CJ McCollum hasn’t called Damian Lillard a teammate since midway through the 2021-2022 campaign when Portland sent him packing to New Orleans in a deadline deal. The one-time dynamic duo for the Trail Blazers endured many playoff battles while forming a tight bond on and off the court. So, there is no one better suited to comment on Lillard’s move to Milwaukee than the man he shared a backcourt with for nine years.
“I still talk to him to this day,” McCollum said of Lillard. “Really, really good dude. Does things the right way and works extremely hard. I think they’re going to be really good.”
McCollum, speaking exclusively to FanSided as part of a promotional tour for Pampers, didn’t want to make any bold predictions about Milwaukee winning the Eastern Conference but he was willing to share some thoughts on a certain young playmaker for the Philadelphia 76ers. McCollum sees a bright future ahead for Tyrese Maxey, especially if he’s thrust into a bigger role this season without James Harden in the starting five.
“He’s explosive, good at pick and roll, high degree of difficulty on his pull-ups, pull-up threes, same for his running shots,” McCollum said of Maxey. “He has elite speed and knows how to play with pace. I’m looking forward to a very good year for him. He’s a guy who watches film, studies the game, loves the game, and has a really, really bright future ahead of him.”
Speaking of Harden, McCollum didn’t have much to say about the ongoing stalemate there.
The current president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has been watching the situation from afar but lacks any insider information.
“I know what you know,” McCollum told me. “I just got out of practice and I just got home to sit down and talk to you so I haven’t heard anything outside of what I’ve seen on TV. I really have no clue what’s going on.”
Harden, of course, wants a trade out of Philadelphia and hasn’t reported to practice since October 18. The 10-time All-Star isn’t expected to be on the court for the Sixers in their season opener against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Remember, the NBPA did file a grievance on behalf of Harden after the NBA fined him $100,000 for comments he made disparaging Sixers president Daryl Morey in late August. The NBPA said they “respectfully disagreed” with the ruling in a statement.
Meanwhile, McCollum was happy to share his feelings on the Sixers’ decision to hire Neil Olshey as a personnel consultant.
Olshey was the man who drafted McCollum out of Lehigh — No. 10 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft — and engineered efforts to build a championship roster in Portland. They never won a chip, but the Trail Blazers were perennial contenders in the Western Conference thanks to a dominant backcourt featuring McCollum and Damian Lillard. Olshey brings a wealth of experience to the front office, including a keen eye for talent and a passion for basketball, according to McCollum.
“Neil’s a good dude. Neil drafted me. He’s a guy who loves the game. He’s a good talent evaluator,” McCollum told FanSided. “He’s able to assemble talent. he’s made the playoffs consistently throughout his career as a GM, not just for us [Trail Blazers] but for the Clippers as well. I joke with him that I’m going to name one of my dogs Neil because my family and I live quite the life based on the contracts we’ve been able to get from him.
“I think he’s just a good basketball spirit, a purist of the game that just loves it. Watches it. Studies it. Critiques it. I think he’s a huge value to add to that organization. They’re going to get someone who is passionate. He’s an East Coaster through thick and through thin, and I think he’ll be able to really relate to the passion of the fans.”
Let’s not forget the reason why CJ McCollum was hitting the media circuit.
The 2016 Most Improved Player recently struck up a partnership with Pampers for their revamped Swaddlers line of diapers which feature a Blowout Barrier to stop unexpected leaks from happening. The innovative design “helps prevent up to 100% of leaks, even blowouts,” according to a press release.
How does it work? Pampers Swaddlers feature a unique back waist cuff, front waistband and absorbent top sheet designed to prevent diaper leaks while keeping baby’s skin dry and healthy.
“I’m excited about the partnership with Pampers as a father of one with one on the way,” McCollum said. “It was all a genuine partnership where I had some trouble with diapers in the past where we had some leaks — we had some blowouts, we had some shorts destroyed — and Pampers Swaddlers gave me a chance at 100% prevention and protection on leaks and blowouts so why not explore this? This is a great opportunity for me to improve my quality of life as well as a better quality of life for my kids.”
McCollum and his wife Elise welcomed their son Jacobi into the world back on January 10 and now they are awaiting the birth of their second child. Elise took to Instagram to announce the news back on September 17, adding that CJ was excited to be a “girl daddy.”