The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the NBA’s biggest disappointments so far. After overachieving to an absurd degree last season, they entered the 2016-2017 campaign with heightened expectations, especially after a controversial free agency period when they signed several marginal players to enormous contracts.
Festus Ezeli was one of their more affordable acquisitions, but he’s yet to play a single game because of a nagging knee injury. To make matters worse, the team announced recently that he’ll likely undergo season-ending surgery. So you’ll have to forgive C.J. McCollum if he’s not interested in hearing Ezeli’s criticisms of the team’s well-documented struggles. Via Chris Haynes of ESPN.com:
After suffering a challenging, 115-107 loss to Milwaukee, Ezeli, in street clothes, addressed the team in the locker room with a stern speech centered on playing with urgency, sources told ESPN. Then two games later, after a crushing defeat in Memphis, Ezeli once again started giving a team speech, but he was cut short.
McCollum interrupted Ezeli in midsentence and told him that was enough, sources told ESPN. Portland was in the midst of an emotionally draining December, losing 11 of 13 games. Players were desperately pouring out every ounce of effort trying to change the trajectory of the season, and being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably.
There’s no doubt that it was well-intentioned, but Ezeli obviously should’ve known better than to try and ingratiate himself into a situation where he’s both the new guy on the team and perpetually sidelined with an injury. The Blazers have enough to worry about as it is without any additional interpersonal conflicts.