Jannero Pargo's perspective: The coach every player can relate to

Jannero Pargo's perspective: The coach every player can relate to

Trail Blazers practice had just wrapped up for the day.

In the far left corner of the gym stood a smiling Jaylen Hoard after he just finished draining a three-pointer from the right wing.

Before Hoard could do a victory dance, Portland’s assistant coach Jannero Pargo was seen on the floor… Doing push-ups. 

“There was a bet, and unfortunately I lost. I want to keep these guys confident. I don’t want to take too much from them,” Pargo said with a smile.

That sense of humor isn’t the only thing that has helped Pargo land his first NBA coaching job.

The newest addition to Portland’s coaching staff is giving the Blazers a fresh perspective.

When Portland lost assistant David Vanterpool to the Minnesota Timberwolves to be their associate head coach, Pargo was brought in two weeks later.

Vatnerpool was known as a players’ coach. He also had a very well known, special bond with Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

BIG SHOES TO FILL

Filling DV’s role was no easy task.

Pargo’s ‘reliability’ though has become a building block in how he has transitioned so well into his first NBA assistant role.

Lillard compared Pargo to a former Trail Blazer guard who was also a coaching intern for the Blazers in 2017.    

“I think [Pargo] brings something different then what we’ve had in a long time,” Lillard said. “It’s kind of like what we had in Steve Blake, but Steve Blake wasn’t in the same position that he’s in… In the way that he’s like a veteran NBA point guard. So, he’s sharing things with us as guards and with the team that you’re hearing from an NBA player.”

“Just different parts of the game that you’ve just got to be an NBA player to understand,” Lillard added. “Like some things happen in practice where the coaches will break it down to us one way when we make a mistake, and with him he’s like ‘I know sometimes your man is over here and it’s hard to get to get to this spot, but,’ so he’s telling us from a perspective that we’ll understand a little bit more and be a little bit more receptive to him because he’s coming from our position.”

Blazer rookie Nassir Little echoed Lillard’s sentiment.

“What I like about him is he brings a lot of reliability,” Little said of Pargo. “He’s a guy that is still able to come out here and play like he’s a 20-year-old, which is really crazy. With him, he understands the game from a player’s perspective and that allows him to give us some good insight that we can put into our games immediately to help us right away.”

Just two years removed from his NBA playing days, Pargo realizes how crucial his 11 years of experience in the league is currently helping him be a better coach.

“A lot of players look at guys like, you know, they’re trying to tell them what to do,” Pargo said. “And… The first thing they’re thinking in their head is -- ‘where did you play at?’ For me, I can say I played 11 years in this league, and you know, I was able to do some things. So, when I say something they respect it and they kind of take it to heart and that’s a good thing to have.”

Lillard even went as far to say Pargo has similar qualities to Vanterpool.

“It’s energy, it’s fresh. It’s kind of like how DV was for us…. A mixture of Steve Blake and DV. It’s that type of impact for us,” Lillard said.

HIGHLY REGARDED

After being in Portland for just a few months, Pargo has made a big impact on the players as well as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“He came recommended,” Stotts said. “Unsolicited recommendations, from coaches [and] GMs in the league and when I hired him, a couple of other coaches out of the blue texted me and said he’s one of their favorites. So, I was very happy with the hire.”

Stotts knew how important it was to fill Vanterpool’s role, saying that Pargo, “played for a lot of different coaches, a lot of different systems. He’s seen it all… When we lost David, he kind of had that perspective and so we wanted to replace that.”

Not only was it Pargo’s experience in the league that caught Stotts’ attention, but it was also Pargo’s time spent coaching in the G-League that was also significant to Stotts.  

“[We] didn’t really have a connection with him other than, I mean, I had never met him, obviously… But the fact that he spent two years in the G-League meant a lot to me. Every coach on our staff has spent time in the minor leagues and that’s important,” Stotts said.

Pargo took a lot away from his two years on the coaching staff for the Windy City Bulls.

“It was a great experience. It helped prepare me for this journey right here. Just learning and getting better as a coach, trying to think more like a coach than a player,” Pargo said.

