Trail Blazers made right move taking Swanigan over Bell

Trail Blazers made right move taking Swanigan over Bell

LAS VEGAS -- The Trail Blazers have moved into the second round of the summer league's tournament and will face top-seeded Toronto tonight at 7 o'clock in what I like to call "The Tourney Nobody Really Cares About Winning."

Unless you win it, of course. Then you can tell your fans that it's a sign their franchise is on the right track.

And that could possibly be true, of course. But winning the title could also just mean that you got a team together quickly and went to either Orlando or Salt Lake City summer leagues before coming here and so your team has spent a lot of time playing together. Or maybe you have four or five players from your regular-season team here. Or perhaps you just had good luck picking up some experienced free agents to play for your summer team. Or even more rare, that you actually care about winning the tournament -- which isn't common.

As you can see, I'm not big on this tournament, which seems to me more of a money grab than anything else. Most teams have already had enough games to get what they want out of this little carnival of turnovers and would prefer to not risk further injury to key players.

But it is a chance to see some of the new players heading into the NBA this season. I haven't had enough opportunity to see them all for a long enough period to make any major judgments but I have a couple of thoughts I'll share:

The first thing I want to talk about is Jordan Bell, because a lot of Ducks fans are already going off the deep end about how Portland should have drafted him instead of Caleb Swanigan. Um, no. I don't think so.

Bell is probably going to be a very nice off-the-bench contributor for the Golden State Warriors. He'll rebound, block a shot or two, hustle all over the floor and he's going to profit from playing in a great system alongside some terrific players who will probably make him look a little better than he is. But after watching both Bell and Swanigan here, it's hard for me to say Bell should have been picked ahead of Swanigan.

Swanigan is the more skilled player. More well-rounded. He can do most of the things Bell can do and also make shots from distance. And he's more than two years younger than Bell -- which means he probably has more room for improvement and a couple of more seasons in his career. He's also bigger than Bell and the one question left with Bell is how he's going to operate against bigger, more experienced players once he reaches the NBA.

Nothing against Bell. I like him. I think he was a very good choice for the Warriors, who will make good use of him. But in terms of eventually being a starting player and major contributor I think most people here would take Swanigan.

More Thoughts From Summer League

I'm anxious to see more of Lonzo Ball. He's such an interesting player and, I think, difficult to assess at this point. Yes, he can pass -- but he's not the clever, tricky sort of passer I expected. He is not flashy to any great degree. And that's not a knock on him. He makes the right reads and delivers the ball appropriately.

But he also seems just a little slower than I expected. It will be interesting to see what tempo the Lakers will play with him at the helm. And yes, his shooting form is terrible. His old man, LaVar, seems to act as if he's created the perfect player in Lonzo but I can't believe that's the best he could do with the the kid's shooting mechanics. It is more of a set shot than a jumper and takes a little while for him to load.

That said, he seems to have the "it" factor they love in LA. He's got a star quality about him. And it's going to be fun to see if he can make good on all the expectations the Lakers have for him.

And maybe he will even add a summer-league championship ring to his resume. As if there is such a thing.

Radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler to open season on medical leave

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Portland Trail Blazers

Radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler to open season on medical leave

Portland Trail Blazers radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler will be on temporary medical leave when the 2018-19 NBA season begins, it was announced by Wheeler and team officials today. Beginning with the September 29 preseason opener against the Toronto Raptors in Vancouver British Columbia, NBC Sports Northwest (NBCSNW) Rip City Radio broadcaster Travis Demers will handle radio play-by-play duties.

“Continuing to steer my health in a positive direction is the top priority for me,” said Wheeler, who will call his 21st season behind the Trail Blazers microphone when he returns to the broadcast team. “I’m looking forward to being back in action as soon as I can.”

Co-host of the daily radio show “The Rip City Drive” alongside Chad Doing, Demers will be paired with color analyst and former Trail Blazers player Michael Holton for home games. For road games, Demers will team-up with Trail Blazers Insider Casey Holdahl. 

Demers has an extensive broadcasting pedigree in the Portland market. Before joining NBCSNW Rip City Radio in 2014, Demers was a host at ESPN Sports Radio 1080 “The Fan” for 10 years. He’s a familiar broadcast voice for University of Portland men’s basketball and baseball; and can also be heard calling high school sports on the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) Radio Network.  Since 2016, Demers has been a regular fill-in broadcaster for Hillsboro Hops Baseball. Demers has also covered the Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers for 15 seasons.

