Lindsey Wisniewski

JUST IN: Oregon lands top grad transfer WR, Juwan Johnson

JUST IN: Oregon lands top grad transfer WR, Juwan Johnson

Penn State grad transfer Juwan Johnson is headed to Eugene.

The 6-foot-4, 231 pound veteran receiver, who announced plans to become a graduate transfer in January, committed to Oregon and will soon be receiving catches from Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert.

Johnson shared news of his commitment via social media on Thursday.

In his four years with Penn State, Johnson caught 81 passes for 1,123 yards and two touchdowns. He saw a dip in his production during his junior campaign, notching 25 catches for 352 yards and one touchdown.

Out of high school, he was a U.S. Army All-American and ranked No. 12 nationally, choosing Penn State over offers from Alabama, Ohio State and others.

While Oregon coach Mario Cristobal was at Alabama, he developed a relationship with Johnson during his recruitment and that connection likely carried into early February, when Johnson took his official visit to Oregon.

Johnson’s decision to join UO likely came to fruition due to Ducks need at the receiver group and Oregon football's optimism heading into the 2019 season. Dillion Mitchell, Herbert’s No. 1 target, announced in January he will not return to Oregon and will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

UO’s second returning receiver, sophomore Jaylen Redd, had less than half of Mitchell’s receptions and yards with 31 catches for 368 yards. No returning Oregon receiver had more than three catches or 35 yards per game last season.

Johnson will be able to make an impact immediately and provides Oregon with a veteran presence to join incoming freshmen Josh Delgado, Mycah Pittman, Lance Willhoite and J.R. Waters alongside Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Brendan Schooler, Bryan Addison and others.

A brother’s duel: Seth Curry vs. Seth’s brother

A brother’s duel: Seth Curry vs. Seth’s brother

Ahead of Seth Curry and Steph Curry’s homecoming in Charlotte for NBA All-Star Weekend, the two sharpshooters will face off in Portland in a Western Conference tilt on Wednesday night.

While the Golden State Warriors are the clear-cut favorite to win another NBA championship, the Trail Blazers will have an opportunity to tie up the series in Portland (GS leads 2-1 this season), and will look for Seth Curry to help tame his brother in getting the job done.

Warriors-Blazers recent history

The two teams first met in Oakland on Nov. 23, when the Warriors torched the Blazers 125-97 without Steph Curry, who was out with a left groin strain. Seth Curry saw the floor for 11 minutes, but only made 1-of-3 shots for two points in the first meeting.

The Portland Trail Blazers guard, who is currently second in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage, smoked his older brother in the second meeting on Dec. 27. He knocked down 3 treys for 11 points on the night in Portland’s 110-109 win in overtime.

Just two nights later, Steph Curry got his revenge in the third meeting on Dec. 29, unleashing 25 points, eight assists and two steals in the Warriors' 115-105 victory at the Moda Center.

Curry vs. Curry tonight

With the addition of Rodney Hood, who the Blazers acquired via a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers before the NBA Trade Deadline, Curry’s time in the Blazers rotation has been on the decline. There’s no denying his 3-point shooting percentage is strong (47 percent from behind the arc), but he’s still trying to blaze his own path in Portland.

Steph Curry trails his younger brother by three spots in 3-point field goal percentage with 44.7 percent from the floor, but he topples Seth in scoring (28.5 points per game) and free-throw shooting (91.9 percent).

When it comes to NBA championships, honors and awards, there’s no denying Steph sits on the family throne, but Portland’s Curry has the potential to run the table again in the series finale tonight at 7:30 p.m. PT.

An All-Star Preview 

The brotherly battle will continue into Saturday, as the Currys compete in the 3-point shootout in their hometown.

Seth Curry is shooting 48 percent from the floor and has what it takes to get it done from deep distance. Meanwhile, Steph Curry, who hasn’t been in the three-point contest in two seasons, will look to win it all again like he did in 2015. The NBA 3-point showdown will take place at the Spectrum Center Saturday at 5:00 p.m. PT.

With the 17th pick in the NBA 2K League Draft, OneWildWalnut of Blazer5 selects...

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NBA 2K League

With the 17th pick in the NBA 2K League Draft, OneWildWalnut of Blazer5 selects...

