Why Nassir Little's injury was a significant missed opportunity

Why Nassir Little's injury was a significant missed opportunity

The Trail Blazers' second game of the preseason was supposed to be an opportunity for young players and the back half of the roster to play extended minutes.

Instead it turned into just a brief cameo for rookie Nassir Little.

With Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside getting the night off, Terry Stotts had hoped to give the rookie forward at least 20 minutes against visiting Maccabi Haifa. But Little’s night lasted just three minutes after he sprained his left ankle early in his first shift and had to leave the game for good during the second quarter.

Little got into the paint and rose up for a layup drawing a foul as he landed awkwardly on his left leg. He stayed in the game to attempt both free throws, but the Blazers committed an intentional foul to get their first round pick out of the game. Little walked straight back to the locker room and didn’t return.

Afterwards he didn’t sound concerned, calling his ankle “a little sore but nothing major.”

“It’s been doing good, it was just a minor tweak,” he added.

It was a lost opportunity for Little who had solid showing at the end of the Blazers first preseason game against Denver on Tuesday. He didn’t get an x-ray after Thursday's game, saying team doctors deemed in unnecessary, but he admitted that it was unlikely he will be cleared to play by Saturday night when the Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns (5pm on NBC Sports Northwest).

Thanks to the early injury, Little remains largely an unknown in the very early stages of his rookie season. Blazers fans got a chance to see him in summer league, but he’s played just 16 total minutes in preseason after spending September sharpening his game at the Blazers practice facility.

“Training camp was really good,” he said. “Just learned a lot, trying to get better each and every day. So, I thought it was pretty productive for me.”

Behind the scenes, the Blazers have been impressed with Little’s work ethic and his athleticism as a 19 year old going up against pros. But he isn’t likely to get much playing time during the regular season, which makes his absence from exhibitions games even more unfortunate.

The two weeks of the preseason were going to be a chance for him to get valuable on-court experience in a competitive setting against real opponents. With the minor injury, he’ll have to wait a few days before getting back out on the court. But a timeline of a couple days isn't bothering Little, who offered a much wider view before making his way out of the locker room.

“I’ll have a long career, I’m confident in that,” Little said with a smile. “So there will definitely be more games down the road.”


Listen here for a special Trail Blazers edition of The Bridge Podcast with Kevin Calabro:

How do Trail Blazers handle a six-game road trip? -- Certain tips and tricks

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How do Trail Blazers handle a six-game road trip? -- Certain tips and tricks

SAN ANTONIO – Being a leader on and off the court, Damian Lillard makes sure to get his mind right before every game, especially on a grueling six-game trip.  

The Blazers tip-off their 11-day trip in San Antonio on Saturday night.

As Portland embarks on their first of two six-game trips this season, Lillard offered up his tips and tricks of handling a long road trip.

“I’m a big mental person,” Lillard said after Friday’s practice. “Just like what your mentality is, as in how you feed it, and usually on these type of trips I come in and I try not to think about it being a long trip and what teams we play and all of that stuff. I just come into it with like – I’m going to get some rest tonight, come out tomorrow and I’m going to have my mind sharp, have myself convinced that this is what I’m going to come into the game and do – I’m going to come in, I’m going to be aggressive, I’m going to come in and give the effort defensively.”

After Saturday’s game, the Blazers will visit Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and wrap things up next Tuesday in Chicago.

Portland is currently 3-4 on the road heading into Saturday’s contest.

Since the Trail Blazer All-Star point guard has been in the league, he has made sure to take the advice of not letting his mind wander.

“When we get to the next one, it’s like, alright, the first game is behind us. Let’s do the same thing over again. And, I always have been able to literally separate a six-game trip into one game every time, and it helps you not wear down when you don’t think about it all as one. It helps you mentally and physically stay sharp and strong,” Lillard said.

Rodney Hood mentioned how “a lot more team dinners together” will also be key in how the team is able to manage a long trip. 

For Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, he finds peace of mind in his daily walks.  

“When you’re old like me, walking is your exercise. San Antonio is a good walking city. In every NBA city I kind of have a path that I get my five-mile walk in,” Stotts said.

Coach Stotts also mentioned that life on the road means everyone needs to be better with managing their time.

Oh and what he brings with him in his suitcase is also a concern.

“Packing is the main issue,” Stotts said with a smile. “Making sure I’ve got three suits, six shirts, six ties, but as far as preparation -- it’s the NBA schedule you just get ready for the next game, some nights we’ll spend the night [after a game], some nights we won’t. A lot of it is just time management.”  

