an amazing partnership,” McCollum stated. “Playing with a guy who shoots 65 percent from the field and can get you 30 [points] and 10 [rebounds] isn’t difficult.”

CJ McCollum was bonding with the Pelicans.

The Pelicans have also learned that playing like McCollum is not so hard.

McCollum had a team-high 22 points and eight assists in the Pelicans. 123-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. He shot 8-of-15 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point range while dishing out eight assists. McCollum and guard Brandon Ingram (19 points, eight assists) by Pelicans coach Willie Green. For “having some balance in how they attack” afterward.

The Pelicans also had Jonas Valanciunas (19points and 10rebounds). Devonte Graham (12 points), Herbert Jones (11), and Jaxson Hayes (11) are in double digits thanks to their combination of scoring and playmaking.

“He’s been fantastic.” Green said, “We can all see what he’s doing on the floor and his ability to score and free up other people.” “Teams can’t load up on Brandon as much anymore, and they can’t double Jonas as much as they used to when he was on the court.”

It doesn’t surprise the Pelicans. In 8 1/2 seasons in Portland, CJ McCollum averaged 19 points and 3.4 assists. Then shooting 45.3% from the field and 39.6% from beyond the arc. Portland made eight consecutive playoff appearances and one trip to the Western Conference finals with that combination. It relies on point guard Damian Lillard’s outside shooting and explosive playmaking. The Blazers just traded for McCollum to lower their salary and accumulate assets. In what has become a rebuilding season,

He’s already been through a lot in this league in terms of high-stakes games, playing in the conference championship, and several playoff appearances. Because he has so much expertise, his leadership is essential to our group. That’s what he’s bringing to the table.

When McCollum sat down at the dinner table with Ingram and Green last week, He brought something new to the table.

New Orleans is forming a new culture.

McCollum stated that he still has a few learning curves to overcome.

McCollum said he struggled with exhaustion throughout his first five games in seven days. During All-Star weekend, CJ McCollum studied the Pelicans’ playbook. Between his many appearances and meetings. He’s already missing Portland, which he calls “a location that will always remain near and dear to me.”

According to McCollum’s pediatrician, his six-week-old child can not be fly. In addition, after working as a practicing dentist in the Portland region, McCollum’s wife has looked into professional options. McCollum had been sleeping at a hotel in New Orleans before the Pelicans’ recent trip, and he expected his family to join him in late March at his new work apartment.

“It was more about family issues,” McCollum explained. “It’ll be difficult to be apart from my family for an extended time.” It’s been hard. But it’s all part of the job. “

McCollum isn’t used to working in this environment. He traded for the first time in his career. McCollum has become accustomed to assisting a competitive Western Conference team in a small market in reaching the next level.

The Pelicans (25-36) are now ranked 10th in the Western Conference, and they appear to be closing in on the Lakers (27-33), LA Clippers (32-31), and Minnesota Timberwolves (32-29) for a Play-In Tournament seed.

“I’m hoping to win.” CJ McCollum stated, “I want to make the playoffs, create an impact, and accomplish some things that not here before.” “It’ll take some time. But it all starts with consistency, and it all starts with culture,” he stated

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