On late Wednesday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers announced via their Twitter account that they signed 6’5 shooting guard C.J, Wilcox to their first ever two-way deal. With this move, the Trail Blazers join 26 other NBA squads that either reportedly or officially signed a prospect to a two-way deal.
Prior to his signing, Wilcox has spent the entirety of his three year career struggling any kind of significant playing time on the NBA level. That stumble began when the Clippers selected Wilcox with the 26th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Despite that status as a 1st round pick, Wilcox sat at the back of the team’s bench during his two year stint there as he only played a grand total of 267 minutes.
Although he spent most of that time on the Clippers bench, Wilcox did get some run in the G League where he actually played some pretty good ball. For example, Wilcox put up 18.6 points and 2.8 assists per game on 46% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc during the 2015-16 season, where he spent time with the Canton Charge and Bakersfield Jam.
Despite that solid minor league success, the Clippers decided to trade Wilcox to the Magic in exchange for Devyn Marble (whom they later released) and a future 2nd round pick. Unfortunately, Wilcox role didn’t increase with a new team as he only played 107 minutes during the entire 2016-17 season. Evidentially, Wilcox would end up releasing him on April 3rd.
At first glance, Wilcox signing a two-way deal would make it seem like he’s on the verge of another opportunity in the NBA. While players under two-way will spend most of their time in the G League, they could potentially spend up to 45 days at the NBA level. However, that might not be in the cards for Wilcox.
As we noted in a piece from late July, the Blazers currently look at two-way deals as only trade ammo, similar to how some teams select a player from Europe that will probably never come to the NBA. Of course, that mindset could definitely change in the near future, I have a feeling that it won’t be until after Wilcox leaves the organization.
Combined with the organization’s hesitancy towards utilizing two-way deals, the Blazers seem to be comfortable with their current wing rotation which consists of CJ McCollum, Evan Turner, Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and possibly Pat Connaughton. For Connaughton, his status remains in the balance as the Blazers don’t need to guarantee his contract until August 31st. However, chances are that the Blazers will bring him on for another season after they dealt Allen Crabbe earlier this summer.
As we currently stand, I don’t think there’s a huge chance that we’ll see Wilcox in a Trail Blazers uniform. That doubt comes from Portland’s weariness to the G League, Wilcox’s NBA struggles and the team’s deep wing rotation. Obviously that status can quickly change as one of those wings could go down with injury or Wilcox start lighting it up in the G League like he did during the 2015-16 season. Although that skepticism will still remain, I’m still excited to watch C.J. Wilcox play in the G League during the upcoming season.