Allen Crabbe returns to Portland, still searching for consistency

Allen Crabbe returns to Portland, still searching for consistency

When the NBA schedule was announced in August, Allen Crabbe said the first thing he did was look for when Brooklyn was playing at Portland.

Crabbe was traded from Portland to Brooklyn in July, and as it turns out, Friday’s game at the Moda Center hasn’t been the only time Portland has been on Crabbe’s mind.

“I remember them just like yesterday,’’ the former Blazers guard said Thursday on the eve of his return to Portland. “After my games I go home and turn on League Pass and see if I can catch the rest of their games. I’m still checking in on them, still watching them play, watching the guys.’’

He said it was “weird” to arrive in Portland and head to a hotel, and not his former home, and he said it was hard not to reflect on his four seasons in Portland, during which he developed from second-round bench warmer to a $75-million asset.

“I mean, I miss it, I’m not going to lie,’’ Crabbe said. “Coach (Nate Tibbets) did a good job developing me, teaching me how to be a professional … how to stick with it. No negatives in me being here at all.’’

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In Brooklyn, Crabbe has become the Nets’ starting shooting guard the last four games after being eased back into major minutes following offseason foot surgery and a sprained ankle on the same foot in training camp.

“He is what we call a system fit: he fits everything we are trying to do ,’’ Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s a super-efficient player … he’s doing great. Love him.’’

Crabbe is averaging 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range in 24.7 minutes a game.

Being back in Portland for Friday’s game isn’t the only sense of familiarity Crabbe has been experiencing. His old bugaboo – consistency – has been haunting him in Brooklyn as well.

His production has been all over the board, scoring as high as 25 points at the Lakers, to going scoreless and taking only two shots in 20 minutes against the Knicks. His last game, Tuesday at Denver, he had three points on 1-of-8 shooting.

“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve been trying to change is the inconsistency part,’’ Crabbe said. “Having 20 one night, then the next night having three or four. So that’s just something I’ve been really trying to focus on … having a mindset of being aggressive. I think when I’m aggressive and get shot attempts up, good things happen.’’

The Nets (4-7) are prepared to give him the opportunity. Atkinson said “the sky is the limit” for Crabbe and that the franchise is “really high on him” and wants him to pursue becoming an elite player. Crabbe says he feels their confidence and realizes he has what he once longed for – a starting role where he is a focal point of the offense.

“It’s everything an NBA player would want – to be a key piece to a team,’’ Crabbe said. “I don’t think it was going to happen (in Portland).’’

The biggest adjustment he says is playing without looking over his shoulder, and not worrying about mistakes. The coaching staff in Brooklyn, Crabbe says, tells him to take risks.

“They are always telling me I’m the type of player who plays not to make any mistakes, but here that’s the only way you are going to grow – take risks, get out of your comfort zone, do things you normally wouldn’t. They are giving me the freedom to do that.’’

With Crabbe gone, who will fill that spot? How about Connaughton?

With Crabbe gone, who will fill that spot? How about Connaughton?

Allen Crabbe is gone, his contract and three-point shot shipped off to Brooklyn by the Trail Blazers. And if you had to choose one player on the Portland roster who has the best chance to fit into that off-the-bench scorer role, who would it be?

My pick would be Pat Connaughton. The third-year pro out of Notre Dame came on at the end of last season and became a part of the team's regular rotation on some nights. He even got court time in the playoffs. At 6-5, 210 he's a physical player who shows promise as an outside shooter and defender. He shot 51.5 percent from three-point range in limited duty last season and is at 40.7 percent for his 73-game career.

What say you, Pat? Are you ready to step into Crabbe's role?

"Obviously that's a coach's decision," he said after Tuesday's morning practice, the first of two workouts for the day. "But I learned a lot from AC. I was close to him and still am, I'm ready to do whatever needs to be done. I think I can step up, help the team win, make shots and do the things he did."

Connaughton is a big jumper and very physical. An athlete. But let him tell you what kind of player he aspires to be.