Now with the Blazers and Spurs slated to tip-off at 5:30p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App (and on Blazers Pass), the Blazers are looking to even up the season series at one apiece.

What sticks with Lillard the most when thinking about the last time these two met nearly three weeks ago?

“Having a 19-point lead and blowing it,” Lillard said.

“I think we got off to a great start, defended, the ball was moving, and obviously it’s a game of runs. Teams, especially on their home floor are going to have moments, they’re going to find it and have stretched in games… But to go from up 19 to down 19… We blew it, that’s what comes to mind,“ Lillard said.

Coach Stotts gave more insight to their matchup against the Spurs during his pregame interview.

He also mentioned that Carmelo Anthony is in New York right now. Melo will get his physical there, and Stotts hopes to have him join the team in New Orleans on Tuesday.


Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: Should Carmelo Anthony start for Portland?

Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: Should Carmelo Anthony start for Portland?

Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen!

Former Trail Blazer and NBA Champ Channing Frye has some opinions about Carmelo Anthony reportedly set to join the Blazers.  

The Talkin’ Blazers Podcast duo of Frye and Dan Sheldon discussed freeing Melo and so much more on this week’s podcast.

Frye shared his thoughts on the Trail Blazers starting lineup and how the rotations should work once Anthony suits up for Portland:

 "I would start Nassir Little. Because I don't want Carmelo out there in the first unit because there's not enough shots for him to be productive... He's a stand still shooter... And defensively, he's not guarding four men in this league anymore. His biggest threat is his offensive firepower."

Not only could the second unit use Anthony’s shot making ability, but Blazers head coach Terry Stotts expressed after Little made his debut on Wednesday night vs. the Raptors that he “felt like it was worth taking a look at” Little in the starting lineup. And Stotts believes "it is easier for a young guy to be out there with the starters and blend in."

Melo doesn’t need to blend in. In fact, he’d probably prefer leading the second unit and feeling like he has the ultimate green light to get more shots up because the Blazer bench has struggled to be productive on the offensive end thus far this season.

You can listen to the full podcast below:

How to watch, stream Portland at San Antonio tonight at 5:30pm

How to watch, stream Portland at San Antonio tonight at 5:30pm

SAN ANTONIO -- Things just got very interesting.

Now that the Portland Trail Blazers (4-8) are set to sign power forward Carmelo Anthony, fans should get their first glimpse at Melo in a Blazer jersey at some point during this grueling 6-game road trip. According to the latest report, Anthony will not be available to play until the Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

The Spurs (5-6) are looking to take a 2-0 series lead over the Blazers after beating Portland 113-110 back on October 28th.

Of course, Rip City has been reacting to the Anthony signing on social media. For the most part, fans are excited to see what the 35-year-old still has left in the tank once he finally suits up. 

You can watch the Blazers-Spurs game on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass? You can watch tonight's game via Blazers Pass if you don't get NBC Sports Northwest!

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

2:00pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

4:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

5:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

5:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Spurs

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 


“But let’s keep it real about the Trail Blazers right now: the loss of Zach Collins has left a gaping hole at the power forward spot. And at the same time, Portland is struggling to score. Frankly, there is little chance before the return of Jusuf Nurkic that this team is going to somehow figure out a way to consistently hold a team to fewer points than it is scoring. So why not try Carmelo Anthony? Why not try to put enough points on the board that the defense doesn't have to be so tight?

Half the league is playing that way in this era.” – Dwight Jaynes on why Melo to Portland is a good idea

Trail Blazers "are all for it" when it comes to Carmelo Anthony to Portland

Trail Blazers "are all for it" when it comes to Carmelo Anthony to Portland

SAN ANTONIO – It’s hoodie season in Portland.

Hoodie Melo season, to be exact.

But as the Trail Blazers embark on a six-game road trip starting with San Antonio on Saturday, Anthony is not with the team.  

The 16-year-veteran is reportedly not expected to be available until Tuesday night in New Orleans

After the Blazers wrapped up practice at the Spurs practice facility Friday night, players gave their initial thoughts and showed their excitement about bringing in a future Hall of Famer. 

“I’m all for it,” Damian Lillard said. “We’ve had a lot of guys hurt. I think he can do something to help us with his size, his ability to space the floor, his ability to shoot, another option to throw somebody the ball that can score in isolation situations, good rebounder, and just the experience. He’s a good player, regardless of what the last few years, you know, in Houston and OKC looked like. I didn’t think either one was a great fit.”

