CJ McCollum set to make impactful return to Pelicans lineup against 76ers

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) enters the court before an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

After a more than three-week absence, CJ McCollum is expected to make his return to the New Orleans Pelicans’ lineup on Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Nov. 4, the Pelicans guard suffered a collapsed lung and fractured rib and has been recovering since. As a part of his ramp up, McCollum participated in two practices with the Birmingham Squadron.

“It was a lot of fun, getting to see a lot of the guys from training camp and get some conditioning in,” McCollum told NOLA.com.

“I have been conditioning for almost two weeks. I took some time off to let the lung heal, then I started ramping up. I have been on the treadmill and working out on the court and stuff. It’s good. They believe it’s good. I guess we will see tonight.”

While New Orleans went 5-7 in McCollum’s absence, it managed to go 3-1 and finish first the West’s Group B for the In-Season Tournament group play. As a result, the expectation is that if McCollum’s return goes well against the 76ers, then he’ll suit up again for Friday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

He’ll be given some rest when the team travels to Chicago on Saturday, and rejoin the Pelicans when New Orleans takes on the Sacramento Kings.

The game against the Kings is a part of the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals, and if the Pelicans win that game on Monday, then they would advance to the semifinals. They are currently the No. 3 seed in the West.

If they advance past the Kings, New Orleans will await the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns game on Thursday.

The championship for the NBA Cup will be played in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

“The way it’s spoken about it has been positive,” McCollum said. “From players, from staff, from fans. I think it was a couple buzzer beater games. The teams playing to the final buzzer because of the point differential. Giving fans something in late November, early December that we wouldn’t normally have.

“Obviously, the stakes, the money, playing in Vegas matters too. But I think it’s really cool the competitive nature has been consistent, if not raised.”


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