The Blazers layed the smackdown on the Suns, making every aspect of the game look easy. The offense was clicking and the defense was on lock. Big blocks and big steals were followed by big buckets. Even with CJ McCollum on the sideline the Blazers didn't skip a beat. Pat Connaughton had a career night scoring 24 points, and the Blazers left little doubt. Not a bad way to start the season.
The Blazers came out strong and picked up their first victory of the preseason, beating the Toronto Raptors, 106-101.
Portland now heads out on the road to take on the Clippers on Sunday.
The NBA tried in vain this week to do something about its fading All-Star Game, deciding to go to a new format that features a player draft by two "captains," who will choose their own teams from already-selected players. All that's missing is shirts and skins.
But, as Ben Golliver pointed out, the league entirely missed the point. There will still be a vote by conference for the all-star players with 12 voted in from East and West in the pool that the captains will dip into for their teams. Wrong move. The vote should have been for the overall best 24 players in the league -- allowing for the selection of the truly top players, which means probably about 18 from the Western Conference and six from the East. THEN, you'd have something. But the new format doesn't solve the problem of many good West players being left out of the game.
And, of course, the even bigger problem hasn't been solved, either. The real dilemma about the game is that the players have turned it into a joke with the way they approach it. In the last two games, the winning West team scored more than 190 points. Now understand to get that many points in a 48-minute game you either have to be playing against air or for the Big Baller Brand's cherry-picking AAU team.
Not only do the teams now play ZERO defense, they have turned the game into a sort of casual beauty contest, with players jacking up long-distance threes or driving for uncontested fancy dunks. There is way too much preening and posing. All that's missing are courtside judges holding up cards.
You watch this stuff for 10 minutes and realize it's a waste of time. Believe it or not, players used to take great pride in this game. They wanted to win and played hard. That pride, I'm sorry to say, seems to be missing these days. There is no motivation to win the game and no amount of money you could give the winning team to provide incentive.
The league is stuck with a lemon of a game and it will stay that way until a few players show up and take it seriously. I'm waiting for a hotshot rookie to get there and decide to guard people -- really get into them. That, of course, would set up a testy atmosphere where other players would want to even it up and perhaps, give us a real game.
Right now, it's far from a real game and choosing up teams not named "East" and "West" won't help.
The Blazers lost their first preseason game of the 2017-2018, falling to the Phoenix Suns, 114-112.
Our Jason Quick breaks it all down
Talkin' Ball Podcast:
While nobody is very surprised to hear about all the corruption in college basketball uncovered by an FBI probe into agents, shoe companies, money managers and coaches, I'm not hearing too many people talking about the NBA's role in all of that.
The NBA has been complicit in the corruption for years. The league has been, at the very least, the great enabler.
Professional basketball has been hiding its intentions in regard to players entering its league for a long time. The league has taken two stances in regard to players entering the NBA directly out of high school. Let me summarize those for you:
- Some of the kids don't make it in the league and end up without a college scholarship and penniless. We don't want this to happen and thus, want them in college so they can turn into upstanding citizens with a backup plan to pro hoops. We need to protect these kids from themselves.
- A high school career in basketball isn't enough time for our scouts to evaluate their NBA future. It's hard enough to project players into the NBA after a couple of years in college -- doing so after high school is almost impossible. Plus, these players just aren't ready for the NBA.
Of course, reason No. 2 is much more important than the first one. The NBA really doesn't care a lot about the kids who don't make it. The concern is much more about wasting first-round draft money on players who aren't good enough to make their team. And, of course, the NBA always enjoyed it when college players were stuck in college for a full four years -- which was just enough time for them to become big-name, ready-made pro stars who could generate spectator and TV money from the day they entered the league.
Just a few months back, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went public with the idea that the "one-and-done" rule should be changed or modified:
“My sense is it’s not working for anyone,” Silver said Thursday night before Game 1 of the N.B.A. finals. “It’s not working for the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either, in part because they don’t necessarily think the players who are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see.”
