Trail Blazers' Summer League primer

Trail Blazers' Summer League primer

LAS VEGAS – Before the Trail Blazers begin Summer League play on Saturday here’s a quick primer on some subplots and storylines heading into the first game:

Biggest stakes:  Nobody has more riding on this Summer League than third-year guard Pat Connaughton, who needs a solid outing to have his contract picked up by the team. The Blazers have until July 25 – or a little more than a week after Summer League ends – to decide whether to guarantee Connaughton’s $1.47 million contract for next season.

Connaughton will start at shooting guard and head coach Terry Stotts on Friday said he will be one of the players to push the ball upcourt and initiate offense. Connaughton said one of his goals is to show he is more than a catch-and-shoot player, a trait that he feels he showed last season when he had 19-points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds in the regular season finale.

The team hopes he has a Summer League breakthrough similar to that of Allen Crabbe in 2015, and certainly part of that breakthrough will be shooting the ball better than he did last year in Las Vegas, when he made 34 percent of his shots from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Right now, Connaughton is holding down the 15th and final roster spot, but if he is less-than impressive, it’s conceivable the Blazers will explore using their tax-payer mid-level exception ($5.192 million) for the final roster spot.

The Main Attraction: Most eyes will be on first-round picks Zach Collins (No. 10 overall) and Caleb Swanigan (No. 26 overall) to see how they fare against bigger and better competition.

Collins, the 7-footer from Gonzaga, is being likened to the next Kevin McHale, while Swanigan – a 6-foot-9, 250-pound bruiser – is reminding some people of Zach Randolph.

The book on Collins is that he is tough, competitive and very skilled. He might be a little slight in build, but he is only 19 and figures to fill out. And I can tell you this: the kid has a confident air about him that he belongs.

First impressions of Swanigan: the Blazers veterans are going to love him. He’s all about hard work, and letting his actions do his talking. I think he is going to be relentless in pursuit of rebounds, and I’m interested in seeing how he defends.

Who is starting? The only question mark is who will start at point guard, but the bet here is it will be RJ Hunter, the former first-round pick of the Boston Celtics.

Hunter is more of a two guard, but the Blazers like his basketball intelligence and ball handling. The other starters are locked in stone: Connaughton at shooting guard, Jake Layman at small forward, Caleb Swanigan at power forward and Zach Collins at center.

How can you watch?  If you are unable to make it to Las Vegas, you can still watch the games on television. CSN will broadcast Saturday’s 3 p.m. opener with Utah and Sunday’s 5:30 p.m. game against Boston. Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd will call the games from Portland.

Tuesday’s 1 p.m. game against San Antonio will be on ESPNU.

Keep an eye out for … : Jake Layman playing some power forward, or “Stretch 4.” Layman in his rookie season played exclusively at small forward, but Connaughton this week revealed that the team has been experimenting with Layman as a Stretch.

With the Blazers’ abandoning their experiment with Meyers Leonard as a four, there is some opportunity for the 6-foot-9 Layman to carve out a niche if he is able to guard opposing power forwards.

NBA experience on Blazers’ roster:  Aside from the Blazers’ holdovers on the roster, the Blazers have brought in five players who have NBA experience.

Jordan Adams, a 6-5 guard, played 32 games with Memphis over two seasons, and guard Markel Brown (6-3) played in 109 games, including 35 starts, in two seasons with Brooklyn.

Jorge Gutierrez, a 6-3 guard, played 47 games over four seasons with Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Charlotte and Nick Johnson, a 6-3 guard, played 28 games with Houston three seasons ago.

The biggest name, however, might be RJ Hunter, the 2015 first-round pick (28th overall) of the Boston Celtics. Hunter, who  is a 6-5 guard who played in 39 games over two season with Boston and Chicago. He famously hit a three-pointer in the NCAA Tournament to help Georgia State upset Baylor.

Who is the coach? Assistant Jim Moran will serve as acting head coach, which he says is the first time he has ever served in that role. He joked that his biggest worry – of which he warned Pat Connaughton – is being left hanging if he offers a high-five to a player.

Odds and Ends: The most points by a Blazers player in Summer League is Jerryd Bayless, who had 36 against Phoenix in 2008. The most rebounds is 18 by Thomas Robinson in 2013 and the most assists is 10 by Sebastian Telfair (2005) and Kevin Pinkney (2006).

