Dwight Jaynes

Rockets get Westbrook -- Did they watch him play in the Blazer playoff series?

Rockets get Westbrook -- Did they watch him play in the Blazer playoff series?

So the Houston Rockets wanted Russell Westbrook so bad they gave up Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two first-round swaps Thursday?

To get a point guard who seems very close to being an impossible partner for James Harden.

And I really think somebody should ask the question in Houston – did you guys watch any other playoff series but your own last spring?

The Westbrook we saw in the Portland-Oklahoma City, first-round series was one who was far below the public perception of what Westbrook is supposed to be. He’s a guy who thinks he can make all the big shots late in games and doesn’t understand that the reason the Trail Blazers were sagging about eight feet off him is that they WANTED him to shoot.

Don't fall for all that triple-double hype -- this guy is more relentless about that stat than he is about winning. He's prickly with not just the media but most people he comes in contact with, doesn't know how to gear his game down when the situation calls for it and, oh yeah -- he can't shoot.

I think this deal also sets up a situation with the starting Houston guards – Westbrook and Harden – fighting over the ball and ending up resenting each other. The only way I see this working is if Westbrook defers to Harden – because Harden isn’t going to defer to Westbrook. Nor should he.

And I don’t think Westbrook will defer to ANYBODY.

I can’t wait to see this in action. And to watch some Harden eyerolls after Westbrook clanks a few jumpers off the rim in the fourth quarter. And how crazy Westbrook is going to get while Harden is pounding the ball at the top of the circle waiting to beat somebody off the dribble.

Mike D'Antoni is going to need the touch of Houdini to make this work.

And that leaves the final question – Will the Thunder buy out Paul’s contract, freeing him to move to one of the superteams? I can’t imagine him being happy in OKC for more than a minute.

But of course, I can’t imagine anyone being happy in OKC.

Anfernee Simons gets 35 points and an injured ankle in summer-league loss

Anfernee Simons gets 35 points and an injured ankle in summer-league loss

LAS VEGAS – Everything was going very well for Anfernee Simons Tuesday night in Cox Pavilion. He was leading the Portland Trail Blazers in scoring with 35 points in 25 minutes, hitting six of his seven shots, and had the ball in his hands with a couple of seconds to go and his team trailing Utah by a basket. He was in position to tie the game.

But instead, he ended up in a prone position, under the Portland basket after slipping on the way to the rim on an attempt to hit a game-tying dunk or layup.

And with Simons flat on the floor, surrounded by coaches, players and trainers, that was a lot more important than the final score. The second-year guard suffered an ankle injury but was headed for further examination and unavailable for comment.

The injury was not believed serious but there was nothing official at the time of this writing.

The Trail Blazers lost the game 97-93, but Simons was the story – as he’s supposed to be. He’s being counted on to be a rotation player for Portland this season after seeing little action last year. He showed off a lot of his arsenal against the Jazz, hitting six of his seven three-point shots, 13-18 overall, and scoring on drives, a dunk off a lob and assorted other attempts.

“I thought he played really well,” summer league coach Jim Moran said. “I took him out in the first quarter and I probably should have let him go the whole quarter. I still want him to be more assertive and more vocal. Running the team, he needs to be more communicative. But overall, I think he had a really good game.”

Gary Trent Jr., coming off a game when he made seven of his eight three-point goals, saw things even out a bit, hitting 4-15 overall and 2-7 from three for 12 points.

The Blazers’ first-round pick, Nassir Little, made two of seven shots, 0-4 from three-point range and scored four points, with his college coach, Roy Williams looking on from a seat near the Portland bench.

“He’s the most explosive player I’ve ever coached,” Williams said during a halftime interview.

 

When Gary Trent Jr. hits a couple in a row, "It's all over." And it was

When Gary Trent Jr. hits a couple in a row, "It's all over." And it was

LAS VEGAS – Anfernee Simons, who has spent untold hours alongside Gary Trent Jr. in gymnasiums getting up hundreds and hundreds of shots, knows what happens when Trent gets in a groove.

“When Gary hits a couple in a row, it’s over,” Simons said with a smile.

And it was over early Sunday night and Trent hit more than two in a row.

