It was announced today after the team’s practice in Tualatin that rookie guard C.J. McCollum has been fully cleared to practice without restriction for the first time since breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during training camp. McCollum underwent a non-surgical procedure to repair the fracture on Oct. 16 and has gradually increased his on-court work since then. While the team says there is no timeline for McCollum to make his NBA debut, he is now at least medically cleared to play in his first NBA game.
Here is what both McCollum and Terry Stotts had to say about McCollum’s return after Friday’s practice.
“C.J. was cleared to practice today. He went five-on-five, he had a good practice, he looked good. There’s still no timeline on when he’s expected to play but it’s just the next step of the process of getting back. That’s where we are with that.”
What did you see from him?
“He moved well, he shot well. Going from one-on-one to three-on-three to five-on-five is a lot of the same things. Just getting back into the flow of things with this team.”
So he’s completely unfettered?
“No restrictions, unfettered.”
How happy are you for him personally?
“I’m happy for him more than anything else because he’s had a long year. Going back to Lehigh, it’s been a long year for him with the two injuries. A young guy like that wants to be on the court.”
How does it feel to be back out on the court without restrictions?
“It feels good to able to go out there and practice. This is one of my first practices going five-on-five with the guys so it’s good to be back out here and kind of feel like a player again.”
How are you feeling physically?
“I feel pretty good. I’m at my target weight right now, so that’s great. Just working my way back into game conditioning.”
How much do you miss being able to be out on the court?
“I miss it a lot. Watching your guys go out there and battle and you’re getting to watch practice and kind of see the gameplan unfold and watching the guys have success, it kind of makes you more hungry, makes you want to be out there, so I’m happy to kind of be able to work my way back into practice.”
Coach Stotts said there’s no timeline for your NBA debut. Do you have a timeline in your head?
“Hopefully soon, but just kind of taking it slow, following the protocol they have in place. I look forward to returning to game action.”
Have they talked to you at all about working you into the rotation?
“Just taking it one day at a time. It was good to get out there and practice and kind of get some live action in there. But obviously the next step will be playing the game, just don’t know obviously when that will be.”
You’re completely pain-free?
“I’ve been pain-free for a long time. But yeah, the foot feels really good. Obviously I’ve got to get more practices in, kind of get used to playing five-on-five, but I look forward to it.”
How will it be judged that you’re ready to get in games?
“I know I won’t be ready after one practice. We’ll just kind of take it slow and kind of see how I feel, see how I’m progressing.”
How much have you learned just watching the team without playing?
“I’ve learned a lot, honestly. We’ve got a great group of guys out there, a lot of veterans, a lot of guys with game experience. It’s good to kind of see how everything unfolds before you jump right into it. ”
Any discussion about being sent to the D-League?
“No, we haven’t discussed that.”
With the team playing as well as they are, you think it might be hard to crack the rotation. How confident are you about your ability to get in there?
“I’m here for a reason. It’s a long season. At some point you’re going to get your chance, you’ve just got to take advantage of it. Obviously we’re having a lot of success right now. Just look forward to working my way back in and doing whatever is necessary.”
Probably a good problem to have, joining a lineup that is already winning.
“Yeah, absolutely. You can never have too much depth.”
How hard has it been watching from the sidelines?
“It’s hard, especially watching other rookies, you played against rookies. Watching them have success makes it tougher but it kind of humbles you and makes you continue to want to work hard and get your chance.”