Again, one reason for changing the rule would be that players coming into the league aren't "getting the kind of training that they would expect to see." In other words, Silver seemed to be in favor of extending the time players should stay in college, rather than do the right thing: Drop the one-and-done rule entirely and allow players make a choice about their chosen profession after graduating high school.
Athletes have that choice in baseball, golf, tennis, soccer and just about any other sport but basketball and football. (And if you think this basketball scandal is big, just wait and see what happens if the Feds ever start looking into football -- where the real money is.)
The blue-chip players are the ones getting those six-figure checks from the shoe companies. Allow them to enter the NBA out of high school and you solve a lot of these problems. By the way, a good portion of those players want no part of those college scholarships and prove it when they league those universities after basically one semester to chase the NBA dream.
If those players were allowed to enter the NBA immediately, would there still be corruption? I'm sure there would be. But not nearly as much. There wouldn't be a lot of money left after the cream of the crop gets its share. Young basketball players shouldn't be made to be criminals because they took money for their basketball talent out of high school. It should be their right to become professionals immediately.
And the NBA should get out of the way and allow it.
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.
Portland has traded Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn for Andrew Nicholson, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 25, 2017
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.
$2.8M cap hit on the Andrew Nicholson contract for the next 7 years. https://t.co/ItXojipXMq— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 25, 2017
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.
The value of the Allen Crabbe trade kicker that he waived was $5.7M. Brooklyn had put the 15% kicker in the offer sheet last July. https://t.co/pB73EBFqrI— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 25, 2017
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.
Portland will see their current luxury tax bill drop from $48.3M to $4.4M with the Allen Crabbe trade to... https://t.co/8AQO0BCHSB— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 25, 2017
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.
Portland will also generate a $12.9M trade exception that will expire next summer.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 25, 2017
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).
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I don't know about you, but I'm seeing something in the NBA right now that could become a real problem for me.
For years, discontented players have asked to be traded. Usually they do it privately and not in the media. You never hear about it most of the time that it happens.
First, let's get this straight right now -- I have nothing against free agency. I grew up in an era when players where chained to the same team for life, even if they never got a chance to play much. They had no options. They had to play for the team that "owned" them, or go home.
So now free agency has brought a lot of player movement and it usually favors the rich franchises, the more glamorous cities or the places where the sun shines the most frequently. But I never get too worked up over that. It's the way it is in any business. People want to work for successful companies alongside talented co-workers in great cities.
I wasn't upset when Kevin Durant chose Golden State or LeBron James picked Miami. Or Cleveland. It was their right. The fulfilled their contract and won the right to choose a new team.
But what's bugging me now is a player under contract who is acting as if he is a free agent. He is not only demanding a trade, he is trying to dictate where he should be dealt. I don't like any of that.
Kyrie Irving is that guy. He has three seasons -- the last one being an opt-out year -- left on his contract with Cleveland and has told the Cavs he wishes to be traded. And not only that, he's given the team three "preferred destinations." Now keep in mind, this isn't Carmelo Anthony, who has basically been run out of town by Phil Jackson and has it written into his current contract with the Knicks that he has the right to approve any trades.
What gives Irving the right to expect to just trade his uniform in for another one? Well, nothing. Except NBA players these days are being catered to, fawned over and recruited the same way they were in their high school days, when they played AAU basketball. And we are starting to see the signs that they are beginning to think they can simply go where they want, sign up to play with their pals or create a super team on a whim.
And face it, in many cases some of the top players are basically running their franchise. LeBron James complains in Cleveland that he doesn't get enough help to beat the Warriors but come on -- LeBron has been the de facto General Manager of that team since he returned. He's been behind a good many of that team's trades and free-agent signings, as he assembled a roster of friends and players he knew would defer to him. Now that it isn't working to his satisfaction, he wants a do-over. Or to go someplace else.
If we're talking about recruiting free agents or even Anthony -- who has the no-trade clause that he could modify for any team chasing him -- that's fair game. But players already under contract who first demand a trade and then try to pick the team they go to?
First off, you sign a deal for $20 million a season as Irving did, you keep your mouth shut and play. Play it out. Then you become a free agent and can go wherever you want. But don't attempt to hold a team for ransom that has signed you in good faith. Be a person of integrity and honor your deal.