HE’S STILL GOT IT

Over the summer, Pargo was at the Blazers practice facility working with the young Blazer squad.

Little appreciates that Pargo is still able to get out on the court and ball.

“In the summer we used to play one-on-one, and all that type of stuff. He’s super quick. That helps guys like me with our lateral quickness on defense and stuff like that. It allows me to be a better player,” Little said.    

It’s apparent by watching Pargo shooting jumpers after Blazer practices that he can still play, but he knows he can’t ball every day.

“A lot of guys have been giving me a lot of flack, because I think I can still play,” Pargo said with a big smile.

The 39-year-old then joked, “I can play one day, but how I feel the next day is the problem.”

Lillard knew that Pargo could still hoop the first time he saw him on the court.

“The first day I came back in September he was giving them fits. I mean, he can still play,” Lillard said.

AN ALL-AROUND COACH

Just because Pargo played point guard, doesn’t mean he isn’t here to share his words of wisdom to every single player on the roster.

“Every guard thinks he’s a big man,” Pargo said. “We all wish we were 6’11''. So we kind of have post moves and stuff like that. I just try to teach the bigs stuff from a guard's point of view to give these guys a little edge when they may have a small on them.”

Overall, Pargo wants to bring a player-coach opinion, which has already earned him respect from the team.

“Just be a voice to the team. They get tired of hearing Terry so much,” Pargo said with a chuckle. “You’ve got to have guys who can rely the message, just with a different voice.”

It’s probably safe to say that just as the Blazers themselves welcomed Pargo with open arms to the coaching staff, Blazer fans would too welcome anyone who has been compared to Steve Blake and David Vanterpool.

Trail Blazers players, coaches visit local hospitals, cuteness ensues

Trail Blazers players, coaches visit local hospitals, cuteness ensues

It’s time to spread some holiday cheer.

On Monday, a day before taking on the New York Knicks at the Moda Center, the Portland Trail Blazers visited Shriners Hospital and Doernbecher Children's Hospital. The team signed autographs and spent time with kids giving them memories they’ll treasure forever.

Here’s a thread of all the most precious moments.

CJ McCollum loved the video of Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver as much as the rest of us.

The Trail Blazers' season continues Tuesday night against the New York Knicks at 7:00pm in the Moda Center. The game will be available live on NBC Sports Northwest.

Portland Trail Blazers ‘expected’ to pursue Thunder F Danilo Gallinari

Portland Trail Blazers ‘expected’ to pursue Thunder F Danilo Gallinari

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Portland Trail Blazers are “expected” to pursue Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari.

The Blazers may look to upgrade their wing rotation, especially following the season-ending injury to starting small forward Rodney Hood, who tore his achilles on December 6th against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Gallinari has averaged 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As a member of the Clippers last season, he averaged 19.8 points per game and even got some All-NBA and All-Star consideration around the league. He was traded to the Thunder in the blockbuster Paul George trade this offseason. 

On December 15, all players signed this off-season will be eligible to be traded. The Blazers will most likely use the expiring salary of either Hassan Whiteside ($27.1 million) or Kent Bazemore ($19.3 million) to match Gallinari’s $22.6 million expiring salary. 

[RELATED: Kevin Love 'prefers' Portland Trail Blazers as his trade destination]

Kevin Love ‘prefers’ Portland Trail Blazers as his trade destination

Kevin Love ‘prefers’ Portland Trail Blazers as his trade destination

The rumors of Kevin Love coming home to Portland surfaced once again on Tuesday morning.

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, former All-Star and Lake Oswego native Kevin Love would prefer to be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly been more open to trading All-Star Kevin Love after a 5-18 start to the season. He’s in the first season of his four-year, $120 million extension he signed following the 2018 season. He currently averages 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds a game for the Cavs. 

The Blazers have the salary space to make a trade work with the expiring contracts of Hassan Whiteside ($27.1 million) and Kent Bazemore ($19.3 million) and the Cavaliers should desire cap relief from Love’s monstrous deal while they rebuild. 

