The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey as its president of basketball operations and GM, but someone else in the organization might be feeling just as bad as Olshey. Shooting guard CJ McCollum was good friends with Olshey, and it seems like the executive played a big part in his continued stay with the franchise over the years.
In a conversation with The Athletic's Jason Quick, McCollum detailed his view of the events happening in the organization. It all started with a text from CJ to Quick on Monday evening.
“Oregon is home. Always will be. I got married here. My son will be born here. We bought 318 acres here and started planting our vineyard here. This city and organization have been very good to me and my family. We’re forever grateful.”
The pressure has been palpable, as the rumors are starting to gain traction. It was reported earlier that Damian Lillard would like to play with Ben Simmons, and he was included in the trade deal. Although a source close to the Philadelphia 76ers organization has stated that the franchise is not interested in McCollum, he might not be entirely off the hook.
The Trail Blazers would like to keep Lillard happy, and his No. 1 request has been to be surrounded by players that can contend for a championship rather than just be a playoff team. To achieve that McCollum is the highest valued player outside of Dame that could be used in a deal.
Nonetheless, McCollum knows where he stands with Lillard but is unsure of his stance with the organization now that Olshey is gone. Olshey once rejected a deal for McCollum where he was offered Jrue Holiday and three first-round picks.
“Me and Dame have a good relationship. I think when Dame speaks, you hear him. When you hear ‘sources’ and ‘anonymous’, I don’t necessarily know if that is Dame or not, because it’s not Dame putting his name on it. He generally puts his name on things. I know where he stands with me, and he knows where I stand with him. The organization, they need to do what is best for themselves.”
“It was tough, unfortunate," CJ said on Olshey's firing. "Neil is a good friend of mine, obviously. He was someone who had faith in me, trust and belief in me, and I was in a solid position. I mean, a GM of a franchise, having been in the NBA a long time … it was just unfortunate that the situation occurred, and what happened in the investigation. I mean, obviously, they found something that was worthy of letting him go, which is not ideal. But it was tough.”
There will be a lot of chatter as we get closer to the trade deadline. Teams will be looking to make some changes, and if the Blazers want to build a championship team, McCollum might have to go. Regardless, he will continue to show up to work and will be expected to lead the team to victories as Lillard recovers from his abdominal injury.