Everything is right again in the world of esports.

The NBA 2K League’s draft is getting an official date and location, as well as several new rules in its second season.

This year’s draft will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 5 at 2 p.m. PT and will be live streamed on the league’s Twitch channel.

The draft consists of four rounds this year, down from six in the inaugural draft. 21 teams will draft players to compete on their six-person rosters.

Jazz Gaming, who has standout players Shaka Browne aka "Yeah I Compete" and DeMar Butler aka "Deedz," is on the clock first, as determined in the league’s draft lottery back in September.

The Portland Trail Blazers’ esports team, Blazer5 Gaming, is scheduled to pick 17th after losing to Knicks Gaming in the quarterfinals of the NBA 2K League playoffs last season. 

Blazer5’s Dayne Downey aka â€śOneWildWalnut” took home the League MVP last season, while the team earned the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. He says Blazer5 is ready to win it all this time around.

"We're super excited for this upcoming season," Downey said. "We've been waiting to run it back after losing in the playoffs last season and ready to show that we are the best team this time around. We have myself, Lav, and Nidal (Mama I’m Dat Man) back for this season and added King Peroxide in the offseason."

He continued: "We are all ready to get back up to Portland and get to work. It was an amazing and memorable first season, but we are getting that championship this year."

NBA 2K League will also add four expansion teams this year: T-Wolves Gaming, Lakers Gaming, Hawks Talon GC, and Nets Gaming Crew.

126 players will compete in the NBA 2K League’s second season and more players will be draft-eligible than spots available in the league. Champion will serve as the official outfitter for the NBA 2K League.

Nik Stauskas finds new NBA home in Cleveland

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Nik Stauskas finds new NBA home in Cleveland

Nik Stauskas will play in The Land after all.

The former Trail Blazers guard, who was traded three times and released last week, has found a new NBA home with the Cavaliers. Stauskas will wear the No. 1 jersey in Cleveland. 

Stauskas was briefly with the Cavs, who acquired the 25-year-old guard from Portland as a part of a deal for Rodney Hood. Two days after being sent to Cleveland, Stauskas was traded to Houston in a three-team deal involving Alex Burks. He was later traded to Indiana ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline, where he was subsequently waived and picked up by the Cavs in free agency.

Following Stauskas' whirwind journey across the NBA, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said he didn’t think it was fair that Stauskas, and his former teammate Wade Baldwin, were traded four times in 96 hours, but he was confident the two players would find a future home.

“I actually don’t think it’s fair,” Olshey said in an exclusive interview with Blazers insider Dwight Jaynes. “But you want to be where you’re wanted. You want to be where you’ll have a role. When the musical chairs stop, they’ll end up in a situation where they both find teams and they’ll both find good situations.”

Olshey was right. It looks like Stauskas is fitting in already.

In 44 games for Portland, Stauskas averaged 6.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He shot 41.9 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from 3-point range. The Cavs and Blazers will next meet on Feb. 25.

Stauskas is expected to make his debut tonight, as the Cavs take on the Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena. 

Kam Chancellor is still winning off the field, cashes in on 2019 salary

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Kam Chancellor is still winning off the field, cashes in on 2019 salary

Kam Chancellor may have sat on the Seattle Seahawks sideline all season long, but he’s still winning off the field.

The Seahawks safety got a big boost to his bank account Friday, when his 2019 base salary of $5.2 million of his $10 million salary became fully guaranteed as he remained on Seattle’s roster.

The four-time Pro Bowler signed a three-year, $36 million deal with Seattle just months before sustaining a season-ending neck injury against Arizona in Nov. 2017. Chancellor was added to the team’s PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list for the 2018 season, and later revealed he had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and bone spurs in his neck.

The question now remains: will the Seahawks release Chancellor? 

Realistically, it comes down to whether the Seahawks want to save $2.5 million against the cap this year, or next.

Chancellor carries a $13 million salary cap hit for the Seahawks this season. Seattle could cut him by June 1 to save $2.3 million against the cap and would have a $2.5 million cap charge for him in 2020. If Seattle cuts him after June 1, they’d save roughly $4.8 million against the cap this year.

Chancellor shared a number of cryptic tweets hinting at his retirement, but he has likely not retired due to the fact he still has one year remaining on his legacy contract which is fully guaranteed for injury.

