Blazers' shootaround notes: Stotts mum on lineup, but do jerseys give answer?

Blazers' shootaround notes: Stotts mum on lineup, but do jerseys give answer?

PHOENIX – At Wednesday morning’s shootaround, Trail Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts declined to reveal his starting lineup for tonight’s game at Phoenix, but the jerseys his players wore went a long way to speaking for him.

Only five players were wearing black jerseys – the rest grey – when the media was allowed onto the court at the conclusion of the hour-long walk-through practice.

Those in black: Damian Lillard at point guard, Evan Turner at shooting guard, Maurice Harkless at small forward, Al-Farouq Aminu at power forward and Jusuf Nurkic at center.

No big surprises, as Turner will fill in for the suspended CJ McCollum and likely start the game guarding Suns’ rising star Devin Booker. Turner has set a goal to be named All-NBA Defense this season and what a way to make a statement than going against the player who scored 70 points last season at Boston.

Other news and notes about the opener:

Shabazz Napier: Stotts said he has seen enough in practice from Shabazz Napier to play him in tonight’s game. Doesn’t mean Napier will see time, but he is cleared medically and has shown enough to Stotts in three practices to give the coach comfort to call on him if needed. Napier injured his left hamstring on the second day of training camp and didn’t return to practice until Sunday.

The rookies: Of all the tough decisions ahead for Stotts, his biggest entering the season might be which rookie to play. A low-key development in the preseason has been the rapid improvement of rookie Zach Collins. While much attention has been given to fellow rookie Caleb Swanigan, who started the preseason with a bang, Collins has quietly impressed to the point where he could command playing time over Swanigan.

Meyers Leonard: The Blazers' big man said he understands that he will not be in the rotation to open the season, and says he has adopted a “be ready” mentality.

“I thought I had a really good training camp, and for the most part in the preseason I thought I was solid,'' Leonard said.  "I didn’t like the Toronto game, but outside of that, I felt I was very focused and shot the ball well and definitely improved with defensive rebounding.

“But it’s an uphill battle. I can say that I didn’t give them a reason last year to have trust  me … so I’m going to take it day by day,’’ Leonard said.

Stotts and Leonard chatted briefly this week about his role and Leonard says he is in a good place mentally.

“That’s one thing I’ve come to understand after this summer, and coming into my 6th year is understanding the true, true professional side of things. That no matter what happens I have to stay in shape, keep working … because when number is called, you have to be ready.’’

Suns injury update: Leonard’s chances of playing Wednesday probably lessened after it appears Suns backup center Alex Len will miss the game with a sprained ankle. Len told Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic that he is “probably out” for tonight’s game beause of the left ankle sprain, but that he hopes to play Friday.

Extra work for CJ: CJ McCollum, who is suspended for tonight’s game after leaving the bench during an altercation in last week’s preseason game against the Suns, stayed after Wednesday’s shootaround to get in more court work. He is not allowed to be in the arena up to two hours before the game. 

2018 NBA Draft News and Updates

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USA Today

2018 NBA Draft News and Updates

The 2018 NBA Draft is here. Who will go number one? What will the Blazers do at 24? We will update you with all the latest information here, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the latest from the Trail Blazers practice facility. 

First Round

1. Phoenix - Deandre Ayton, 7'1", 250lb Center, Arizona


2. Sacramento - Marvin Bagley III, 6'11", 234lb Forward, Duke


3. Atlanta (Traded to Dallas) - Luka Doncic, 6'7", 218lb Guard/Forward, Real Madrid (Spain)


4. Memphis - Jaren Jackson Jr, 6'11", 242 lb Forward, Michigan State 


5. Dallas (Traded to Atlanta) - Trae Young, 6'2", 180lb Guard, Oklahoma


6. Orlando - Mohamed Bamba, 6'11", 225 Center, Texas


7. Chicago - Wendell Carter Jr, 6'10", 259 lb Forward, Duke 


8. Cleveland  (from Brooklyn via Boston) - Collin Sexton, 6'3", 190lb Guard, Alabama


9. New York - Kevin Knox, 6'9", 215lb Forward, Kentucky 


10. Philadelphia  (from Los Angeles Lakers via Phoenix) - Mikal Bridges, 6'7", 210lb Guard, Villanova 


11.Charlotte (Traded to the Clippers) - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6'6", 180lb Guard, Kentucky

