Trail Blazers reportedly only team to vote against NBA's return to play

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Trail Blazers reportedly only team to vote against NBA's return to play

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently laid out four options to resume play. A return with 16 teams directly to playoffs, 20 teams with group/stage play, 22 teams with games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for the final seed and a 30-game format with a 72-game regular season with play-in tournament. 

Thursday, the NBA Board of Governors approved the plan for a 22-team return to play in Orlando.

With the approved format, each team would play eight ‘regular season’ games, (roughly half the number of games they had still slated on their 2019-20 schedules). In an effort to make it fair to the teams that were not in the playoffs at the time the league suspended play, such as the Blazers, there will be a "play-in tournament" if need be. So, if after the eight games, the ninth seed is closer than four games behind the eighth seed, a playoff will be held.

Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans all currently sit three and a half games behind No. 8 Memphis.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Trail Blazers are the only team that voted against the 22-team format plan.  

 

The Trail Blazers have yet to comment on their vote. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Blazers, "are eager to resume season, but chose to vote “No” because franchise believed there were more competitive and innovative formats on table -- including those that addressed 2020 NBA Draft lottery odds based on regular-season game results in Orlando."

While Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Portland was in favor of the 20-team return to play, which means that would've eliminated teams from playing the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns.  

Damian Lillard shows off new Dame 6 “Pride” kicks during game

Damian Lillard shows off new Dame 6 “Pride” kicks during game

The NBA restart has allowed players across the league to use their platforms to amplify their messages about social justice with the world watching them in the bubble.

Trail Blazers Damian Lillard does that by showing “How many more” on the back of his jersey, an apparent reference to the epidemic of unarmed Black men being killed by police.

He also shows more support on his custom Dame 6 collection.

Lillard wore the special Pride sneakers for the Portland Trail Blazers’ game Sunday against the Boston Celtics.

As of now, there are at least 23 models available for purchase through Adidas.

Going back to last Sunday, the Dame 6 Pride collection served him well. Lillard put up 30 points and dished out 16 assists in Portland’s four-point loss.

Back in 2017, Lillard was met with hackers that threw gay slurs outside of the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. 

He called the fans “disrespectful” at the time, and now Lillard is showing his support for the LGBT community with these great additions to the Dame 6 collection.

If you would like to purchase yourself a pair, the Pride shoes are available here and at other marketplaces.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Carmelo Anthony shows us all why he “deserves his damn flowers”

Carmelo Anthony shows us all why he “deserves his damn flowers”

Carmelo Anthony has been, for a lack of a better word, 'ballin' since the NBA restart for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Since the NBA restarted, Anthony has been averaging 18 points per game on 55 percent shooting, including 15-for-25 three-point shooting.

Last night against the Houston Rockets, he proved more to everyone why he still has juice left in the tank by hitting a triple with 54.6 seconds left that gave the Blazers a two-possession lead en route to a 110-102 victory with significant playoff implications.

Anthony finished with 15 points on 14 shots and 11 rebounds.

After last night's performance, people who, prior to being with the Blazers, had Anthony finished and never finding a team again after his playoff performance with the Thunder and not fitting well with the Rockets.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

But after last night’s game, Damian Lillard had to remind everyone in the post-game interview that Anthony, if you forgot, is a for sure Hall of Famer.

On First Things Things First, host Nick Wright also had to set the record straight and said Anthony absolutely “deserves his damn flowers” for what he has brought to the game since coming into the NBA.

A lot of people may be too lazy to do their own research to see why Anthony is a Hall of Famer, so I will help you out by throwing some of his many accomplishments:

Carmelo Anthony 

  • 10x All-Star
  • 6x All-NBA
  • NBA Scoring Champion (2013)
  • NCAA Championship (2003
  • Top Olympic scorer in U.S. history
  • USA Basketball’s first four-time men’s Olympian, the first four-time men’s medalist and the first men’s player to win three Olympic gold medals.

It is great to see Anthony finally getting some praise for what he has done now that he is showing how good he is with the Blazers right now.

Anthony will no doubt be in the Hall of Fame, and it's great to see everyone finally giving him his “flowers” he deserves.

 

Hey Max Kellerman, your ‘apology’ to Carmelo Anthony kind of sucks

Hey Max Kellerman, your ‘apology’ to Carmelo Anthony kind of sucks

Dear Max Kellerman,

Your ‘apology’ or rather lack of one to Carmelo Anthony sort of sucks.