Trail Blazers games are helmed by radio flagship AM-620 NBCSNW Rip City Radio and extend around the region across the 20-stationTrail Blazers Radio Network. 

Blazers vs. Raptors in Vancouver will air on NBC Sports Northwest

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NBC Sports Northwest

Blazers vs. Raptors in Vancouver will air on NBC Sports Northwest

We are just over a week away from the Portland Trail Blazers tipping off its preseason slate. You can get your first look at the 2018-19 Blazers when they open the preseason on Saturday, September 29th vs. Toronto a part of the NBA Canada Series. The game will take place in Vancouver, B.C. and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Northwest courtesy of MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment). 

This will be your first look at Kawhi Leonard in a Toronto uniform as well (as long as he is healthy and ready to play).

[MORE ON PRESEASON] Three home games highlight Trail Blazers Preseason Schedule

Portland vs. Toronto will be the fourth preseason game played in Vancouver as part of the series. This is the first time the Trail Blazers have participated in the series and is the 10th appearance for the Raptors.

Here’s the full lineup of Blazers exhibition games you can catch on NBC Sports Northwest:

*Blazers at Raptors on Sept. 29th (Rogers Arena in Vancouver BC)

*Jazz at Blazers -  Sunday, Oct.7th (Moda Center)

*Suns at Blazers  - Wednesday, Oct.10th (Moda Center)

*Kings at Blazers - Friday, Oct. 12th (Moda Center)

You can also listen to all of the Blazers preseason games on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio AM-620.

Trail Blazers welcome 14th annual Fan Fest presented by Wells Fargo

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers welcome 14th annual Fan Fest presented by Wells Fargo

The preseason showcase that Portland Trail Blazersfans eagerly await is back with a new, later 7 p.m. start time. The 14th Annual Trail Blazers FanFest Presented by Wells Fargo is set for Sunday, September 30 at Moda Center featuring new entertainment and fan engagement in the arena’s lower bowl, alongside a first-look scrimmage by the new 2018-19 Trail Blazers roster.

The free event features first-come, first-served general admission seating, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Special front-row seating in select courtside areas will be reserved for kids from community-based organizations. Parking on the Rose Quarter campus will be free, subject to space availability. Fans can download their free digital tickets online at trailblazers.com/fanfest.

Blazers Fan Fest presented by Wells Fargo is the annual chance for fans to get an up-close look at the upcoming Trail Blazers team with four quarters of competitive, intra-squad NBA action. Three-time All-Star and All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard returns for his seventh season with teammates CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and more. Fans will get to interact with the Trail Blazers television and radio broadcast teams including Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd, Brooke Olzendam, Jordan Kent, Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton as they interview players and coaches on the new endzone entertainment stage.

Fans will also see performances by this year’s BlazerDancers and Stunt Team; and have loads of chances at free prizes and other giveaways from team mascot Blaze the Trail Cat. Starting in the second half of the scrimmage, fans will be encouraged to use their mobile devices to choose a Most Valuable Player from the Blazers Fan Fest presented by Wells Fargo scrimmage. Voting for the MVP will be found at the trailblazers.com/fanfest website and in the Trail Blazers Mobile App.    

Blazers sign multi-year deal for jersey ad

Blazers sign multi-year deal for jersey ad

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed a corporate partnership agreement for a patch on their uniform jerseys.

And you could say, if you wish, it’s kind of a cool patch.

The Trail Blazers this season will wear “BiOFREEZE” on the upper left portion of their jerseys.

Biofreeze is a menthol-based, pain-relief product available as a roll on, gel, cream or spray.  It is a product of Performance Health, a Chicago-area company.

The Blazers say the product is used in their training room.

“We took our time to find the perfect partner to put on our jersey,” said Chris McGowan, president and CEO of the team. “And what we loved about this is that it’s all about healthy living.

“We had a couple of deals fall through (last season) so we decided to take a step back and find the right partner. We kind of re-launched the opportunity.

“We felt this was the most authentic to our brand, one that would resonate real well with our fans.”

NBA rules began the process of allowing the jersey ads last season but the Trail Blazers did not feature one on their uniform. The ads are required to be no larger than 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.

Portland is the 24th NBA team to have jersey ads signed for this season. Financial details of the Trail Blazer deal have not been released.

“It’s multi-year but we aren’t going to talk about the exacts,” McGowan added. “It’s a long deal.”

