Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts introduced rookie guard CJ McCollum in a brief press conference at the Rose Garden on Monday. McCollum was selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft back in June; he will wear jersey No .3.
Here's a transcript of the press conference along with some post-press conference questions and answers with McCollum and Stotts.
Olshey was unable to take any questions about this summer's free agency and trade agreements because the NBA's moratorium extends until July 10.
Blazers GM Neil Olshey: "Thank you for coming. It's another exciting day for us this offseason. Any time you get an opportunity to draft a guy you targeted, as early as December. We're really pleased with CJ, not only as a player but as a person, the type of character he brings to our organization, he helps build our culture. From Day One he expressed an interest in being here, which we really value. It doesn't hurt that Damian [Lillard] and the rest of the guys on the roster were targeting him as well."
What has getting drafted been like so far?
CJ McCollum: "It's been a bit of a whirlwind, honestly. A lot of traveling. A lot of workouts and stuff like that. I had some time to go home, relax and be with my family, workout with my brother a little bit. Then I went to Lehigh for a few days. It's been a stress relief, to know where you're going, to re-focus, get ready for Summer League."
Desire to come to Portland
Olshey: "You live here. Why do you think?"
McCollum: "Great situation, great ownership, great coach, and I think it's a situation where I think I can thrive. I've got guys in front of me that I can learn from. Damian Lillard is a guy that's done it before, he's where I'm trying to get to, in terms of being the Rookie of the Year, playing 82 games in a year, being injury-free throughout his career -- besides breaking his foot like I did. I think it's a good situation.
"The biggest thing coming out of college is that you want to go where you're wanted. You don't want to be somebody's second option or third option, looking at him, like, 'Oh, he's there, let's take him.' You want to be like, 'That's the guy!' I feel like this is a situation where they wanted me and I wanted them and it was mutual love."
Have people reacted to you differently since the Draft?
McCollum: "I don't think I get treated any differently, especially at home. I'm still forced to do the normal things a kid has to do. Going through the airport, it's a little different. People kind of recognize you, especially here in Portland. I don't really go out at home, I kind of stayed inside, avoided the public eye. I went to the gym, back home, to barbecues, back home. I haven't really had a chance to experience it."
Why wear jersey No. 3?
McCollum: "I've had it a long time, stemming back to middle school. Allen Iverson had it, when I was younger, I was small and he was small and successful in the NBA. That's one of the reasons why I ended up getting No. 3 at an early age. My brother had it. Just thankful I could get it. I didn't know if I was going to have to buy it out, so I saved some money."
McCollum: "When you're smaller, you learn how to do other things. Shooting is one of the things I learned early on, from farther out, just because I was so small. You have to work a little bit harder, nothing really comes easy to you when you're undersized, you're undervalued, you're in situations where you have to be better than the bigger guys. One of the things I was good at was shooting, scoring, creating, that's one of the things I focused on growing up.
"I knew being a 5-foot-11 spot-up shooter wasn't going to get me anywhere, being a 5-foot-11 true point guard wasn't going to get me anywhere in high school so I developed a different arsenal of moves and the ability to create a shot. That was what was going to get me to this moment right here."
Have you heard from Blazers teammates or coaches?
McCollum: "I just got here yesterday night. Not too intense in terms of talking on the phone. I've spoken to a good amount of the coaching staff, text messages and stuff like that, in terms of what I'm looking to do here and be successful. I think that's the biggest thing, working hard, being consistent in practice, not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end as well. That's what's going to help me stay on the court. Coach [Stotts], to my left, will tell you, he doesn't care too much if you're knocking down threes if you're giving up threes and lay-ups.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts: "I like making threes though."
McCollum: "That's the biggest thing. I haven't really talked to [anyone]. I texted Damian yesterday, we're going to get in the gym whenever he gets back from China. I haven't really talked to anybody else.
Here are transcripts of some post-press conference Q&A sessions.
"We had a good amount of people but we split it up so I took the morning sessions, individual workout in the morning on the court, shooting, ball screens, conditioning, core. You do a variety of stuff to get used to being able to shoot while you're tired, being able to guard while you're tired. Then we go to strength and conditioning, more core, and some rehab, stability stuff for more foot, in the afternoon. Then we go back to the gym to do shooting and compete a little bit at night. We did that four days a week. Two days a week we would do all competition, everyone would be in the gym at the same time. Two-on-two, one-on-one, three-on-three."
What do you want to take from Summer League?
"Just getting the rust out. I haven't played five-on-five since January 5th, the last game I got hurt. I've been active, but 5-on-5 is different, it's a different type of game, different type of conditioning. I'm looking forward to getting there, testing out the skills a little bit. Just thankful I get to play again, it's been awhile for me, playing in front of a crowd, playing some meaningful minutes."