Trent hit all six of his three-point shots in the first half, made 10 of his 12 shots from the field in Cox Pavilion and seven of his eight three-point shots during Portland’s 97-87 win over the Houston Rockets in Summer League play. When the smoke cleared, the second-year guard had scored 31 points in 25:02, along with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and just one turnover in a spectacular performance.

“We just tried to get him the ball and let him go,” said Simons, who had a solid shooting night himself, hitting 6-11 and 4-6 from long distance.

Trent is refreshingly honest about where he is and where he wants to be.

When told what Simons said, Trent offered, “I would like to think that. Me and him work countless hours in the gym with the coaches, just working on our jumpers day in and day out. When it’s time to showcase it and prove it, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Trent spent time in the G-League last season and it was about the only extended playing time he got during his rookie season. With the depth the Blazers had at guard, he was at the back of the line. And when you’re behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum it’s like going to graduate school for basketball. You better get your homework done.

“I’m not going to lie at all, it was tough,” Trent said. “First time in my life not playing at all, for a while. It was great people and fun to me, that I was learning from them, watching them day in and day out, everything they do – how they work, how they stay after, how they eat. I watched every single thing they do. It makes you work even harder, it makes you more hungry. So, I’m just going to continue to work.”

Both Trent and Simons have continually been asked what they’re working on in summer league and both give just about the same answer.

“I’m working on everything,” Trent said. “I’m not a finished product. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, so I’ve got to continue to work on my all-around game – my dribbling, my shooting, my mindset to the game, my playmaking. Everything.”

Trent and Simons did not play well in the team’s 20-point loss Saturday and the two combined to go 8-26 from the floor. Summer League Coach Jim Moran said he went over a tape of the game with the pair and challenged them to take more leadership.

And it worked.

“We had to pick it up,” Trent said. “Coach Jim Moran said that as well. Pick it up at the offensive end and the defensive end, if we want to win. And that’s what we did tonight.

“I think we bounced back pretty well.”

The team gets Monday off before getting back in action Tuesday.

Trail Blazer summer league team struggles in opener vs. Detroit

Trail Blazer summer league team struggles in opener vs. Detroit

LAS VEGAS – The defending-champion Trail Blazers’ summer league team got off to a rocky start Saturday afternoon in the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Blazers were outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter and dropped a 93-73 decision to the Detroit Pistons.

Portland made just 24 of 70 shots from the floor, including a 5-for-20 effort from three-point range. Meanwhile the Pistons went 15-41 from three.

“It was tough,” said Portland assistant coach Jim Moran, who is in charge of the summer leaguers. “Very tough. I was a little disappointed. We had a really good week of practice and then that game did not resemble what we did. It was frustrating.

“They were hitting threes early but they weren’t contested threes. We dug ourselves a hole early and then had to give up so much energy to get back in the game. I thought ‘Ant” (Anfernee Simons) was good in the first half. We were a little sloppy. We had some possessions when we really guarded, which was encouraging. I think for Ant and Gary (Trent Jr.) being veteran guys, they’re going to have to be more vocal. And it’s hard – they’re second-year guys. They have to learn that and grow into it."

Simons scored 15 to lead the Blazers, but had only one assist and three rebounds. Trent scored 10 on 3-12 shooting and Devin Robinson added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Blazers are back in action Sunday at 7 p.m. in Cox Pavilion vs. Houston.

“I’m expecting us to be much better,’ Moran said, “I’m expecting us to guard, not give up open threes, keep the ball out of the middle. There were some positive things and hopefully we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Lillard, already an icon in Portland, didn't "pretend" his way to supermax

Lillard, already an icon in Portland, didn't "pretend" his way to supermax

LAS VEGAS – The Trail Blazers spent some of Saturday making things official, tying up loose ends and taking care of business, as they say, now that the free-agent moratorium is over.

The supermax contract extension for Damian Lillard was announced. Rodney Hood’s re-signing was announced. Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver signed their deals. Draft pick Nassir Little signed his contract. And the trade that brought Hassan Whiteside to Portland was officially announced.

What’s the record for most press releases sent out in the span of three hours?

