Trail Blazers lose assistant coach David Vanterpool to Minnesota Timberwolves

Trail Blazers lose assistant coach David Vanterpool to Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves have hired David Vanterpool as their associate head coach to work with head coach Ryan Saunders and run the T-Wolves’ defense.

Vanterpool has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach under the Trail Blazers’ Terry Stotts and has been credited with the development of Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The “associate head coach” title is a step up for Vanterpool, who has had numerous interviews for open head-coaching positions over the past two seasons.

“This is a great opportunity for David to increase and diversify his coaching profile in his pursuit of becoming an NBA head coach and one Terry and I had discussed at length with David prior to his decision,” said Portland President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.

``David was a valuable member of our staff and an important part of our success,” Stotts said. “In his seven years with the Blazers, he was instrumental in all facets of NBA coaching – game preparations, offensive and defensive game plans, player development and player relations. I am very happy for him and his new opportunity. We will miss him and wish him all the best.”

The Trail Blazers could possibly lose another assistant coach as Nate Tibbetts has been rumored to be a candidate for the Memphis head-coaching job.

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

The question being asked today – and it’s a legitimate one – is “What the heck is going on with the Portland Trail Blazers?” And then… “Are they as bad as they look?”

I will attempt to answer the first question while answering with an affirmative “No” to the second question.

First, let’s remind you of the obvious: three of Portland’s top four best bigs are injured. The injury to Zach Collins was a critical blow because Pau Gasol and Jusuf Nurkic were – and still are – on the injured list. The Blazers do not have the inside game, at either end of the court, that they expected to have at some point this season.

Let's be real, Skal Labissiere and Nassir Litttle, critical rotation players right now, were not expected to have those roles at the start of the season.

Plus, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Hassan Whiteside and Rodney Hood have all been playing in spite of nagging injuries. After many games the Portland locker room features enough ice to fill one of those ice-bag coolers at your neighborhood convenience store.

But the other mitigating factor has been the schedule, which has been brutal. After 15 games, the Trail Blazers have played twice as many road games as home games and no other team in the league has had 10 road games already. Only two other teams have played five more road games than home games. And Portland has already played two back-to-backs.

And it isn’t over yet. Most people already know that 13 of the team’s first 18 games are on the road.

But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t as bad as it looks.

Even with all the injuries and the worst schedule in the league, the Trail Blazers sit just three games out of the playoffs. And ahead of them, in the seventh and eighth spots in the Western Conference, are Phoenix and Minnesota – which I would categorize as “catchable.”

Are there things that need to be fixed? Of course. For one thing, people who have shot the ball well through their careers need to do that again. I believe there must be a little more discipline and ball movement on offense and better attention to halfcourt and transition defense. But those things have a way of working out with time – especially when the team gets some home games and more chances to practice.

It’s going to get better. And I think it’s reasonable to expect that.

A night that almost wasn’t for newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony

A night that almost wasn’t for newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony

Waiting for a turn, and then finally leaning in, anticipating the jump ahead.

That is how 10-time Al-Star, the 2013 NBA scoring champ, and the newest Portland Trail Blazers Carmelo Anthony is feeling about his latest opportunity.

But that’s also a description of a young elementary student waiting in line for his or her turn at double-dutch.

Which is another experience Melo has endured.

Over the last 375 days, Anthony has been waiting for a phone call that he thought may never happen.

He has been waiting in line to get back on the court.

Tuesday night he did just that. Melo finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and one block in the Blazers losing effort to the Pelicans.

But when the game was over and he stood in front of a large media scrum once more, there was pure joy and emotion on his face.

Double-dutch was something Melo experienced over the past year, but he wasn’t enjoying it.  

“It’s just been a rollercoaster ride, Anthony said after Tuesday’s game. “Like double-dutch almost – ‘we’ve got this team, and now we don’t got this team, and this team’s interested now’… There was one point I told my agent, just let me know when it’s first and goal when it’s time to go, don’t call me when it’s first and twenty, I don’t want to hear that,” Melo said.

The Trail Blazers offering Anthony a spot on their roster was the ‘first and goal’ that he had been waiting for and had nearly given up on.

