Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Evan Turner is out and Kent Bazemore is in for the Trail Blazers, bringing an improvement in three-point shooting – a need for the team.

Portland acquired Bazemore from the Atlanta Hawks Monday in a straight one-for-one deal for Turner, a trade of two players with a year left on their contracts. Bazemore exercised his player option on his deal last week, a contract that reportedly will pay him $19,269,662. Turner’s final season with Portland would have paid him a reported $18,606,557.

“Kent’s skillset and ability to make an impact at both ends of the floor will be an excellent addition to our team and bolsters our perimeter prior to the start of free agency,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations.

Bazemore, who turns 30 on July 1, has played both small forward and off-guard, much like Turner, who will turn 31 in late October. Bazemore is known as a solid defender who has had two seasons in the top 20 in steal percentage. He is a career .352 shooter from three-point range while Turner sits at .296 for his career. Last season Bazemore shot 32 percent from three while Turner made 21.2 percent of his shots from distance.

Last season Turner averaged 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and had back-to-back triple-doubles during the season. Bazemore averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Bazemore played 24.5 minutes per game while Turner averaged 22 minutes.

Turner was a very popular player among his teammates and was solid at the foul line and defensively in late-game situations. He was also often the playmaker for the team's second unit.

Bazemore has shot 39.9 percent on corner threes for his career, 30 points higher than Portland free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu has shot in his career from the same distance. Turner has shot .343 from the corner on threes.



Trail Blazers transfer Jaylen Hoard back to G League

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Trail Blazers transfer Jaylen Hoard back to G League

The Portland Trail Blazers announced Wednesday afternoon that they have transferred two-way rookie forward Jaylen Hoard back to the G League’s Texas Legends.

Now that Portland has officially completed its trade with Sacramento, which brought in forwards Trevor Ariza and Wenyen Gabriel along with big man Caleb Swanigan, Hoard will be better served getting more playing time with the Legends.   

Hoard is approaching his total of 45 days spent with the team. Per league rules, that is the total allotment of days that a two-way player can spend with its NBA team.

Hoard has played in 12 games with the Trail Blazers, averaging 2.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.

As for his time with the Legends this season, Hoard has averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in nine games. 

Is there better news for Trail Blazer fans than Nurkic, Collins in the gym?

Is there better news for Trail Blazer fans than Nurkic, Collins in the gym?

It was a day full of optimism at the Trail Blazers’ practice facility Wednesday.

Sure, new players Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel were on hand for their first practice with their team.

But that was not the headline news.

Everywhere you looked, there were positive signs in regard to injured players.

There was Zach Collins, going through on-court drills with a basketball -- shooting short jumpers and even left-handed layups -- as he recovers from a torn labrum. No full workout with the team yet, but on the court and even shooting with his (injured) left arm.

At the other end of the court, there was CJ McCollum working out with coaches -- running full speed as he shot and went through defensive drills -- as he recovers from a sprained ankle.

But most of all, there was news -- big news -- of Jusuf Nurkic going through a contact practice, albeit mostly halfcourt, as he recovers from his broken left leg.

Nobody was willing to say how soon Nurkic could be back playing in games, but just the news of him playing full speed in practice is reason for optimism.

He is a difference maker.

Coach Terry Stotts didn’t get specific about how Nurkic did on the floor but teammates spoke highly of how he played. Stotts did point out that this section of the schedule has been pinpointed for a while as a good spot for his return, because the team has two days off between three different home games.

And maybe not coincidentally, it’s also prior to the NBA trade deadline of noon, Pacific time, Feb. 6. So if the Trail Blazers were inclined to deal Hassan Whiteside and his expiring contract, theoretically Nurkic would be ready to play or very close to ready.

Don’t take this wrong. McCollum is the only one of the three injured players whose return to active duty is believed to be imminent.

But with serious injuries the likes of the ones Nurkic and Collins suffered, this sort of progress is what fans have been waiting to hear about.

Media, too. Win or lose, this team is a lot more fun to watch with those players on the floor.