Through 10 games last season, Anthony averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 apg with the Rockets.

“I think he can do things to help our team… So, hopefully, it can bring some excitement and help us getting going in the right direction,” Lillard said.

Both Lillard and CJ McCollum spoke with Anthony on Thursday night.

“He seemed excited,” Lillard said. “Obviously, with the situation he has been in, being in and out of the league, and not going out the way he wanted to go out, and the fact that he can still play, I think he was just excited for whatever opportunity presented itself.”

“He’s coming here to help our team,” Lillard added.

Smiling as he said “Free Melo,” which seemed to be very fitting coming from McCollum.

McCollum and Lillard had publicly tried to recruit Anthony numerous times over the years.

Now the stars have aligned for Melo and the Blazers.

“It took some time, but glad it finally worked out,” McCollum said.

“I’m excited. I’m happy for him,” McCollum continued. “I know how hard he worked to get back to the league, and it’s a shame it took this long for him to get back, but I’m looking forward to it… Most importantly, he can help improve our team.”

The 10-time All-Star hasn’t suited up in more than a year.

Thus, there are question marks surrounding how much Anthony has left in the tank and what kind of shape he is in at the moment.

To those questions, Lillard offers this message:

“A professional and future Hall of Fame guy like him, who I think it’s been obvious that he planned on still being in the NBA, you know he wasn’t at home on the couch waiting for a job. You know he was preparing himself so when an opportunity came, he could come in and show it. I’m expecting for him to come in ready.”   

Rodney Hood, who said his back is continuing to feel better after dealing with back spasms all week, also had plenty to say about his eventual new teammate.

“I think it’s a great pick up for us. I think it can really help from many different angles, from an experience standpoint, from a scoring standpoint. I know he’s excited to get another chance and we’re excited to have him,” Hood said.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Trail Blazers will pay just under $15,000 per day that Anthony is with the team. The contract will only become fully guaranteed if he makes it past January 7th.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wouldn’t comment on the Anthony news because nothing has become official yet.

But for McCollum, he’s ready to get Melo in the mix and start moving forward.

“We made the playoffs six straight years,” McCollum said. “That’s what we’re playing for. We’re playing to get back into that race. Obviously, it's early in the season, but we’ve struggled and now we’re trying to turn the page and kind of move forward.”

Talkin' Blazers Podcast: Is Carmelo Anthony the difference-maker for Portland?

Talkin' Blazers Podcast: Is Carmelo Anthony the difference-maker for Portland?

It's Frye Day which means the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast is here!

Big week for the Portland Trail Blazers (4-8) as the organization plans to sign former All-Star Carmelo Anthony.

NBA Champion Channing Frye and his Emmy Award-winning co-host Dan Sheldon discuss the Trail Blazers' signing of Anthony and what to expect when he takes the court. Plus, find out if Channing and Dan think Anfernee Simons a legit contender for "most improved player" and the best NBA cities for entertainment options.

Listen to the full podcast below:


HeadStrong: How Channing Frye emerged from the fog

Michael Rapaport: It's criminal that CJ hasn't been an All-Star yet

Dribble, dribble, dribble: What Shaq & Barkley think about Melo to Portland

REPORT: Carmelo Anthony not expected to play on Saturday

REPORT: Carmelo Anthony not expected to play on Saturday

It looks like Carmelo Anthony won't be facing his former team in Houston on Monday.

According to the latest report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Anthony will not be available to play until the Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

The Trail Blazers have yet to officially announce the signing of Anthony after Wojnarowski reported late Thursday night Portland was set to sign the 35-year-old.

Anthony last played for the Houston Rockets and averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 apg in 10 games in '18-'19.

Portland embarks on its six-game road trip starting with San Antonio on Saturday, followed by Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and wrapping up next Tuesday in Chicago.

Tom Haberstroh thinks the Blazers need work on screens, Channing Frye isn't sure Whiteside is the right guy


Tom Haberstroh thinks the Blazers need work on screens, Channing Frye isn't sure Whiteside is the right guy

In his latest podcast, Tom Haberstroh says the Trail Blazers need work on setting on-ball screens in their offense and asks special guest, and Talkin' Blazers podcast host, Channing Frye to walk him through setting a good screen as a big man.

Here is Frye's response, which turns the conversation to Hassan Whiteside's roll on the offensive end:

"I think it's all about angles. For me, I was more of a pick and pop guy but when I did roll you have to make the defender on the guard go over the top of that screen to create space. Me personally, I just think Whiteside…I think he can give you a double-double every game, in that being said, I don’t think he impacts the game as much as he should if he had more of a motor… I just don’t know if those double-doubles equate to wins..."