Lillard was on hand for a media availability that announced his deal, a four-year extension that kicks in after two more seasons and is expected to pay him in the neighborhood of $196 million. Lillard earned that contract on the court, but he backs it up off the court.

“I’ve been in the league a long time,” said Portland Coach Terry Stotts. “It’s a players’ league and the best teams are a reflection of their best player. If you’re fortunate enough to have a great leader as your best player, it just makes everything that much better for the coaches, the players, the franchise, the city – whatever – Dame has embodied that.”

He’s become an icon in Portland, an honest face of a franchise that is trying to do things right on the court and off. Lillard is beloved in Portland and recognized wherever he goes in the city. And it’s fine by him. He understands and accepts that role.

“It doesn’t bother me because I am who I say I am,” Lillard said. “I didn’t pretend my way to my first extension and I didn’t pretend my way to this one. If I was pretending, then if I was doing anything out of the ordinary, I would be like, ‘Damn, people are going to notice.’ If they see me in public, I am who I say I am. So, it’s not an issue at all.”

His leadership is said to be among the best in basketball and he has become the guardian of the team’s well-regarded culture. And so when the Blazers swung a deal for Whiteside, whose reputation as a tough player for coaches to deal with is well known, Lillard didn’t bat an eye.

“Anytime you do something outside something that you typically do, it’s going to be a challenge,” Lillard said “I’ve played with Robin Lopez, Nurk, JJ Hickson and guys like that who just kind of are more on the laid-back side … they aren’t going to say a whole lot, just do what they do. Hassan is outspoken, people have said things like that about him, that he’s given them a hard time, things like that. But I think once you come to an environment where it’s just not like that, you look around and say, ‘Nobody else is causing problems. Everybody else is working hard.' It makes it more uncomfortable to be the one guy doing it. People have said those things but I think he’ll come to a place like this and those things can change.

“Maybe he comes here and realizes it’s a better situation for him. He may behave. I don’t see it being an issue, because I’ve known him for a while and we’ve known each other for a while. I’ve already had a conversation with him. When you’re mad when the game’s not going your way, if somebody did something, if the coach said something to you, we have to talk. We’ve pretty much had that conversation already.”

Hood also had a media availability after signing with Portland for the taxpayer mid-level exception. Hood likes the city, his teammates and the situation with the Trail Blazers and said he could have gotten more money from another team, but knew he’d be happy in Portland.

"I think I'm making pretty good money,"  he said. "Not Dame money, but good money. I'm happy."

He was a valuable player off the bench for the team last season but the starting forward spots are wide open this season, with the departure of Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu. Does he expect his role to be different this season?

“I don’t personally know,” he said. “It may be bigger and it may be the same. I don’t expect any decrease. I haven’t talked to the coach about.it yet. Probably be a little bit more, but whether I start or come off the bench, I don’t know.”

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

LAS VEGAS – It was a happening. A big event – which this city loves.

And even with an earthquake that stopped the game with 7:53 left, the fans probably got what they came to see:

A few Zion Williamson thunderdunks.

The Thomas & Mack Center has been sold out for a week in anticipation of a Summer League game between the Knicks and Pelicans featuring several players who won’t even sniff an NBA roster this season. Or ever.

But it was also the very first professional game – a non-counting one, at that – for the league's No. 1 draft choice. And the fans greeted him with huge ovations for every dunk in the layup line during warmups and everything he did during the game.

Alas, they got him for only nine minutes and 10 seconds. He suffered a knee-to-knee contusion during the first half and didn’t play after intermission.

Williamson – or should we just go with the one-name thing now and call him Zion? – is one of the most interesting players I’ve ever seen in the NBA. He’s listed at 6-7 and 285 pounds on the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster but in person he doesn’t look that tall. Some say he’s just not in basketball shape at this time and he did seem stockier than I expected.

Given all that, he’s crazy athletic. He’s quick, can handle the ball some and is a ferocious dunker – the attribute that people seem to most want to see from him.

There aren’t many guys with his body type who have made it big in the NBA. Charles Barkley is the one he’s most-often compared with but my recollection is that Barkley had longer arms and did a better job of creating space for himself under the boards.

