The first big 2022 NBA Trade Deadline domino dropped on Tuesday when the Portland Trail Blazers agreed to trade C.J. McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans.
When it is all said and done, McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell will head to New Orleans in return for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Didi Louzada.
Also included in the deal is the Pelicans’ protected first-round pick and two second-round picks.
McCollum was taken by the Blazers in 2013, one year after they drafted Damian Lillard. Since then, the team has made the playoffs every single season.
On Tuesday, Lillard offered a strong reaction to his teammate’s departure.
“This is something that me and C, we talked about it over the years, like, this being a possibility,” Lillard told Casey Holdhal of NBA.com.
“I would say in the last three years it was always something where me and him would talk and he would be like ‘You know, I might be out of here,’ just loosely saying stuff like that and I’d be like ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’
“But as time went on we both knew that it’s going to come a point where we might not be a backcourt anymore, whether that was him getting traded or me getting traded. You just never know where teams are, we don’t know as players all the time.”
That said, despite McCollum’s exit – Lillard insists he wants to remain in Portland.
“For me, my heart is Portland Trail Blazer,” he continued. “I want to win it. I know that I have a plan that’s going to put me on my best level when I come back to play. And I want our team to fit that. I’m a huge fan of Chauncey Billups. I love Chauncey, we’ve got a great relationship and I think he’ll continue to grow into the head coach that he wants to be.
“And I’m a Joe Cronin fan. In his position I think it takes being bold and doing bold things, doing what you see fit and standing on it. He’s told me that our plan is to build a winning team, not to rebuild. Because we had a prior relationship to him becoming GM, I trust his word.”
It will be interesting to see where the Blazers go from here. For now Lillard isn’t demanding out, but that could quickly change.
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At the moment, Lillard is still a Blazer. But based on how things have gone – it wouldn’t be all that shocking for McCollum’s fate to also befall him at some point in the foreseeable future.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.