Trail Blazer summer league team struggles in opener vs. Detroit

Trail Blazer summer league team struggles in opener vs. Detroit

LAS VEGAS – The defending-champion Trail Blazers’ summer league team got off to a rocky start Saturday afternoon in the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Blazers were outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter and dropped a 93-73 decision to the Detroit Pistons.

Portland made just 24 of 70 shots from the floor, including a 5-for-20 effort from three-point range. Meanwhile the Pistons went 15-41 from three.

“It was tough,” said Portland assistant coach Jim Moran, who is in charge of the summer leaguers. “Very tough. I was a little disappointed. We had a really good week of practice and then that game did not resemble what we did. It was frustrating.

“They were hitting threes early but they weren’t contested threes. We dug ourselves a hole early and then had to give up so much energy to get back in the game. I thought ‘Ant” (Anfernee Simons) was good in the first half. We were a little sloppy. We had some possessions when we really guarded, which was encouraging. I think for Ant and Gary (Trent Jr.) being veteran guys, they’re going to have to be more vocal. And it’s hard – they’re second-year guys. They have to learn that and grow into it."

Simons scored 15 to lead the Blazers, but had only one assist and three rebounds. Trent scored 10 on 3-12 shooting and Devin Robinson added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Blazers are back in action Sunday at 7 p.m. in Cox Pavilion vs. Houston.

“I’m expecting us to be much better,’ Moran said, “I’m expecting us to guard, not give up open threes, keep the ball out of the middle. There were some positive things and hopefully we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Future rankings low for Damian Lillard in NBCsports.com’s 50 best players in 5 years

Future rankings low for Damian Lillard in NBCsports.com’s 50 best players in 5 years

Who doesn’t like to daydream about the future?

Or think about your favorite NBA team winning it all?

Now that Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is in his prime, Blazers fans having been asking the question:

Is this the year the Blazers take home the Larry O'Brien Trophy?

Yes, fans are enjoying thinking about the immediate future.

NBA analysts for NBC Sports are equally enjoying predicting the future and how individual players will be affected as they age.

Lillard, who the Blazers are all-in on, will be 34-years-old in 2024.

NBCsports.com’s team of NBA reporters and analysts believe when 2024 comes around the Blazers will have to move one from Lillard Time.

Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk sums up the rankings like so:

The NBA team at NBCSports.com put our heads together, pulled out our crystal balls, and tried to project forward who would be the 50 best players in the NBA in five years — in the summer of 2024. We took into account a player’s age, his potential ceiling and how likely he is to reach it, injury history, and more. The team working on this included Dan FeldmanTom HaberstrohRob DausterTommy BeerSteve Alexander, and Kurt Helin (and thanks to Tess Quinlan and Mia Zanzucchi for the design help).

There were plenty of disagreements (and we don’t expect you to agree with all of our list), but here it is.

So where does Lillard rank in five years?

He comes in at No. 33 on the list.

Seems pretty low, right?

 

Here is what the NBC Sports NBA analyst Dane Delgado had to say how Lillard’s future ranking:

“It’s been assumed that by the end of his most recent contract that Damian Lillard won’t be the player the Portland Trail Blazers need any longer. He’s already 30 years old, and the common refrain has been that point guards at or near six feet tall don’t age gracefully.

But like anything else, we must take both historical examples and understanding that we are in a new era of NBA basketball into consideration. This era is one where guys like Lillard are pioneering a 3-point shot that has stretched the limits of spacing on an NBA floor. Because of that, it’s entirely possible that Lillard ends up being more like late stage Jason Kidd then late-stage Chris Paul.

Kidd was 6-foot-4 and could play across multiple positions, but there’s a new geometry in the NBA that should aide Lillard. The dimensions of an NBA floor are being pushed to their limits as shooters get farther and farther away from the basket. As players adapt to this, passing lanes and scoring opportunities will continue to change.

With that in mind, Lillard might not be headed for a “Most Overpaid” listicle in five years the way some have assumed. Instead, Lillard could just as easily transition into a 3-point shooting, high-arc-passing veteran who annoys opponents to no end. Hell, he’s already shown he can take a step forward on defense without relying on his athleticism this postseason.

Superstar shifts are more likely to be unfortunate than successful. But Lillard is one of the most iron-willed players in the league, and he’s secure in both who he is and the cash he’s got in his pocket. If the need comes for him to find a new niche after a lost step or two, count on him to make it.”