Shai Gilgeous Alexander: athletic runs in his blood 


12. LA Clippers (from Detroit, traded to Charlotte) - Miles Bridges, 6'7", 225lbs Guard/Forward, Michigan State

Miles Bridges compared to former Blazer Jerome Kersey 


13. LA Clippers - Jerome Robinson, 6'6", 191lb Guard, Boston College 

BC's Jerome Robinson

14. Denver 
15. Washington
16. Phoenix (from Miami)
17. Milwaukee
18. San Antonio
19. Atlanta (from Minnesota)
20. Minnesota (from Oklahoma City via Utah)
21. Utah
22. Chicago (from New Orleans)
23. Indiana
24. Portland
25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland)
26. Philadelphia
27. Boston
28. Golden State
29. Brooklyn (from Toronto)
30. Atlanta (from Houston via LA Clippers)

Second Round

31. Phoenix
32. Memphis
33. Dallas
34. Atlanta
35. Orlando
36. New York (from Chicago via Oklahoma City)
37. Sacramento
38. Philadelphia (from Brooklyn)
39. Philadelphia (from New York)
40. Brooklyn (from Los Angeles Lakers via Toronto and Orlando)
41. Orlando (from Charlotte via Phoenix and Memphis)
42. Detroit
43. Denver (from LA Clippers via New York and Philadelphia)
44. Washington
45. Brooklyn (from Milwaukee)
46. Houston (from Miami via Memphis)
47. Los Angeles Lakers (from Denver via Chicago and Utah)
48. Minnesota
49. San Antonio
50. Indiana
51. New Orleans
52. Utah
53. Oklahoma City
54. Dallas (from Portland via Denver)
55. Charlotte (from Cleveland via Brooklyn and Philadelphia)
56. Philadelphia
57. Oklahoma City (from Boston)
58. Denver (from Golden State)
59. Phoenix (from Toronto)
60. Philadelphia (from Houston)

 

Blazers finish pre-draft process with some buzz by inviting Anfernee Simons for second workout

Blazers finish pre-draft process with some buzz by inviting Anfernee Simons for second workout

The Trail Blazers on Tuesday finished their predraft workouts, but not before creating a stir with their final group.

Highlighting an otherwise non-descript group were two 19 year olds – guard Anfernee Simons, and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa. 

The buzz was mostly created by Simons, the 19-year-old high-flying, slick-shooting guard, who cancelled a scheduled workout with Memphis in order to accept a second workout with the Blazers on Tuesday. 

“I feel like (Portland) wanted me more,’’ Simons said in explaining why he made the late switch. 

Of the 30 prospects the Blazers looked at this month, Simons is the only player to perform a second workout. The 6-foot-4 Florida native committed to Louisville, but bypassed college last season and trained at the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Simons (pronounced SIGH-Mons) said the Blazers join the Lakers (25thpick) and Orlando (35thpick) as the only teams to ask for a second workout. 

Meanwhile, Musa – a 6-foot-8 wing who played two seasons on the Bosnian national team with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic – made the last of his six workouts on Tuesday. He says he can play both guard positions and small forward and possesses a level of passion that few, if any, prospects can claim.

Musa left his family at age 11 to attend a basketball academy for four years.. He later played professionally for four seasons.

“I have sacrificed almost everything for basketball,’’ Musa said. “I have that passion that I don’t think anyone has in my country or in this draft.’’

Musa has worked out for Denver (14thpick), San Antonio (18th), Utah (21), Indiana (23) and Brooklyn (29). The Blazers own the 24thpick.

