June 28, 2022

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New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum braces for an emotional return to Portland, hoping to ‘get the win and get out of here’

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum braces for an emotional return to Portland, hoping to 'get the win and get out of here'

Portland, OR. – for the first time in his career, CJ McCollum He knows what an opposing locker room looks like inside the Moda Centre.

McCollum was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers for his first eight seasons in the NBA. Handled by the deadline, now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and with his new team in town to take on his old team, things were a little different Wednesday morning.

“It’s weird, man,” McCollum said of being in Portland as a visitor. “Some of the places you work are unique. … It’s part of the game. I’m looking forward to getting into the game tonight.”

McCollum said he was able to sleep in his bed last night. Although his wife Elise and young son were in New Orleans last week, this was the first time he had been able to see his dog since the trade.

It was all a home touch, even though he is on the cusp of trying to defeat his former team. And this team will look a little different with former teammates like Damian Lillard And Yusuf Nurkic is out of the game.

“Yeah, it’s not fun,” McCollum said of not having to face these guys. “It won’t be fun. They’ll be back eventually though.”

Since the trade, McCollum has thrived in his role as chief ranger with the Pelicans. In 19 games, McCollum averaged 25.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.9 rebounds—all of which would be his career highs if they were over the course of the season.

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McCollum said the situation in New Orleans is “just as I thought it would be.”

“It was a team that I kind of focused on and they obviously focused on me,” McCollum said. “I knew what I signed up for and what I was going to be asked to do, and I do. They held off the end of the deal too. I’m glad to be in this position.”

McCollum said he views Wednesday’s game as the “final closure” of the chapter. “Tonight is going to help,” he said while he had some closure when he first left after speaking with his teammates.

“I’ve had conversations and have been able to talk to some of my teammates and obviously I’m still talking to them to this day,” McCollum said. “I’ve spoken to the staff. It would be good to see Chauncey, talk about our teams. Talk about our football teams. Just kind of catch up and get back to work. Get the win and get out of here.”

“This is the last step. You know this is going to happen at some point. But it’s good that happy feelings conflict with the opposite. I like to call it a happy breakup. A step where you don’t feel bitter about your ex.”

The game comes at an important time for New Orleans, as the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers compete in the play-of-the-west race.

The Pelicans are one game in both teams and are in ninth place. New Orleans ranks eighth on the list of easiest dates over the last seven games, including two games against the losing Portland and one against the Lakers on Friday in Los Angeles.

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The Lakers have the third toughest slate and Tottenham have the fifth toughest slate over their last seven games.