 

Lillard’s ranking of 33 had him come in ahead of Chicago Bull big man Lauri Markkanen (ranked 34) who will be 27 years old in five years, while Rudy Gobert (ranked 32) and Stephen Curry (ranked 31) are just ahead of Lillard.

So, if you think Lillard’s ranking is pretty low, Curry, who is two years older than the Trail Blazers All-Star, is ranked two spots higher.

It’s always fun to think about the future, but these rankings are just future projections. Whether it’s future or current rankings Blazers fans know that Lillard isn’t concerned with such individual metrics.

He’s concerned with the success of his team – the future success of the Portland Trail Blazers.    

This summer Lillard has also been concerned about his body.

Lillard celebrated his 29th birthday in early July before he held his annual kids basketball camp in Beaverton, OR.

As he gets older, Lillard has realized that it is a necessity to change up his offseason workout plan.

“Work smarter, not harder,” Lillard said at his kids camp this summer. “I always try to just go, go, go. I workout two times [a day] and then I’ll be ready to do more stuff because I always tell myself you’ve got to put your body through it, you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to do all these things, but what I’ve learned so far this summer is that I trained for like two weeks, I was doing a bunch of conditioning and I was on the court a lot and then I was in Mexico for five days, then I came to Vegas and then I went to LA to do some stuff. Then it was 10 days and I hadn’t trained at all, then last Monday I started working out again here and I felt great.”

“I was like I need to start giving myself a break more often than I do because I felt better after 10 days of nothing and hanging out with all of my cousins and stuff, I felt better. So, I think that’s the thing that I’m picking up more now. The older I get, the rest I need to give my body and I actually felt better when I did it,” Lillard added.

With Lillard gearing up for his eighth NBA season, he is making sure to “treat his body right,” which will go a long way in his future success and future rankings.

For more on NBCsports.com’s 50 best players in 5 years check out the complete list here.

Getting to know more about Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons

Getting to know more about Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons

A good majority of Trail Blazers fans know that Anfernee Simons can score in a variety of ways and looks to have a bright future as he gets set to enter his second year in the NBA.

But on Tuesday evening, fans got a better glimpse of Simons’ life off the court.

The 20-year-old took to his twitter on Tuesday for a nearly two hour-long Q&A session.

[RELATED]: All eyes on Trail Blazers Anfernee Simons and he's here for it

Some of the questions included:  

* What is Simons’ favorite video game at the moment?

* Is he a lover or a hater of putting pineapple on pizza?

* Is Simons’ dog named after Tracy McGrady?

* In the surrounding Portland area, where can you possibly catch Simons hanging out?

* What about his favorite cereal?

Yes, these big questions were answered:

[RELATED]: Anfernee Simons is one of the NBA’s best-kept secrets – and Neil Olshey likes it that way

Simons has been a big topic of conversation this summer with the Blazers making it known that they have high expectations for ‘Ant.’

And, now that fans know he has a dog named T-Mac, Rip City will soon find out what Simons is going to bring to the table in his second season as Trail Blazer.

Moda Center has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification

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Moda Center has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification

The Trail Blazers announced on Wednesday afternoon, the Moda Center is now the first existing arena to receive LEED O+M (v4.1)  Platinum Certification.

This is the very first existing professional sports arena to receive the highest level of accreditation by LEED.

LEED, otherwise known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system, the most used rating system in the world.

This top-notch award identifies and rewards best practices for a building’s energy, water, waste, transportation and total human experience.

President and CEO of the Trail Blazers Chris McGowan is honored to receive this certification saying, “we are very proud to be the first existing professional sports arena to receive LEED Platinum certification. Nine years ago, we were the first existing arena to achieve LEED Gold status, and we continue to innovate and develop our sustainable processes and procedures to provide a healthy, sustainable arena for our community. Sustainability is and always will be a crucial part of our culture.”

The Trail Blazers arena has and will continue to team up with programs to protect the environment and reduce environmental impact in terms of less waste, lower water usage, making sure excess food goes to local families in need, and having its employees use public transportation and/or bike and walk to work.

Rip City headquarters is doing its part for the environment just as so many Oregonians continue to do.