But it was Simons’ return to Portland that created the most intrigue. 

He said the Blazers told him they liked him and wanted to see more of him, and judging from the limited availability of Tuesday’s workout, it appeared the Blazers wanted to see how he could handle himself against more physical guards. 

In his first workout on June 4, Simons went mostly against Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo and Duke’s Trevon Duval, both fellow teenagers who are also of slight build (Simons is 6-4, 180).

On Tuesday, Simons went mostly against Arkansas senior Jaylen Barford, who at 6-3, 202 is stronger and plays more physical than what Simons went against in the first workout. 

On one play, Barford was able to back down Simons into the key before Simons caromed off his body and out of bounds as Barford scored uncontested.

“The guard play was much better, a lot more physical,’’ Simons said. “So that was kind of a challenge.’’

Simons, who turned 19 earlier in June, said he knows his strength will be an issue, but he figures that will come with time.

“Obviously, I need to get stronger, and it’s going to take time to get stronger,’’ he said. “But I felt I held my own pretty well.’’

Well enough to earn the Blazers’ trust with the 24thpick? That will be the question come Thursday. If anything, he said the Blazers showed more interest than any other team.

“A couple of teams expressed lot of interest, but (the Blazers) are different,’’ Simons said. “They interacted with me more and tried to learn more about me off the court.’’

The Final Pre-Draft Workouts!

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NBCS NW

The Final Pre-Draft Workouts!

It's the final round of pre-draft workouts for the Trail Blazers and here's the rundown on who's at the practice facility today...

Jaylen Barford, 6'3'' Guard, Arkansas

Jacobi Boykins, 6'6'' Guard, Louisiana Tech

Brandon McCoy, 7'0'' Center, UNLV

Dzanan Musa, 6'8'' G/F, Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia)

Anfernee Simons, 6'4'' Guard, IMG Academy

Thomas Welsh, 7'0'' Center, UCLA

 

A look at players who have already worked out for Portland

A look at players who have already worked out for Portland

We are just days away from the 2018 NBA draft.  Are you ready? The Portland Trail Blazers are gearing up with its No. 24 pick. Here’s a quick look at who people are saying could be the best bet for the Blazers when Portland is on the clock on Thursday night.

Trail Blazers Mock Draft 1.0: Pre-combine Mock DraftMock Draft 2.0: Post-combine Mock DraftMock Draft 3.0: After 1st batch of workouts Mock DraftMock Draft 4.0: Our analysts Mock DraftMock Draft 5.0: Will be released on Wednesday

The Blazers have held a total of four predraft workouts and have schedule the fifth and final workout for Tuesday, June 19th.

Here’s a roundup of all the players that have been brought into the Blazer practice facility to showcase their talents and see if they could be a good fit for the Blazers organization.

Portland had its first predraft workout on Friday, June 1st with the following players:

Keita Bates-Diop

Written Draft Profile

 

Jalen Brunson

Written Draft Profile

Video Draft Profile
 


Melvin Frazier

Written Draft Profile

Could Frazier help build the Blazers Empire? 

 

Aaron Holiday

Written Draft Profile

UCLA’s Aaron Holiday looks up to Damian Lillard, looking for right fit

Can Holiday help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Raymond Spalding

Written Draft Profile

 

Gary Trent Jr.

Written Draft Profile

Could Trent Jr. help build the Blazers Empire?

 

The following day on June 2nd, the Blazers brought in several guards…

Bruce Brown

Written Draft Profile

Miami guard Bruce Brown heads to Blazers workout fueled by a memory

Could Brown help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Donte DiVincenzo

Written Draft Profile

Could DiVincenzo help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Jacob Evans

Written Draft Profile

Video Draft Profile

Trail Blazers eyeing Jacob Evans, who models game after Butler, Pippen

Could Evans help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Ben Lammers

Could Lammers help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Chimezie Metu

Written Draft Profile

 

Elie Okobo

Written Draft Profile

 

For the Blazers next workouts on Monday, June 4th … Portland brought in:

Hamidou Diallo

Could Diallo help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Trevon Duval

Written Draft Profile

 

Jairus Lyles

UMBC coach Odom on Jairus Lyles: “He understands his role.”