His extension through the 2020 season included a $25 million guarantee against injury.

Seattle has just $51.994 million in cap space, eighth highest in the NFL, in 2019. Four other Seahawks had money guaranteed on Friday: wideout Tyler Lockett, center Justin Britt, safety Bradley McDouglad and left tackle Duane Brown.

 

Payton Pritchard puts team on his back, but Oregon basketball is still working with 'a lot of new parts'

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Payton Pritchard puts team on his back, but Oregon basketball is still working with 'a lot of new parts'

When Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher and Casey Benson left Oregon's basketball program, head coach Dana Altman knew his team could use a leader.

In came Payton Pritchard, who spent his first two years with the experienced squad, before taking the team under his wing this season.

While Pritchard has struggled offensively in recent games, the junior guard put the team on his back in a must-win matchup with Cal on Wednesday, proving he’s just the player Altman hoped he would be.

"The ten rebounds were impressive," Altman said of Pritchard’s double-double night. "They weren't easy rebounds, he went and got them, went back and mixed up and got his boards. I thought that was by far the best part of his game."

The West Linn, Ore. native recorded the second double-double of his college career, dropping 20 points on 7-14 shooting while grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds in Oregon’s 73-62 victory over Cal.

But for Pritchard, it’s all about getting better and helping his team win games.

"I shot it definitely a lot better today, so hopefully I can keep making strides now," Pritchard said. "I kind of just tightened up my form, not thinking as much, just playing ball. Today I was more ready to shoot when the shots were coming."

Pritchard now has 1,081 career points, 32nd in program history. This comes just one week after he became the sixth player in Oregon history with 1000 points and 400 assists.

While the weight of the team’s success shouldn’t be placed on Pritchard’s shoulders alone, it’s obvious the young Ducks still have some work to do before they host Stanford on Sunday.

Oregon turned the ball over on 11 occasions before halftime, and finished the game with 15 turnovers total on the night. Altman was crestfallen with his team’s careless play.

"Hopefully, we can make a big step here in the next few weeks and continue to get better,” Altman said. “I think there is a lot there, and I'm disappointed in myself that we haven't gotten it out of them and that we haven't made better progress. But we had to find a way to win today.”

Pritchard is doing all he can do to help his Ducks win. But Altman’s right, Oregon still has some growing pains to figure out with the halfway point of conference play upon us. 

Next up, Oregon (14-9, 5-5) welcomes the Stanford Cardinal (11-10, 4-5), who sit just one game under the Ducks in the Pac-12 standings. The two teams meet on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena. Tip off time is 5:00 p.m. 

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from Oregon’s win over Cal

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from Oregon’s win over Cal

Oregon men’s basketball did what we expected them to do against the last-place Cal Bears on Wednesday night: Protect the ball, clean the glass and take care of business.

We weren’t so convinced the Ducks could handle the Bears early on, as Oregon got into turnover trouble within the first few minutes. But Cal failed to capitalize on Oregon’s sloppy mistakes and never lead again after the 9:32 mark in the first half.

Led by sharp-shooter Payton Pritchard, who had a double-double 20 points and 10 rebounds, the Ducks improved to 14-9 on the season and 5-5 in conference play. 

Final Box Score: Ducks 73 - Bears 62

Here’s a few quick takeaways from Lindsey Wisniewski, Reporter on the Road.

Holy turnovers. I wasn’t convinced the Ducks could pull this one off after watching the first eight minutes of play. Oregon, who usually averages 12 turnovers per game, had a costly 11 turnovers in the first half alone which led to 12 Cal points. They cleaned up their act in the second half, finishing the night with 15 turnovers total. 

Coming off a 23-point performance against Stanford, the Ducks held Cal forward Justice Sueing to 17 points on the night. Sueing shot just 4-8 from the field and missed both of his three-point attempts and failed to keep his back-to-back-to-back 20+ point streak going.

Payton Pritchard was the only Ducks player who could seem to hit the three on Wednesday night. The junior guard was on fire, shooting a lights-out 5-9 from behind the arc and 7-14 from the field. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Oregon will need Pritchard's hot streak to continue into Sunday, when Stanford rolls into Matthew Knight Arena. 

