C.J. McCollum part of Portland Trail Blazers' move to faster pace

With Lehigh graduate C.J. McCollum in tow, the Portland Trail Blazers want to be a more up-tempo team.

C.J. McCollum loves his space. Basketball is his passion.

With a ball in his hands and room to maneuver, McCollum should give Portland Trail Blazers fans plenty to cheer about.

The Trail Blazers are looking to play a more up-tempo style in 2013-14, so there appears to be a good fit between the NBA franchise and its first-round pick out of Lehigh.

However, the Blazers also may be in transition as an organization.

General manager Neil Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts were just 33-49 in their first season in their respective positions, and there are indications that there could be significant personnel changes before the team's training camp in the fall.

There is speculation that the Blazers are going to trade their best player, forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has two years left on his five-year, $65-million contract.

The club already made one trade since Thursday's draft, getting power forward Thomas Robinson, a first-round draft pick last season out of Kansas, in exchange for the rights to Marko Todorovic and Kostas Papanikolau plus future draft picks.

This is Robinson's third team in a year.

There also has been talk about unrestricted free agent J.J. Hickson, the Blazers' leading rebounder last season, being signed and moved in favor of a true center. Portland was last in the league in 2012-13 in post scoring defense.

With McCollum being taken with the 10th overall pick last week, point guard Eric Maynor had little chance of staying in Portland. The unrestricted free agent reportedly agreed to a deal Tuesday with the Washington Wizards.

And, the Blazers also appear to be loaded with backcourt athletes with 2012-13 rookie of the year Damian Lillard, McCollum, Wesley Matthews, Allen Crabbe (acquired in a draft-day deal) and Will Barton.

It is hard to believe all will stay in the Pacific Northwest.

Lillard isn't going anywhere. He is the future of the franchise. Assuming McCollum and Crabbe do well in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League (the Blazers' first game is July 13), that leaves Matthews as possible trade bait for a veteran center.

Right now, it is speculation and rumors.

The Blazers, however, have to do something other than change their offensive style to move up in the Northwest Division standings. With five rookies on last season's roster, they were fourth — two games ahead of injury-ravaged Minnesota. They figure to have three first-year players on this season's opening-game roster (McCollum, Crabbe and center Jeff Withey).

Portland has some cap space (reportedly $9 million plus another $2.5 million via a "room exception"), which should allow it to be active in the free-agent market — which begins July 10.

So what does all of this mean for McCollum in the immediate future?

The 6-foot-3,197-pounder from Canton, Ohio, figures to get a chance to prove he can play point guard when Portland participates in the NBA Summer League later this month.

McCollum made it clear several times, including during his post-NBA Draft selection news conference, that he'll do whatever the Blazers ask of him.

If he can play the point, that would allow Lillard to play off the ball and create — something he does well.

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