 

Shake Milton

Could Milton help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Victor Sanders

Written Draft Profile  

 

Anfernee Simons

Written Draft Profile

Video Draft Profile

Can Simons help build the Blazers Empire?

 

The next predraft workout participants were in Portland for the Blazers fourth round of workouts on Thursday, June 14th.

 

Troy Brown Jr.

Written Draft Profile

Could Brown help buld the Blazers Empire?

 

MiKyle McIntosh

Written Draft Profile

 

De’Anthony Melton

Could Melton help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Josh Okogie

Written Draft Profile

Video Draft Profile

Could Okogie help build the Blazers Empire?
 

 

Billy Preston

Written Draft Profile

 

Landry Shamet

Written Draft Profile

Could Shamet help build the Blazers Empire?

 

Khyri Thomas

Written Draft Profile

Could Thomas help build the Blazers Empire?

 

The Blazers have Tuesday, June 19th scheduled for its fifth and final predraft workout at 10am.  We will have you covered with all the participants draft profiles.

Key dates for the NBA and Trail Blazers in June and July

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USATI

Key dates for the NBA and Trail Blazers in June and July

There's a lot happening around the NBA over the course of the next several weeks! We've got contract related deadlines, the NBA Draft, Free Agency and Summer League. Here's a quick rundown of the key dates coming up in the NBA:

June 21st
- NBA Draft 
For the Trail Blazers: They currently hold the #24 pick in the first round. They do no thave any picks in the second round.
(Full coverage at NBCSportsNorthwest.com and on TV with Trail Blazers Courtside and Blazers Outsiders)

June 24th
- Last day for restricted free agents to excercise player options
For the Trail Blazers: They do not have any restricted free agents with player options. 

June 29th
- Last day for player, team, and early termination options (unless contracts specificy otherwise).
For the Trail Blazers: They do not have any termination options.

June 30th
- Last day of the '17-'18 Year.
- Last day for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents.
For the Trail Blazers: This year's restricted free agents are Jusuf Nurkic, Shabaaz Napier, and Pat Connaughton

July 1st
- Free Agents can beging making verbal agreements with teams
- Restricted free agents can sign offer sheets
- Teams can start signing players to rookie scale, minimum salary, and two-way contracts. 
For the Trail Blazers: Nurkic, Napier, and Connaughton will hit the open market as restricted free agents. Ed Davis is un-restrcited. If the Blazers use their draft pick they can start trying to sign him. 

July 6th
- Moratroium ends and teams can start officially signing free agents (9am Pacific time)
- Contract extensions and trades are now also allowed.
- The two-day waiting period for any restricted free-agent who signed an offer sheet now begins. 
- NBA Summer League in Las Vegas starts (Runs through July 17th)
For the Trail Blazers: If Nurk, Napier or Connaughton get offer sheets, Portland will now be on the clock to match. Plus, the Blazers can start signing other free agents. 

July 7th 
Trail Blazers Summer League Game vs. Utah at 12pm. (Full coverage from NBCS NW and Jason Quick)

July 8th
Trail Blazers Summer League Game vs. Atlanta at 2:30pm. (Full coverage from NBCS NW and Jason Quick)

July 10th
Trail Blazers Summer League Game vs. San Antonio at 1:00pm. (Full coverage from NBCS NW and Jason Quick)

July 11th-July 17th
Trail Blazers in the NBA Summer League Tournament (Full coverage from NBCS NW and Jamie Hudson throughout the tournament)

July 15th
Last day to tender offers to unsigned 1st round picks
For the Trail Blazers: If they use the #24 pick, he will need to be signed by this date or become a free agent

 

How the Blazers can trade for Kawhi Leonard

How the Blazers can trade for Kawhi Leonard

NBA Twitter was on fire Friday morning when news broke that Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants out of San Antonio. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn't want to add Leonard to their roster, but trades are always easier said than done. That being said, let’s see how the Portland Trail Blazers can trade for Kawhi Leonard:

Two things to keep in mind before we lay this out: The Seven Year Rule and the Stepien Rule.