“I think I came to a point where I was willing to accept it either way. If this was going to be it, I was going to accept, and I had to get myself mentally prepared for that, and I did to be honest with you,” Anthony said.

Melo continued, “I stayed with it… there was times that… I wanted to say just ‘forget it,’ move on in my life, spend more time with my family. I started getting more comfortable with that.”

Melo’s lowest point over the last year was a time where he thought he “was going to let go of the love of his life.”

One simple sentence made all the difference for Melo: “I just stayed with it.” 

Anthony last played in the league for the Rockets before being cut by Houston. It was on November 8th of last year when he played in his final game.

But yet, it wasn’t his final goodbye.   

When Melo got the call from the Blazers, he said Portland was very transparent with him, and they were up-front about his starting role and what they were looking from him from the get-go.

“Who knows. I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen this year.  Anthony said.

After not playing for an entire year and searching for a team to give him another shot, Anthony now has a new perspective on his life, especially his basketball life.

“I come into this game with a totally different mindset, a totally different motivation,” Anthony said. “The way that I see just the game, the way that I see not just the game of basketball, just overall the way that I see it, the way that I approach it, it’s totally different.”

“Mentally, emotionally, spiritually… I’m able to see things clearly…so I can just go out there, and just play basketball now.”

What’s clear is this:  Portland expects Melo to bring them more offense and, in turn, help alleviate some of the pressure on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. 

He’s waited a long time for his turn in line. Now the whole basketball world is waiting to see how he jumps in.

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

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

The Blazers made a stop in NOLA to introduce their newest addition, future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony. Anthony hadn’t played in an NBA game since November 8, 2018 and the entire basketball world was ready to welcome him back to the court.

He wasted little time getting his first bucket and finished the night with 10 points, four rebounds and a block.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, Anthony’s debut was spoiled by the Pelicans. Portland was without Damian Lillard who was sitting out due to back spasms, and playing on the second night of a back-to-back caught up with them.

Portland had a slim one-point lead at halftime, but their legs went out from there. The Pelicans outscored the Blazers 35-25 in the third quarter and the Blazers simply ran out of gas.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Pelicans 115 – Blazers 104

QUOTABLES:

Rodney Hood on playing with Carmelo Anthony:

These are guys that I watched when I was a little kid, eleven o'clock at night, staying up and watching them play. I watched them on YouTube... I used to be in class watching his post-ups and how he played. It's just amazing to be out on the court with him.

Rodney Hood on what he saw from Anthony:

He got to his sweet spots. I felt like he hit it a few times when he was in the lane... we're going to continue to milk those mismatches and continue to lean on him for post scoring.

CJ McCollum on Anthony joining the team:

You have to be able to adjust on the fly. Like you said, he hasn't practiced with us. He walked through some plays by himself with the coaching staff this morning. He's trying to memorize five plays. We have 100 plays... it's a lot in the middle of a season. 

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Carmelo Anthony's Trail Blazers debut: Hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, and so much more

Carmelo Anthony's Trail Blazers debut: Hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, and so much more

NEW ORLEANS –Tuesday night had a different vibe in the air, even before future NBA Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony stepped foot in the arena.

Anthony wasn’t just making his debut for the Portland Trail Blazers, he was returning to the life he has always known. He was returning to the life he has always loved.

The excitement that exuded from him was also felt from peers, Pelicans fans, and those who work in and around the league.

It was a night of hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, getting acquainted with each other, and so much more for a player who hasn’t played in the league since November 8 of last year.

And most importantly for Anthony, he felt great.

“It felt great to be back into the flow of the game, be back on the court, be back to where I think I belong at, just be out there with the guys again, more so the routine – the team bus, team lunch… That’s the routine that I’ve been used to for 17 years now… As far as the game goes, it felt great to get back out there,” Anthony said postgame.

Portland dropped its 10th game of the season after the Pelicans came up with a big third quarter to take a 115-104 victory.

Anthony started alongside backup point guard Anfernee Simons in place of an injured Damian Lillard, who was out due to back spasms.

It didn’t take long for Melo to get on the scoreboard Tuesday.

At the 10:50 mark in the first quarter, he drained his first three-point attempt.