And trying to pick the team you're traded to after demanding a trade while under contract? That's what's adding insult to injury.
The Cavs should find out where he'd least like to go and send him there. If the league gets to the point when contracts mean nothing and players can merely quit on their current team and demand a trade to a specific team of their choice, that's when I will quit paying attention.
There is enough player movement as it is, with free agency. And giving up on your current team is not only unseemly, it takes disloyalty to an obscene level.
The NBA has announced the full rosters for NBA Africa Game 2017, an NBA exhibition game that will see Team Africa take on Team World in support of UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.
NBA fans in the Northwest may notice a familiar name on the Team World roster: Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum. McCollum will be the third current Trail Blazers player to play in the NBA Africa Game, joining Al-Farouq Aminu (Team Africa) and Evan Turner (Team World) who both played in NBA Africa Game 2015.
Former Trail Blazers Nic Batum (Charlotte Hornets) and Festus Ezeli (then with the Golden State Warriors), also played for Team Africa in NBA Africa Game 2015.
NBA Africa Game 2015, played on Aug.1, 2015, was the very first NBA game played on the continent and drew a sold-out crowd. According to the press release from the NBA “there have more than 70 current or former NBA players from Africa or with ties to the continent, including NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Dikembe Mutombo, both of whom played in NBA Africa Game 2015.”
Luol Deng and Thabo Sefolosha will captain Team Africa, a roster comprised of players born in Africa, as well as second-generation African players. The rest of the world will come together with McCollum to form the roster of Team World, captained by Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki and the United States’ Kemba Walker.
NBA Game 2017 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 5 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information visit NBA.com/Africa
The full rosters are as follows:
CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.)
Dirk Nowitzki C* (Mavericks; Germany)
Kemba Walker C* (Charlotte Hornets; U.S.)
Leandro Barbosa (most recently with the Phoenix Suns; Brazil)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics; U.S.)
Wilson Chandler (Nuggets; U.S.)
DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans; U.S.)
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons; U.S.)
Courtney Lee (New York Knicks; U.S.)
Kyle Lowry (Raptors; U.S.)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks; Latvia).
Luol Deng C* (Los Angeles Lakers; South Sudan)
Thabo Sefolosha C* (Utah Jazz, Switzerland; parent from South Africa)
Bismack Biyombo (Orlando Magic; Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Clint Capela (Houston Rockets; Switzerland; parents from Angola and Congo)
Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal; BWB Africa 2009) Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011)
Serge Ibaka (Toronto Raptors; Congo)
Luc Mbah a Moute (most recently with the LA Clippers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2003)
Salah Mejri (Dallas Mavericks; Tunisia)
Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets; Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers; U.S.; parent from Nigeria)
Dennis Schroder (Hawks; Germany; parent from The Gambia)
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 30, 2016) – The Portland Trail Blazers today announced their roster for NBA Summer League 2017 in Las Vegas, highlighted by 2017 first round draft picks Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, and returning roster players Pat Connaughton and Jake Layman.
Portland’s four-day Summer League training camp begins Tuesday, July 4 at the Practice Facility.
The Trail Blazers made a draft day trade to acquire Collins, who was picked 10th overall out of Gonzaga, and Swanigan was selected with the 26th overall pick out of Purdue. Connaughton holds averages of 1.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 73 games (one start) over two seasons with the Trail Blazers. Layman finished his rookie 2016-17 season averaging 2.2 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.3 assists in 35 games (one start).
The Trail Blazers will tip-off the game schedule on Saturday, July 8 vs. Utah, followed by a game on Sunday, July 9 vs. Boston, before closing out the preliminary round on Tuesday, July 11 vs. San Antonio. The first and third games will be played at Cox Pavilion, while Sunday’s contest will be at the Thomas & Mack Center. Both facilities are located on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.
Following the three-game preliminary round, the NBA Summer League returns to a tournament format for the fifth consecutive year, with each team guaranteed a minimum of five games. The championship game will take place on Monday, July 17.
Tickets for NBA Summer League 2017 are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting NBATickets.com.
2017 Trail Blazers Summer League Roster
|No.||Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Birthdate||Last Played||NBA Years|
|37||Jordan Adams||G||6'5"||209||7/8/94||Memphis Grizzlies||1|
|34||Keith Benson||C||6'11"||240||8/13/88||Sioux Falls (G-League)||1|
|26||Markel Brown||G||6'3"||190||1/29/92||Khimki (Russia)||2|
|44||Antonius Cleveland||G||6'6"||195||2/2/94||Southeast Missouri||R|
|5||Pat Connaughton||G||6'5"||210||1/6/93||Trail Blazers||2|
|24||DeAndre Daniels||F||6'9"||196||4/15/92||Dinamica Mantova (Italy)||R|
|2||Jorge Gutiérrez||G||6'3"||195||12/27/88||Trabzonspor (Turkey)||4|
|28||R.J. Hunter||G||6'5"||185||10/24/93||Long Island (G-League)||1|
|31||Nick Johnson||G||6'3"||200||12/22/92||Bayern Munich (Germany||1|
|10||Jake Layman||F||6'9"||210||3/7/94||Trail Blazers||1|
|9||Patrick Miller||F||6'1"||200||5/22/93||Sioux Falls (G-League)||R|
|16||Josh Scott||F||6'10"||245||7/13/93||MZT Skopje (Macedonia)||R|
Summer League Coaches:
- Jim Moran (William & Mary)
- Nate Tibbetts (South Dakota)
- David Vanterpool (St. Bonaventure)
- Dale Osbourne (South Alabama)
- John McCullough (Oklahoma)
Summer League Assistant Coaches:
- Jason Staudt (Texas Tech)
- Jonathan Yim (Cal State Fullerton)
- T.C. Swirsky (UNLV)
- Brian Barkdoll (Northwest Nazarene)
Director of Player Heath and Performance: Chris Stackpole (Boston University)
Head Athletic Trainer: Geoff Clark (Oregon State)
Sports Performance Specialist: Todd Forcier (Washington State)
Sports Performance Specialist: Ben Kenyon (Adelphi)
OK, so Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went public Wednesday morning, becoming the first owner I can recall to admit that his team tanked games:
"The Mavs, once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games," he admitted Wednesday on the Dan Patrick Show.
Wow. I suppose we should salute the man for his honesty and he certainly didn't admit to doing anything that we know a substantial number of teams in the league do every season.
But really, shouldn't we take a more global view of the whole situation? I mean, what does it say about a league where a significant number of teams are trying to lose as many games as possible for a good part of the season? Is that fair to the paying customers? I don't think this happens in any other sports league. But the way the NBA lottery is set up, there is so much incentive for teams to get high draft picks in the rare sport where one player can turn a franchise around.
I don't like tanking and think any league with a conscience would do everything it can to stop such things. How? Well, there's a decent idea out there that's been around for a couple of years. It's been called "The Wheel."
I'm not going to attempt to get into the mechanics of it (you can go to the above link for that) but suffice it to say it involves simply rotating the draft order each year with everyone getting an equal shot at top picks. I didn't like the idea at first but I'm convinced now it's the best way to combat a league full of teams willing to temporarily dismiss the moral responsibility of trying to win every game.
Am I the only one in the world who is offended by a league half-full of teams intentionally trying to lose games? Honestly, I find it appalling and always have.
And maybe the wheel would help some of the mid-level teams escape the limbo of not being good enough to compete for a title and not being bad enough to hit the lottery. It might also help those borderline teams battle the super teams, which are dominating the league. You worried, with the wheel, about one of the league's best teams ending up with the top pick every three decades?
Well, wake up! It has happened this year under the current system, with Boston holding the No. 1 choice.
I know this, as someone who watches a ton of NBA games every season, I think I saw more lousy regular-season games this year than ever before. There is too big a disparity between the bad teams and average teams. And too much difference between the great teams and the good ones.
Something must be done and it has to start with doing away with the incentive to lose games.