  • The Seven Year Rule states that teams can trade future first-round draft picks up to seven years in advance. Since it is still technically the 2017-2018 season, the Blazers can trade their first-round picks from now through 2024.
  • The Stepien Rule states that teams cannot trade future first-round picks in consecutive years. For example, if the Blazers trade the 2018 first-round pick right now, they cannot trade their 2019 first-round pick.

Now that these two rules are out of the way, let's break down how the Blazers can land Leonard.

Option 1 – Evan Turner + Picks in exchange for Kawhi Leonard.

  • This option is unlikely, but we suggest it because it is the simplest trade financially. Turner makes $17.1 million, while Leonard makes $18.9 million. This works within the NBA’s 125% rule for taxpaying teams. Since the return on talent to San Antonio isn’t high, Portland would likely have to throw in every pick they can – following the Seven Year Rule and the Stepien Rule, Portland tosses in multiple first-round picks to San Antonio. 
  • Blazers get Kawhi Leonard
  • Spurs get Evan Turner and the Blazers first-round picks in multiple years (maximum four 1st rounders).

Option 2 – Any two-player package of Meyers Leonard/Maurice Harkless/ Al-Farouq Aminu + Picks in exchange for Kawhi Leonard.

  • Financially, any pairing of those three Blazers would work to get Kawhi Leonard. However, for what the Spurs would need talent wise the best package would be Aminu and Harkless. Sending away Kawhi would leave a void at small forward that both Harkless and Aminu could fill. But still, like the Turner trade, the Spurs would need more to sweeten the pot. This is where the picks come into play. This deal may be able to get done by adding two future first-round picks, but if you want to leave zero doubt you might have to add more.
  • Blazers get Kawhi Leonard
  • Spurs get Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, and multiple first-round picks

Option 3 – CJ McCollum + 2019 1st Rounder for Kawhi Leonard and Derrick White (As suggested by ESPN)

  • For the Spurs to realistically part with Leonard they are going to need a substantial amount of talent in return. Enter CJ McCollum. McCollum is the most talented player the Blazers have outside of Damian Lillard and could be an attractive piece for any team on the trade market. However, it is a tough trade to work out financially with the current cap holds and impending free agents each team has. So, in this scenario, the Spurs send Derrick White to make the financials work. The Spurs get a a ball-dominant guard in McCollum to run the offense. The Spurs core could be McCollum, Danny Green (if he picks up his player-option), LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol. That's really not bad considering they are losing Kawhi Leonard. Portland may still have to add picks in this trade, but would probably try to keep the No.24 pick to draft a guard.
  • Blazers get Kawhi Leonard and Derrick White
  • Spurs get CJ McCollum and the Blazers 2019 first round draft pick.

Isn't summer fun?

Oregon's Troy Brown: point guard trapped inside a wing's body

Oregon's Troy Brown: point guard trapped inside a wing's body

Troy Brown Jr. on Thursday was among the latest batch of 3-and-D players to workout for the Trail Blazers, but the University of Oregon wing says he has something different than the other prospects who have passed through the Blazers’ Tualatin facility this month.

He says he is not just a shooter and defender, he can also pass like a point guard.

“I feel like a lot of guys when they say they are 3-and-D it’s offensive scoring and being a defensive player, but I feel like I bring more than that,’’ Brown said. 

The Las Vegas native, who was a 5-star recruit heading into Oregon, says he is a play-maker, which is borne from his playing point guard until his senior year in high school, when his 6-foot-7 height forced him to small forward.

“The versatility side to things,’’ Brown said, referring to how he is different than other prospects. “Being able to make plays for teammates and being that point-guard figure rather than just being a two or three.’’

