CJ Comments on Blazers’ Title Chances Amid Damian Lillard Trade Claims

Published 08/29/2021, 9:32 AM EDT
DENVER, CO – MAY 12: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers prepares to resume action against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


One month into the offseason and it looks like the Portland Trail Blazers have failed to make a big splash in free agency. Following consecutive first-round exits in the past two seasons, franchise star Damian Lillard publically criticized the organization in the hope of triggering a sense of urgency.

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However, with the Blazers rather quiet this offseason, is Dame time a wrap in Portland? If so, with Lillard headed out the door, he takes Portland’s chances with him! Obviously, something needed to give. While GM Neil Olshey believes a head coaching change ought to do the trick, Dame’s simply not buying it!

The only question that remains is, does Lillard give new coaching hire Chauncey Billups a shot to turn things around? And with Philadelphia coming to their wits’ end with Ben Simmons, is this buildup leading to a climax?

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PORTLAND, OR – APRIL 3: Maurice Harkless (4) of the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard (0), CJ McCollum (3) and Enes Kanter (00) head to the bench for a timeout against the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter on Friday, May 3, 2019. The Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers game three of their second round NBA playoff series at the Moda Center in Portland. (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Simply put, Dame via his interview during the Tokyo Olympics asked the franchise to show intent and better the roster? Have they fulfilled that ‘request’? Hardly!

Portland’s will he/won’t he case with Damian Lillard

In his recent interview with Bleacher Report, CJ McCollum addressed pressing issues surrounding the uncertainty in the Portland camp.

While he steered clear of making any comments regarding his teammate/brother Dame Lillard, the latest President of the Players Association CJ McCollum had some comments on the former’s future in Portland. CJ said, “The rain is coming, but right now, it’s super pretty.” 

While cryptic, could it possibly be insight into what lies in days to come between the Blazers and what could be by then, the former Blazers’ star Damian Lillard?

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Moving to his belief in the Blazers’ title chances in the 2021-22 season, McCollum said, “I think whenever we step on the court, we have a chance to win a championship. If you don’t have that mindset and that mentality, then you shouldn’t play. That’s my mindset and mentality every year—to compete at the highest level, to really focus on being the best version of myself as a player to help us win.

“That being said, I feel like every year we have a chance to win a championship. But in the NBA, there’s so many things that go into that. You need a little luck.”

Portland ablaze

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CJ McCollum has got a never-say-die attitude, and it has served him well in recent years. In combination with Lillard, shooting it at over 40% from 3, CJ and Dame arguably form the second best backcourt in the current league.

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But considering Dame’s past comments in the buildup to Tokyo, “I think if you look at our team as it is, going into next season, I don’t see how you can say ‘This is a championship team, it just needed a new coach,’ when we just lost in the first round to a team that was hurt.” If CJ is true to himself, even he knows the Blazers’ chances walk out the door with Dame Dolla!

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Nikhil Naik

170 articles

Nikhil Naik is an NBA writer at EssentialySports. Having completed his bachelor's degree in Hospitality, he has worked with the Indian Hotels Company Limited, at the Taj in Mumbai. Nikhil has been playing basketball since 2014.

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