"I pride myself on being active," he said. "Use my athleticism on the defensive end and on the rebounding side of things and then making jump shots and being able to create a little bit off the dribble. Summer League was a short stint for me this year but I had the ball in my hands a lot and I learned those type of (playmaking) things from CJ and Dame. Obviously they are a little bit different players but you'd like to be a mix of AC and them. You want to shoot for that type of ceiling -- knock down shots and handle the ball when it's called for.

"Within the flow of the offense be a playmaker and make some shots."

There is a big emphasis on defense in Portland's camp and that plays into Connaughton's skillset.

"I think I've learned a lot in my two years in the league on the defensive end," he said. "It's not about picking a guy up full court, it's about your angles."

And Pat, I would say you are a little more physical than the average guy, right?

"Yeah, I would say so, too," he said. "I can use my athleticism to have an impact at the defensive end, both from an on-ball defender, a help defender and a rebounder."

Coach Terry Stotts showed confidence in Connaughton last season and gaining the trust of your coach is a big part of a young player's development.

"I really like Pat," Stotts said.  "He's really improved his shooting. He played on the front line in college and he's really developed his guard skills -- his shooting, his passing, his out-on-the-floor skills. There are minutes to be had with AC gone. Pat knows the opportunity is there.

"I think last year showed I wasn't afraid to put Pat in games. You can trust him. He knows all the plays from every position. He's a smart player. He talks, He's a good teammate.There's a lot of trust in Pat, not only from me but but his teammates. And for a young player, that's important."

 

Blazers: Crabbe deal is a gain... but is another trade on the way?

Blazers: Crabbe deal is a gain... but is another trade on the way?

According to ESPN, the Trail Blazers have traded Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn for forward Andrew Nicholson, then plan to waive Nicholson and will stretch Nicholson's contract.

The move lowers Portland's luxury tax bill by about $44 million, according to sources, and creates a $12.9 million trade exception that will be available for one year.

But the money side of this is only half the story. Portland parts ways with Crabbe and I can't say that's a bad move.

To me, Crabbe was the epitome of a good shooter but not a good player. For the most part, he disappeared in key times, had trouble defensively and was not a good passer. His contract was too large and it's ironic Portland traded him to the team that gave him that deal in the first place.

I believe this trade is a precursor to some other move or moves. The Blazers now have more flexibility. As I said earlier today, I still do not see any three-way deal with Houston on the horizon. Whatever is going on doesn't have anything to do with that proposed trade.

 

Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to the Nets

Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to the Nets

The Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, swapping Allen Crabbe for Andrew Nicholson, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers intend to waive Nicholson and stretch his salary to help create some cap relief.

In waiving Nicholson and stretching his contract, the Blazers will take just a $2.8 million cap hit over the next seven seasons.

For Brooklyn, they finally got their man. The Nets offered Crabbe a 4-year, $75-million offer last off-season, only to see the Blazers match the deal. 

Crabbe had been speculated in many trade scenarios, but a trade kicker in his contract made him hard to offload. However, Crabbe intends to waive his kicker, worth an extra $5.7 million, for the Nets. 

For the Blazers, they finally get to shed one of their bloated contracts and move closer to creating some cap flexibility. According to Bobby Marks, the Blazers luxury tax bill drops from $48.3 million to just $4.4 million with Crabbe off the books.

The Blazers need to create as much cap space as possible if they hope to retain 2018 free agent Jusuf Nurkic, and this move helps them do just that. The trade also creates a $12.9 million trade exception for the Blazers that expires next summer.

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OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM TEAM: 

The Portland Trail Blazers have acquired forward Andrew Nicholson from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for guard Allen Crabbe, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.  

“Allen has been a model teammate on the court and ambassador for the organization off the court,” said Olshey.  “He will be missed by all of us who shared the last four seasons with him. We wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in Brooklyn.”

Nicholson, 27, has averages of 6.0 points (46.7% FG, 32.1% 3-PT, 77.3% FT), 3.0 rebounds and 0.4 rebounds in 285 games (36 starts) over five seasons with Orlando, Washington and Brooklyn.

Selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of St. Bonaventure, Nicholson (6-9, 250) split the 2016-17 season with Washington and Brooklyn, posting averages of 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 9.0 minutes in 38 games.