The Blazers hung around with the Pelicans even though they were working through adding a player, who has yet to practice with them.

Not only has Melo not be given the chance to run up and down on the practice court with the Blazers, but he feels he hasn’t been able to fully digest this new chapter in his life.

Instead, it's go-time for Melo.

“Going from just getting that phone call to really solidifying that and making it happen, and to coming here and playing my first game, not really having a chance to kind of take it all in and think about it, and reflect on it, it’s – you gotta go, there’s no time for that,” Anthony added.

Clearly, Anthony has been playing in several pickup games and his workouts have not included NBA referees officiating his game. In his first game back, it was obvious Anthony is going to have to get used to having fouls called against him again.

He admitted the game has changed in his time away from the court. "Within a year the game has changed. The physicality of the game has changed, the way that they call the game, the way that the game is played changed.”

The 35-year-old finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with his four rebounds, one block and five personal fouls.

Trail Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood believes Melo’s scoring output could’ve easily doubled if he had some calls go his way.

“It could easily turned to a 20-point night for him, if got a couple of those calls, get to the free throw line, and stuff like that, but he was real aggressive, real patient… He looks good, obviously he hasn’t played in awhile, and as he gets more acclimated he’ll get better and better,” Hood said postgame.

Not only did Anthony have zero practices with the Blazers under his belt, he also didn’t even get to run through shootaround with the team because the Blazers were coming off a game in Houston on Monday night.

Inserting a new player fifteen games into the season obviously presents its challenges.   

For Hood, it was all about feeling each other out.

“Sometimes it can be difficult, but you just feel it out. We turned the ball over a lot during that first few minutes, just trying to feel each other out, which it was expected, get some of the rust off. He’s going to be an integral part of our offense, so we’ve gotta continue to use him, get acclimated with him. Tonight was a great practice even though it was a game,” Hood said.

The Blazers and Melo will now try to get acclimated a little more and get set for Thursday’s tough test against the Bucks.

Young Blazers grew up watching, emulating Carmelo Anthony

Young Blazers grew up watching, emulating Carmelo Anthony

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Carmelo Anthony era of your Portland Trail Blazers. 

Anthony, a 10-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer, made his debut with the Blazers on Tuesday to a tremendous amount of fanfare. 

Anthony hadn't played in an NBA game since November 8 of last season when he was with the Houston Rockets. More than a year later, he finally returned to the court.  

The former Knick played 24 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting, to go with four rebounds and a single block. Anthony showed signs of rust, but he also showed Blazers fans a glimpse of what he can offer to this team moving forward. 

Unfortunately for Portland, they were playing without Damian Lillard (back spasms), on the second night of a back-to-back, and the Pelicans spoiled Anthony's debut. What they didn't spoil was the feeling Anthony's teammates had from seeing him back on the court. 

Blazers rookie Nassir Little was just three years old when Anthony made his NBA debut. Growing up, Little called him an idol. On Tuesday, he called him a teammate. 

It's kinda crazy, man. I've been watching him my entire life. This past year I was like, 'If Melo ain't on a team how am I ever going to be on a team?'  I'm glad. It  was really cool to see him out there doing his thing. - Nassir Little

Rodney Hood has played with a few legends himself, namely LeBron James in Cleveland. But that didn't stop him from feeling the nostalgia. 

These are guys that I watched when I was a little kid, eleven o'clock at night, staying up and watching them play. I watched them on YouTube... I used to be in class watching his post-ups and how he played. It's just amazing to be out on the court with him - Rodney Hood

People on social media were ripping Anthony for looking rusty and shooting 4-14. Seriously? This man hasn't played in a year, joined the team Monday night, and has not even practiced with them. That's a lot to overcome. 

Said CJ McCollum after the game, "You have to be able to adjust on the fly. Like you said, he hasn't practiced with us. He walked through some plays by himself with the coaching staff this morning. He's trying to memorize five plays. We have 100 plays... it's a lot in the middle of a season." 

The Blazers will likely go through a light practice tomorrow and will have the normal game day shootaround before Thursday's game in Milwaukee. Chances are we will see a better Anthony against the Bucks. Even if we don't, it's still fun to jump on the nostalgia hype train. 