Sincerely,

Rip City.

The moment 36-year-old, 17-year and 10x NBA All-Star veteran Carmelo Anthony put on the black and red pinwheel jersey, he has been an important factor in Portland pursuit of a playoff run this season.

And after last night’s performance against the Houston Rockets, hitting a dagger three-pointer that sealed the win against his former team, many took to social media to call out all the Melo haters and doubters and demanding an apology.

One of those people called out was ESPN’s First Take Max Kellerman who had this to say of Melo back on May 1, 2018:

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest former Blazers legend Bill Walton].

On Wednesday, Kellerman was called out for his comments two years ago and if he had a change of heart on Melo. Not exactly…

Absolutely not. I do not owe Carmelo Anthony an apology and people need to stop with this foolishness. I tell the truth as I see it. Carmelo Anthony though he still was a super star when he was no longer, his ego took hits… If you needed a bucket in iso, could he get you a bucket? Yes he could. So I mentioned, he’s like a 15-minute player of someone’s bench…

What I will say is that Carmelo proved my prediction about him wrong. I certainly don’t owe him an apology. — Max Kellerman

What Kellerman doesn’t understand is that the apology needs to come from calling Melo ‘washed’ because that signifies that Melo will never be ‘Melo’ again. His time in the league had run its course and that he should have retired back in 2018. 

However, that could not be farther from the truth. 

Melo has rejuvenated with his opportunity in Portland and Rip City is loving it. 

Former Cleveland Cavaliers forward and NBA Champion Richard Jefferson called out Kellerman on the term ‘washed’ to which Kellerman said:

If I ever said he’s ‘washed’, for that I apologize because he’s not washed. — Max Kellerman

But, you did Max so thanks for the sort-of apology. It was the kind of apology that was along the lines of ‘I’m sorry your feelings are hurt but I’m not sorry I said it.”

Regardless of Kellerman’s comments, ‘Skinny Melo’ and the Blazers (2-1) picked up a huge win in their race for the eight seed in the Western Conference. With just five games to go and 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for that final spot, the Blazers will need more unapologetic Melo.

Zach Collins low-key trolls James Harden in social media post

Zach Collins low-key trolls James Harden in social media post

Zach Collins is a man not to be trifled with. 

While affable off the court, he is towering and imposing on the court. 

And he doesn’t take s*** from anybody. 

Big Z has made his triumphant return to the court after missing much of the season with a shoulder injury in October. 

Now, he’s back in the starting lineup and making a big impact for the Trail Blazers. 

Collins, along with the other Trail Blazers big men, Jusuf Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside, used their size to overpower the Houston Rockets 110-102 Tuesday night in Orlando. 

The Rockets, not starting a player over 6’8”, were no match for the Trail Blazers, who now sit solely in 9th place just 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies. 

After the win, Collins took to social media to commemorate the victory, featuring a photo of James Harden in a heap with a stern-faced Collins leaning against the stanchion. 

View this post on Instagram

Keep moving forward. On to the next🚶🏻‍♂️

A post shared by Zach Collins (@zachcollins_33) on

“Keep moving forward. On to the next,” the caption reads. Of all the photos to choose from... this is the one he chose.

The photo is a low-key troll at James Harden, who often oversells contact and complains constantly. It seems intentional. 

Harden was limited to 23 points Tuesday because of Portland’s defense, frustrating him into foul trouble. 

“U a savage 😂😂,” one commenter wrote.

“Beast😤,” wrote another.

“I fell in love with you last night,” one confessed. 

“I want this photo framed.” 

Yes, frame it! And until then, the Internet wins again. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

Winning formula: How the Trail Blazers controlled James Harden and pace of the game

Winning formula: How the Trail Blazers controlled James Harden and pace of the game

A quick look back at an impressive Portland win in the Orlando Bubble:

The Trail Blazers have struggled on defense for a good part of this season, but in their last three games against the Houston Rockets -- all wins -- there isn’t much evidence of that.

Portland has been able to keep the Rockets, and their superstar scorer James Harden, under control and Tuesday night’s 110-103 win was another example of a defensive game plan working to near perfection.

