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Trail Blazers send C.J. McCollum to Pelicans in 7-player trade

Trail Blazers send C.J. McCollum to Pelicans in 7-player trade
Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (L), shown Nov. 26, 2021, has averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The New Orleans Pelicans acquired veteran guard C.J. McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a seven-player trade Tuesday, the teams announced.

The Pelicans are sending guards Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Didi Louzada to the Blazers in the deal. New Orleans also is giving Portland a protected first-round draft pick and two second-round selections.

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In addition to McCollum, the Trail Blazers are sending forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell to the Pelicans.

The trade breaks up the Trail Blazers' longtime backcourt tandem of McCollum and All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard. Portland has reached the playoffs in every season since the franchise drafted McCollum in 2013, a year after taking Lillard.

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"On behalf of the Trail Blazers organization, I want to thank CJ McCollum for the integral role he has played in the success of the franchise over the last nine seasons and for his countless acts of service to the Portland community," Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin said in a statement.

"CJ has cemented himself in Trail Blazers history with his elite skill level and memorable moments on the court as well as with the work ethic, professionalism and generosity he displays behind the scenes."

Despite Portland's success in the regular season, the Trail Blazers have failed to make noise in the postseason over the past decade. The team advanced to the Western Conference finals just once and endured five first-round exits in the McCollum-Lillard era.

McCollum, who has averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season, gives the Pelicans a reliable backcourt option who can connect from 3-point range.

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Since breaking out as a starter in the 2015-16 campaign, McCollum has been one of the top 3-point specialists in the NBA. He has converted at least 165 threes in each of the past six seasons, ranking seventh in 3-pointers made across the league during that span.

The 30-year-old McCollum signed a three-year, $100 million extension with the Blazers in the summer of 2019 that went into effect this season. He is set to earn $33.3 million in the 2022-23 campaign and $35.8 million in 2023-24.

Hart, who signed a three-year pact with the Pelicans this past off-season, has averaged career highs in points (13.4), assists (4.1) and steals (1.1) this season. He also has been one of the best rebounding guards in the league, with 7.8 boards per game.

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Alexander-Walker, the No. 17 overall pick in the 2019 draft, has averaged 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists for New Orleans in the 2021-22 campaign.

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