Nassir Little loses starting spot but finishes with his best game yet

Nassir Little loses starting spot but finishes with his best game yet

Something you don’t see very often… a young rookie loses his job to a veteran, a someday Hall of Fame player, and then goes out that night and outplays him.

Seriously outplays him.

And that was just about the only Trail Blazer highlight during a dismal 115-104 loss at New Orleans. The Trail Blazers were undressed in the second half at both ends of the court in the debut of Carmelo Anthony in a Portland uniform.

Anthony got off to a decent start but ran out of gas in the second half (1-7 from the field after halftime) while rookie Nassir Little – who had been starting -- went 5-6 from the field, including 2-2 from three-point range, had 11 rebounds, two blocked shots and 12 points.  Anthony scored 10 points but managed to hit only 4-14 from the field, had five fouls and five turnovers.

And really, you can’t blame Anthony, but taking a guy who hasn’t played in a year and throwing him into the starting lineup without as much as a practice with the team is probably not likely to be voted Idea of the Year.

“Nassir continues to play well,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “I’m glad to see him hit a couple of threes. He plays with a lot of energy.”

Little has been playing hard and instead of shrinking from the challenge of playing behind Anthony and his big-time credentials, or pouting about the situation, he responded with his best game of the season.

“I think I had a pretty good game,” Little said. “I had my first double-double. I made shots and rebounded the ball well, so it was pretty solid.”

His teammates were impressed.

“He’s just bringing energy,” Rodney Hood said. “He doesn’t care if he’s starting or not starting. He’s been a great boost to us since he’s been in the lineup.”

CJ McCollum said, “He was great. He’s kind of figuring out the NBA lifestyle, on and off the court. I think he’s finding his sweet spot between work and rest.”

The Trail Blazers led after one quarter and at the half, but were beaten by 10 in the third quarter and offered barely a hint of a fourth quarter rally, perhaps because they were without Damian Lillard (back spasms) and on the second of back-to-back games. Portland shot 48.7 percent in the first half and 39.1 in the second half.

Oddly, Portland had a terrific night from three-point range but wasted it. The Blazers were 16-29 (55.2 percent) from three but only 8-13 from the foul line while the Pelicans hit 20-24.

Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony still shaking off the rust as Blazers can’t shake Pelicans

Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony still shaking off the rust as Blazers can’t shake Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS – It was a night with national media in the building to catch Carmelo Anthony in New Orleans as he made his debut for the Trail Blazers against the Pelicans on Tuesday night.

Pelicans fans gave a nice applause to Melo as he was introduced. NBA fans all around the league were happy to see the future Hall of Famer back on the court. 

Anthony started alongside backup point guard Anfernee Simons in place of the injured Damian Lillard (back spasms).

It didn’t take long for Melo to get on the scoreboard.

At the 10:50 mark in the first quarter, he drained his first three-point attempt assisted by CJ McCollum.

The Blazers hung around with the Pelicans even though they were working through adding a player who has yet to practice with them.

With Melo being inserted into the starting lineup, rookie Nassir Little came off the bench, but Little played down the stretch due to Anthony’s minutes restriction.  
FINAL BOX SCORE: Pelicans 115, Trail Blazers 104

Here are three quick takeaways from Tuesday's loss:

1. Initial Melo observations

-- Is still looking to dominate one-on-one

-- Will take a few games to get back in game shape

-- Puts a little extra zing on his passes and sometimes the Blazers weren’t ready for it

-- Is going to need to get used to having NBA officials calling fouls on him again

-- Is still shaking off the rust (careless turnovers, fouls)

--A practice with the team will be helpful (several miscues on both ends)

Carmelo finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with his four rebounds, one block and five personal fouls.

2. McCollum taking it upon himself

CJ McCollum was very active on the defensive end against the Pelicans. He was getting deflections, getting in passing lanes, and sacrificing his body to take potential charges. With no Lillard, McCollum took it upon himself to shoulder a lot of the scoring load. McCollum was dialed in from three early on. He struggled to hit from deep in the final quarter though.

3. Future is bright in New Orleans

The Pelicans have a fun brand of basketball despite dealing with a number of injuries. 

