Best of Quotes: Former Trail Blazers Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe talk after loss in Brooklyn

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Best of Quotes: Former Trail Blazers Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe talk after loss in Brooklyn

The start of the Trail Blazers road trip in Brooklyn brought some familiar faces to the court. Former Trail Blazers Ed Davis, Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier all now play for the Nets. 

Crabbe logged the most minutes of the trio, who all came off the bench. AC finished with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go along with his four rebounds. Davis racked up a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Napier added seven points and ten assists. 

It was quite the night for the trio despite the loss to Portland. Here is what the former Trail Blazers had to say after the game...

Top quotes of the night from Ed Davis:

On what he sees different in playing against former teammate Jake Layman:

“Nothing – he’s just getting the opportunity. Everyone over there knows he can play. He’s an aggressive scorer, so for him it’s the opportunity to get more consistent minutes.”

On moving forward this season with an emphasis on rebounding:

“It’s huge. You know, they definitely killed us on the boards tonight. (Enes) Kanter and (Rodney) Hood and the rest of the guys. To win games you definitely need to get stops and get defensive rebounds. Those are key points.”

Davis finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Blazers on Thursday night.

Top quotes of the night from Allen Crabbe:

On where the Blazers hurt the Nets most tonight:

“Offensive rebounds. They got a lot of second chance points, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. It's hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they get that many looks, second chances aside, you've got to them credit. They outworked us tonight."

On if it feels like he’s hot right now from three:

“I’m just playing basketball confident. Teammates find me within the flow of the offense and like I said, when I went out before I got injured, I felt like I was finding my rhythm, and I told myself to just come back with the same mindset – just stay aggressive out there and good things will happen.”

Crabbe has played just in just 32 games all season after missing nearly two months with the knee injury. In his last 10 games he is averaging 15 points.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Nets

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Nets

BROOKLYN -- It was a game that was going to set the tone for the Portland Trail Blazers seven-game road trip, according to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and after shaking off the rust; Portland was able to take advantage of the young Nets team.

Both Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter powered their way past Brooklyn to help the Blazers get a win to start the trip.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 113, Nets 99

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers win over the Nets:

 

1. Kanter imposing his will

Enes Kanter checked in as a Trail Blazer for the first time at the 3:14 mark of the first quarter. He quickly showed Blazers fans what he will bring to this team on the offensive end as Kanter muscled his way past Ed Davis for two back-to-back lay-ins.

The last two days, Kanter has preached that he will bring the energy and against the Nets he showed that energy on both ends. This is a game that Kanter matched up well again with a small frontcourt.

In his first stint as a Trail Blazer, Kanter went 3-for-3 with six points and four rebounds in nine minutes of work.  He made his first seven shots of the game.

2. Going up against Blazers East

Some of Rip City’s fan favorites are now with the Nets and you could tell the former players wanted to take it at their old team.
Midway through the 1st quarter all three former Trail Blazer players were on the court – Allen Crabbe, Shabazz Napier, and Ed Davis.

Shabazz and Davis showed their strong connection early with back-to-back successful pick and roll action. That was the first sign of the element of wanting to play well against your former team. Crabbe was also going hard at CJ McCollum one-on-one early.

Blazers fans should know—Nets fans seem to love/enjoy what all three former Blazers bring to their Nets team.

The second quarter Napier showed off some “Shabazzle Dazzle” with a between the legs pass to Crabbe who calmly knocked down the long three-pointer and the crowd went nuts. Which by the way, I felt like I was at a college game with section 114 chanting and standing for most of the game. It really was like having a student section going crazy for their team.  

Napier had a career-high in assists of a half with eight assists.

 

3. Strong third quarter despite foul trouble

It wasn’t until the second half started the Blazers looked like they were finding their groove on offense. Portland outscored Brooklyn 34-22 in the quarter and that was despite both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic picking up four fouls each by the eight-minute mark of the third.

The triple-double watch for Damian Lillard started midway through the third as well. With just minutes left in the 3rd period, Lillard had 10poimts, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

It was one of those off nights for Lillard, but he found different ways to help his team secure a victory.

The Nets made a run at the Blazers to make it a one-point game 7:25 mark in the final quarter after DeMarre Carroll knocked down a jumper, but Portland was able to take care of business down the stretch.

And, this ended up not being the triple-double game for Lillard, but we all know he always wants the win more than the triple-double feat.

NEXT UP: Portland continues its seven-game trip with a stop in Philadelphia for the second game of the road slate. Tip-off between the Blazers and 76ers is set for 10:00am PT with pregame coverage beginning at 9:00am on NBC Sports Northwest.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Everything you need to know from pregame as the Trail Blazers prep for Brooklyn Nets

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Everything you need to know from pregame as the Trail Blazers prep for Brooklyn Nets

BROOKLYN -- The Trail Blazers tip-off the second half of the 2018-19 NBA season with a brutal stretch in their schedule as Portland embarks on a seven-game, East Coast road trip starting with this matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

Before tonight’s game tips off, the Trail Blazers players and coaching staff embraced and said their hellos to former teammates Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier while both teams were warming up.

Before the game Davis talked about what it was like getting to catch up with his former teammates, “I was there for three years. I developed a lot of lifelong relationships. It’s good to see old faces.”

Davis also had a message for Trail Blazers fans:

 

“We’ll be back in [Portland] at the end of next month. It’ll be good to be back. I appreciate all the support,” Davis said.

 

During his pregame media availability Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had plenty to say about what it was like to coach ‘Phys Ed’:

“He’s a pros, pro. He plays hard, he practices everyday, he’s a good teammate. He had good conversations with the players whether it was about basketball or about life. I think his teammates appreciated his willingness to do the dirty work and because of that he had the respect of his teammates and his coaches. I can’t say enough good things about Ed," Stotts said.