A source of optimism: Jusuf Nurkic one step closer to returning to NBA action

A source of optimism: Jusuf Nurkic one step closer to returning to NBA action

TUALATIN – Over the past few weeks, we have seen Jusuf Nurkic go through individual workouts, but it wasn’t until today when Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard shared the news that the Bosnian Beast was looking like himself in practice. 

Nurk practiced full speed, contact, up and down, seeing him out there – like being himself and not looking like he was struggling – seeing Zach [Collins] out here right now, seeing how well Trev [Ariza] looked in practice – it just felt good. It was like… almost like a pick me up. I feel good about it. -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on Jusuf Nurkc  

Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula on March 26th, 2019.

Until now, Nurkic has only been seen doing individual workouts. 

[RELATED: The ultimate Jusuf Nurkic rehabilitation highlight reel]

There is still no official word on his return to an NBA game, but this development is encouraging.

Now as Rip City awaits the Bosnian Beasts return, everyone is wondering will it be soon?

“I do” Lillard said of getting the sense that Nurkic is nearing his return.

Lillard added, “I’m not involved in the situation…. I’m not a doctor, I’m not inside his body, but he looked good to me.”

“I’ve seen him doing contact stuff, but he really looked good.”  

Caleb Swanigan, who is now back with the team after Saturday’s trade has now become official, has banged up against Nurkic at practice many times.

Swanigan gave his thoughts on how Nurk was looking out there today:

“Nurk’s Nurk, man. He’s got a great feel for the game. He plays well. There was a couple of times when he lost the ball…  Nurk looked good,” Swanigan said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts told the media this was the first time Nurkic has gone through a practice like this.  

“He went through the full practice. It was mostly half court stuff, but he went through everything… We did four-on-four, five-on-five half court stuff today. He’s been doing that with coaches and some of the younger guys, but this is the first time it was five-on-five… He looked fine.”

“He’s been progressing to this point. I guess, it’s a milestone, but it’s just part of his progression... It was hopeful that this week would be an opportunity for him to ramp up his workouts, but as far as anything else beyond that -- it’s too early to say,” Stotts added.

Nurkic wasn’t the only getting after it today.

Zach Collins went through an individual workout after practice.

Having both of the Trail Blazers big men looking more like themselves, is giving Lillard hope.

These developments are a welcomed sight in Rip City!

Dallas big man Dwight Powell ruptures right Achilles, Mavs play Blazers Thursday

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Dallas big man Dwight Powell ruptures right Achilles, Mavs play Blazers Thursday

UPDATE (11:15am): 


Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell is the latest NBA player to have suffered a non-contact Achilles injury.

The injury happened in the first quarter of Dallas’ 110-107 loss to the LA Clippers Tuesday night.

At this time, the team is not releasing the severity of the injury, but many are fearing the worst of torn right Achilles.

Powell will undergo an MRI exam Wednesday.

The Mavs next opponent will be the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Portland has been dealing with its fair share of injuries, as well.

Trail Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood underwent successful surgery to repair his ruptured left Achilles tendon back on December 11th. 

Blazers starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who is still rehabbing a left leg fracture, let Powell know he was thinking about him Tuesday night.  

An Achilles injury seems to be more and more common these days in the NBA.

After Wednesday's practice, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wished Powell a speedy recovery as Lillard discussed how players are always at risk of an injury:

It’s part of the game, but it’s something that you just hate to see. You never want to see a guy get hurt, especially a majorinjury like that . That can affect a guy's career and affect him personally. It’s something that’s tough to go through, but like I said, it’s part of the game and every time we step out there, we’re at risk of something like that happening or something going wrong. I wish him nothing but the best, a speedy recovery, and a safe surgery. -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on Dwight Powell

Last summer, put together a list of notable players around the league who had ruptured their Achilles. 

The list included:

Kevin Durant

DeMarcus Cousins

Kobe Bryant

Rudy Gay

Wesley Matthews

Chauncey Billups

Now, we will wait and see if Powell is adding to this list. The Mavs role player was averaging 9.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. 