Oregon vs. Cal could decide the rest of the Ducks season

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Oregon vs. Cal could decide the rest of the Ducks season

Oregon basketball is in must-win territory, and we're for real this time. 

The Ducks have gone from Pac-12 preseason favorites to five games out of first place in the conference…and we’re nearly to the midpoint of the college basketball season.

That’s not good. Not to mention, Oregon is coming off one of its worst losses in Dana Altman history, a 73-51 dismantling in Colorado that left everyone, including junior guard Payton Pritchard, disappointed in the team's regression.

“Right now we just need to get wins," Pritchard said. "I mean I think almost every game is now a must-win. We have to prepare for it at least. Our margin for error is now very low."

Enter, the Cal Bears. Cal is in last place in the Pac-12 and has yet to get its first conference win of the season. The Bears are coming off a heartbreaking 84-81 loss to the Cardinal, who the Ducks will face next. Oregon cannot afford to lose to Cal if they want even the slightest chance of an NCAA at-large bid next month.

Let’s preview Oregon vs. Cal.

Records: Oregon (13-9, 4-5), California (5-16, 0-9)

Injury Update: Bol Bol (season-ending injury) and Abu Kigab (transfer) are out for the Ducks.

Record Watch: If Oregon wins on Wednesday, Coach Dana Altman will enter the NCAA’s top 30 in all-time Division I coaching victories.

Fun Fact: Oregon has three of the Pac-12's top 10 players in steals. Ehab Amin is second at 1.7 per game, Payton Pritchard ranks fifth at 1.6 per game and Will Richardson is ninth at 1.4 per game.

Richardson on the move: In Thursday’s win over Utah, freshman Will Richardson recorded a season-high 19 points while adding five rebounds, and a season-high three blocks for the Ducks.

The Block King reigns: Kenny Wooten passed Blair Rasmussen for third on UO’s career blocks list with three blocks vs. Utah. The sophomore forward now has 122 blocks overall, following a 92-block season in 2018.

Bears to watch: Justice Sueing is coming off back-to-back 20 points games, while Connor Vanover recorded a personal-best 15 points against Stanford. Darius McNeill has 17 steals and 19 3-pointers on the year.

How and where to watch

Time: Wednesday, February 6 at 6:45 p.m. PT

Where: Matthew Knight Arena

TV: FS1

Oregon state representative has crazy idea to change Trail Blazers franchise name

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Oregon state representative has crazy idea to change Trail Blazers franchise name

Here's your…Oregon Trail Blazers?

Oregon State Representative Eric Werner Reschke says it’s time for the Portland Trail Blazers to reconsider their name.

His new name suggestion? The Oregon Trail Blazers.

According to a proposed piece of legislation set forth by Reschke, a representative of District 56 that represents Klamath Falls and Lake County, “Blazermania” affects Oregonians from all walks of life and from every area of the state. The resolution states the importance of the team to recognize “the entire State of Oregon and its place in the hearts of Oregonians across the state.”

While Reschke does make a valid point: there are four NBA franchises that include a home state name rather than a city, that’s only four out of 30 NBA teams that choose to do so and Portland has already had its iconic name since 1970. 

Longtime Trail Blazers fans and media, including our Blazers Outsiders, took to Twitter to weigh in on the potential name change, and let's just say it won't be an easy sell. 

So, what’s your take Rip City? Is it time for the Blazers to change it up? 

Trail Blazers' Gary Trent Jr. makes it rain in the heart of Texas

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Trail Blazers' Gary Trent Jr. makes it rain in the heart of Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, including Gary Trent Jr.’s box score.

The Portland Trail Blazers guard made it pour from 3-point land with six triples and a career-high 37 points in the Texas Legends 135-127 loss to Long Island Nets on Wednesday night. He also added five rebounds and three assists for the G League team.

The Trail Blazers rookie just keeps on climbing in points. On Wednesday night, he surpassed his previous career-high of 34 points set on Jan. 29.

Trent Jr. has been explosive in his G League stint, averaging 32.2 points per game while shooting 49.5 percent from the field in five games played.

The 37th pick out of Duke was assigned to the G League on Jan. 20 after appearing in just seven games for Portland. Trent Jr. averaged 2.0 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.1 assists in 4.7 minutes of play in those seven appearances.