Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

OKLAHOMA CITY - It was the Trail Blazers second and final trade of the 2018-19 Trade Deadline that brought 6-11 power forward Skal Labissiere to Portland after he had spent his entire three-year career in Sacramento.

The Phoenix Suns drafted Labissiere 28th overall in the 2016 NBA draft, but his draft rights were later traded to the Kings on draft night.  

Labissiere has averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in his young NBA career of 106 games. 

But the 22-year-old slipped out of the Kings’ rotation pretty much all together this season. He played in just 13 games for Sacramento, averaging 2.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 8.7 minutes per game.

After catching up with Labissiere on the Trail Blazers most recent road trip to Dallas and Oklahoma City, it’s obvious that he is eager to see what new challenges and adventures await for him in Portland.

Labissiere offered up his initial thoughts of when he found out about the trade: “I was excited. It was still a little weird leaving Sacramento after living there for so long, but I was really excited about the opportunity.”

With a stacked roster of big men it does not look like Labissiere will be seeing the court anytime soon or much this season, but that doesn’t mean the Blazers aren’t high on him.

"With Skal, we really like his length, his shot-making, we think he can protect the rim, he’s got some mobility, and I think he might fit our style of play a little bit better than Biggie [Caleb Swanigan],” Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshely told our Dwight Jaynes on Trade Deadline Day.

 

And, that also doesn’t mean Skal isn’t ready to make the most of his opportunity when given the chance.

He feels that “a little bit of everything” is what he can bring to the table.

“Stretching the floor, keep polishing my post game, just reading the game better and defensively-- just still learning how to position myself, pick and roll defense and all those little things -- moving my feet when switching on smaller guys,” Labissiere said.

The Kentucky alum is still living out of his suitcase right now, but he already feels like he is going to fit in after being with the team for just a short few days.

“Being around the guys, like, they’ve welcomed me. They seem like a really great group of guys and I’m excited to be here, excited to play with them,” Labissiere said.

Labissiere reiterated that he plans to do some of things that people might not notice as much or might not show up on the stat sheet, but that can impact the team and the game in a big way.  

“Just do the little things, come in and help the team out any way I can… Whether it’s talk on defense, set good screens… I see that the offense, it’s really, like the bigs have to set a lot of screens for Dame and CJ to get them open,” Labissiere said.

The newest Trail Blazer was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  He moved to the United States at the age of fourteen in 2010.

Of course, I had to ask him about his last name.

As soon as I started asking him to clarify the pronunciation of his last name he started laughing.

It sounds like Labissiere has heard people say his name so many different ways, he definitely can’t remember how many times people have messed up his last name or how they mess it up.

“I’ve heard so many. I can’t even pronounce [how other people have pronounced it]. People mess it up all the time,” Labissiere said with a smile.

“When they ask me, I correct them. I don’t worry about it,” Labissiere joked.

So, to all Trail Blazers fans…

It’s --  skal lah-BEE-see-AIR.

He won’t be mad at you if you mess it up, but just know -- he is here to do the little things for the Blazers.