For the Trail Blazers, stopping Harden has been Job One. Portland has double-teamed him, trapped him and used multiple defenders on him. The result has been that Harden has not had a lot of opportunities to get into his cat-and-mouse, one-on-one show, putting defenders on ice skates with his step backs, rip-throughs and side steps.

Harden is averaging 22.5 shot attempts per game for the season, but in the last three contests vs. Portland he’s managed to get only 12, 18 and 17 shots. He is 15 for 47. He averages 12.5 three-point attempts per game and in these last three vs. the Blazers he’s taken only 6, 8 and 8.

And Portland isn’t fouling him, either. Harden is a magician at getting to the line, but he’s managed just 8, 6 and 7 attempts in those three games, while averaging 11.9 for the season.

Averaging 34.3 points per game this year, Harden has scored 13, 18 and 23 in those last three Portland games.

“It is difficult for him to get a rhythm,” Houston Coach Mike D’Antoni said following Tuesday night’s loss.

But D’Antoni pointed to another thing the Trail Blazers are doing that is affecting the Rockets. Portland is slowing Houston down.

“We didn’t play at our pace,” said the Rockets’ coach. “And if we don’t play at our pace, we just kind of play into them. Then they’re going to beat us up a little bit. And they did that, especially in the first half.

“I think our biggest problem with the whole game, first of all, we didn’t come out with a lot of energy. It was pretty soft at the start. We never pushed, we never really got the big push to move the ball, so we gave them a chance to double him every time.

“OK, you all double us, pass, we’ll get a shot. We got a lot of open shots, but we have to play faster, and we have to go before the double team gets to James… That’s where we made a mistake.”

Harden was also burdened with foul trouble, including a controversial fifth foul that Harden didn’t like. D’Antoni was asked why he didn’t ask for video review of the play and his answer was refreshingly honest.

“It was a foul,” he said. “I looked at it and thought it was a foul. I didn’t want to challenge it at that point.”

Portland went big throughout the game, but the Rockets, who have had great success playing small ball, did not exploit a perceived edge in quickness.

“We just kind of got into their kind of game,” D’Antoni said. “We weren’t running. They were big, a little bit slower than us, and we played just the way they played.

“It was a lack of energy, third game, heavy legs -- i don’t know. We just couldn’t get over the hump.

“Their bigs are good. Nurkic is a load.”

Harden didn’t talk much about the Portland defense.

“You know, I think we had a lot of opportunities we missed,” he said. “Defensively, we played hard. They made shots down the stretch and we didn’t.

“I couldn’t get as aggressive as I wanted. Mainly foul trouble. Like I said, we had a lot of open shots that, if we make those, it’s a different ballgame. Even myself, I had some good shot opportunities late in the fourth quarter that just didn’t go in.”

Gary Trent Jr. isn't shy, and that's just what the Trail Blazers need

Gary Trent Jr. isn't shy, and that's just what the Trail Blazers need

There is an undeniable fearlessness to Gary Trent Jr. 

The Trail Blazers second year guard is confident enough to stroll into an empty arena in Orlando with a flame-adorned, black denim button-up fastened so it purposely exposes his bare navel as well as his high-end fanny pack. And since no outfit is complete without accessories, the script on his Supreme beanie matches the flames along the trim of his shirt. 

This is not an outfit for the meek. It’s more Guy Fieiri meets Paris Fashion Week. The Mayor of Flavortown on the Champs-Élysées.

“Ever since I can remember I've been stylish,” Trent Jr. says, explaining that his grandmother helped instill in him an appreciation for dressing nice at an early age.

His brazen sartorial choices off the court perfectly encapsulates his approach on the court.

Seconds after checking into the game in the first quarter on Tuesday night, Trent Jr. tracked down James Harden at the rim and blocked a would-be layup by the former MVP.

His game is not for the meek, either. Nothing about any of this is timid.

He plays with the confidence that has made him an invaluable part of the Trail Blazers rotation and earned him crunch time minutes during what amounts to an extended postseason run. He’s shown his full game in Orlando. There has been rugged defense and eagerness to try to lock up stars like Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum and James Harden. While constantly pestering and disrupting opponents, helping him rank eighth in the NBA in deflections per game since the restart.

That determined defense has been a perfect complement to a hotter than Central Florida in August shooting stroke. Through three games in Orlando, Trent Jr. is 15-for-25 from beyond the three-point line, tied for the most makes from deep of anyone in the NBA.