Portland Mayor vows to make 'Damian Lillard Day' a reality

Portland Mayor vows to make 'Damian Lillard Day' a reality

Monday evening in front of a national television audience, Damian Lillard showed why he's among the best basketball players in the world.

The kid from Oakland scored a career-high 61 points against the Golden State Warriors, the highest total ever from a Portland Trail Blazer. 

Dame's performance impressed everyone: Social media, Evan Turner and even Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler. 

The politician tweeted his announcement the morning following Lillard's stellar display of shooting. Given the impact and admiration Lillard has earned from Rip City, it was just a matter of time until he got a day dedicated in his honor. 

Some Blazers fans agreed with the mayor's call.

Next up, Damian Lillard and the Blazers will host the Dallas Mavericks at 7:00 p.m. at the Moda Center on Thursday.

Evan Turner thinks a street should be named after Damian Lillard

Evan Turner thinks a street should be named after Damian Lillard

To end the slate of nationally televised games for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Damian Lillard saved the best for last.

The franchise star scored a career-high and franchise-record 61 points against the Golden State Warriors to will Portland to an overtime victory.

The whole country took notice, as did Dame's former teammate Evan Turner.

I don't know about you, but a high school named after Lillard would immediately become the go-to school to attend in Portland. If that's too much, a street name is the least the city can do for Portland's most beloved son. 

Turner and Lillard were teammates from 2015-2019 until he was traded to Atlanta in exchange for Kent Bazemore this past offseason. 

Current and former teammates CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard found Turner's tweet as funny as the rest of us.

What do you say Rip City?

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers

On Tuesday morning the Trail Blazers officially announced their long-rumored trade with the Sacramento Kings

Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are gone, while Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel are on their way Portland.

The Blazers know what they are getting in Ariza: a solid veteran player that has made his entire career on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Stotts anticipates that Ariza will be the team's starting small forward, as many of us expected. 

But what about Gabriel and Swanigan? 

Let's start with Gabriel. He is a largely unknown commodity. In his first year in the league, after spending time in the G-League, Gabriel has played in just 11 games for the Kings. 

In those games, he has averaged 1.7 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 5.5 minutes per game.

He is another Moses Brown. A big body with potential, but still very raw and rough around the edges. Most likely, he will be an end-of-the-bench guy. 

That is the quick rundown on Gabriel. Now, what about Swanigan?

First, remember that Swanigan has been in Portland before and that stint didn't work out. 

He was drafted by the Blazers in 2017, failed to crack the rotation, and was later traded to the Kings in return for Skal Labissiere. 

Swanigan played 45 games for the Blazers, averaging 2.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game. Swanigan's stint in Sacramento was much the same. He failed to crack the rotation, playing in just 10 games while averaging 1.3. points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists. 

To be fair to Swanigan, getting on the floor wasn't easy. He is a versatile player that can play power forward or center in small lineups, but he still had an uphill battle.

In Portland, he was buried behind the likes of Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, and Zach Collins.

In Sacramento, he was buried behind Dewayne Demon, Nemanja Bjelica. Richaun Holmes, Harry Giles, and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Getting on the floor wasn't easy. That's not the case in his second stop here in Portland. 

As we all know, injuries have ravaged the Blazers, especially in the frontcourt. 

The Blazers don't have Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, or Pau Gasol available.  

In fact, the Blazers now only have four players available that are 6'9" or taller: Hassan Whiteside (7'0"), two-way player Moses Brown (7'2"), and the newly-acquired Gabriel and Swanigan who both stand at 6'9."

Quite simply, Swanigan is going to get on the floor out of necessity. 

If the team were fully healthy, Swanigan would once again find himself on the bottom looking up. This time, he gets to start near the top.

The Blazers have lived by a "next man up" mentality all season long, and this time they had to go outside of Portland to find that next man. 

If Swanigan hopes to turn it around, to resurrect his career, there is no better chance than what the Blazers are giving him. 

