Just two days before what would have been his first preseason game in the NBA, CJ McCollum broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during Saturday’s practice at the team’s facility in Tualatin. It is the same bone that sidelined McCollum for all but 12 games during his senior season at Lehigh.
McCollum was injured after setting a pick on Wesley Matthews sometime during Saturday’s practice. Matthews collided with McCollum while trying to fight through the screen, sending McCollum to the floor. The 6-4 rookie left practice to get x-rays, which showed that he had once again broken the his left fifth metatarsal. McCollum broke the same bone on January 5, 2013 in a game against Virginia Commonwealth. The injury would cause him to miss the remainder of Lehigh’s 2012-13 season.
No date has yet been set for surgery or his return to the court. The timeline for his rehabilitation will be made after he undergoes surgery to repair the bone.
Coincidentally, Damian Lillard broke the same bone, albeit in his right foot, during his third season at Weber State.
McCollum had been drawing positive reviews from his coaches and teammates through the first week of training camp and was expected to compete with Mo Williams, Will Barton, Earl Watson and Allen Crabbe for minutes at both backup guard spots. He was also excited to play in front of Trail Blazers fans for the first time at the Wells Fargo Fan Fest on Sunday.
“That will be a good opportunity to get some scrimmaging in in front of an audience, kind of put on a show for the fans,” said McCollum on Friday. “It’ll be good for us to interact with the fans as well.”
That show, at least from McCollum, will have to wait until after his foot heals.
Though it hasn’t been officially announced, news broke Monday that the Trail Blazers and CJ McCollum have agreed on a four-year maximum extension that will keep the combo guard out of Lehigh in Portland for the foreseeable future. A day later, McCollum joined Dan Sheldon and Aaron Fentress on 620 Rip City Radio to talk about signing the extension and his future in Portland, which you can listen to in its entirety below…
On when he found out that the extension was in the works..
“I found out a little while ago that we were in talks, we were discussing an extension this summer. I actually flew out to Las Vegas for a photo shoot with Nike around the time the Select Team was out there and my agent told me not to fly back to the east coast because I was supposed to fly back to Philly to watch my brother’s 3v3 tournament game. So once he told me to fly back to Oregon I had a pretty good idea things were going to be finalized shortly.”
On whether he was smiling on stage at Damian Lillard’s concert because he knew about the extension…
“I had a good idea they were in discussions and I was excited about the opportunity to extend my career with the Portland Trail Blazers. I love the city, I love the team and the organization. That smile was the combination of a lot of things.”
On why he didn’t hold out for any player options or trade kickers in his extension…
“I love the city and I’m happy here. I’ve actually been looking for homes since my rookie year but I was not going to buy because I’m a business man and I think it’s important you have a secure situation before you begin to make expensive purchases such as purchasing real estate. But I told my agent I like it here and I’m content. I like the situation I’m in, I like the staff and I’m happy to be here with no outs, no trade kickers, ect. I want to be here and I told him that. So I said ‘Do what you’ve got to do to get it done and have me here long term.’”
Regarding whether or not it will be difficult to wait a year before his new contract kicks in…
“No, no no. I do a really good job of keeping my team close. My business manager, my financial advisor, my agent, we do a great job of discussing financial situations and continue to play a budget. I’m just thankful to have the opportunity, but I’m not really counting down the clock or anything like that. This is a game I love dearly, this game is priceless. You can’t really put a price on this game I’ve played my entire life for free, it just so happens I’m fortunate enough to get a max contract and be able to play at the highest level and have a role that’s carved out. But the next step is to continue to get better and not worry about the money, not worry about the labels and all that stuff. You perform well on the court and everything else will fall into place. I don’t really have any dates set. I make good money now and obviously I’ll make great money later, but it’s all in good time. I just try to live in the present.”
How he plans on staying motivated with a max contract…
“I stay paranoid. That’s the thing that got me to this point is being paranoid, playing with a chip on your shoulder understanding that it’s more than just money, it’s more than just playing for a starting spot. You’re playing for your last name, you’re representing the organization, I’m representing Canton, Ohio every time I step on the court, I represent Lehigh University. Growing up my mom and dad always told me you play this game because you love it, you play it because it’s fun and the rest will fall into place and you just have to pretend every time you step on the court there’s a little kid watching you that’s never seen you play before. He’s never seen you play, he’s only heard stories about you and his only impression is going to be of how you perform that day. So that’s kind of how I carried myself and why I put so much time in, because I don’t want that little kid to be disappointed in me. I don’t want him to say ‘Ah man, CJ’s not as good as we thought, doesn’t play as hard as I thought he was going to play.’ I want him to say ‘Wow, he goes hard no matter what, he plays a total game, he plays unselfishly and he had fun doing it.’ So that’s the kind mark I want to leave and eventually when I have kids I want them to understand that I got here through hard work. Nothing was ever handed to me.”