On Tuesday night New Orleans was without Lonzo Ball (right adductor), Jahlil Okafor (left ankle), Derrick Favors (left lower back), Josh Hart (left ankle) and Zion Williamson (right knee).

But between Brandon Ingram, J.J. Redick, and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have some athletic wings. Rookie Jaxon Hayes showed he has a lot potential at center with his length and mobility. 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Tip-off is slated for 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Carmelo Anthony to start in debut

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Carmelo Anthony to start in debut

NEW ORLEANS – The national media in the Big Easy is in full force. Tuesday night in New Orleans marks Carmelo Anthony’s debut with the Trail Blazers.

Portland and New Orleans tip-off at 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest.   

After reports surfaced on Twitter prior to the game, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts confirmed that Anthony will be starting tonight. He also mentioned during his pregame media availability that he feels Melo will remain in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. 

[RELATED]: How Carmelo will change this road trip, starting in NOLA

Even though the Blazers will be adding Melo into the mix tonight, Portland will be without Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard is dealing with back spasms.

Coach Stotts said Lillard’s back was bothering him last night in Houston.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS RIGHT HERE:

How Carmelo will change this road trip, starting in NOLA

How Carmelo will change this road trip, starting in NOLA

The Trail Blazers are on the ropes. Reeling from a haymaker thrown by the Houston Rockets, Portland needs to find the power to get up from the mat before the ref counts to ten.

The Blazers are just 5-9 on the season and injuries have left them thin at power forward. Enter Carmelo Anthony.

The 10-time NBA All-Star officially became a member of the Trail Blazers Tuesday morning and hopes to make his Blazers debut and return to the NBA on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. A team in desperate need of a jolt has reached out to a future Hall of Famer with nothing to lose.

Anthony hasn’t played in over a year, but he is just what the Blazers need. Since Zach Collins went down with a dislocated shoulder, the Blazers have struggled to get any real production at the four.

Mario Hezonja has had some nice moments but hasn’t really put a full game together. Anthony Tolliver has struggled to find his shot and wasn’t signed to play 20 minutes a night. While rookie Nassir Little has shown some flashes, he has also made a lot of rookie mistakes. But, the biggest thing the aforementioned players are lacking is scoring punch. It may sounds cliché, but in the current NBA, getting stops isn’t as important as making sure the other team can’t stop you. You have got to score more points to win. With Anthony, the Blazers are showing offense is the focus.

Those who are anti-Melo may argue that he only averaged 13.4 points in 10 games with the Rockets last season, far off his career average of 24.0. Well, the Hezonja-Tolliver-Little trio has combined to average just 11.2 points per season. If Anthony is the same Anthony we saw last season, it doesn’t matter. It’s still what the Blazers need. One guy to fill the production of three. That’s an upgrade.

Anthony also gives the Blazers a shooting threat on the floor with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He’s someone they can pass the ball to and have confidence he can hit the open shot. Just by being on the floor, defenses will have to remain honest. It’s a rare skill when you don’t have to score a bucket to make the defense adjust to you. Anthony can do just that.

The biggest questions with Anthony are how does he fit in the lineup and how does it affect the rotation, particularly with Nassir Little. Little has slotted in as the starting power forward spot in recent games and has played well. Well enough, at least, to remain the starter, for now. He’s good on the glass, decent on defense, and has shown some explosion on the offensive end. He has earned a spot in Stotts’ rotation with or without Anthony.

How Anthony’s role impacts Little remains to be seen, but given how Stotts has used the rookie lately, you would have to assume those two will be 1-2 on the power forward depth chart, with Hezonja and Tolliver getting spot minutes.

All of this should culminate in Anthony sparking the Blazers. Portland has four games remaining on this road trip, with Milwaukee being the only team that has a winning record. If Anthony shows up, shows out, and fits like a glove, then this could be a stretch of games that change the season. Or, at least, a stretch of games that get the ship back on course.

With Melo, fans should expect to go 3-1 and return home next week with a chance to return to .500 on the season. Who do they play when they get back to Moda? The Oklahoma City Thunder – the last team Anthony played a full season for.

This has the potential to be the start of a storybook, and Melo has a chance to be the story’s hero.