Happy Birthday, CJ McCollum

Happy Birthday, CJ McCollum

On this day in 1991 the world welcomed Christian James "CJ" McCollum. 22 years later he was drafted by the Trail Blazers, and today all of Rip City celebrates his 27th birthday. 

From 10th pick in the NBA Draft, to most improved player, to star guard, to "I'm trying Jennifer," Portland has seen it all with McCollum. 

In celebration, enjoy the above video of McCollum's best plays from last season, and join us in wishing "3J" a very Happy Birthday!

Are Dame and CJ the best backcourt duo in the West?

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USA Today

Are Dame and CJ the best backcourt duo in the West?

Are Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum the best backcourt in the Western Conference? Not if you ask the folks over at The Ringer

The Ringer put together its comprehensive list and the Blazers backcourt duo came in at No.5.

According to the article, "The way the Blazers fizzled in the playoffs raised serious questions about the long-term fit in their backcourt. It’s hard to win in the playoffs when your two best players are 6-foot-3 and under. Portland has a high floor with Dame and C.J. orchestrating the offense, but it also appears to have a low ceiling. The Blazers are a prime candidate to get blown up if they lose any ground this season in a fiercely competitive conference."

So which duos ranked above them? Here is the list:

No.1 - Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson

No.2 - Rockets, Chris Paul and James Harden

No.3 - Thunder, Russell Westbrook and Paul George

No.4 - Jazz, Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell.

Really? We have a few things to say

1) Paul George is a natural three, not a two, so we feel that is a bit of a stretch to place OKC above Portland.

2) Donovan Mitchell is a stud, a future All-Star, but that combo of Mitchell and Rubio is not better than Dame and CJ. Utah's duo combined for 33.5 points and 9.0 assists per game. Portland's duo combined for 48.3 points and 10.0 assists per game. The stats tell the story.

Revised, the ranking should be Warriors, Rockets, Blazers, Jazz, Thunder. 

What do think? Is the Blazers duo where they should be, or would you rank them higher?

 

Seth Curry putting in work as he preps for return to the court

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USA Today

Seth Curry putting in work as he preps for return to the court

It's almost time for Seth Curry to make his return to the court and make his debut for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Curry fractured his leg late last season and had to have season-ending surgery. Now with the Blazers, Curry is one step closer to getting back on the hardwood and could be a big factor in Portland's success this year.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype posted this video of Curry's offseason prep, and it's a must watch for any Blazers fan. Take a look. 

 

CJ McCollum: A day in the life of a Browns fan

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USA Today

CJ McCollum: A day in the life of a Browns fan

Life is hard when you are a fan of the Cleveland Browns. The team has won just one game since the start of the 2016 season, and started this season in the most Browns way possible - A tie. Trail Blazers star shooting guard CJ McCollum is an Ohio native and he is always very vocal on Twitter about his love for the Browns. The highs are few, the lows are many, but McCollum never wavers. On Sunday the Browns let a victory slip through their fingers, and McCollum's heartbreak was present on social media.

Of course, there are some more tweets about the game but they aren't safe for work. You can go see them for yourself on McCollum's Twitter page. 

McCollum's tough weekend turned into a tough Monday when it was announced the Browns would be trading star wide receiver Josh Gordon to the Patriots of all teams.

Here's to hoping the Browns beat the Jets this Sunday. 

 

Trail Blazer Jusuf Nurkic posts a double-double in Bosnia and Herzegovina's FIBA qualifying game

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FIBA Basketball

Trail Blazer Jusuf Nurkic posts a double-double in Bosnia and Herzegovina's FIBA qualifying game

While many of his Trail Blazer teammates are at the practice facility in Tualatin for pre-camp workouts, center Jusuf Nurkic is overseas playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina's national team in the FIBA World Cup Qualifying tournament. 

It's not looking good for Bosnia and Herzegovina who sit at 2-6 and last place in Group K.

In Sunday's game vs. the Czech Republic, Nurkic posted 19 points and 15 rebounds and logged nearly 30 minutes of playing time but it wasn't enough for Bosnia and Herzegovina who fell 85-80. 

In the highlight below, Nurkic shows off his handles and passing skills while setting up a teammate for the easy bucket.

Then we get a nice And 1 from the big man after a sweet low post move.

The Trail Blazers start camp the last week in September and start the preseason with a September 29th game in Vancouver, BC against the Toronto Raptors. 

Be sure to follow our new Trail Blazer Insider Dwight Jaynes, and Trail Blazer Reporter Jamie Hudson for coverage throughout the season!