On Tuesday against the Rockets, the Blazers grinded out a crucial win to move within 1.5 games of the Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the eighth seed in the West. Trent Jr. finished with 16 points and made 4 of 9 three-pointers in 35 minutes, coming up big with the game on the line. After Houston tied the score with under four minutes to go, Trent Jr. calmly drilled a spot-up three from the left wing to give Portland the lead for good. 

It was the third straight game where Trent Jr. has been on the floor at crunch time as he has grown into an essential contributor after beginning the year as a developmental piece at the end of the rotation. In Portland’s first game it was Trent Jr. who was tasked with slowing down Morant in overtime as the Blazers clawed out an all important win over the Grizzlies. Then against Boston, Trent Jr. shot an absurd 7-for-11 from beyond the arc to help the Blazers stay afloat before their late rally fell short.

The NBA restart has condensed the league down to only its most competitive teams, and the Blazers are in a mad scramble to make the playoffs. This eight game dash isn’t for the meek. Luckily, nothing about Trent Jr. fits that description.

Trail Blazers hilarious post-win recovery begins with A LOT of ice

Trail Blazers hilarious post-win recovery begins with A LOT of ice

How many pounds of ice does it take to cool off the Trail Blazers?

Well, a lot, actually. 

After the Trail Blazers 110-102 win over the Houston Rockets, Trail Blazers Performance Coach Todd Forcier documented the team’s recovery methods. 

The team loaded up an entire golf cart with ice and went back to their hotel. A whopping 520 pounds worth of ice, to be exact. Poolside, the team hopped in the mini pools filled with frigid water. 

WATCH

1am cold tubs do the body good!

Social media was loving it, too!

Bubble life!

The Trail Blazers begin their recovery for Thursday night’s game vs. the Denver Nuggets at 5pm. 

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

   

Carmelo Anthony's 'HOF value' taken advantage of by Blazers (unlike Rockets)

Carmelo Anthony's 'HOF value' taken advantage of by Blazers (unlike Rockets)

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum was eager to show off his pipes Tuesday night, while singing a popular 90s song titled  “Don't take it personal” by Monica

For all the 90s kids out there, they were ready to listen to McCollum and see him dance during his postgame interview.

The song was a reply to a question about whether or not Carmelo Anthony enjoyed hitting a dagger three-pointer against the Rockets Tuesday night just simply because it was the Rockets.

Because it was the one team that signed him and cut him after just 10 games during the 2018-19 season.

It was the one team that didn’t see what the Trail Blazers saw in him and have continued to see in him: His value -- both on and off the court.

Anthony rose up from three with 54.6 seconds remaining before draining the dagger to put the Blazers up five. Portland would eventually hold on and beat the Rockets, 110-102 Tuesday night.

Oooohhh, don’t take it personal. --That’s one of my favorite songs. -- CJ McCollum sang postgame 

But once, McCollum wrapped up singing his response, he added, “I thought [Melo] did great. Dame [Lillard] did a good job of penetrating, making the defense collapse, kicking it out to me, it was deflected, I caught it, I heard [Gary Trent Jr.] saying one more to my right, and then I heard the Legend saying one more to my left, so I passed it to the Legend and he knocked it down... I’m glad he made it... And, insult to injury, it being against the Rockets the team that got rid of him, I think it was that much sweeter... that much more enjoyable for him."  

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

   

Anthony finished with a double-double against the Rockets, his former team, Tuesday night, recording 15 points and 11 rebounds.  

Melo explained what he enjoyed most about the game down the stretch saying, “the three-pointer that I made was a big shot, but the plays on the defensive end – one steal, diving on the floor, the corner block on [PJ] Tucker, and then how we was just able to kind of lock in on the defensive end down the stretch when we needed to make plays and needed to get stops we did that.”

So, did Melo take it personal, though?

“No, the meaning it carried a little bit from the simple fact that we knew how important this game was to us and we approached this game as a must win just as we did in the previous two games… But tonight we all stepped up to the challenge.”

The Trail Blazers now continue their quest for the play-in games out West.

The goal of the NBA restart as stated by team captain Damian Lillard over and over again: is to make the playoffs.

Portland sits in the ninth seed in the Western Conference standings with their 2-1 record through three seeding games. San Antonio and New Orleans are knocking at the door, though.

