Breakfast with the Blazers: Steve Blake returns, this time as coach

Breakfast with the Blazers: Steve Blake returns, this time as coach

For the fourth time, Steve Blake is home with the Trail Blazers.

The former point guard, who had three tours with the Blazers as a player, has joined the team as a coaching intern this season.

Blake said he will coach only at home practices and will not attend games.

“As a player, I felt like I knew the game well and could do it, but I would only want to have this role that I have,’’ Blake said after the Blazers’ first practice. “As much as I would love to be a full-time coach, I’m just not ready for that commitment, with my kids being so young and having just finished playing.’’

Blake, 37, played for eight teams over 13 NBA seasons, including five seasons with the Blazers. He ranks 6th in franchise history with 492 three-pointers and led the 2005-2006 Blazers team with 76 three-pointers. In 2009, he set a Blazers record with 14 assists in a half against the Clippers.

He was traded three times by the Blazers –in 2006 to Milwaukee for Jamaal Magloire; in 2010 to the Clippers (with Travis Outlaw) for Marcus Camby; and in 2015 (with draft pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) to Brooklyn for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton.

After he was the 38th overall pick by Washington in 2003, where he played for two seasons, he played for Portland, Milwaukee, Denver, the Clippers, the Lakers, Golden State and Detroit.

Through it all, Portland became his home base.

“This is home for me, always has been since I first played here.(in 2005),’’ Blake said. “It’s home. No matter where I’ve gone, I’ve come back. I love the people here, there is some great relationships with friends of our kids, my pastor at church … it’s just home.’’

Blake last played in Australia for the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League, but ended his career last November to be closer to wife Kristen and three boys – Nicholas (11), Jameson (8) and Zachary (7) – in West Linn.   

After spending the past nine months being a dad/coach, Blake said he started to get the itch to do something in his spare time. His agent lined up several coaching opportunities around the NBA, but Blake said there was really only one option.

“I was like, nope. If it’s not here it’s nowhere. It’s not happening anywhere else,’’ Blake said with a smile. “I’m staying here.’’

With the Blazers, Blake said his role is to do anything to help, whether that is rebounding for players, offering input in coaches meetings, or getting on the court to go against players.

Damian Lillard, who played with Blake during the 2014-2015 season, said his former teammate is a welcomed addition.

“I think having Steve around is good. He is a guy who, it comes from a different lens than the coaches,’’ Lillard said. “(The coaches are) telling it as kind of enforcers like, ‘you should have been here, you should of did this, this is what we wanted’ and  Steve is more about teaching. He wants to see you improve and do better and he is also a vet. He played how many years … and he’s been a starter, played good minutes as a backup, been on winning teams, losing teams, so just having him there is just really helpful for the players.’’

Blake has been part of the staff for the past three weeks and has taken part in coaches meetings and planning sessions for training camp. He said he doesn’t think he will work exclusively with point guards.

“I’m there if they need me; I’m kind of at the disposal of what they want,’’ Blake said. “If they want me to work with point guards I will, if they want me to do other things I will. But it’s not like I will just hone in on point guards. I’m here for the whole experience, whether it’s rebounding for guys or giving opinions.’’

Coach Terry Stotts, who has always stressed and valued input among his assistants, said Blake’s NBA playing experience is invaluable to this staff.

“I’ve always appreciated players’ point of view, so in coaches meetings I will ask him his opinion of something because he has a unique perspective,’’ Stotts said.

Stotts, however, doesn’t have to worry about Blake stealing his job. Blake said his family remains his priority and he has no full-time coaching  aspirations.

“I’ve always wanted to be around the game, but I didn’t want a full-time coaching position,’’ Blake said. “I know it’s a bit of a grind, and you are away from home even more than you are as a player. And I really enjoy being home with my family, and that’s my first priority, my wife and kids. As much as I would love to be a full-time coach, I would want to be home for them.’’

Blazers Links:

I wrote about Terry Stotts and the defensive dilemma he faced in the offseason.

Dwight Jaynes  noted that the cliches were flying after the first practice.

Little Mike Richman at The Oregonian wrote about rookie Zach Collins missing the first practice.

Sean Meagher showed he's not just a tall-drink-of-water, he can also shoot some good photos of the first practice.

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

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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.

Draft Profile: MiKyle McIntosh (6'7" F, Oregon)

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Draft Profile: MiKyle McIntosh (6'7" F, Oregon)

MiKyle McIntosh

Height: 6-7

Weight: 240

Age: 23

Position: Forward

School: Senior, Oregon

2017-18 season averages: 11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 0.3 bpg

Did you know that…

Season rebound average of 6.1 per game ranked 18th in the Pac-12 ... Averaged 6.7 rebounds per game in conference play to rank 12th ...     His 119 personal fouls tied the UO single-season record (Gerald Willett, 1974-75) ... Scored a season-high 25 points at Marquette, going 15-of-18 from the free-throw line, both career-highs ... Averaged 19 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the Pac-12 Tournament ... Scored 21 points in semifinal game vs USC, tying his career high with nine made field goals ... Netted 18 points to go along with 6 rebounds against Utah ... Opened the Pac-12 Tournament with 18 points and 7 rebounds versus Washington State ... Scored 20 points while recording a career-high four steals to go along with three assists in home win against Arizona ... Fourth straight game in double-figures netting 16 points against Arizona State ... Led the team with nine rebounds while scoring 19 points at UCLA ...

Draft Profile: Khyri Thomas (6'3" G, Creighton)

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Draft Profile: Khyri Thomas (6'3" G, Creighton)

Khyri Thomas

Height:  6’3”

Weight: 200lbs

Position: Guard

School: Sophomore, Creighton

2017-18 season averages: 15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

Did You Know That…

He has a great ability to score the ball, but will make a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball. Thomas Shared Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17, and won the award outright in 2017-18. Other notable players to win Big East DPOY multiple times: NBA Legends Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Patrick Ewing, as well as current Bulls point guard Kris Dunn.

The Final Predraft Workout: Who's here today...

The Final Predraft Workout: Who's here today...

Believed to be the final pre-draft workout for the Trail Blazers, here's a rundown of who's at the practice facility today. Check back througout the day for full coverage of the workouts from Jason Quick plus loads of videos!

Get all our NBA pre-draft coverage our our NBA Draft Central page.

Troy Brown Jr., Oregon

MiKyle McIntosh, Oregon

De'Anthony Melton, USC

Landry Shamet, Wichita State

Josh Okogie, 6'4' Guard, Georgia Tech

Khyri Thomas, Creighton

Billy Preseton, 6'10'' Forward, Kansas

Draft Profile: Troy Brown (6'7" F, Oregon)

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Draft Profile: Troy Brown (6'7" F, Oregon)

Troy Brown

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 215lbs

Position: Forward

School: Freshman, Oregon

2017-18 season averages: 11.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.4 apg

Did you know that…

Both of Brown’s parents were college athletes at Texas A&M – Kingsville. His mother ran track, while his dad played basketball. Currently, both his parents are State of Nevada corrections officers.