Portland needs relief at the forward and center positions after injuries to Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, and Rodney Hood. Kevin Love would be able to play both power forward and center, while spacing the floor to give Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum more room to operate. 

Kevin O’Connor thinks that Love would fit great in Portland.

“Nurkic will return this season, and Love would be a terrific frontcourt partner because of his perimeter shooting and playmaking ability. Portland could then play big upfront, which would be valuable in a series against a team with a bigger frontcourt, like the Lakers. Or, it could go with Love at center, which could be useful against the Rockets, who often size down with P.J. Tucker at center."

Would you want to see Kevin Love sporting a red and white pinwheel on his chest, Rip City?

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs Knicks tonight at 7pm

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USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs Knicks tonight at 7pm

The Portland Trail Blazers (9-15) will look to bounce back against the New York Knicks (4-19) Tuesday night.

Portland is coming off a 108-96 loss to the Thunder Sunday night. Foul trouble, showing their frustrations, and poor shooting for the Blazers led to the loss.

While New York is going through its own issues. The Knicks have won just one road game all season. Last week, New York fired their head coach David Fizdale. The Knicks have named Mike Miller interim head coach.

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Knicks on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

 

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Kings

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

And, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

QUOTABLE

“Not playing well enough to win games – and it’s frustrating. The start of the game – pretty much the whole game – we weren’t making shots. And on our home floor we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up and the situation that we’re in, our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be. --- Damian Lillard after Sunday’s loss

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do:

Nothing.

And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

This team has been ripped apart by injuries. Last season’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are now last in the league in that department. From first to worst in a few months. And why not? This team opened the season with thoughts of eventually having five seven-footers on its roster.

There was Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol. But Gasol never made it to the active roster and retired. Collins was sidelined with shoulder surgery and Nurkic still hasn’t made it back from his broken leg. Labissiere, who wasn’t even expected to play much this season, has become the backup center.

And the Trail Blazers have taken a big step back on the boards and in physicality. Offensive rebounding is critical to this team, because it’s often the only avenue for easy baskets. Portland doesn’t get a lot of fast-break baskets and now, without its big men, isn’t getting to the foul line enough,

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are having to carry a big load.

When Collins went down, Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, went out and got Carmelo Anthony – a nice addition. Anthony was a player with a presence and the team didn’t have to give up anything to get him.

The Trail Blazers had championship aspirations this season, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious those dreams won’t be realized this season without the big men.

This franchise would be stupid to sacrifice any of its future to obtain a role player just to attempt to improve its position this season.

With Nurkic, Collins and Hood back in the fold next season, the Trail Blazers would be smart to keep their vision long range – next season should be a nice reset.

In the meantime, there is still a chance that a major trade could be made that would make sense for the future.

Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract has always been expected to be a trade piece at some point. Names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been mentioned and they would be difference-makers. But much more so next year than this, in all likelihood.

In regard to deals, it’s important to remember that NBA free agents cannot be traded for three months after they signed, or until after Dec. 15, whichever is later. And this season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 and there is often a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline as teams come to the realization that they probably won’t make the playoffs.

But Portland is not in a great space to make a deal with the Whiteside contract. The free-agent crop this summer is a weak one, with many of the top players expected to re-sign with their old teams. That would mean some teams would be reluctant to deal for a player who would provide cap space when there is not much to spend it on.

And there is a perception, too, that the Trail Blazers are desperate and other teams would want to squeeze more out of Portland in any deals.

So this is another situation when patience will be required. If the team doesn’t play any better than it did Sunday night against the Thunder, what would be the use of adding some marginal free agent who is sitting at home on his couch right now?

I would expect Nurkic to be back at some point this season, at least on a limited basis. Collins, I would assume, is more doubtful.

Better to allow the team’s younger players to grab that playing time, getting them ready for a bench role next season.

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

It wasn’t pretty.  

The Trail Blazers went 36-of-100 from the field and 9-for-33 from three in Sunday's 108-96 loss to the Thunder.  

