It’s been a week-and-a-half since the Portland Trail Blazers officially parted ways with CJ McCollum in that culture-shifting seven-player deal. Though, it hasn’t taken the longtime star guard much time to share his experiences, journeying through the first trade of his career. On the latest edition of the Pull Up podcast, McCollum pondered over some of those emotions before looking ahead to his future.
McCollum, who also recently penned a thoughtful farewell tribute to Portland on The Players Tribune, spoke of his appreciation for the Blazers’ front office, and how they allowed him some input on his destination. He also talked about how thankful he was that the trade wasn’t a surprise to him:
“My story was a lot different. I was actually involved in the process. I was able to speak to our front office, specifically Joe (Cronin) about the transition that I was potentially going to make, what that would look like for not only myself and my family, but what potential teams I could be going to.
It was a great adult conversation that we had, and one I’m thankful for, in which I was able to be a part of the process and able to be aware of everything that was going down. Once we kind of decided that it was in my better interest to continue to perform and be a basketball player somewhere else, it was just a great conversation and situation in which I’m thankful.”
The veteran guard spoke about the importance of ending up somewhere where he was wanted. His skillset has been put to use in the first five games of his new tenure; he’s averaging 28.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 51-43-77 percentage splits.
McCollum also went into detail on the emotional process of writing that heartfelt Dear Portland letter, and knowing internally that he was soon to be traded while still playing for the Portland Trail Blazers:
“I get traded approximately seven or eight AM, give-or-take an hour or two. Everything is finalized later in the day. I think the Blazers end up playing a game that night against the Lakers. And Chauncey (Billups) couldn’t really talk about the trade yet because the details weren’t finalized yet. I knew I was going to New Orleans, but I had never been a part of that process before.”
Based on that, McCollum went on to join the Blazers for a three-games-in-four-nights stretch, all the while knowing the trade was ensuing. This dovetailed in an amusing story about McCollum’s flight to New Orleans actually leaving him behind, but taking his teammate Tony Snell.
Over the rest of the podcast, he hits on learning the culture, tendencies and terminology of his new city and teammates, as well as an outlook on the James Harden, Ben Simmons-centered trade and the MVP race, among much else.