Now keep in mind, this is off just a few minutes of a summer-league game and he’s playing with a bunch of guys who don’t have NBA skills and probably just three or four days of practice together.

All that matters.

During his 9:10 on the court, Zion hit 4 of his 9 shots, nothing from any range at all, went 0-2 from three and 3-6 from the foul line. He had three rebounds and finished with a minus-15 plus-minus --- the worst of any player on the court. All of that means nothing, of course, but I do have some questions about him that will be answered this season:

Is he going to be a good rebounder? You would think so, because he’s so aggressive and bouncy. But during this game people were grabbing boards over the top of him and he’s going to have some adjusting to do to the size of NBA players.

Can he guard people? Not sure. Couldn’t tell in this game but with his toughness and quickness, he should be able to do it. I would also say he’s going to get a lot of calls from the officials. Star players do and he’s already perceived as a star.

Can he stay healthy? He’s going to have to get into shape or he’s probably going to have some injuries. This is an 82-game slog he's headed for and he’s going to be carrying a heavy load for the Pelicans.

Time, not the summer league, will tell.

He’s fun to watch, that’s for sure. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of him.

Blazers' Anfernee Simons is trying to make a point in Summer League

Blazers' Anfernee Simons is trying to make a point in Summer League

There will be a lot expected from Anfernee Simons next season. It appears, from the look of the Trail Blazer roster as it stands now, Simons will serve as the backup point guard behind Damian Lillard and carry a lot of the scoring load for the team’s second unit.

And the preparation for that starts Saturday in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The 20-year-old Simons will be in an unfamiliar position, too. At 6-4 and with the ability to create his own shot, Simons has not played a lot of point guard.

“I think I’ve been playing 2 my whole life,” he said. “But I feel like I can catch on to passing pretty easily. It’s just about the reps I get.”

Being a point guard, of course, means a whole lot more than just handling the ball a good portion of the time. There are a lot of decisions to make and four other players on the court to control. Leadership is a big part of it. For Simons, who is a gifted athlete and basketball player, he says the mental part will be more of a concern than the physical.

“Especially mental, because once you get tired you still have to control everything,” he said. “Control what you’re doing and it really tests out your mental toughness.”

And even in summer league, let alone the regular season, Simons will be leading players older and more experienced than he is.

“You have to have good relationships with them, talk with them, make sure they understand what the goal is here and know what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said.

That fits into what, he says, the coaching staff is expecting of him in Las Vegas.

“Be vocal out there and make sure I’m keeping the defensive intensity,” he said.  “Continue to play hard and play smart. I’m running the point guard, telling people where to go, they just want to see how I can handle that.”

And so far, so good. After the team’s final practice Thursday morning before heading south, Simons said things are looking good for a team that captured the league championship last year.

“We’re doing good,” he said.  “We’re playing hard and playing together. We’re playing hard on defense. We have a lot of plays for our team, more than I remember from last year, so we kind of help them out as we go.

“We’re getting the basics of It, but we’re just going out there and playing.”

And the journey for Simons begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against the Detroit Pistons in the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Jake Layman Era ends in Portland with a trade to Minnesota

The Jake Layman Era ends in Portland with a trade to Minnesota

The Jake Layman Era in Portland has come to an end.

The popular 6-9 forward out of Maryland has agreed to a three-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that is said to pay the 25-year-old, three-year veteran $11.5 million. To facilitate that move, Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations, engineered a trade with the Timberwolves that sent Layman away in return for a $1.8 million trade exception and the rights to 27-year-old, 6-9 European player Bojan Dubljevic. That spared the two teams from having to go through an offer-sheet process, which can be lengthy during a free-agent signing period.

Layman appeared in 141 games during his three seasons as a Blazer and averaged 4.6 points. He had some outstanding moments last season, with three games of more than 20 points and some crowd-pleasing dunks, but played sparingly in the playoffs and shot just 30.2 percent from three-point range during his career.

"We're extremely appreciative of how hard Neil Olshey worked with us to accommodate what we were trying to accomplish in sign and trade," Layman’s agent, Mark Bartelstein told ESPN. "The deal couldn't have happened without the Blazers looking out for Jake's best interests."