Crabbe holds career averages of 8.3 points (45.6% FG, 41.1% 3-PT, 84.8% FT), 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 226 games (24 starts) over four seasons with the Trail Blazers. Acquired in a 2013 NBA Draft day trade with Cleveland, Crabbe ranks third among all-time franchise leaders with a career 41.1% mark from three-point range (minimum 100 3-pointers).

Follow us on Twitter and stay tuned to CSNNW for all the latest information. 

 

Pat Connaughton and his 'important' Summer League: Nobody has more at stake

Pat Connaughton and his 'important' Summer League: Nobody has more at stake

Nobody on the Blazers has more at stake at the Las Vegas Summer League than third year guard Pat Connaughton.

The Blazers have until July 25 to decide between keeping Connaughton at $1.47 million next season, or let him pursue his NBA and Major League baseball dreams elsewhere.

How Connaughton does in Las Vegas will go a long way in that decision for the Blazers, as a source inside the team said Summer League will be “important” for Connaughton.

Internally, the Blazers are hoping Connaughton has an emergence similar to that of Allen Crabbe in 2015, when Crabbe in Las Vegas averaged 15.5 points in four games, which included a 9-of-12, 24-point game against Dallas.

At the time, Crabbe was in a similar position as Connaughton – playing for a guaranteed contract – and Connaughton took note how Crabbe handled himself.

“I’ll take a similar approach to the way A.C. did my rookie year,’’ Connaughton said. “He didn’t really come out and try to score 35 points a game. He just made sure he played his game. He showed the things he had gotten better at … and he put himself in position to play well during the regular season.’’

Crabbe, of course, was picked up that season for just under a million dollars, then after a breakout NBA season he signed a four-year, $75 million contract last summer.

Connaughton will start at shooting guard for the Summer League Blazers when they open play Saturday against Utah (3 p.m., CSN), but he said he will be under little pressure to prove anything.

“I wouldn’t say anything is at stake. For me, it’s more about playing well and building upon the things I’ve worked on for the last two years, building upon the end of last season,’’ Connaughton said.

Connaughton says he is confident that all he is missing is an opportunity, a feeling based in part off his showing in two spot-starts at the end of last season and in part off his off-season workouts.

Last season, after the Blazers clinched a playoff spot, Connaughton started the final two games against San Antonio and New Orleans. He had 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Spurs and against the Pelicans he had 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds while making 7-of-13 shots.

He says he wants to show that he is more than a catch-and-shoot guard – and presented that seven assist, seven-rebound performance against New Orleans as proof . Ultimately, though, he knows his defining trait is shooting, a facet he struggled with at last year’s Summer League, when he made 34 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range.

“I was a little disappointed in the way I shot the ball, particularly from three,’’ Connaughton said. “With that being said, I think I was able to make an impact in a lot of the games and go up and, not just hold my own, but have some success against touted rookies and second year guys that were in summer league last year. I’m trying to build upon that. ‘’

Whether Connaughton indeed builds on that could have an impact on how the Blazers’ roster looks come October. Portland is carrying the league-maximum 15 players right now, but if Connaughton doesn’t impress enough to guarantee him, the Blazers could explore using their mid-level exception ($5.192 million) in the free agent market.

Assistant Jim Moran, who will coach the Blazers’ Summer League team, said Connaughton has been one of the hardest workers this offseason and that has translated to him playing confidently.

“The stuff he has been working on all summer … we want to see it translate,’’ Moran said. “His confidence is very high. I’m really hoping he plays well because he has put in time and developed his game and work ethic.’’

Allen Crabbe undergoes successful foot surgery

Allen Crabbe undergoes successful foot surgery

PORTLAND, Ore. (May 11, 2017) – Portland Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe underwent successful surgery to repair a stress reaction of the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Crabbe is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

In 79 games (7 starts) this season, Crabbe averaged 10.7 points (48.8% FG, 44.4% 3-PT, 84.7% FT), 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. The NBA’s second most accurate 3-point shooter at 44.4%, Crabbe posted the highest percentage from beyond the arc in franchise history by a player with 100-plus 3-pointers.

