CJ McCollum Opens Up Amid Blazers Struggles, Ben Simmons Rumors

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum thinks star backcourt mate Damian Lillard is a-OK with their pairing, even if Lillard does reportedly want Portland to explore a trade for Ben Simmons.CJ McCollum Damian Lillard

“Me and Dame have a good relationship,” McCollum told Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I think when Dame speaks, you hear him. When you hear ‘sources’ and ‘anonymous,’ I don’t necessarily know if that is Dame or not, because it’s not Dame putting his name on it.

“He generally puts his name on things. I know where he stands with me, and he knows where I stand with him. The organization, they need to do what is best for themselves.”

The Blazers (11-14) have been reeling lately, having lost six of seven. It’s led to frustration from Lillard, who was hoping for offseason roster adjustment, and some tension between the players and first-year coach Chauncey Billups, per a report from The Athletic.

But McCollum indicated Lillard has said nothing specific to him.

“If he wanted me to leave, I think he would say that,” McCollum said, via Quick. “He’s not speaking on me behind closed doors because that’s not in his DNA. He’s not built like that. He’s solid, and I know his word is his bond.”

Per The Athletic, former Blazers GM Neil Olshey had the framework of a deal in place that would have sent McCollum, a first-round draft pick and either Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to the 76ers for Simmons. The Sixers countered, before the Blazers turned it down.

So clearly, Portland was open to moving McCollum under Olshey, fired last week. It’s unclear if that remains the case — but given the state of things today, you would think that no one outside of Lillard is off limits.

“This is different than anything I’ve ever experienced because of the circumstances,” McCollum said, via Quick. “This is the first year of my career where we lost our whole coaching staff, brought in a new coach, a new staff, the GM gets fired in the middle of the season … all of that affects you on the court.

“But there is no excuses. I didn’t come here to tell you ‘There’s a lot of s–t going on’ … but yeah, there is. There’s s–t going on — every day. And I’m a f—ing human being. But look, at the end of the day, my job is to play basketball. So I go play basketball.”

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