Facilitating a deal of this nature is something Olshey has done in the past and it shows his organization to be player- and agent-friendly, which can pay off later.

The Trail Blazers are not allowed to comment on the deal until July 6, but one would assume they felt the price of the Layman contract to be too high to match, given the circumstances. Portland is in the luxury tax and also has agreed to terms with free agent small forwards Kent Bazemore and Mario Hezenja and has agreed to re-sign Rodney Hood, as well as picking another small forward, Nassir Little, in the draft.

The team is still looking for a free-agent center but that market will become more clear once the Lakers – still holding a lot of cap space – find out if they are getting Kawhi Leonard.

Anthony Tolliver is convinced he can help the Trail Blazers

Anthony Tolliver is convinced he can help the Trail Blazers

Anthony Tolliver, a self-confessed basketball junkie, was sitting in front of his television watching the Trail Blazers in the playoffs and got an idea. As an 11-year veteran of the league, he knows himself and he knows what he can bring to a team.

“I was watching the playoffs the last few months and I thought, wow, I can really help them out,” Tolliver said Wednesday during his media availability.at the team’s practice facility. “I jumped on it.

“Free agency was a bit of a whirlwind. I was really looking for an opportunity to go to a team where I was valued and wanted. They made that very clear. I haven’t had free agency go this quickly in my entire career. But I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to play for a contender and play with guys like Dame and CJ and there are a lot of great players on this team.

“And also, kind of watching the playoffs last year, how they got double-teamed a lot and that’s literally how guys like myself can excel.”

Tolliver has long been known as a professional shooter and one of the NBA’s first 3-and-D stretch fours. Most players have a lot of adjustments to make during their careers. Tolliver has done that but has also seen the league move more toward his skillset – a big man who can defend and then step out and hit a three-point field goal.

“It’s going to extend me out for a little while longer,’ he said with a chuckle. “It’s something – I can’t say that I’m a genius and foresaw the future, that it was going to be to this extent – but a while back, back in high school and college, even though I was playing the five, I knew the future for me, if I was going to make the NBA, was going to be on the perimeter. Being able to shoot really well I kind of made the assumption that, hey, no team is going to turn down a player who can play defense and knock down threes. That’s kind of been the case the last 12 years.”

Indeed, Tolliver has modeled a lot of NBA uniforms. He’s played for nine teams, including the Trail Blazers for 12 days in 2009-10, been waived four times and traded once. Through it all, he’s persevered, working hard and doing the things that made a player valuable to a team in whatever role he’s asked to fill.

“I’ve been in survival mode since Day One,” he said. “Never been handed anything. Had to earn every single second I’ve had in this league. I think that’s why I’ve stuck around. There’s no let up. It’s just continuous work and continuous fight just to stay relevant, really.  Being a role player in the NBA, I call it the hardest job in the world because you never know when your number is going to be called, but you have to work like you’re going to play 30 minutes a game. And that’s a really tough balance to have. I’ve been able to find that niche and take advantage of it.”

Along the way he’s become popular with teammates and fans for how hard he’s played. In a stint with the Pistons in Detroit, his leadership and hustle was called it the “Tolliver Effect.”

Here’s what Coach Stan Van Gundy said about him at the time:

“He’s one of highest-character guys in the NBA,” Van Gundy said of Tolliver, “and what he will do in terms of leadership I think is important to our team, but it’s important that he’s a guy that can go out and play. It’s tough to be a leader who’s not playing and A.T. still plays at a high level.”

Tolliver, asked about that, said: “I think a lot of people like my energy and a lot of people call it infectious, especially on the court. On the court I don’t say much – I just work. Sometimes as a player if you have a teammate like that, it can affect your game as well. That would probably be the ‘Tolliver Effect.’”

But the locker room attitude is important, too, and Tolliver confesses he’s more talkative there than on the court.

“Off the court I’m consistent,” he said. “I try to pride myself on being consistent on and off the court. And so just helping guys out -- the young guys – I don’t look at young guys as threats. I see something they’re doing wrong and I help them out. I tell them what to do. I tell them,'Why don’t you try this?'