Allen Crabbe to undergo foot surgery

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USA Today

Allen Crabbe to undergo foot surgery

PORTLAND, Ore. (May 8, 2017) – Portland Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a stress reaction of the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

In 79 games (7 starts) this season, Crabbe averaged 10.7 points (48.8% FG, 44.4% 3-PT, 84.7% FT), 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. The NBA’s second most accurate 3-point shooter at 44.4%, Crabbe posted the highest percentage from beyond the arc in franchise history by a player with 100-plus 3-pointers. 

Allen Crabbe makes a Game 2 guarantee: He will play better

Allen Crabbe makes a Game 2 guarantee: He will play better

SAN FRANCISCO – Allen Crabbe has a Game 2 guarantee.

After a nondescript 22-minute performance in Game 1, during which he had three points on 1-for-5 shooting, the Trail Blazers’ wing says he will be more aggressive and be more of a factor in Wednesday’s Game 2 against Golden State.

“I understand how important it is for me to come off the bench and bring something to the table,’’ Crabbe said.  “Game 2 for me, I know is definitely not going to be like Game 1. I can guarantee that.’’

One of the lingering questions out of the Trail Blazers’ 121-109 loss to Golden State in Game 1 was who could provide some production outside of  Blazers’ stars CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard.

Crabbe, who in the regular season was the Blazers’ fourth leading scorer behind Lillard, McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, believes that production could come from him.

He says the game plan doesn’t need to change, and coach Terry Stotts doesn’t need to call plays differently. He says it all starts with his mindset.

“It’s me,’’ Crabbe said. “I have to take things into my own hands and be aggressive and go get shots.’’

If you feel like you’ve heard or read this from Crabbe before, you are right.

Much of this season, Crabbe has been battling consistency, a problem that for him is rooted in his aggression. When he shoots, he is productive. When he doesn’t, he becomes anonymous.

The value of an aggressive Crabbe has become obvious this season. When he shoots 10 or more shots, the Blazers are 18-9 (.667 winning percentage). When he scores in double figures they are 25-16 (.609 winning percentage).

“I know a lot of people are saying, like,  ‘You scored this one night, then you go back to scoring this’… well, I feel like it’s me being just having to be in tune with the game and not feeling out the game,’’ Crabbe said.

Crabbe said that Blazers captain Damian Lillard in Game 1 was again in his ear, both on the court and from the sideline. Throughout the season, Lillard has repeatedly told the media that he tells Crabbe to shoot it every time he touches the ball.

“During Game 1, he was like ‘Shoot the ball’ and even when he was on the bench, he was telling me ‘be aggressive, be aggressive,’’’ Crabbe said. “He tells me when I’m aggressive like that it helps the team more and it helps him. And I know I can’t just be out there on the court and not doing anything.’’

Crabbe says he can’t make the mistake of letting the game come to him.

“I can’t wait for certain moments to be aggressive,’’ Crabbe said. “I have to come out and when I step on the floor look for ways to put some points up.’’

He said maybe that means instead of waiting in the corner for a three he goes and sets a pick instead of the power forward or center. Or maybe he cuts to the basket more often and tries to get an easy score.

“I just can’t wait. I can’t wait to feel out a game. I just have to go in with the mindset of getting them up early. The more and more I get the shots up, the more I will be able to produce,’’ Crabbe said.

Stotts on Tuesday was quick to defend Crabbe, noting that it was his first action in 10 days after missing the Blazers’ final three regular season games resting his sore left foot.

“We need him, that’s obvious,’’ Stotts said. “But just because he had one rusty game coming back off injury is a little early for that narrative, to be honest. But yeah, he’s a big part of what we need.’’

In Game 1, McCollum had 41 points and Lillard 34. But the rest of the Blazers went 12-for-39 from the field.

Stotts said the key will be getting production not just out of Crabbe, but also Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. Aminu went 0-for-5 and Harkless 5-for-13.

Last season, Crabbe had a slow start in the playoffs. In the first three games against the Clippers he went for six points, zero points and zero points before going 5-for-5 in Game 4. After that, his last eight playoff games he went 36-of-61 from the field (59 percent) and 15-for-30 from 3-point range.

Whether his mental reset for Game 2 sparks a change figures to be central to the Blazers’ chances of scoring an upset.

“I’m pretty sure for Game 2 there will be a different story,’’ Crabbe said. 