Portland's newest edition, Carmelo Anthony, who played in his 10th game with the Blazers Sunday, had one of his worst shooting nights with his new team. Melo went 4-of-18 from the field, including 1-of-5 from long distance and scored just nine points.

“We were just off, couldn’t make shots,” Anthony said postgame.

But, Melo also gave credit to OKC.

“I think those guys just came out ready to play. They had dropped two games to us already. It’s hard to be a team three consecutive times without them making adjustments.”

“Tonight we didn’t have the energy, they did,” he added.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t concerned with the perimeter shooting, but was upset about his team missing baskets around the rim.

 

We had fifty shots in the paint, didn’t really convert in the paint very well, obviously Dame [Lillard] and Melo struggled at least from a percentage standpoint. That’s going to happen from time to time. You give credit to their defense they played hard, they made it difficult, but I thought that to get fifty shots in the paint you have to convert more than 21. -- Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

For Melo, “missing shots” was the most frustrating part of the game.

“Everybody [was missing], everything was short. And then when you’re missing shots like that, shots that you’re supposed to make and you normally make it puts a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and it makes it tougher to try to get stops on the defensive end, because if you don’t put a lot of effort and energy into making one stop, and trying to make consecutive stops going up against a team like that, they way that they played tonight, you have to be on point with [your shots].”

The 17-year veteran is confident this Blazers squad will bounce back and won’t shoot this bad again.

“We’ll be alright. We’ll get in the gym tomorrow, watch some film, and we’ll figure it out… We can’t shoot as bad as we shot tonight. I don’t think we’ll continue to miss those shots."

Yes, Melo is probably correct -- the Blazers most likely won't shoot that bad again, but as Damian Lillard said, the team lacked a sense of urgency. So, what will it take to get back to playing Trail Blazer basketball? Portland lost a playmaker in Rodney Hood. Filling their final roster spot with someone who can create his own shot seems like a must, but as of right now Coach Stotts says there hasn't been any talk of roster moves. Not yet at least. 

Lucky for the Blazers and their current shooting woes, along with injury woes, the worst team in the league makes a stop in Portland Tuesday night. The Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 7:00pm. 

Trail Blazers having a hard time: "I don’t really have an explanation"

Trail Blazers having a hard time: "I don’t really have an explanation"

The Trail Blazers can’t afford to have many more nights like Sunday at the Moda Center.

Facing a sub-.500 opponent on their home floor was supposed to be an opportunity to bounce back, a chance to grab a winnable game following a blowout loss. These are the nights the Blazers need to be the aggressor, the tone setter, or if nothing else, the victors.

Instead the team walked out of the arena with a frustrating and deflating loss, falling 108-96 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Blazers came out flat, showed brief signs of life in the second quarter and then stumbled through a brick-laden second half to drop their second consecutive home game to a team they had dominated 10 days ago.

The Blazers are down two opening night starters -- with Rodney Hood done for the season and Zach Collins out until at least March. They’re still awaiting the return of Jusuf Nurkic, who is hoping to make his debut sometime in the new year. These aren’t excuses as much as they the reality facing this team. They’re shorthanded and reinforcements are weeks, if not months away from returning. 

That’s part what makes Sunday night’s loss so costly. If the Blazers (9-15) are going to be a playoff team, they can’t give away games against teams like Oklahoma City (10-12). There are no “must win” games in December, but the Blazers just face planted in a very clear “should win" game with a troubling mix of lack of energy and execution.

“I think it’s just being able to take what our coaches do,” Damian Lillard explained. “They spend a lot of time on scouting reports and schemes and stuff that we want to do. It’s our job to go out there and execute that and do that for longer periods of time. I think we’ve kind of just played well in stretches. We don’t have the luxury of playing well in stretches. We’re a team that if the ball’s not going in, we’ve got to be getting to the fifty-fifty balls. We can’t keep letting teams get second and third opportunities. We foul every thirty seconds – I mean, it’s just like we are doing a lot of things as a team that put ourselves at a disadvantage. We’re just making the game harder than it has to be in a lot of situations. We’re not doing it on purpose. We’re competing hard, we’re trying hard. But it comes to urgency and focus and energy – we’re a team that has to have that every minute of every game if we want to have a real chance. When it’s up and down, the season is up and down. I think that’s what we’re up against.”