“Self-preservation says don’t tell them your tricks. Guess what, they’ll use it and take your spot. For me, it’s about the team.”

As a career 37.6 percent three-point shooter, Tolliver is known for his outside shooting, but don’t overlook his defense.

“The defense has been there before the three-point shot,” he said. “The three-point shot has kind of been an evolution. I saw the way the NBA was going and I worked on it for years. The defense has been my base, especially after going to Creighton and (playing for) Dana Altman. I’m not this crazy, spectacular athlete a lot of people are in this league, so I know I have to be smarter and be in the right place.

“I take a lot of pride in being in the right place, taking charges and doing the things that other people don’t want to do.”

And perhaps now, after all those seasons and teams, he’s in the right place as a Trail Blazer.

Mario Hezonja has plenty to prove after signing with the Trail Blazers

Mario Hezonja has plenty to prove after signing with the Trail Blazers

Mario Hezonja had a lot of reasons for choosing to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers. But most of all, he’s here to prove he can play in the NBA and wants to carry on the legacy of one of his country’s greatest sports heroes.

Hezonja, from Croatia by way of the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks, met the media Wednesday morning at the team’s practice facility.

Taken as the fifth pick in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft, Hezonja’s career so far has been a disappointment. He’s played in 277 games through his four-year career, but started only 65 of them, averaging 7.3 points per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from three-point range.

“I haven’t put up anything yet,” he said. “But it’s fine, because I will. It’s kind of sad to say I couldn’t do what I (wanted to) do in Orlando and New York … For Orlando I couldn’t be myself because it was one season this and one season that. We were a young group not ready to win yet and then we had a lot of veterans. It was messy a little bit. But it is what it is – it’s the NBA.

“I just go out there to kill. It’s pretty simple. In this situation it will be manifested even more. It’s a Western Conference finals team. I think I’ve gotten better every year.”

He cited his relationship with Neil Olshey as a reason for coming to Portland, a team that chased him in free agency last year before he signed with the Knicks.

“I’ve known Neil since a long time ago,” he said. “He’s connected to my agent’s family. I was talking to them last year. Very familiar to the situation, very familiar with Dame and CJ and the coach.”

And he also has a very close relationship with Portland center Jusuf Nurkic, who lived in the building next to his in Zagreb.

“We lived door-to-door back home,” Hezonja said. “My building is right next to his. I can yell at him every day. He is probably closer to my father than I am because when I left he still played in Zagreb. My brother – there’s nothing more to say. He’s super, super close to me. He always told me about this city, about this team and we’re super close.”

Hezonja is going to wear No. 44 this season, a tribute to Croatian great and former Trail Blazer and Hall of Famer Drazen Petrovic, who wore that number in Portland. Drazen's brother, Aleksandar, coached Herzonja on their country’s national team.

“Obviously the greatest European player of all time,” Hezonja said. “It’s out of respect to him. The journey continues in his name right now. I’m glad I’m the leader of the journey right now. Carrying my entire country with it.”

Hezonja grew up playing point guard and still has a lot of those skills, even though coaches have shuffled him between the forward spots in the NBA.

“It’s weird even for me,” he said. “I was drafted at 6-6, 195 and now I’m 6-9, 240.”

But he still has passing skills that were modeled after Petrovic.

Petrovic came to the Trail Blazers in 1989 as a highly acclaimed star in Europe. And although he played 77 games for Portland that season, he did not start a single game and played only 12 and a half minutes a game. That wasn’t enough for Petrovic, who asked for a trade the following season and was shipped to New Jersey, where he became a star.

There was more to the story, of course. Portland was in the hunt for a championship, had Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler firmly installed as the starting guards and Danny Young as their backup. Petrovic, in his first season adjusting to the NBA, had some turnover trouble, too, and wasn’t going to get big minutes. The Blazers were well aware of Petrovic’s potential but couldn’t invest the playing time in him at that moment.

But in Croatia, the Blazers and Coach Rick Adelman were vilified for not giving Petrovic a chance. And that feeling lasted a long time. Is Hezonja aware of that?

“Yes, that’s the story back home,” said Hezonja, who wants to change that narrative. “I chose his number so I can have success.”