CJ McCollum was treated well by the Portland Trail Blazers. So much so that before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, the front office consulted him about where he wanted to go. But the ultimate decision did not necessarily belong to McCollum. He revealed that he waited for his wife's go signal before he talked to his agent.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears, the veteran reporter asked if McCollum's peers raised their eyebrows when he shared his intent to don the Pelicans jersey. McCollum knows there's a "stigma" around the organization, given the numerous changes it has gone through over the last few years. McCollum was blunt in his answer: he does not care what others think. All that matters is his family's opinion, especially his wife.
"First of all, their opinion doesn't matter to me. I got to live this life. I have to bring my family. I have to go through that process on my own. They understood once they saw us play.
"The other part of it is my family. I asked my wife, 'What do you think?' If she would have said no, it would have been no. My son was 3 weeks and 5 days old when I got traded. So, we had to figure out what happens now. Once my wife signed off, I had to talk to my agent, and I was good to go," McCollum said, per andscape.
It's a touching little tidbit. In an era defined by players chasing rings by forming powerhouse teams, McCollum stands out as someone who puts his family above everything else. At the end of the day, McCollum wants a semblance of stability for his family. And he believes he can attain this in the city of New Orleans.
While McCollum leaving Portland broke the fans' hearts, it was not necessarily an unexpected move. McCollum had been donning the Trail Blazers jersey since the team drafted him as the 10th overall pick in 2013. He immediately paired up with Damian Lillard, the scoring guard whom the Blazers picked sixth overall in 2012.
The backcourt tandem guided the franchise to eight consecutive playoff appearances, which is a major accomplishment in itself. Their partnership peaked in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, where they made it to the Western Conference Finals. Though the powerhouse Golden State Warriors booted them in out four games, the Blazers' campaign was read as a positive: they have finally discovered how to maneuver themselves in the playoffs.
They were expected to carry a good amount of momentum in the 2019-20 NBA season. But things did not pan out as expected. They squeezed out a 35-39 record in the pandemic season and got booted out in the first round by the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers' mediocre performance would create a domino effect. Lillard never left the rumor mill while fans constantly slammed Terry Stotts. The writing was on the wall: it was time for a massive tweak. Stotts was indeed fire; the team traded away some players, including McCollum, effectively ending his eight and a half-season partnership with Lillard.
McCollum seems to be in a better place right now. He is considered the leader and the veteran voice of a young Pelicans squad. So far, so good. As of writing, they are down 3-2 to the Phoenix Suns, the best team in the league. Whether they manage to pull out the upset or not is still a matter of wait-and-see. The fact that they stood their ground against the Suns proves McCollum's positive impact. It looks like McCollum's wife made the right choice.