Frye continues his thoughts on Whiteside and asks some important questions about his effort and productivity:

Is he going to have energy on defense? Or is he just going to be big?... Does he set a screen or is he just rolling a little bit? Is he rolling hard to get the ball even though he knows he’s not going to get it? Is he creating opportunities for his teammates? Or is he just doing it because that’s the play?

Trail Blazer fans cannot overlook the importance of Whiteside's play this season, especially with the recent loss of Zach Collins. Whiteside was clearly brought in to buy time until Jusuf Nurkic returns at some to be determined point in 2020. In the interim, Whiteside needs to contribute at both ends and needs to be a threat offensively (via ball screens or otherwise) as teams try to take Damian Lillard out of the offense, much like Toronto did on Wednseday night. 

You can listen to the entire Habershow Podcast below where they talk about a variety of topics including load management, Frye's NBA career, the best shooters he played with, the Blazers pick and roll and more:


Headstrong: How Channing Frye emerged from the fog

Headstrong: How Channing Frye emerged from the fog

The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.

Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject. Former NBA star, and former Portland Trail Blazer Channing Frye, was one such athlete that participated in the nationwide project.

Sometimes I’d go sit outside on the porch, play some sad music, kill two bottles of wine, and just cry for hours

- Channing Frye

Channing Frye is a mountain of a man. At seven feet tall and 255lbs, he hardly blends in. That size, coupled with his skills on the court, earned him a long career in the NBA. Fans tend to look at athletes as super-human, but that just isn’t the reality. While Frye was shining in the bright lights on the NBA's biggest stage, he was in a dark space on the inside. As he put it, he was in a fog, a space where nothing made him happy:

When you’re in the league, or you’re a professional player, you really feel immune to a lot of things. But for me at that time, I felt like I just had a weight on my chest. I felt like there was no reason to smile. No reason to get up in the morning.

Frye was dealt a blow at the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season that left him reeling. The Indians were hosting the Cubs in the World Series when Frye got a call that his mom's health was taking a turn for the worse. He immediately flew to California to be with her, and she passed away shortly thereafter. A few weeks later, Frye got the news that his father had also passed away.

After my mom passed, that was like a swift kick to the nuts. Then, like getting elbow dropped by Macho Man Randy Savage, was when my dad died on Thanksgiving.

This series of events left Frye in that fog he talked about. He struggled to get out to bed, struggled to find motivation, and struggled to smile. But Frye eventually reached a place where he realized he couldn’t continue his downward spiral and needed help to get his mind back on track.

It took a lot for me, not only to have some self-awareness to say you need to get help to stop going in the circle, but to be like, hey, you can’t do this alone.

Frye opened up about his battle with depression and mental health in an article with The Players' Tribune. Mental health never used to be a thing athletes talked about. It was something they bottled up inside, afraid of the stigma associated with going public. But times have changed, and more and more athletes are coming forward because they know they can’t fight the battle alone.

You can hear more from Channing Frye in the video above.

Michael Rapaport: It’s criminal that CJ hasn’t been an All-Star yet

Michael Rapaport: It’s criminal that CJ hasn’t been an All-Star yet

While here in Portland for a comedy show at Helium Comedy Club, Michael Rapaport took some time to take in a Portland Trail Blazers game on Wednesday night vs. the Toronto Raptors. 

The actor, comedian, director and author relived his first Trail Blazers game on Thursday during an interview on the Brian Noe Show.

When asked about his game experience at the Moda Center, Rapaport replied:

“It was dope. I know they’ve [Blazers] have been off to a slow start but it was cool. The fans are into the game and Dame and CJ are obviously the staples of the Trail Blazers and they’re exciting to watch. It was a little more low key than I’ve seen on TV for playoff games but nonetheless it was packed and it was a good game.”

Rapaport is a hoops guy. He loves the NBA and didn't stray away from the fact that CJ McCollum deserves more praise than he is getting from All-Star voters.

“The thing I’m so interested by is how CJ and Dame play off the ball. They can both control the ball but how they cut, move and come off screens and give-and-take with each other, that’s what I really like about them. It’s criminal that CJ hasn’t been an All-Star yet. It’s ridiculous, especially with the last two or three seasons.”

Rapaport will be performing at the Helium Comedy club with two shows on Friday and two shows on Saturday.