McCollum made inactive for Blazers-Clips due to 'clerical error'

NBA fans likely know that a team can only make 12 of its maximum 15 active for any game, but it's slightly less obvious that selecting that dozen carries its own protocol. A team can't just show up with any 12 guys it wants — the opponent has to be given the list in advance. It's a basic rule, but an important one nonetheless.

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The Portland Trail Blazers learned Wednesday night that failing to observe proper protocol can cause a team to play without one of its best players. The Blazers mistakenly listed little-used guard Luis Montero as active instead of starting shooting guard and second-leading scorer C.J. McCollum for their home game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Blazers attempted to fix the mistake but did not correct the issue in the proper manner. Jason Quick of The Oregonian explained (via

And Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times clarified why the Blazers' correction was not accepted:

To clarify, the Granger incident occurred in March 2014, when the veteran wing and midseason addition was mistakenly left off the active list for his first game with the franchise.

The confusion resulted in the odd sight of the inactive McCollum wearing his uniform and the active Luis Montero dressed in street clothes. The players eventually swapped, but the Blazers were certainly a little confused.

Stotts took the blame for the mistake when speaking to media after the game:

McCollum did not seem too upset about it:

NBA rules stipulate that any attempt by the Blazers to play McCollum would have resulted in a technical foul. As noted by Kevin Pelton of, the Charlotte Bobcats attempted to play Jeff McInnis in a January 2007 win over the Philadelphia 76ers when he was on neither the inactive nor active list, triggering a technical foul and quasi-ejection for the veteran guard. Pelton also called attention to a case involving Roger Mason Jr. of the Washington Wizards, who entered a game in December 30 while listed as inactive. Mason was eventually ruled ineligible, but not before he made a jumper that later had to be credited to teammate Rashard Lewis. The rules are clear enough that the official records have to be changed to wipe out the ineligible.

The Blazers certainly missed McCollum in their 109-98 loss, although they did make it a game in the second half after trailing 63-40 at the half. Fill-in starter Allen Crabbe shot 4-of-10 from the field for 11 points, and Montero managed only one missed three-pointer and a minus-4 in under three minutes of playing time. Chris Paul paced the Clippers with 21 points and 19 assists as J.J. Redick chipped in 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field.

It's an open question as to whether the rules need to be so complicated for a decision as simple as which players can suit up for a given game, but there's also a reason that mistakes like this one happen so rarely. NBA success requires paying close attention to issues as seemingly minor as this one to as major as glaring as making sure there are five players on the court. It's just part of what coaches and players sign up for when they sign their contracts.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!