The Portland Trail Blazers will miss their leading scorer for four weeks while guard CJ McCollum recovers from a fracture and sprained left foot injury.
McCollum suffered the injury against the Atlanta Hawks over the weekend after someone on the Hawks stepped on his foot. X-rays revealed a hairline fracture that doesn’t require surgery. Portland’s training staff estimated McCollum could miss up to four weeks.
“Further imaging reveals Portland guard CJ McCollum with a small hairline fracture to the lateral cuneiform in his left foot and a mid-foot sprain,” the Blazers said in an official statement. “McCollum will wear a walking boot and be re-evaluated in four weeks.”
Before the injury, McCollum averaged a career-high 27.6 points per game. He averaged over five points more than last season. His previous average career-high was 23 points during the 2016-17 season.
The Blazers (8-6) currently occupy the #6 seed in the Western Conference. Only three teams (Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz) in the west have more wins than Portland.
McCollum (Was) Rising
This was supposed to be a breakout season for McCollum. The 29-year old guard out of Lehigh started his eighth season in the NBA, and sixth as a full-time starter alongside superstar Damian Lillard.
If you didn’t live in the Pacific Northwest or on the West Coast, then the Blazers’ backcourt probably slipped under your radar. For the last few seasons, McCollum and Lillard comprised the best backcourt in the NBA. They made NBA history becoming the first backcourt to score 300 points each through the first 11 games of the season.
McCollum recently lit up the Sacramento Kings for 37 points. He exploded for 44 points and nine 3-pointers against the Houston Rockets in the second game of the season, including a game-winning shot.
Before the injury, McCollum tallied 20-plus points in the first 12 games this season. He scored 16 points against the Hawks before he left the game early in the first half. The Blazers held on to win that game thanks to defensive heroics by Lillard.
Rip City ER: McCollum and Nurkic
The Blazers were so badly banged-up last season that they didn’t have a choice but to sign Carmelo Anthony. Melo ended up fitting in well in Rip City, filling in their thin ranks at forward.
Portland rallied during the NBA restart in Orlando to secure a spot in the Western Conference play-in game to determine the #8 seed. The Blazers picked off Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, but were knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round by the top-seeded LA Lakers.
The injury bug hit the Blazers again this season. Portland lost center Jusuf Nurkic to a broken wrist. Nurkic could miss at least eight weeks.
Trade rumors are swirling in Portland. One rumor suggests the Blazers might trade Rodney Hood to the Orlando Magic for Mo Bomba. But now that McCollum is down, the Blazers will want to hold on to Hood.
The New York Knicks were also mentioned in trade rumors with Portland. Nerlens Noel currently comes off the bench for the upstart Knicks, but doesn’t get a lot of playing time in Tom Thibodeau’s shortened rotation.
For now, Enes Kanter is filling in for Nurkic at center. The popular big man from Turkey returned to the Blazers after a stint with the Boston Celtics.