But having Carmelo Anthony cannot be overstated.

He is Hall of Fame valuable… He’s easily first ballot, a guy who does a lot of everything. He still has a lot left in the tank and tonight he rebounded, he was closing out guys on the perimeter. Obviously he hit a big shot down the stretch, but his presence, his ability to manipulate a game and his communication from a friendship standpoint – he’s been really great for our entire team.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

The value of a Hall of Famer is and will continue to be key for the Trail Blazers, and just as Lillard put it, Melo is "all about the team."

When we got [Melo] everybody had something to say about him – what he gonna do defensively, he’s getting older, he’s done, where’s he gonna fit in? – everybody just had something to say – why it didn’t work out with these other teams. And then he came to us and he was just laid back, a good teammate, good for our younger players. When we on the floor he’s talking whether he’s having a good or bad game – just all about the team.  -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

After a second straight slow start for Lillard, he and the Blazers came on strong to end the game versus Houston. The five-time All-Star finished with 21 points to lead the Blazers.

But, Lillard knows that it’s Melo’s leadership that has been key, especially in crunch time.  

“He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Lillard said. “Or depending on how the game is going, he just knows where to put himself in a place to help the team.”

Lillard added, “I find it real funny, and disrespectful on how people speak on him, he’s a Hall of Famer.”

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting in Tuesday’s loss, also had plenty to say about his former teammate.

“Melo is a Hall of Famer, man,” Westbrook said. “He’s an unbelievable teammate. It’s always good to see him do well, play well. He belongs in this league. He’s shown that time in and time out.”

Yes, Melo has shown he still belongs in this league, there's no doubt about that.

And soon we'll find out if he and the Blazers still belong in the bubble once the postseason tips off.

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

We are now accepting “Carmelo Anthony Apology” forms on behalf of the 12x All-Star from everyone who believed that Melo was ‘washed’ and that his time in the league had run its course.  

The 36-year-old veteran has proven the haters wrong.

ESPN First Take’s Max Kellerman had some choice words about the future Hall of Fame back on May 1, 2018:

‘Washed’ let’s face it… But Carmelo Anthony as has been pointed out by Paul Pierce on our air. Can’t really get his own shot anymore. If he is reduced to a catch-and-shoot guy, he’s not an incredible shooter. He can hit an outside shot of course, but he doesn’t do it at an incredible clip. He doesn’t play defense. So what else does he do? — Max Kellerman

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers legend Bill Walton].

Well Max, let’s roll the clips and start with what he did on Tuesday night against his former team, the Houston Rockets.

This was the same reason that Houston let Melo go after just 10 games with the Rockets in 2018:

The 18-year, future Hall of Famer has been nothing short of clutch for Portland during this NBA restart, hitting huge shots with not a lot of time left on the game clock. He rises to these big moments. 

After the game, his point guard Damian Lillard spoke out:

He’s a Hall of Famer. I think it’s more disappointing that people are surprised by it. He’s a Hall of Famer like I said, he’s a great teammate, and that’s what we expect from him. We put him in those positions because we expect him to make those shots. We believe he’s going to make those shots, and we brought him here because we knew he would make a difference for our team and he’s been doing that. — Damian Lillard on Melo

Here’s what ‘Skinny Melo’ has been doing in the restart:

- Game 1 vs. Memphis: 21 points, 7 rebounds, two steals.

- Game 2 vs. Boston: 13 points, 3 rebounds, two assists, one block.

- Game 3 vs. Houston: 15 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one assist.

Second-year player Gary Trent Jr. has quite literally turned up the heat for Portland this season. He has proven to be a solid backup at the three spot behind Melo and the two have formed a nice relationship on and off the court.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony has taken a confident Gary Trent Jr. under his wing

GTJ also thinks Melo deserves an apology.

Everybody that's said something negative about him-- they need to apologize. That's Carmelo Anthony... for him to come back and bounce back like its nothing-- that's why he's Carmelo Anthony. It's a blessing to have him on our team. -- Gary Trent, Jr. 

Thank you to all the other teams who also thought Melo was ‘washed’ because Rip City sure loves Melo in a pinwheel jersey.

The Blazers will face the Denver Nuggets at 3 PM (PT) on Thursday Night and you can catch the game at NBC Sports Northwest or stream it on the MyTeams app!