How much did you know about Portland before you were drafted?
"I'm not going to lie, I don't know much about Portland. My coach, who coached me two years at Lehigh and recruited me to Lehigh, is from Seattle. I know a little bit about Seattle. I've got a teammate Marquis Hall who went to Jefferson High, he's from here, so he showed me around a little bit. I'm learning a little bit about it, I know there's a lot of trees, it's really nice, it rains a little bit. That's all I can tell you."
Comfort level with Blazers
"Absolutely I'm comfortable. I think that makes it easier, they know about the game, they appreciate people who work hard, that value the game. In a situation where I'm trying to prove myself, I don't want you guys to be looking like, 'Why did they draft him at 10?' I want you guys to be like, 'That's why they drafted him.' That's my goal, to show why I'm here, contribute anywhere I can."
What kind of role do you see yourself playing? Have you talked to Terry Stotts about that -- starting, third guard?
"You're trying to get me in trouble. I'm really not sure what my role will be yet. I know they want me to do some of the things I did in college, which is play some one and some two, depending on the lineups and free agency, you never know what's really going to happen. I just look forward to getting out there and playing my total game. When they want me to pass, I'll pass, make the right plays. When they want me to score and play off other players, I'll do that as well."
"I think I need to work on my total game. Transitioning to the NBA, it's different. You're not going to get the same looks, defenses are better. There's more space and opportunities for everyone. I'm going to have to work hard."
What's this experience like for you?
"I live for it. This is what I want to do for a living. I'm finally here, the hardest part was getting here and now maintaining once you get here. This [press conference] is the easy part, I already worked out today. I'm just kind of relaxed and enjoying the moment.
"I've had a long day. I've been up since about 5:30. I worked out, came here, photo shoot, a little media with the Blazers.TV, had five minutes to get dressed. The stylist didn't put a tie in my package so there's no tie. Usually, I would wear a tie but it happens."
"I've been 100 percent healthy for a long time, I got cleared about three months ago. I got cleared in April."
Nothing mental about getting back out there on the foot, you're ready to go?
"No, no. No concerns."
The 'Wow' welcome to the NBA moment
"Yeah, today, when I got my jersey. Did a little dance. It was reminiscent of the draft. Other than that, I haven't been able to sit back and enjoy it. Maybe when I get a contract, get some money in my bank account, maybe then I'll really enjoy it."
What's Damian Lillard going to be doing for Summer League?
"He's not back from China, I'm not sure what his role will be. He will practice with us for sure. I know he's getting ready for the USA stuff as well, which is out in Las Vegas."
"Hopefully the bench is shored up, so we'll have some scoring off the bench. I think CJ will help with that. The most obvious area that we need to improve is defensively, that comes from everybody, including rookies."
Excited to draft McCollum
"The first 10 picks were the 10 picks we thought would go. The order was a little bizarre. We didn't know what player was going to get to us. I remember Neil going out to Pennsylvania in December, talking about him as a guy we've had in our sights for a long time. You saw how the draft went. We didn't know if he was going to get to us or not. When Trey Burke went before us, it was good to see. It's always good to get the guy you want."
Maturity level of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum
"It helps the process. As talented as he is, he'll need to improve, learn the game, he will have some bumps along the way. When you have a maturity level, like CJ does, he's had to work to get where he is, probably a little bit more so than other players, that will help. The maturity helps handle adversity. Rookies face adversity at both ends of the floor, just the grind of the season, that will help with the process as well."
"You always want talent and character. I think we got both of those with CJ. It's up to him and us to get the most out of him, incorporate him into a team concept. It's a learning curve, that's what Summer League is for, training camp is for. This is just the start for him."
Best-case scenario for CJ
"My hope is that he'll get minutes at the point guard and as the two guard. He played more two in college. His development as a point guard is going to be important. The most important thing rather than setting a standard is to come in, work, show improvement, that he's a better player at the end of the season than he is now. I think setting too high of expectations is a little difficult. Damian came in and had a remarkable season, I think he's going to have an opportunity to show what he can do, but he's a young player, a rookie, that needs to get better."
What specifically do you want to see him show in Summer League?
"I don't necessarily think it's about what I need for him to show. It's more important that he learns the NBA game, the style that we play at both ends of the floor, that he learns from his mistakes. I don't necessarily want him to show all that he can do. I want him to play basketball and do what he does well. At the same time: learn. Summer League and training camp, especially rookies, it's more about a learning experience rather than showing what you can do. That's going to be the purpose for why we're going to Vegas."
Damian Lillard's role in Summer League
"He'll be in Portland this week working out with the team. Then, when we get to Vegas, we'll see."
So he could play?
"He's on the roster. We'll see."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter