Dwight Jaynes

'Nurk and The Turk' haul Trail Blazers to an old-school win

'Nurk and The Turk' haul Trail Blazers to an old-school win

The Trail Blazers went old school Thursday night in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Portland went inside to its centers. Over and over and over.

And over again.

Remember when having a low-post center who could score was a big deal? Well, the Trail Blazers turned back the clock Thursday night.

Two Blazer centers combined for 45 points and 21 rebounds as Jusuf Nurkic made 10 of his 15 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds and Enes Kanter, born in Turkey and making his Portland debut, hit eight of his nine shots, scored 18 points and hauled in nine rebounds in just a little under 20 minutes.

The Blazers finished with 66 points in the paint.

“He basically played the way we expected him to play,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said of Kanter. “I don’t know if you could have asked for a better first game from him.”

In a league dominated by three-point shooting, playing a power game with a big center is a real throwback. But high-percentage shots still have extreme value, particularly late in close games and when the shooters can also make free throws if fouled …

And, of course, on nights when the three-ball isn’t falling – like Thursday night for Portland.

“They are going to change the dynamic for a lot of teams in how they guard us,” CJ McCollum said. “They will be able to get a lot of attention, draw fouls and get us in the bonus a little bit earlier and present some different challenges for a lot of teams.”

The Trail Blazers made just 7 of 32 heaves from distance, with Damian Lillard and McCollum combining to hit only 3 of 15.

But Nurk and The Turk mopped up the mess, collecting a total of eight offensive rebounds.

“Obviously, our two big guys really dominated inside,” Stotts said. “They were a big part of our offense.

“We’ve been good, offensively, all season. And I think now we’re improved. Nurk has always been good on the pick-and-roll and Enes is good on the block.”

“Defensively, it’s going to be a challenge.”

Portland is stockpiling centers. Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard – who have each had good moments this season – did not get into the game and newcomer Skal Labissiere is plopped down at the end of the bench, where he is expected to stay with the four others ahead of him.

“He was tremendous,” Nurkic said of Kanter. ”If he can continue to play that way, it will be huge.”

McCollum said of Kanter: “He’s a monster, man. I’ve seen his work ethic the last few summers, living in New York and living in the same building.”

Kanter, who had been with the tanking Knicks prior to making his escape, was excited.

“The last time I got a win, I think it was two months,” he said. “First, it was amazing, man. I didn’t know any sets. We just went over them yesterday and it was like smoke coming out of my ears. I didn’t know any of them.

“But when you play with guys like Dame and CJ, they make the game so easy for themselves and for everybody else around them. That’s what made it so special.

“Winning is fun again. I hope it keeps getting better and better.”

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum & Terry Stotts weigh in on the impressive James Harden streak

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USATI

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum & Terry Stotts weigh in on the impressive James Harden streak

It was probably the biggest story of the first half of the NBA season – Houston’s James Harden and his streak of five straight 40-point games and then, his ongoing run of 31 straight 30-point games.

And the most interesting facet of that 40-point streak was that almost none of his baskets came after an assist from a teammate.

The man was playing one-on-one against the whole league for weeks and making it work:

A while back, we had the opportunity after a practice to talk with Portland Coach Terry Stotts and the Trail Blazers’ two highest scorers, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, about Harden’s streak and the idea of basically doing it with one-on-one play -- virtually monopolizing the ball.

Of course, the Rockets were without injured starters Chris Paul and Clint Capela much of that time, too. And there was the feeling by many that Harden’s heroics were the only way Houston could win.

“It’s an amazing stat,” Stotts said. “To have that many points unassisted is obviously an indication of how they’re playing and how they need to play at this point. And it’s a case of good a player he is and how good of a one-on-one player he is.”

Lillard is a big scorer and appreciates the difficulty of scoring at that level for an extended period of time.

“You’ve got to respect it for what he is doing,” Lillard said. “It takes a great player to accomplish what he is doing. To have 20 points in an NBA game is an accomplishment… but to average over 40 or 30, that is crazy.”

McCollum is a terrific one-on-one player himself and knows how hard it is to carry the burden that Harden has carried.

“That’s a skill,” McCollum said. “That’s a skill to be able to create quality shots, create space. And a unique skill to do it essentially every possession.

“He gets to that spot before anybody else.  You’ve got to be in elite shape to dribble the ball as much as he does, come off screens, play at the top of the lane and still get step-backs. He’s special.”

But what about his teammates? A lot of them are relegated to standing around, watching him go one-on-one.

“Depends on the position you play,” McCollum said with a smile. “It would be tough. You have to be able to shoot, obviously. Be able to go a lot of possessions without touching the ball, because he handles the ball and facilitates – decides who scores and when they score.”

But, says McCollum, there’s another side to the coin.

“You also get one-on-one coverage, you have a lot of opportunities to attack angles and gaps because of the amount of attention he draws. He attracts double-teams and triple-teams. Everybody is always aware of where he’s at on the court.
“There’s positives and negatives to playing with everybody but with anybody, but as an NBA player you can figure it out – figure out how to be productive.”

Stotts approached the question of Harden’s teammates from a coach’s point of view.

“The biggest thing is everybody accepts their role and understands that with Chris Paul out and Capela out, that’s what they have to do to win games,” Stotts said.  “I’m sure they’re fine with it.”

Lillard, a player who takes seriously his role with the Trail Blazers as the one responsible for getting his teammates going, had some concern about Houston’s “other” players.

“The other side of it is the people who are playing with him,” Lillard said. “Those are the people you have to ask. When it’s unassisted, the ball is in his hands all the time. NBA players, you know they want to shoot, they want to have the ball and they want to have a chance. 

“You have to respect what’s he’s doing. You can’t take nothing away from him – especially if his teammates are OK with it and they’re winning games.”

A question that begged to be asked is if there are any other NBA players – given the green light to continually go one-on-one for entire games – who could duplicate Harden’s feats.

“Kevin Durant – for sure,” Lillard said. “If KD played that exact same way I think he’d do the exact same thing.”

McCollum chuckled when asked the question.

“Like that?” he asked. “I think I can score a lot but 50 or 60? You’ve got to be elite. There are guys out there who could be productive, but I don’t know if they could be as good as James Harden. He’s very elite in his own right.

“I think there’s some guys out there who can score a lot of points in that situation.”

What about Durant?

“He could do that on any team …  if he wanted to.” McCollum said.

Stotts took his time with his answer about other players being able to hamdle that load Harden is carrying.

“Umm, there are some great players,” he said. “I’d say probably. I’m not going to name names but there are players out there – I don’t know if they’d be that efficient –- but there are players, maybe a handful of players, who’d like to try to see if they could.”

I think we all could agree with that. How about Durant’s chances?

“Durant?” Stotts said. “I think it would have to be a perimeter player. Durant, Steph -- if he got on a roll -- the thing is to be able to do it every night.

“LeBron is probably in that category. Probably some other guys as well. The thing about what James (Harden) is doing is that he’s doing it every night. It’s not a one-night phenomenon.”

And, as far as the 30-point streak is concerned, it’s still climbing.

Blazer bench puts aside worries -- knocks out Warriors in 4th

Blazer bench puts aside worries -- knocks out Warriors in 4th

The Portland Trail Blazers’ crowded bench has had a lot to think about over the last 10 days. Two players have been added and neither is expected to be a starter, barring an injury.

There is uncertainty about the future.

But that group put aside worries about playing time and went out Wednesday night and earned playing time – by knocking out the Golden State Warriors with a 35-12 fourth quarter that led to a 129-107 win.

It marked the first time in 23 tries the Trail Blazers have won a game when trailing heading into the fourth quarter. And the second season in a row when Portland has captured two wins over the defending NBA champs.

But they had to fight to get this one. Almost literally. Golden State doesn’t go down easy.

But trailing by a point to begin the final period, Coach Terry Stotts sent out an all-bench group of Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, Jake Layman, Zach Collins and Seth Curry.

Each of them had their moment during the fourth-quarter surge that put the game away.

The biggest imprint was made by Zach Collins, who had a monster blocked shot that saw him race the length of the court to block a Damion Lee layup at the rim – a true momentum-changing play.

“I was looking at it from the bench and I didn’t even see Zach coming,” Damian Lillard said. “So for him to make that play and then back it up with another defensive play, instead of patting himself on the back, that was huge for him but that’s huge for our team.

“I think it kind of turned the game completely in our favor.”

The follow-up play Lillard was talking about was drawing an offensive foul from Klay Thompson just a few seconds later.

That led to a faceoff between Collins and Thompson at the other end of the court that finished with each getting called for a technical foul.

By then, the Blazers were off and running, with Layman entering into another of his rampages where he’s popping up all over the court. He had 12 points in the fourth quarter – was a plus-23 in the 12 minutes – while making five of six shots. All 17 of his points came in the second half.

He is on a terrific run and was asked after the game if his recent play surprised even himself.

“No,” he said. “I’ve always known I could play. I know what I can do.”

The game broke wide open when Draymond Green was called for a flagrant foul on Collins with 4:16 to play and Portland holding a seven-point lead.

That prompted two quick technical fouls on Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, who fired a clipboard in disgust, followed by his ejection.

Lillard made the two technical foul free throws, then another one when Green was hit for yet another technical.

Collins then stepped to the line and canned two more foul shots. A few seconds later, Layman knocked down a three-point field goal, followed by a three-pointer from Lillard that came from somewhere near the Lloyd Center and Portland had a 23-point lead.

Game over.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Kerr, whose team played without resting DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Igoudala and Shaun Livingston. “They battled like crazy, you know really tough schedule with the back-to-back. There’s three guys out and I thought our guys really fought. It’s one of the reasons I was really frustrated …”

Stotts was pleased, quite obviously, with what he saw.

“Really proud of our team,” he said. “Obviously, the guys that came off the bench really played well in the second  -- well, the first half and the second half.”

Stotts was asked about staying with his bench, other than insertion of Lillard for Turner, in the fourth quarter.

“It’s going to be a transition,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of good players who are able to contribute to winning. Obviously, the bench guys played well.

“You know, with five or six minutes to go in the game, I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do to finish the game. But the guys on the floor answered it for me.”

Trail Blazers get Enes Kanter -- but what does that mean to the rest of the team?

Trail Blazers get Enes Kanter -- but what does that mean to the rest of the team?

And so again, I have to ask the questions we pondered just a couple of days ago: Who is going to play? And when?

The Trail Blazers added the second new player to their roster in the last 10 days when they signed free-agent center Enes Kanter for the remainder of the season.

Coach Terry Stotts wasted no time proclaiming Kanter, a very good offensive player and rebounder, the team’s new backup center.

“We’re getting a guy who can really score and rebound,” Stotts said. “He’ll help us be a better team. He’ll be our backup five.

“Obviously, he’s going to play.”

That certainly sends some winds of change through the Portland locker room. Meyers Leonard had been getting a lot of playing time in that backup center role with Zach Collins sharing time at that spot and at backup power forward.

This comes at a time when Jake Layman is putting pressure on Maurice Harkless at the starting small forward position and Rodney Hood, acquired in a trade with Cleveland Feb.4, is also expected to get big second-unit playing time.

Stotts was asked prior to the game why Layman or Hood isn’t starting at small forward ahead of Harkless.

“I’m not even going to get into that,” he said. “Thank you.”

Adding another quality player also means a lot of players having to get used to different teammates on the floor with them and all sorts of new combinations being used. But Kanter, a low-post scorer, shouldn't be a problem in that regard.

“I’ve always admired Kanter, because he’s self-sufficient,” Evan Turner said. “He does a great job of offensive rebounding. He gets you extra possessions. It’s a big pickup. A shoutout to Neil (Olshey).”

But how crowded is the rotation going to be?

“You just have to be pros,” Turner said. “Step up and do your job. Sacrifice. And that’s really it. You just have to step up and support our two stars.”

Leonard, having the best season of his career, is likely going to be the player most affected by Kanter’s acquisition.

“The truth is, I have no idea (how his minutes will shake out),” Leonard said. “It’s already been spoken that Enes is the backup five.

“I have played well. Certainly vastly improved. And while I was in there, I felt I gave our team a chance to win.

“I just did my sprints. I’m going to stay in shape, grind every day and if I get put in, try to do my best to help us win.”

Adding players to a  roster at or near the deadline can be a dangerous thing for a team’s locker room.

Portland now has 12 players deserving of significant time on the court – and they aren’t all going to get it. At some point, that can cause friction among players, or even cause them to take sides in regard to who should play and what their roles should be.

“No one in this locker room is worried about that,” Layman said. “I know it’s a big topic, but we all just want to win games.

“Whoever is out there playing, we’re all happy for each other. Everyone just wants to win games and play their best basketball when they’re out there.”

That divided locker room happened in a big way to the 2000-2001 Portland team. That season, General Manager Bob Whitsitt brought Detlef Schrempf out of retirement in the middle of the season and added Rod Strickland off the waiver wire. The additions not only didn’t improve the team’s fortunes, they led to dissension and dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, Portland now has veteran players with playoff experience, insurance against injury or younger and lesser-experienced players who may not be handle playoff pressure.

“(Kanter) is a great offensive rebounder, good in the paint and you’re going to be able to give him the ball and he’s going to score,” Lillard said. “And the experience of being on a good team. He’s been on a lot of good teams (in Utah and Oklahoma City before New York).”

But what about the chemistry of this team?

“It’s not a position we’ve been in, the last few years,” Lillard said. “I don’t think we have anybody who will be disruptive. If you’re not upset about not playing, you’re in the wrong game. You should be upset. If they’re not, that’s a bigger problem.

“But I don’t think we have anybody who will be a problem.”

Trail Blazers search for playing rotation in loss to Thunder

Trail Blazers search for playing rotation in loss to Thunder

So who plays? And when?

As the Trail Blazers dropped a not-as-close-as-it-sounds 120-111 decision to the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday, that would be a reasonable question.

Portland needs to find a playing rotation and maybe even a new starting lineup. Coach Terry Stotts used 11 players in meaningful minutes and seemed to be throwing lineups at the wall to see what was going to stick.

The Blazers’ starting guards – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum -- took 42 of the team’s 87 shots and if they continue to deal in that volume, the other shooters are going to have to be steady and accurate.

On this night, Jake Layman played 28 minutes off the bench and scored 17 points off seven shots and had a career-high four blocked shots. He’s looking more and more like a starter but Stotts just doesn’t seem willing to make that move.

He sticks with Al-Farouq Aminu for his defense but often gets little offense from him. But lately whatever he gets from Aminu is more than he’s getting from the other starting forward, Maurice Harkless.

“I liked the way we competed in the second half,” Stotts said. “I wanted to keep Chief out there with Paul George.”

For the record, George recorded a downright next-level triple-double, getting 47 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Good thing they had a quality defender on him, right? The guy might have gone for a hundred.

Harkless played 20 minutes and scored three points, Aminu played 33 and scored 13.

Aminu said. “It’s our job. We have to adapt.”

Meanwhile, Seth Curry – who has played and shot well this season – saw only five minutes of duty, Meyers Leonard played eight, Zach Collins played 10, Evan Turner 13 and Rodney Hood 16.

That’s reminiscent of an elementary-school team where you want to make sure everybody gets to play so that none of the parents gets mad.

“Right now, everybody is just trying to adjust,” Turner said of the playing rotation. “Using more guys and a deeper bench, we all have to sacrifice.”

The only rotation player added to the mix at the trade deadline was Hood, who can play three positions. But his appearance has seemingly thrown a monkey wrench into a rotation that was already unpredictable.

“I’m sure it’s difficult for some guys,” Lillard said, when asked about the rotation of the rotation. “Being in there with some guys for shorter stretches than you’re used to. But that’s part of being a professional. You’ve got to adjust on the fly and that’s kind of where we are.”

Meanwhile, the Blazers’ starting lineup struggled against the Thunder. McCollum went 5-20 from the field and Lillard was 9-22. Jusuf Nurkic scored nine on 2-7 shooting and the starters combined for 11 turnovers.

Yes, there seemed to be some hangover from the loss Sunday night at Dallas but there isn’t much excuse for that from NBA players.

This suddenly appears to be an unsettled team right now. There are roles to be defined and players found to fill them.

Certainly there are plenty of candidates on hand. And we saw them all Monday night.

Anemic fourth quarter dooms Trail Blazers in Dallas

Anemic fourth quarter dooms Trail Blazers in Dallas

The Trail Blazers, who hadn’t lost a game all season when leading after three quarters, took a 14-point lead into the final period Sunday afternoon in Dallas.

And then the Blazers held the Mavericks to 9-21 shooting in the final 12 minutes.

A win, right?

Nope. Portland made only three of its 16 shots in the fourth (0-6 from three), went more than 10 minutes without a basket, turned the ball over seven times (for 12 points) and took one of its most agonizing losses of the season.

And was outscored 24-9 in the final quarter.

And all this after Damian Lillard appeared to have single-handedly won the Blazers the game in the latter part of the third quarter.

Lillard completely took over the game, hitting eight straight shots, to push his team from a tied game into a 14-point lead. He scored 21 in the third quarter, hitting eight of 10 shots.

But after the game he was very upset about his drive to the basket on his team’s final possession. The Blazers were behind by a point and Lillard drove from the left wing toward the basket and ran into some heavy traffic. And he was fuming after the game.

“On the last play I got fouled two times,” he said. “I went behind the back and when I went behind the back, he reached across my body and pulled my right shoulder with his left arm.

“They didn’t call that.

“And then the foul that Zach had been getting called for all night – the dude jumped forward right into me. It’s the same call.

“But it should never have come down to that.”

The Mavericks used 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith on Lillard late in the game and his length was a plus.

“It is just a move that you hope to be able to make with a guy like Finney-Smith,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think it is difficult to ask a guy like that to guard him the entire game. In this case we went to it late.

“He is a little bigger than our point guards, but Lillard is a great player. He is an All-Star, and one of these years he will be a top MVP candidate, he is that good.

“But, as a team we did a great job in the last six minutes to get the win.”

Portland was feasting in the paint – a whopping 52 points over the first three quarters – but settled for just six in the fourth quarter. And the Blazers had 23 assists over the first three quarters and had only ONE in the fourth.

The ball stopped moving, Jusuf Nurkic took some soft fouls and the Blazer offense completely stalled.

It was an embarrassing loss to a team that traded four of its starters prior to the deadline and had no business beating a good NBA team.

Trail Blazers trying different combinations but unlock win over San Antonio Spurs

Trail Blazers trying different combinations but unlock win over San Antonio Spurs

It was a game that saw the Trail Blazers testing as many different combinations as a rookie safecracker trying to bust into a bank vault.

In the end, the Blazers found a combination that worked and it opened up a 127-118 Portland win over the Spurs.

In the first quarter, it appeared that former Trail Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge was going to single-handedly carve up Portland. Aldridge hit five of eight shots and scored 13 points in a period that ended with San Antonio holding a 34-31 lead.

But then the Trail Blazers got a little rougher. Meyers Leonard, who was accustomed to battling Aldridge in practice years ago, came in for Portland and got a little bit rougher, a little more physical with Aldridge.

Jusuf Nurkic picked up on it and followed suit. Aldridge would make just 2 of his last 11 shots and score only four more points the rest of the night.

“LaMarcus is a monster down there,” Leonard said afterward. “But I felt we were kind of trying to feel out the game – gauge whether we were going to double off the baseline, guard him individually, things like that.

“My job was just to come in and try to disrupt the game. Be physical. In the second half, ‘Nurk’ did a great job on him. Nurk had a really good second half and LaMarcus plays a lot of minutes. LaMarcus looked to be a little worn down in the second half and that's when shots end up being a little short.

“I try to always come in and be physical and disrupt his rhythm a little bit. On the first post up he bobbled it – maybe he traveled and maybe he didn’t, I don’t know. I just try to make it difficult for him and in the second half, ‘Nurk' was very, very good.”

Nurkic knew he had a battle on his hands with Aldridge.

“We are big guys,” he said. “He’s playing his game and I tried to make it hard for him.”

The Trail Blazers built a 21-point lead with 7:45 to play in the third quarter but the Spurs sprung Rudy Gay loose at the three-point line and they had it tied at 88 with two minutes left in the quarter. But Portland dug in and got the advantage back up to 17 about halfway through the final quarter.

CJ McCollum had 30 points and Damian Lillard 24 for the Blazers. Nurkic totaled 22. Newcomer Rodney Hood made his debut with 14 points, hitting six of his seven shots.

“We started off the game going back and forth,” Lillard said. “Both teams scoring and then kind of got on top of that, had a good second quarter, started the third well, too, and then they had a run.

“A lot of mistakes – losing guys, letting them get open shots, they just had a really good stretch. That happens. It’s a game of runs. They had their run but I was proud of how we handled that.

“We pulled out a good win.”

McCollum agreed.

“We never panicked,” he said. “We know they’re a good team – well coached, and they’re going to execute and play hard.”

Portland Coach Terry Stotts admitted that with the addition of Hood, his job of putting together a rotation and in-game substitutions has gotten more difficult.

“Honestly,” he said, “it’s going to be a challenge for everybody. It’s going to be a challenge for me, it’s going to be a challenge for the team. I mean, there are going to be nights whether it’s Mo or Chief or Zach or Meyers or Jake or Evan or – you go down the list.

“We kind of had a rhythm to what we were doing and that rhythm has been broken and everybody is just going to have to be patient, figure it out and one night it’s going to be one thing and maybe the next night it won’t. That’s just the way it’s going to be until it changes.

Portland finished with a crew of Jake Layman, Hood, Nurkic, McCollum and Lillard -- and Stotts liked it.

"They were really good tonight," he said. "Jake was all over the place. For Jake, he goes one for five from three, but he certainly had a big impact on the game. That lineup gives us a lot of spacing, a lot of mobility and the question will always be, can we defend, matchup-wise. Can we defend the positions?

"It's going to take patience on everybody's part where different lineups may finish games."

Olshey: This season's trade deadline different for the Trail Blazers

Olshey: This season's trade deadline different for the Trail Blazers

Things were not the same for the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline this year. Former owner Paul Allen passed away earlier this season and his sister, Jody Allen, is now in charge.

“It was different,” said Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. “The draft and trade deadline, Paul really amped up for those things. He really enjoyed it. I think Paul was really process oriented in that, from an entertainment standpoint.

 “Jody wasn’t sending me links from rumors off of Hoops Hype involving other teams. Paul really enjoyed that part of it.    

 “Jody was phenomenal this trade deadline. It was so matter of fact. We had met prior, kind of prepping her for the different models of deals we were trying to construct and all she wanted to know was, “Is the organization getting stronger? is the team getting better?

“And whether it’s a small deal for a rotation player or a flip-flop of guys… And then some really big-game hunting we were doing, Jody was on board with all of it.

“Her first priority was anything you can do to make the time better, I want to do that.

 “Jody is much more matter of fact. I don’t think the emotional attachment is there. Paul would get attached to the guys we drafted and then be more reluctant to kind of include them in packages.

 “I think Jody’s only goal was for us to get better… We were able to get better. I don’t know that it’s anything earth shaking, but I think without her support it would be harder.”

Olshey said there were still multiple trade scenarios he was working on Thursday before the noon deadline.

“We had three trades that were proposed,” he said. “One had an 85% chance of happening, which was the Caleb deal. One was about 50%. One was about 25%.

“Those were big deals. The players didn’t eventually get traded, but we had approval on all three, regardless of cap and future financial constraints…. The players we were looking to acquire, had we been able to put the package together… The numbers would have been astronomical. And at no point did Jody [Allen] even blink knowing what it would have done for the organization had we acquired them.”

The player the Trail Blazers acquired Thursday, Skal Labissiere, is a 6-11 big from Haiti by way of Kentucky who came from Sacramento in exchange for Caleb Swanigan.

“I think both players are talented," Olshey said, "Both players are young. They were fairly raw when they were drafted. Bigs take a little bit longer; they’re both talented; they both have a place in this league; and I think they both needed a new environment. I think they were both ready for a change of scenery. I think both organizations were trying to do right by the players. Where both rosters were going, I don’t know that either of us saw the fit that might have been there when we drafted them initially.

"With Skal, we really like his length, his shotmaking, we think he can protect the rim, he’s got some mobility, and I think he might fit our style of play a little bit better than Biggie was. And we had a little bit of a log jam with Big and he was running into it. At some point, you got to give him a better opportunity. Both Vlade [Divac] and I got on the phone and realized they were both drafted in the same range, their contracts are fairly commensurate other than Biggie’s goes out an extra year if they want to exercise the option, and you know just trying to be fair to the players, their agents, and their careers."

Blazers' 50th anniversary will feature exhibition game at Memorial Coliseum

Blazers' 50th anniversary will feature exhibition game at Memorial Coliseum

The Trail Blazers Wednesday announced plans for a season-long celebration of the team’s 50th anniversary next season.

The announcement came on the anniversary of the team being granted an expansion franchise by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

The 50th anniversary will be marked by a special logo that will be a part of the team’s uniforms next season and the Blazers’ games will be played on a special floor celebrating the anniversary.

There will also be an exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets that will be played in Memorial Coliseum – the franchise’s original venue – on Oct. 7.

Special “Decades Nights” will celebrate the players, coaches, uniforms and memories of teams from the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s and ‘10s.

The announcement news  conference in the concourse of the coliseum included invited season-ticket holders from that first season, Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan, fiounder Harry Glickman, Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Schonely, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the first Trail Blazer player, Geoff Petrie.

Forbes says Trail Blazers now worth $1.6 billion

Forbes says Trail Blazers now worth $1.6 billion

The Forbes Magazine values of NBA teams came out today and the Trail Blazers ranked 14th in the league at $1.6 billion -- a 23 percent increase over one year.

The survey also showed an operating income of $40 million.

Jody Allen is now owner of the team after the death of her brother, Paul. The stance within the company has been that Jody Allen has no interest in selling the Trail Blazers. But the question would now be, if she can get anything close to $1.6 billion by selling the team, would she do it? Could she find something a little more interesting to her with that money than a basketball team?