Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has recovered from his collapsed lung and will return to the lineup after his wife, Dr. Elise Esposito, gives birth to their first child, likely this week
The Portland Trail Blazers have been without their second-best player, guard CJ McCollum, since December 4 when he was ruled out due to a collapsed lung. He has finally recovered from that injury but won’t rejoin the team until he is a father, according to Jay Allen of Rip City Radio 620.
McCollum and his wife, Elise Esposito McCollum — a doctor of dental surgery and graduate of Columbia University — are expecting their first child any day now. The two met while enrolled as undergraduates at Lehigh University and were married last year.
The Trail Blazers are just 4-9 since McCollum left the lineup, although last night’s 114-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets — the Eastern Conference’s second-ranked team — was probably Portland’s most impressive performance this season.
Damian Lillard has also missed the last five games with an abdominal injury that has been bothering him for years, but the Blazers have won three of those five behind Anfernee Simons‘ 27.8 points and 7.6 assists per game and Jusuf Nurkic‘s sudden awakening (15.4 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in that stretch.)
Ben McLemore has also been fantastic when given enough time on the court. Three times this season he has played more than 26 minutes — twice in the last two weeks — and has responded with 25.3 points per game on 54 percent 3-point shooting in those three games.
CJ McCollum may be returning to audition for a spot on another team
With Portland up against the salary cap next year already and headed nowhere this season, it is likely that McCollum will be dealt before the February 10 trade deadline. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to show his skills, with the Blazers playing 16 times before that date.
Portland’s current two-game winning streak is tied for their second-longest of the season and their 2-13 road record doesn’t inspire confidence that it will be extended for long, if at all, with the team playing its next six games away from home.
It will soon be semi-official tank time in the Rose City, which probably means that McCollum will be one of many Blazers traded for defensive help or draft picks. But if McCollum does end up wearing another jersey before the season ends, at least his and Elise’s first child will be a native Portlander.