Lillard’s assessment is honest and accurate, and while it doesn’t come with a clear solutions it highlights the Blazers issues. They don’t have the luxury or the talent to play hard on occasion. They don’t have the depth to play 12 solid minutes and hope the other 36 won’t bury them. 

December was supposed to be a month where the Blazers made a move in the standings, fattening up on home games against teams with losing records. Sunday was a reminder of where this team stands, and its thin margin for error. The Blazers spent the opening weeks of the season offering relentless positivity, insisting they would it figure out after early scuffles. But as the injuries continue to mount and the losses are piling up, much of that optimism has faded from postgame interviews, replaced with an earnest, and realistic concern about a season heading the wrong direction.

“We’re just having a hard time,” Lillard said. “I don’t really have an explanation where I could tell you a list of things. I think it’s things that I feel and I see that we aren’t doing well enough, like I just mentioned. But we’re not the same team (as last season). That’s the most simple way I can put it to you right now. We’re not that same team and we haven’t figured it out. We’re a work in progress, obviously.”

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Thunder

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Thunder

Life without Rodney Hood got off to a rough start for the Blazers when they welcomed the Oklahoma City Thunder to town. They hoped for a win, but the game didn't go according to plan. 

Portland started slow out of the gate and trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before mounting a comeback to make it a game. 

However, the team just couldn't overcome a rough shooting night.  Hassan Whiteside was six for eight from the floor, but the other four starters combined to shoot just 23 of 74. On top of that, the bench was only able to contribute 18 points on the night, being outscored by the Thunder bench by 24 points. 

On the bright side, despite a tough shooting night, Kent Bazemore played well with the starting lineup. He flowed within the offense and was his usual energetic self on defense. But on a night when shots weren't falling, the Blazers couldn't get over the hump. 

Final score in this one: Thunder 108 - Blazers 96.

QUOTABLES: 

Chris Paul on this two delay of game calls:

Two delay of game calls on me; That was good, he got me, he got me back. I learned you can’t have your shooter shirt and your pants on when you checking in. They said if I would have had just one of them on, you learn something new.

Damian Lillard on what frustrated him about the loss: 

I mean, I think to start the game, pretty much the whole game, but to start the game, we weren’t making shots and on our home floor, we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up the situation that we’re in, I just thought our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be. You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team that we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game. Then the ball’s not going in so we don’t lock in and stay sharp on the defensive end, we just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted.

Coach Stotts on Kent Bazemore starting for Rodney Hood:

I thought Kent got off to a great start, he made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.

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Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

The Thunder may have won the battle against the Blazers on Sunday, but they haven't won the war. The Blazers are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, and if you count the game within the game, they're 3-1. 

As the old saying goes, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

On Friday, Chris Paul played the game with the Timberwolves. Minnesota was up 121-119 with 1.1 seconds left in the game and Karl-Anthony Towns at the line for two free throws. He missed the first one and that is when Chris Paul alerted officials to the fact that Jordan Bell had checked in with an untucked jersey. The refs called a delay of game on Minnesota, and since it was their second of the game it was a technical foul.

WATCH

The Thunder hit the free throw, making it a one-point game. Towns hit the next free throw to make it a two-point game, but the Thunder sent up a prayer and tied the game as time expired. If not for the delay of game technical the Thunder wouldn't have forced overtime. Oklahoma would go on to win the game, but it was all thanks to Chris Paul's vet savvy. 

That was Friday. On Sunday against the Blazers, he didn't play the game, the game played him. 

Paul was called for two delay of game penalties, resulting in a technical foul free throw for the Blazers. 

Paul called out the refs, saying they were "trying to prove an (expletive) point."

No, Chris. The Blazers were just playing the game you are a master of. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.