Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

A full month early, the Trail Blazers stepped up Thursday and guaranteed Carmelo Anthony’s contract for the rest of this season. Under the terms of the deal he had signed with Portland, the team had until Jan. 7 to make that decision.

But making the call early was the right move. Melo has been all the Trail Blazers could have asked for – and more.

“Between Melo’s production on the court and his presence in the locker room, amending the contract in advance of the Jan. 7th guarantee date was a no-brainer,” said Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. “This is the kind of gesture we want players to become accustomed to when they buy into and contribute to our culture.”

In eight games for Portland, he has averaged 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three-point range.

In his last five, though, it’s been even better than that as he’s become more acclimated to his new teammates and their system.

In that span, Anthony has shot .514 overall from the field and .467 from three-point range. And he’s scored at a 19.2 points-per-game rate with an average 11.4 plus-minus. He’s also shot .938 from the foul line and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Guaranteeing the contract early shows good faith in his continued solid play and takes pressure off both sides. And, as Olshey pointed out, it continues Portland's commitment to making this known as a player-friendly franchise.

It also takes away any doubt about the team’s makeup and commitment to the rest of the season.

There is some chance that power forward Zach Collins could return to action prior to the end of the season from his shoulder surgery but keeping Anthony also takes away any pressure to rush Collins back. In fact, if Collins does return, it would now be more possible to ease him back on a minutes restriction while he plays off the bench behind Anthony.

It has been reported that Anthony's contract is for the veteran’s minimum of $2.16 million.

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: CJ McCollum to miss third straight game

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: CJ McCollum to miss third straight game

Portland and Dallas are set to tip-off on national television at 7:30pm tonight in their third of four meetings this season.

Before Thursday’s game got underway, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts confirmed that forward Trevor Ariza would be inserted into the starting lineup.

Portland announced this afternoon that CJ McCollum will miss his third game with a left ankle sprain.  

HEAR FROM TREVOR ARIZA HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Hassan Whiteside (groin contusion) is available; CJ McCollum (left ankle sprain) is out for tonight's game vs. Dallas.

MAVERICKS INJURY REPORT:

Ryan Broekhoff (left fibula fracture) and Dwight Powell (right Achilles tendon rupture) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Thursday’s contest will mark the third of four meetings between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Mavericks beat the Trail Blazers, 120-112, in Dallas on Jan. 17. Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 34 points (13-25 FG, 3-10 3-PT, 5-7 FT) to go with 10 assists and two steals while Luka Doncic paced the Mavericks with 35 points (11-23 FG, 8-12 3-PT, 5-8 FT), eight rebounds and seven assists.

-- RECENT PARITY: Portland and Dallas have gone 10-10 over the last 20 matchups between the two teams, dating back to the 2014-15 season. • Damian Lillard has scored at least 28 points in each of his last 10 meetings with the Mavericks, including scoring 30-plus points in five of the last six matchups. In two games against Dallas this season, Lillard has averaged 31.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

-- Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points (8-16 FG, 1-4 3-PT, 5-6 FT) and hauled in five rebounds against Dallas on Jan. 17. Anthony has scored at least 20 points in five of his last seven games against the Mavericks.

The NBA All-Star voting results are in: Where did Dame and Melo end up?

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The NBA All-Star voting results are in: Where did Dame and Melo end up?

The 2020 NBA All-Star game is slated for February 16.

This evening, the fans All-Star voting results were announced.

The dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony came in the top six in voting for their respective category in the Western Conference.

Melo ranked sixth in frontcourt voting, while Lillard came in third for the guards out West.

This year’s All-Star game will have the same format as the last couple of seasons with captains drafting their teams early next month.

The top All-Star Game vote getters in each conference are automatically chosen as captains.