Jusuf Nurkic has fun with a Twitter trade

Jusuf Nurkic has fun with a Twitter trade

Last September Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard was breaking news on Twitter about national NBA analysts taking new jobs.

This summer, it’s Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic who is breaking news.

Okay, not really. But, he is having some fun on Twitter.

Nurkic and one of his favorite Bosnian musical groups Dubioza Kolektiv are testing the waters on Twitter.

Is the Bosnian Beast on the trading block?

Huh, no.

However, according to Dubioza Kolektiv, the trade of the year is going down. The Blazers will send Nurkic to play in the band and in return the Blazers will receive Dubioza Kolektiv’s keyboardist Brano Jakubović.

You probably weren’t expecting that trade news.

Nurk has been known to play the rock group’s tunes at the Trail Blazers practice facility and before and after Trail Blazers games.

You may have heard one of their hits at a Blazers game.

Dubioza Kolektiv’s song ‘Wild Wild East’ has been played at Moda Center numerous times. Dubioza Kolektiv’s music is very catchy and now their tweet has caught the eye of the Trail Blazers.

Emojis say it all.

The former 16th overall pick is spending time in his home country this summer, while continuing to rehab after sustaining compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula last March.

There is still no official timeline for his return, however, this July, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said he believes Nurkic is “on or ahead of schedule.”

In 72 games last season, Nurkic racked up averaged 15.6 points on 50.8 percent shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.4 blocks.

Who else is wondering if Dubioza Kolektiv’s keyboardist is a good basketball player?

Trail Blazers announce special ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ event set for late August

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Trail Blazers announce special ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ event set for late August

It’s time for Rip City to start celebrating.  

Earlier this month the Trail Blazers unveiled their new 50th Anniversary court that the team will playing on for all home games this season. The new design honors the 50th anniversary of the franchise and that’s just the beginning.

On Tuesday, the Blazers announced a special event called ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ that will have Blazers fans taking a trip down memory lane.

‘Bike with Bill Walton’ is a chance for fans to relive the 1977 Championship parade.

Join the Blazers on August 25th at 2 p.m. as fans bike from Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Terry Schrunk Plaza. At the end of the ride the Blazers will then have a special announcement.

[RELATED]: Blazers unveil special 50th anniversary court design

You can RSVP to the event on the Trail Blazers Facebook Page right here.

If the Blazers are ever for sale, Larry Ellison would probably be first in line

If the Blazers are ever for sale, Larry Ellison would probably be first in line

Barely a week goes by when I don’t get a call, email or text advising me of a rumor involving the possible or pending sale of the Portland Trail Blazers. And before we get any further, I will tell you that word from the franchise, from the top down, has repeatedly been that the team is not for sale and that deceased former owner Paul Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, is not interested in selling at this point.

I respect that.

But, I would offer that it probably wouldn’t be good business to advertise that the team is for sale. Such things create uncertainty among players and other employees that may not be conducive to a winning environment. Players, especially, are very much interested in a team's owner and particularly his commitment to winning and spending money to do so.

In fact, when Paul Allen bought the team from Larry Weinberg on May 31, 1988, it came as a complete surprise. Nobody had any idea the team was even on the market until Allen showed up for the news conference.

There is little doubt, if the franchise were to be put on the market, who would be the early odds-on favorite to buy it. That would be Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle Corporation. Ellison has attempted to buy three NBA teams, the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies.

And if he bought the Blazers, he would become the richest owner in the NBA, surpassing the Clippers’ Steve Ballmer by about $15 billion. Ellison’s net worth has been estimated at $64.5 billion, which would make him the sixth-richest person in the world. He financed the winning sailboat in the 2010 America's Cup and actually crewed on that craft. He is also a licensed pilot who owns fighter jets.

He is said to own the sixth-largest yacht in the world and it has a basketball court on it. ESPN once described him as “the craziest human this side of Mark Cuban” and “Cuban to the fifth power.”

I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Of course this is all just speculation. Ellison has attempted to buy teams previously and failed and nobody knows if the Trail Blazers will ever be placed on the market.

But if they are…

 

Kevin Love opens up to CJ McCollum on the latest Pull Up podcast

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Kevin Love opens up to CJ McCollum on the latest Pull Up podcast

Episode No. 71 of the ‘Pull Up Podcast with CJ McCollum’ addresses mental health and the crucial balance between an NBA player’s social life and work life.