And Remember … : Good or bad, don’t put too much stock into what happens in Summer League. I can remember watching Nicolas Batum as a rookie have trouble bringing the ball upcourt and wondering if he would ever make it. By the first week of the regular season he was a starter.

Also, Summer League is often dominated by guards, simply because it’s generally an up-and-down pace where the guards control the ball.

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?

usatsi_10594924_1.jpg
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

usatsi_10342692_1.jpg
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

usatsi_10682543.jpg
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

nurk.jpg
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!

So you wanna see a Damian Lillard workout video? You won't believe these insane drills!

screen_shot_2018-09-15_at_2.21.50_pm.png
Damian Lillard Twitter

So you wanna see a Damian Lillard workout video? You won't believe these insane drills!

Last week Damian made a point to a Twitter follower that just because his workouts didn't require camera crews and posting on social media that it didn't mean they weren't happening. 

Today, we finally get a look into the insane training Damian has been going through! AMAZING! 

Hopefully this puts all the haters (ie: Rockets fans) to rest as clearly Dame is working his butt off right now.

Trail Blazers & NBCS Northwest to present more coverage than ever for '18-19 season

jamiedwight_pressrelease.png
NBCS NW

Trail Blazers & NBCS Northwest to present more coverage than ever for '18-19 season

- Programming Includes Fan Focused Blazers Outsiders Show, Pregame, Halftime, and Postgame Shows, Trail Blazers Raw Recap Show, Trail Blazers Courtside & More
- Blazers Outsiders Expands with Pre- and Postgame Shows every game night
- Comprehensive Digital Coverage on Blazers.com & NBCSportsNorthwest.com led by Dwight Jaynes and Jamie Hudson 

PORTLAND, OR (September 13, 2018) – The Portland Trail Blazers and NBC Sports Northwest (NBCSNW) will present more comprehensive around-the-clock coverage of the Trail Blazers throughout the 2018-19 season than ever before, including at least five and a half hours of coverage on game days. NBCSNW and the Trail Blazers’ multi-platform coverage of the team will include a fan-focused Blazers Outsiders program, Toyota Pregame Show, McDonald’s Halftime Show and Postgame Show, a Trail Blazers Raw recap show, Trail Blazers Courtside, and expanded digital and social media content.

Every game day, NBCSNW and the Trail Blazers’ broadcast coverage will be complemented by written articles and videos on NBCSportsNorthwest.com throughout the day. In addition, NBC Sports Northwest will deliver more extensive linear and digital coverage on off-days.

“This season, we are putting a significant focus on connecting with Blazers fans not only on game days, but around-the-clock, so fans never miss a moment,” said Len Mead, GM, NBC Sports Northwest. “NBC Sports Northwest has a terrific partnership with the team to make compelling TV, Radio and Digital content all season. Our Trail Blazers Outsiders speak the language of authentic fans, and our investment in a larger and stronger digital team will give the fans the content they want on every device.”

“NBC Sports Northwest continues to be an important way to engage Trail Blazers fans across Oregon and Washington, and we’re looking forward to another exciting season,” said Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan. “This multi-platform approach to programming; and the depth of on-air talent are what really drive the comprehensive content our fans have come to expect from the Trail Blazers and NBC Sports Northwest.”

NBC Sports Northwest will broadcast at least 79 live games during the 2018-19 Trail Blazers season, including three preseason and 76 regular-season games. The preseason tips off Saturday, September 29, when the Blazers take on the Toronto Raptors. The network’s coverage of the regular season will include Blazers Outsiders ahead of the season opener against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, October 18, with game coverage on NBCSNW beginning on Saturday, October 20, when the Blazers host the Spurs.

BLAZERS OUTSIDERS
After a successful debut last season, Blazers Outsiders returns with a new pre- and post-game schedule. Hosts and Blazers die-hards Joe Simons, Shain Brenden, and Danny Marang will discuss the team from the fan’s perspective, including the top on-court action and standout storylines, while also spotlighting other Blazers super fans. The show is a celebration of all things Blazers, and fans are encouraged to watch and talk about the game with the hosts.

