CJ McCollum has some bad news for NBA teams hoping that Damian Lillard will soon become available in trade talks.
During an appearance on “The Woj Pod” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers guard spoke on several topics, including the speculation surrounding Lillard and his future with the franchise. Ever since Portland fell to Denver in the first round of the NBA playoffs, rumors have swirled about Lillard’s status, but McCollum believes his longtime backcourt mate is “all-in” with the Trail Blazers ahead of the 2021-22 season.
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“I have a pretty good sense of where he’s at, and I think his goal is to win a championship. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want. We want to put ourselves in the best position to win a championship,” McCollum told Wojnarowski. “He’s all-in. I think, at this stage, I can say that he’s all-in. He just wants to win at the end of the day.”
Lillard has consistently pushed back on the idea that he would force his way out of Portland this summer. In multiple media sessions during the U.S. men’s basketball team’s gold-medal run at the Tokyo Olympics, the six-time All-Star told reporters there had been “a lot of talk” not coming from him, adding that he will address any concerns “directly” with Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey.
McCollum echoed his teammate’s message, saying that Lillard doesn’t need anyone to speak on his behalf.
“I think he’s shown historically that he’s the type of person, if he thinks something, feels something, he says something. And, if someone comes out with something that’s not true, he will correct it, whether that’s through the media or on Twitter,” McCollum said. “On all accounts, based on what I’ve heard, based on what I’ve seen, I think he just wants to win a championship, and he wants to do it in Portland. We’ve talked about the parade route. We’ve shared what it would be like, what that would feel like.
“That’s our goal. That’s his goal. I know it. We’ve spoken on it many, many times. I think, from that standpoint, right now our focus is just on getting better, improving.”
McCollum has played alongside Lillard his entire career since being selected by Portland in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, and the Trail Blazers have reached the NBA playoffs in each of his eight seasons. However, they have also failed to escape the first round in four of the past five seasons.