The Blazers, who own the 24th pick in the June 21 draft, could use depth at the wing behind Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless, and the team seems to value extra play-makers as evidence by their 2016 free agent signing of Turner. 

In the Blazers’ first four draft workouts, the prospects have been mostly wings and guards, with nearly all the wings carrying a reputation of being able to shoot and defend. 

Owner Paul Allen has yet to attend one of the four workouts this month. Usually, Allen’s attendance is a sure sign that day’s prospects are targets to be drafted by Portland. However, on Thursday, Allen’s right-hand-man -- Bert Kolde -- made his second appearance at the workouts to see Brown and guards Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech), Landry Shamet (Wichita State) and De’Anthony Melton (Southern California). Creighton wing Khyri Thomas was also at the facility, but he did not workout for undisclosed reasons.

All told, the Blazers this month have worked out wings Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Melvin Frazier (Tulane), Gary Trent Jr. (Duke), Shake Milton (SMU), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Bruce Brown (Miami), Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy) and Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky).

Brown, who is the first player in Oregon history to leave after one season, said he “didn’t feel great” in his workout with the Blazers, but overall he said he feels he has improved his draft stock during his workouts with 10 teams. He says he still has sessions left with Minnesota and Charlotte. 

He averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds while playing 31 minutes a game for the Ducks this season. He said he focused more on being a glue guy at Oregon, where he did the little things to help the team win. 

The NBA, he says, is more suited to showcase his all-around skills, and it’s one reason why he feels like his “stock has risen” during his workouts. 

“I feel like coming out of college there weren’t a lot of people touting me as a very good player,’’ Brown said. “I didn’t have a great year, so people didn’t think I was good at basketball, period. So just being able to show what I’m capable of doing and having that chip on my shoulder … it has definitely done a lot for me.’’

If there is one question mark around Brown’s game, it’s his outside shooting. Last season at Oregon, he went 32-for-110 (29.1 percent) from three-point range. He said his shooting has been a point of emphasis during his personal workouts.

“We all have things to work on and I feel like shooting is one of mine … along with a lot of other people,’’ Brown said.

Some things, though, come naturally, and are hard to label. That’s why Oregon teammate MiKyle McIntosh – who also worked out in Portland on Thursday – said it didn’t take long for him to know Brown had an NBA future.

“Immediately, when I saw him the first time,’’ McIntosh said. “He just had something to him. His guard skills for his size and the way he passed the ball … just how versatile. But definitely what I saw and was most impressed with at first was the way he could play defense. He has very long arms and is able to guard every position pretty much.’’

Brown has been projected to be drafted as early as 18 and nearly all mocks have him going in the first round. Where ever he goes, he says that team will be getting more than just 3’s and D. There’s passing, play-making, and smarts.

“My IQ level,’’ Brown said. “It comes from playing point guard in high school.’’

Draft Profile: Billy Preston (6'10" F, Kansas)

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Draft Profile: Billy Preston (6'10" F, Kansas)

Billy Preston

Height: 6-10

Weight: 240

Age: 19

Position: Forward

School: Freshman, Kansas

Did you know that…

Left Kansas in January 2018 without appearing in a regular-season game. At the time, he was waiting on NCAA ruling on his eligibility. Signed with BC Igokea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Appeared in three Adriatic League games, averaging 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds in 15.8 minutes.

Draft Profile: Josh Okogie (6'4" G, Georgia Tech)

Draft Profile: Josh Okogie (6'4" G, Georgia Tech)

Josh Okogie

Height: 6-4

Weight: 213

Age: 19

Position: Guard

School: Sophomore, Georgia Tech

2017-18 season averages: 18.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 2.5 apg

Did you know that…

2017-2018 All-ACC Third Team by the coaches as a sophomore and Honorable Mention by the media. Played for Team USA’s U19 team at the FIBA U19 World Cup, where he averaged 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 13.4 minutes. Surpassed 1,000 career points, one of six Georgia Tech players ever to do so by the end of their sophomore year.