Blazers Outsiders Pregame, a half-hour show, tips-off on NBC Sports Northwest one hour before the game, and Blazers Outsiders Postgame, a one-hour show, airs approximately 30-minutes after the final horn. The shows will air before and after every Blazer game (including those televised nationally). Blazers Outsiders will also return to non-game weeknights at 7:00 P.M. on NBC Sports Northwest and NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 with additional guests.  Fans can participate and contribute to each show on Twitter and via Facebook, where the show will be simulcast live.

Anchoring Trail Blazers broadcasts on NBCSNW for their third season together will be the trio of veteran play-by-play voice Kevin Calabro, analyst Lamar Hurd and courtside reporter Brooke Olzendam.  Wraparound programming for Trail Blazers television will again feature host Jordan Kent along with former Trail Blazers player Michael Holton.  Kent will helm the Toyota Pregame Show, McDonald’s Halftime Show and the Postgame Show alongside Holton.

TRAIL BLAZERS RAW
Trail Blazers Raw allows fans to experience the highs and lows of each game in a condensed 30-minute game recap show. It includes a fast-paced recap, added analysis of the game’s key moments, and interviews with players and coaches from the locker room. Trail Blazers Raw airs every Trail Blazers game night after Blazers Outsiders Postgame, with an encore presentation at 11:30 P.M. 

TRAIL BLAZERS COURTSIDE
Airing Monday nights throughout the season, Trail Blazers Courtside is the team’s weekly radio, TV and internet show.  Hosted by Jordan Kent alongside former Trail Blazers player Michael Holton, Trail Blazers Courtside tracks the stories behind the headlines, showcasing game highlights, statistics, player performances, coaches’ views and insightful analysis.

COMPREHENSIVE DIGITAL COVERAGE
Fans can enjoy more Trail Blazers content than ever before on NBCSportsNorthwest.com with NBC Sports Northwest’s new Blazers digital team. Dwight Jaynes, the Godfather of Oregon Sports, takes the reigns as NBCSNW’s Trail Blazers Insider, attending home and road games and providing in-depth analysis. In addition, Jamie Hudson is elevated to a newly-created role as Trail Blazers Reporter, posting daily videos and written content. Taking on newly-created roles are analyst Dane Delgado, a Northwest native and veteran of NBCSports.com’s ProBasketballTalk, and reporter Mike Richman, a former Blazers reporter for the Oregonian. 

In addition, NBC Sports Gold’s “Blazers Pass,” NBC Sports Northwest’s direct-to-consumer streaming product, returns this year. The product allows fans residing in Blazers territory to purchase a package of 15 games during the 2018-19 NBA season. Fans can visit http://www.nbcsports.com/blazerspass to learn more.

RADIO
NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio AM-620 will again be the flagship radio carrier for all Trail Blazers game action throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington along the Trail Blazers Radio Network.  Coverage of the latest news about the Trail Blazers throughout the season also has a home with its weekday lineup of Rip City Mornings with Dan & Nigel (6-9 a.m. PT), The Brian Noe Show (12-3 p.m. PT) and Rip City Drive with Travis & Chad (3-6 p.m. PT). 

A sample game day television schedule is as follows:
6:00 P.M.: Blazers Outsiders Pregame
6:30 P.M.: Toyota Pregame Show
7:00 P.M.: Live game
9:30 P.M.: Postgame Show
10:00 P.M.: Blazers Outsiders Postgame
11:30 P.M.: Trail Blazers Raw

If you mess with Dame, you're bound to get burned

usatsi_10398082.jpg
usa today

If you mess with Dame, you're bound to get burned

Life lesson #39898734134: If you mess with Damian Lillard, you're bound to get burned 

This is a lesson Twitter user HardenMVPSZN learned the tough way. Let's set the stage.

Damian Lillard posted a boxing video to his Instagram account, which Pinwheel Empire posted to its Twitter feed.

This prompted this Rockets Stan to call out Lillard for spending too much time this offseason on everything but basketball. 

Of course, Pinwheel Empire defended Dame with facts (what are those?) but HardenMVPSZN still wasn't having it.

Like Batman responding to the Bat Signal, Lillard showed up and slammed the door on this guy.

Flex on 'em, Dame!

We can only assume that this Rocket's fan is still a little upset with Lillard about that whole ".9" thing. 

Oh, and for the record, there is plenty of evidence that Lillard has been working on his game this summer.

Lillard 1 - Rockets Fan 0