The two captains and the entire 10-starter pool of players was announced today:

Dallas Mavericks G Luka Doncic

Houston Rockets G James Harden

Los Angeles Lakers F Anthony Davis

Los Angeles Clippers F Kawhi Leonard

Atlanta Hawks G Trae Young

Boston Celtics G Kemba Walker

Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid

Toronto Raptors F Pascal Siakam

Lakers LeBron James and Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo will serve as the NBA's All-Star Game captains for the second-straight season.

A quick breakdown of how it all works:

-- Fan vote (50 percent)

-- Current players' selections (25 percent)

-- Media representatives (25 percent)

The league's 30 NBA head coaches will now pick the seven reserves from their respective conferences.

Here are the important dates to keep in mind:

-- The reserves will be announced on Thursday, January 30.

-- The draft will be held at 4:00 p.m. PT Thursday, February 6 on TNT.

-- The All-Star game will tip-off at 5:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 16 in Chicago's United Center.

Photos released from Nurkic's return to full contact practice

Photos released from Nurkic's return to full contact practice

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Jusuf Nurkic participated in his first full contact, full speed practice. 

But, as the old saying goes... pics or it didn't happen!

Well, Thursday, we got them!

Until Wednesday's practice, Nurkic had only been going through individual workouts. He looked spry and did not show any favoring of his injured leg.

Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula on March 26th, 2019, had surgery and has been rehabbing ever since. 

It's a welcomed sight for the injury-riddled Blazers.

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 Nurkic  

[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.  

“He’s been progressing to this point, Terry Stotts added, though trying to downplay its significance. "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.” 

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.”

 

From one legend to another: Carmelo Anthony congratulates Derek Jeter on Hall of Fame

From one legend to another: Carmelo Anthony congratulates Derek Jeter on Hall of Fame

Carmelo Anthony has been a longtime fan of Derek Jeter.

He was in the stands at Yankee Stadium when Jeter knocked in the game-winning run in his final game in pinstripes. Jeter later served as a mentor to Anthony, then a member of the New York Knicks, who was seeking advice on dealing with the ins-and-outs of being a high-profile athlete in the Big Apple.

So when the Yankees icon was elected to the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday as part of the 2020 class, Anthony took a moment to congratulate Jeter on being enshrined as one of the game’s best.

“You know and I know, as well as the world knows, it was only a matter of time,” the Trail Blazers forward said. “Keep inspiring, keep motivating, keep paving the way, I appreciate you.”

Anthony wasn’t the only “legend” to pay tribute to Jeter. Actor Larry David, rapper Nas, eight-time MLB All-Star Mike Trout and others congratulated Jeter on his special moment.

Damian Lillard believes making an impact off-the-court is part of his legacy

Damian Lillard believes making an impact off-the-court is part of his legacy

Damian Lillard is a one the NBA’s premiere superstars. He’s a former Rookie of the Year, four-time NBA All-Star, a global ambassador for the Special Olympics, an aspiring rapper with two albums and a lethal shooter from the logo.

While winning championships and receiving accolades for his work on the court is important, Lillard believes having an impact on people is more significant.

In the final chapter of “DAME TIME: The Damian Lillard Story,’ the Trail Blazers franchise player shows how his leadership on the court can have an impact on those off the court.

“It’s always been about respect and treating people like people,” Lillard said in the video. “At 29, I’m consumed by impacting other people. I got a beautiful son. I got a great family. If you had to make a list of things you want, I feel like I have it. I can be like this and there’s people out there that need it.”

He continued: “I’ve learned so many things that other people could apply and help em. Not just like I know everything, but there’s so much that I can give to help other people.”

Lillard’s assists in the community extend beyond the court. In 2019, he was one of 10 players nominated for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his efforts in supporting high school students in the Portland community. The RESPECT program Lillard started to encourage students to “Show Up, Work Hard and Be Kind,” exemplifies his spirit to be a role model in the community.

It is something Lillard holds close to his heart and wants to be part of his legacy when his days on the basketball court are long gone.

