McCollum Ramps Up On-Court Work, Discusses Potential Return

by Casey Holdahl
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Prior to Wednesday night's game versus the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum took questions from the media regarding his rehabilitation of strain in his left popliteus that has kept him sidelined since March 16. McCollum discussed what goes into the rehab, his progress, when he hopes to return to the lineup and whether he feels like he needs to play in the regular season in order to play in the postseason... 

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How it it feeling?

CJ McCollum: I’m just progressing according to what my body allows me to do. I think that’s the biggest thing that we’re looking at right now: how my body reacts to certain stresses, how it reacts to certain movements and just kind of going from there. Strength-building, conditioning, getting up and down, trying to do some things to see where I’m at.

What have you been able to do? It looked like you were doing all basketball activities pregame.

CJ McCollum: Yeah, I can do pretty much a lot of the stuff I was doing before I was injured. I think the biggest thing is just strength-wise. Being in the weight room for 16, 17 days so just strengthening stuff, working on movements, landing, soft tissue work, strengthening the stuff around the knee, the quads, hamstrings just because of the compensation factor. You don’t want a little tightness, stiffness, TFL, abductors, stuff like that. So just working that stuff out and getting out there, running around and just trying to get back in shape, make sure I’m ready.

Are you pain-free right now? 

CJ McCollum: I feel good. 

Are you going with the team to Denver?

CJ McCollum: Yeah, I’ll be traveling. 

Is there anything you’re limited in doing or can’t do?

CJ McCollum: That’s like a loaded question. I haven’t played in a game so I don’t know where I’m at past that point.

Can you dunk? Can you cut? Can you jump?

CJ McCollum: I’m in a good spot.

Have you only one one-on-zero or have you gone one-on-one or two-on-two or anything like that?

CJ McCollum: I played three-on-three today.

How did that go?

CJ McCollum: It felt alright.

In your mind when do you hope to return?

CJ McCollum: I think, having did some stuff today, I’m going to see how my body reacts, try to get through this week, see where I’m at and kind of go from there. When I first got hurt there were some dates that I kind of circled and I’m getting close to them, so I’ll see how I feel. But the biggest thing for me is to make sure I’m symptom-free, make sure I don’t have any lingering issues before I step back on the court. 

You mentioned weight room stuff. Does that mean you feel good outside of the conditioning portion of your rehab?

CJ McCollum: No, just strengthening stuff. Getting in the weight room, light cardio, stuff like that. When you’re not playing, you’re not logging at many miles so I’m missing like 2.7, 2.8 miles that I would normally run in a game, so trying to replicate that in the weight room, and then getting on the court a little bit, that’s what I’ve been doing. 

They have ways of measuring strength. Are you close to being where you were before? How far away?

CJ McCollum: We didn’t do the jump testing, so I haven’t done jump testing and stuff. I think we’ll wait, see how I respond to today. But I feel good, it’s just more about basketball movements. You can’t really replicate certain things until you play four-on-four, three-on-three, five-on-five, one-on-one. So more so replicating basketball movements now to see the comfort level and then to see how my body feels the next day.

Any compensation with the other leg, the other knee?

CJ McCollum: No so far. I take good care of myself so we’ve been pretty on top of that stuff. 

Will you be back for Game One of the playoffs? 

CJ McCollum: I’ll let them tell you when I’m coming back. 

Seems like you’d want to get a game in first before the playoffs.

CJ McCollum: I know what it’s like, I’ve played in playoff games. I think it’s just comfort. If I feel like I’m ready in the playoffs, then that’s when I’ll play. If I feel like I’m ready before that, then I’ll come back before that. I don’t necessarily need a tune up game. I know what it’s like, I’ve been there, I know what I need to do physically to get myself ready for that. So it’s more about comfort and then the training staff all being on the same page and making sure that, okay, if he’s going to play, make sure he feels good, there’s no lingering side effects. 

Is tomorrow morning important after what you went through today?

CJ McCollum: Yeah, how I feel tomorrow will be important. That will kind of tell me where I’m at. 

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