Blazers announce Jusuf Nurkic is questionable for Game 1 at Golden State

Blazers announce Jusuf Nurkic is questionable for Game 1 at Golden State

On the eve of their opening playoff game, the Trail Blazers on Saturday listed center Jusuf Nurkic as questionable on their injury report.

Nurkic has missed two weeks with a fractured fibula in his right leg, during which the Blazers went 4-3. He has been re-evaluated this week -- he had an X-Ray on Wednesday -- but the team on Friday said his status for Sunday's Game 1 was undetermined. 

The injury report, which is required to be filed by 5 p.m. the night before a game, has four designations - probable (75 percent chance of playing); questionable (50 percent chance); doubtful (25 percent chance) and out. 

Nurkic was not made available to the media after Saturday's practice. He was in full practice uniform and was shooting with Meyers Leonard and Noah Vonleh when the media was let into practice.  Coach Terry Stotts said Nurkic "was not an active participant" during the team's workout, but said he was present and absorbing the team's game plan. 

The Blazers went 14-5 with Nurkic in the starting lineup. In 20 games in Portland, he averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 blocks in 29 minutes a game. He suffered his injury in the March 28 game against Denver, and played 32 minutes the next game against Houston, when he had 19 points and 11 rebounds and played to the buzzer.

Damian Lillard, the Blazers' captain, was asked what Nurkic did during Saturday's practice. He smiled.

"No comment,'' Lillard said.

The Blazers also listed Allen Crabbe (foot) as probable and Tim Quarterman (concussion) as questionable. Ed Davis (shoulder) and Festus Ezeli (knee) are out. 

Trail Blazers finish regular season with loss to New Orleans, turn focus to Sunday's Game 1

Trail Blazers finish regular season with loss to New Orleans, turn focus to Sunday's Game 1

This time, there was no dramatic finish for the Trail Blazers.

The Blazers finished the regular season with a 103-100 loss to New Orleans after it couldn't recreate the late-game magic from its last game. One game after Noah Vonleh beat the Spurs with a last-second layin, the Blazers twice had a chance to go ahead in the final minute but Meyers Leonard he missed a hook shot with 37 seconds then lost the ball out of bounds with 10.6 seconds left and Portland trailing 101-100.

The loss ended an eight-game home winning streak for Portland, which finished 41-41 and as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Blazers will play at Golden State in Game 1 on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. The first playoff home game with be April 22 at 7:30 p.m. for Game 3.

With several key players resting -- including Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum -- the Blazers had as much as an 11-point lead behind the shooting of Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton. The loss prevented a winning season but didn't put a damper on the Blazers' strong close to the season, which included an 18-6 run through March and April.  

The Blazers started Napier, rookie Jake Layman, Evan Turner, Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard as coach Terry Stotts elected to rest starters  Lillard and McCollum as well as key reserves Al-Farouq Aminu and Allen Crabbe. New Orleans (34-48) played without stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins and finished the season on a six-game losing streak.

Napier, who started and scored a career-high 32 in Monday's win over San Antonio, finished with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting while Connaughton added a career-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting as well as a career-high seven assists. Layman, in his first career start, added 10 points and Vonleh had 12 points and a career high 19 rebounds for his fifth career double-double. 

Maurice Harkless, who vowed not to take a three-pointer in order to secure a $500,000 bonus, finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting - all two-point attempts -- in 22 minutes. 

The Blazers now turn their attention to Golden State in a best-of-seven series in the first-round of the NBA playoffs. Game 1 is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Golden State. 

On Wednesday, the teams were tied at 53 at halftime before Portland pushed to an 85-78 lead behind Napier, Layman and rookie Tim Quarterman. New Orleans however went on a 15-0 run to take a 99-93 lead in the fourth.

Notes: Allen Crabbe, who has missed the last three games with a sore left foot said he will "for sure" be ready for Sunday's Game 1 at Golden State. "I'm not in as much pain in the mornings, so that's a good sign,'' Crabbe said before Wednesday's game. 

Up next: Blazers at Golden State, Game 1 best-of-seven series, Sunday 12:30 p.m. (ABC).  Full Schedule Here

Podcast: Special edition which includes Terry Stotts' entire time on Talkin' Ball from tonight