“My legacy I would say is that people remember would remember me for being a more solid person than a player,” Lillard said. “Of course you want all the accolades and all the recognition for your career, but I want people for like my legacy to look back and say ‘for him to have been who he was as a player, it was unbelievable for him to have been the kind of person he was.’”

Zion Williamson ties rookie record previously set by... Jake Layman?

Zion Williamson ties rookie record previously set by... Jake Layman?

There was some serious hype surrounding New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson as his made his debut Wednesday night.

It really wasn’t until the fourth quarter, though, when he really showed he was worth all the hype.

But here’s the thing…

Zion reached a special feat in NBA history, which was held by a former Portland Trail Blazer.

With his 17-fourth quarter points, Williamson became the first rookie to score that many points in his rookie debut since Jake Layman did in back in 2016.

Fear the Turtle, Zion!!

Layman made his NBA debut on November 1, 2016, scoring 17 points in eight minutes off the bench in the Trail Blazers' 127-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Layman hit five three-pointers in the game, while Williamson knocked down four threes in the Pelicans 121-117 loss to the Spurs Wednesday night.

Layman became the first Trail Blazer ever to make five three-pointers in a debut, and finished one shy of the franchise record in a quarter.

As for the Pelicans overall No. 1 pick, Williamson scored 17 points in just 3:08 minutes of work in the final quarter. He finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the loss.

Now everyone in Rip City can brag about Layman when NBA fans hype up Zion's 17 points in a quarter.

Been there, done that.  

WATCH: Jake Layman did what Zion Williamson did, but FIRST

WATCH: Jake Layman did what Zion Williamson did, but FIRST

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson made his much anticipated NBA debut Wednesday night. 

And he balled out...

Williamson finished with 22 points on the night, but it was his fourth quarter performance that had everyone buzzing!

His 17 points in a quarter tied a record with a Trail Blazers rookie... and it wasn't set by Damian Lillard.

Jake Layman?!

Layman made his NBA debut on November 1, 2016, scoring 17 points in eight minutes off the bench. He also hit five three-pointers in the game, becoming the first Trail Blazer ever to make five three-pointers in a debut, and finished one shy of the franchise record in a quarter. 

And of course, we had to bring back the highlight from that game. 

Enjoy!

Social media is having way too much fun with the Zion Williamson, Jake Layman shared record

Social media is having way too much fun with the Zion Williamson, Jake Layman shared record

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson made his much anticipated NBA debut Wednesday night. 

And he balled out...

Williamson finished with 22 points on the night, but it was his fourth quarter performance that had everyone buzzing!

His 17 points in a quarter tied a record with a Trail Blazers rookie... and it wasn't set by Damian Lillard.

Jake Layman?!

Layman made his NBA debut on November 1, 2016, scoring 17 points in eight minutes off the bench. He also hit five three-pointers in the game, becoming the first Trail Blazer ever to make five three-pointers in a debut, and finished one shy of the franchise record in a quarter. 

Of course, the internet went crazy!

We will always remember the Jake Layman game... He is the OG...

Trevor Ariza hopeful Rip City doesn't hold Rudy Fernandez foul against him

Trevor Ariza hopeful Rip City doesn't hold Rudy Fernandez foul against him

Trevor Ariza wasn’t going to try to run from history. He remembers that play from 2009, when he was trying to chase down Portland’s Rudy Fernandez in the open court, hit Fernandez in mid-air and sent him crashing to the floor with an injury to his back.

Fernandez, who left the game on a stretche, missed the next two games.

Ariza expressed some hope that people would not hold the play against him as a new member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“It wasn’t intentional,” he said Wednesday in his introductory meeting with the local media. “It was a basketball play. It wasn’t a dirty play, just a play on the ball.”

Acquired from the Sacramento Kings in a deal announced Tuesday, Ariza, who addresses the play in the video above, is expected to take over as the Trail Blazers’ starting small forward Thursday night when Portland plays host to the Dallas Mavericks.