To use a football analogy -  The ball is on the one-yard-line and the team is choosing to hand the ball off to Swanigan. What he does from there is up to him. When someone gives you the ball, you run with it.

He either runs through the door of opportunity that has been opened, or he runs himself back out of town... hopefully it's the former. 

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers. The chance for both of them to turn their season around starts on Thursday against the Mavericks. 

The Trail Blazers' schedule since Christmas Day has been exhausting

The Trail Blazers' schedule since Christmas Day has been exhausting

The Trail Blazers have two days off before they play again Thursday night at home against Dallas.

OK, so what?

Well, I'll tell you what. It's the first time Portland has had two days in a row without a game since Christmas Day, and that's ridiculous. This team has played every other day for 26 straight days -- except last weekend when it had to play back-to-back road games at Dallas and Oklahoma City. That's been 14 games in 26 days with very little recovery time in between games.

At best, it's been monotonous. At worst, it's been extremely exhausting.

And nine of those games were played on the road, including a killer five-game north-south swing through the east that featured games at New York, Washington, D,C., Miami, Toronto and Minneapolis.

And after that long trip, the Blazers returned home and had just one day off before playing again -- which is not normal NBA procedure. Usually, after a 10-day road trip, a team would get two days without a game before playing again.

It's no wonder that there was susceptibility to cold and flu -- even on charter planes, travel can wear your resistance down.

But just to show how crazy the schedule is, the Blazers now get two consecutive days off prior to each of their next three home games.

Go figure.

Trevor Ariza will "probably" start for Trail Blazers... as he should

Trevor Ariza will "probably" start for Trail Blazers... as he should

The Trail Blazers made their trade with the Kings official Tuesday morning, which means people like Terry Stotts can finally talk about it. 

Portland traded for Trevor Ariza and Wenyen Gabriel and forward/center Caleb Swanigan from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second round draft picks. 

The biggest name included in the deal and the player that will have the most impact and production for the Blazers is Trevor Ariza. 

While the roles of Gabriel and Swanigan will be small, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has greater plans with the former NBA Champion small forward.

"Trevor Ariza will probably be our starting small forward," Terry Stotts said on NBC Sports Northwest's simulcast show of 620 Rip City Radio's Dan & Nigel in the Mornings. "He has great experience. He has been in his career a very good defender. He’s a good three point shooter, so he’ll be able to space. His experience will blend really well with the starters. He’s a good guy. I think he’ll be a great fit for us."

This shouldn't come as a surprise. With Rodney Hood sidelined for the season with a torn Achillies and the vacancy left by Kent Bazemore as the replacement starter, Ariza was the presumptive choice at SF. The Blazers don't have a more viable option other than Ariza starting at small forward.

Ariza (6-8, 215) has averaged 6.0 points (38.8% FG, 35.2% 3-PT, 77.8% FT), 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.09 steals and 24.7 minutes in 32 games for the Kings this season. A 15-year veteran and 2009 NBA Champion with the L.A. Lakers, Ariza, 34, holds career averages of 10.5 points (42.2% FG, 35.1% 3-PT, 72.9% FT), 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.49 steals in 1,043 games (710 starts) with New York, Orlando, the L.A. Lakers, Houston, New Orleans, Washington, Phoenix and Sacramento. Ariza was originally selected by the New York Knicks with the 43rd overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft after playing one season at UCLA.

NBCS Kings Insider James Ham weighed in on the type of player the Trail Blazers are getting in Ariza:

“Ariza signed a two-year, $25 million deal in the offseason to provide veteran leadership and depth at the forward position. The final year is only guaranteed for $1.8 million, making him slightly more than an expiring contract for Portland. He was a calming influence on the Kings younger players, especially on the defensive end. He's not as mobile as he once was and his 3-point shot goes on the fritz at inopportune times, but he’s a solid player that can help replace some of the defense that the Blazers lost during the offseason with the departures of Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu.” 

He will wear No. 8 for the Trail Blazers.