Dion Waiters is supremely confident in his own abilities — even when everyone else is laughing at him.
The Miami Heat shooting guard ranked the top five players at his position on a recent appearance on FS1’s “The Herd,” and he put himself in at No. 4 — ahead of everyone but James Harden, Klay Thompson, and Dwyane Wade.
McCollum’s Blazers were just eliminated by the Warriors in the first round of this year’s playoffs, and his backcourt partner has also been vocal about his aversion to superteams. So despite how such a move has been normalized in this Durant-centric league, McCollum definitely isn’t going to be that guy.
NBA fans have long wondered if Klay Thompson will eventually be the odd man out now that the Golden State Warriors have added Kevin Durant to the fold, and one of Thompson’s fellow players believes that is bound to happen.
During Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum sent an interesting tweet predicting Thompson will not be with the Warriors much longer.
Klay gonna get another ring and find his own squad. They better enjoy him while he there
While McCollum may end up being right, the Warriors are in control of where Thompson ends up in the near future. He’s under contract with the team at an affordable $17 million or so a year for the next two seasons, so Golden State can either ride it out, trade him, or try to sign him to an extension this summer.
Because of the way the new CBA is structured, Thompson will be eligible to sign an extension this offseason even though he has two more years remaining on his deal. If he’s willing to take less than max money, Golden State might decide to lock him up. If not, they’ll have to take care of impending free agents Durant and Stephen Curry before thinking about Thompson’s future.
If the recent report we heard about Durant’s offseason plans is true, the Warriors may be in position to keep their entire core together — including Thompson. But if Thompson ends up with a couple of championship rings and teams are banging down the doors to sign him to a max extension, he’ll likely think long and hard about leaving Golden State.
The Pacers and the Blazers were both swept in the first round, and the latter does have a need at the forward position after making due this season with Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless getting most of those minutes. But Portland doesn’t have nearly enough assets to swing a trade for George, who won’t hit free agency until summer 2018, and the four-time All-Star already seems enamored with a different Western Conference team.
McCollum and backcourt partner Damian Lillard are both under contract through 2021, but the problem is that Harkless, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Allen Crabbe are signed to long-term deals above market value as well. Those kinds of contracts clog up cap space and reduce Portland’s ability to field a competitive trade offer, making an acquisition of George seem like more of a reach for them than anything.
“The odds of anything ever coming up of commensurate value is so hard to even fathom,” Olshey said. “I could give you the trite answer that nobody is untradable, but clearly they are.”
This isn’t exactly a shock. McCollum and Lillard are both under contract through 2021, with McCollum having just signed a max deal a year ago. Some teams probably dreamed that they may be able to pry one of them away to help Portland get more balanced, but it isn’t happening.
Russell Westbrook went for 50 points on Sunday and hit a long buzzer-beater to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a win, but he didn’t just please his own fans with the shot and performance.
One of the consequences of the Thunder’s victory was that the Denver Nuggets were eliminated from the playoff race. Denver dropped to 38-42, two games behind the 40-40 Portland Trail Blazers, who clinched the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
Here’s what Portland guard CJ McCollum tweeted after Westbrook made his key shot (video here):
“We’ve got a tight-knit group, there’s a lot of young guys who are on the same career trajectory, so we all get along well,” McCollum said, per Casey Holdahl of the team’s official website. “Everybody still hangs out together, there’s no animosity in the locker room, there’s no hate, there’s no jealousy. Everybody just works hard, so when we see that stuff it’s baffling because we’re living the same way we were last year.
“Guys are still doing the same stuff, they’re still working hard, they’re still trying to figure things out,” continued the reigning NBA Most Improved Player. “It’s tough when you lose games and there’s high expectations and you’re not performing the way you’d like to, but at some point you have to change and your work ethic has to change and the results will change.”
McCollum’s comments come just days after reports emerged that he shut down an attempt by injured center Festus Ezeli to lecture the team after a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in December.
The Blazers are currently just 16-23 on the year, so something is clearly rotten in the state of Oregon. But it sounds like the root of the issue may be wonky roster construction and a summer of ill-advised spending rather than any sort of internal strife.
The reigning NBA Most Improved Player doesn’t seem to be just blowing smoke either. Though he has improved over the years, Curry has never had the strongest track record as a one-on-one defender. Even if he finished sixth amongst point guards in defensive real plus-minus last season (per ESPN), Curry is aided by the lengthy, versatile support provided by his teammates from within the Golden State defensive structure. There, he is often afforded the luxury of being hidden on the other team’s weakest offensive threat. Curry can definitely make a play on the ball every now and then with his quick hands and strong anticipatory instincts. But his weaknesses on the defensive end were really exposed in this year’s NBA Finals when the Cavaliers found a great deal of success by relentlessly attacking him on switches.
For McCollum’s part, he is quickly developing a reputation as one of the Association’s better guards at breaking down a defender with his handle and creating separation for a shot off the dribble. McCollum’s assertion about himself and Curry passes the eye test with flying colors as well.
The confidence of McCollum, who has already taken umbridge to the Warriors in the past, certainly isn’t lacking, and that will be important for the Blazers if they hope to remain competitive in the Darwinistic Western Conference.
According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Monday, McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers. The deal comes with no options and no trade kickers.
Portland guard CJ McCollum has reached agreement on a four-year, $106M maximum contract extension, league sources tell @TheVertical.
The 24-year-old shooting guard busted out in 2015-16 with averages of 20.8 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game en route to winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
McCollum was drafted No. 10 overall by Portland in 2013 and has since developed into a foundational building block thanks to his all-around game. With McCollum’s backcourt mate Damian Lillard under contract through 2021 and both Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard signing extensions this summer as well, the Blazers are in an excellent place in terms of roster stability and upside for many years to come. Now let’s just hope that they manage to cut McCollum’s check correctly.