UPDATE: It’s official. From the team’s press release…
The Portland Trail Blazers have signed guard CJ McCollum to a contract extension to bring him under contract through the 2020-21 season, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
The reigning winner of the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, McCollum averaged 20.8 points (44.8% FG, 41.7% 3PT, 82.7% FT), 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.21 steals and 34.8 minutes in 80 games (all starts) last season.
“I’m ecstatic to be able to extend my career in Portland and grateful for the trust and the opportunity the organization has provided for me,” said McCollum. “Since I arrived in Oregon I’ve considered it home and look forward to building something special, not only on the court, but in the community as well.”
Portland selected McCollum, 24, with the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Lehigh University.
“CJ is a foundational player and an essential member of the core of this team,” said Olshey. “We are excited about his long term commitment to our organization.”
After signing center Festus Ezeli, Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said the team, now “capped out,” was done shopping the market for free agents. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t some business left to attend to, specifically with regards to making sure one of their best players didn’t hit the free agent market next season.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Trail Blazers and CJ McCollum, who could have conceivably become a restricted free agent come the 2017 offseason, have come to turns on a four-year contract extension for the third-year guard out of Lehigh…
Portland guard CJ McCollum has reached agreement on a four-year, $106M maximum contract extension, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 25, 2016
You might recall the Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard came to a max contract extension around this time last year, so it’s no real surprise to see the team coming to terms at this juncture with McCollum, who one the 2016 Most Improved Player award while proving he was more than up to the task of being not only Portland’s starting shooting guard, but also their backup point guard. And just as was the case with Lillard’s contract, it sounds like McCollum’s new deal, which kicks in at the start of the 2017-18 season, is free of kickers and options…
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 25, 2016
Avoiding player options and trade kickers are great reasons for the Trail Blazers to extend McCollum now rather than way for restricted free agency, when other teams can add such terms in order to make the deal more odious to match (this is what the Nets tried to do with the Allen Crabbe offer sheet). And there’s no doubt that McCollum, after averaging 20.8 points on 45 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting from three, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 80 games last season, would have received a max contract from another team had he become a restricted free agent next July. And the Blazers, as Olshey noted, wouldn’t have had much extra cap space, if any, to speak of had they waited to extend McCollum. So long story short, there was no reason not to get this done now.
Blazers general manager Neil Olshey and McCollum’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, negotiated the deal over the past two weeks, league sources said.
McCollum clearly would’ve been destined for a maximum offer sheet as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017, and the Blazers eliminated the possibility of a “poison pill” offer sheet that could’ve allowed McCollum into unrestricted free agency with a player option on the third year of his deal.
McCollum’s extension will start in the 2017-18 season, and he will earn $3.2 million in 2016-17, the last year of his current rookie contract. McCollum will earn approximately $23.9 million, $25.7 million, $27.5 million and $29.3 million over the course of the four-year deal – based upon the projected $102 million salary cap next year.
While McCollum has not commented yet on the Wojnarowski report, several of his teammates have already taken to Twitter to congratulate CJ on his financial windfall…
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 25, 2016
Congrats my brother👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼🌹 💸💸💸 https://t.co/uF1XaWqSx2
— Pat Connaughton (@PlanetPat5) July 25, 2016
Assuming the report is accurate (and it’s Woj, so…), expect a press conference announcing the contract extension some time in the very near future.
The relationship between Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver predates both of their current occupations. When the two first sat down for a interview back in 2010, McCollum had not yet been drafted by the Trail Blazers with the 10th overall pick of the 2012 Draft (though that would happen later that night) and Silver, while already tabbed to take over for outgoing commissioner David Stern, was still pulling duty as deputy commissioner.
Every year since then, McCollum and Silver have met up in New York City after the end of the season to discuss topics pertaining to the NBA and society in general. In 2014, they discussed the situation with the previous Los Angeles Clippers ownership, the age limit, emerging technologies, Silver’s first year as the NBA’s head honcho and their favorite Jay-Z tracks. In 2015, McCollum, armed with a few seasons of experience and a new job at The Players’ Tribune, followed up on some of the questions from the year before regarding the age limit while also bringing up issues such as ads on jerseys, transparency in officiating and head injuries.
And in their fourth annual interview, released on The Players’ Tribune as a part of McCollum’s summer internship with the athlete-owned website, the two discuss how far they’ve come (or in CJ’s case, how much weight he’s lost) since their first meeting in 2012, Silver’s handshakes, whether the NBA would have their All-Star Weekend at “remote locations” like the NFL, whether the league is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the 2016 NBA Finals and the suspension of Draymond Green and recent efforts to increase diversity in NBA front offices. You can watch an excerpt of the interview in the above video, or read the entire Q&A over at The Players’ Tribune.