On this latest podcast, McCollum and NBA analyst Jordan Schultz take a deep dive on the physical and mental aspects of NBA players’ lives.

This episode also has an extra special Portland connection.

Special guest 5x NBA All-Star and NBA Champion Kevin Love joins the discussion.

This is the first edition of a two part series. Love talks about each phase of his career and making sure he continues to taking care of himself.   

From his start at Lake Oswego High School, OR to winning a championship with Lebron James, this podcast takes you through Love’s journey of how he became the player he is today as he get sets to enter his 12th season in the league.

Love recently addressed how he has been battling mental health issues when he wrote about it in ‘The Players’ Tribune’ back in May.

Love and McCollum talk more about Love's mental health and depression issues on the podcast.  

“If you kill the body, the mind will die,” Love told McCollum.

 

“Working on what’s between the ears… I think that’s lost on so many guys and we play such a long drawn out season… You do have to find some sort of break,” Love continued.   

NBA fans appreciate Love and McCollum’s honesty and how the two opened up on this latest podcast.

Love also discussed what he does in the offseason to get his mind right. During the summer Love focuses on meditation as well as attending talk therapy sessions.

The podcast was a chance for Love to reminisce about growing up in Oregon, too.

“I grew up in Nike’s backyard… I’ve developed lifelong friendships from my backyard in Beaverton, Oregon,” Love said.

The soon to be 31-year-old also talked about being overweight earlier in his basketball career and how he’s worked to stay in shape.

Love’s work ethic has been inspiring other Trail Blazers this summer.  Blazers forward Mario Hezonja had to kick it up a notch with his personal workout. Or to be exact, he had to add five pounds.

LISTEN TO THE PULL UP PODCAST ON APPLE PODCAST HERE.

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY RIGHT HERE.

The NBA Rookies sure do love Damian Lillard

The NBA Rookies sure do love Damian Lillard

One thing is for sure here in the city of Portland - We love Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Well, we aren't the only ones, folks. It appears the newest batch of NBA rookies love him too. 

According to the annual NBA Rookie Survey, Damian Lillard is one of the more liked players in the league. Of the 42 rookies surveyed, 38% voted for LeBron James, 20% voted for Kevin Durant, and Lillard and Kawhi Leonard tied for third place with 8% of the vote. 

While he didn't finish in the Top 5, Lillard's backcourt mate CJ McCollum was among the "others receiving votes." That's saying something, considering Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry received 0% of the vote.

Lillard and McCollum weren't the only Blazers players being shown some love. It appears Blazers rookie Nassir Little is well respecting among his 2019 draft class peers.  

Little finished in third place with 5% of the vote in the category "which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the draft?" If you don't remember, Little was a projected lottery pick but slipped all the way to No.25 where the Blazers quickly grabbed him. He was considered a steal on draft night, and the rest of the rookies agree. 

The Blazers rookie also could be a force on the defensive side of the ball in this league. According to the survey, the rookies consider Little one of the best defenders in the class. In that category Little finished in third place with 8% of the vote, tied with Brandon Clarke and Jaxson Hayes.

The rookies and the rest of the league will get a chance to see Lillard, McCollum, Little and the rest of the Blazers when they open up preseason play against the Denver Nuggets on October 8th.  

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little enjoying his busy summer in Portland

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little enjoying his busy summer in Portland

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little surprised 170 young athletes at the Trail Blazers Summer Hoops Camp over the weekend.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Beaverton Hoop YMCA Youth had a total of two five-day Summer Camps at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA this summer. These camps are “for athletes in grades 1-8 and offer a great Trail Blazers Camp experience.”

Camp coaches focus on both introducing and building on fundamentals of the game.

The campers receive a game ticket to a Trail Blazers game, a reversible Nike Dri-Fit Jersey, special guest visits, and of course, five days of basketball fun and fundamentals.

Little helped coach the youngsters who had no idea that the Trail Blazers forward would be in attendance.

The 19-year-old has been spending his August in Portland. He made it known earlier this month that he loves PDX.

As Little gets set for his rookie season, he has already shown in Summer League that he can become a solid wing defender at the NBA level. There’s no doubt he will need to work on developing a consistent three-point shot.

But, one thing is for sure, Little is already winning over the hearts of Rip City youngsters.

Check out more pictures from this weekend’s Trail Blazers Summer Hoops Camp right here.