Hear more from Coach Stotts here:

 

 

Trail Blazers Notebook: Enes Kanter is ready to roll

Trail Blazers Notebook: Enes Kanter is ready to roll

BROOKLYN – As the Trail Blazers first practice post All-Star break wrapped up, the majority of the team was getting up three-point shots on one side of the court, while the rookies Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons went over plays with the newest additions to the team, Skal Labissiere and Enes Kanter.

Blazers assistant coach Nate Tibbetts ran through the sets with Kanter, showing him different options. After about five minutes of showing and teaching, it was time for Kanter and the three others to show what they had learned.

Tibbets yells out with a smile on his face, “Okay, we’re going to go over the three plays.”

After practice, Kanter joked that smoke was coming out of his head after trying to learn so many plays in a short amount of time, but he also said, “when you have guys like Dame and CJ on your team, the game just becomes so easy on the offensive end.

“I just tried to get all the sets in, in like 30 minutes. I probably don’t remember any of them right now,” Kanter joked.

The overall consensus after the first practice with the newly acquired backup center– Kanter is a “chill” dude who is ready to bring the energy.

Kanter is expected to be inserted into the rotation in the Blazers first game back since the All-Star break on Thursday night against the Nets.

He has high expectations of himself.

“I want to bring more energy and try to be a good teammate. I think it’s my eighth year in the league now, so I’m trying to help the young guys and try to be a good teammate and the best question for me is – how can I make others better?” Kanter said.

Kanter has been looking over videos of the Blazers’ main offensive sets since the start of the All-Star break.

The only two players he said he knew on the Blazers’ roster before joining the team was Rodney Hood (both played in Utah together) and CJ McCollum after playing pick-up games over the summer together.  

During Wednesday’s practice, the Blazers scrimmaged and got up and down the floor quite a bit.

Both Damian Lillard and Evan Turner expressed their feelings of adding Kanter to the team.

“Really strong. I knew he was strong when we played against him… Each time he got the ball he was able to get a quality shot on the block. He was really good on the block, a really good offensive rebounder. Everything that I knew from just observing him, from watching him before we became teammates… The game looked easy to him on that end of the floor,” Lillard said.

“I’ve always been a big Kanter fan. He had a good practice today… Trying to fill him up as much as possible,” Turner added.

Kanter also said he is already feeling like he is a part of the team.

“From the first moment that I stepped in, everybody was trying to help and everybody was talking to me about lots of stuff so it’s become very easy. I feel like I’ve been part of this team for a long time from the first day,” Kanter said.

After Kanter was waived by the Knicks he had a long list of teams pursing him, but it came down to just two teams for the 26-year-old.

“I was deciding between Lakers and Portland… I wanted to play for Portland,” Kanter said. 

THE ROAD TRIP & ED DAVIS:

As for this Blazers seven-game road trip, Turner summed it up pretty good:

“The blessing is -- there’s no back-to-backs… It’s a great test. We’ve got a great mixture of some top caliber teams,” Turner said.

First test for Portland is the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, which means it will be the first time the Blazers will face their former teammates, Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier.

Davis, Lillard and Turner already went out to dinner together earlier this week.

Lillard said that Ed likes Brooklyn and there was a list of things he misses about Davis…

“Everything. He was a great dude, first of all… The personality… What he brought to our team, I think we all miss him,” Lillard said.

But now that it’s the second half the season, Lillard is focused on two goals: “Just get the job done… We need 16 for a 50-win season. A 50-win season is what I would like for our team… Have a good playoff performance, that’s all I care about right now.”

INJURY NOTES:

Damian Lillard (left ankle sprain) is questionable and Rodney Hood (gastrointestinal) is probable for Thursday’s game at Brooklyn.

Hood was not at practice on Wednesday.

Trail Blazers' defense will rely on Zach Collins to fill void left by Ed Davis

Trail Blazers' defense will rely on Zach Collins to fill void left by Ed Davis

Much was made at the start of training camp about the Portland Trail Blazers and the tweaks coming to Terry Stotts’ Flow offense. The Blazers suffered last season in both 3-point shooting and assists, and the team said during Media Day that some of their success this season could rely on boosting ball movement on offense. Numbers support these concerns, but what has conveniently been left out of the conversation in Portland is just how much the Blazers might struggle on defense this year.

Departed is bench stalwart Ed Davis, who was not only a leader on the court but in the locker room. Davis is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, and his minutes will be eaten up by Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, and Meyers Leonard. The bet for Stotts and GM Neil Olshey is that Collins is ready to fill Davis’ role, and perhaps expand upon it with better floor spacing on offense.

Collins has done the requisite public relations service to that end, talking up his added 20 pounds of muscle and explaining to media how much he is expecting to contribute on that side of the ball in Davis’ absence. 

“Defensively I want to make sure every single night the team can count on me to guard whoever and to be at the rim every single time if one of our guys gets beat,” Collins recently told NBCSNW’s Jamie Hudson.

To his credit, Collins surprised just about everyone with his defensive acumen last year. Blazers fans may have overinflated his value over the course of the season, but for a rookie big man Collins showed an innate sense of defensive vision and rotational ability. He was caught out from time-to-time, as you would expect for any freshman, but Collins showed real promise during minutes with Davis.

Yet the reality for Collins is that he was paired with Davis in 2017-18 for a reason, with Davis acting as the true rim defender as the Gonzaga product roamed. Collins always had Davis as a safety net, and rotationally he was free to create havoc against opposing offenders in the paint.

Therein lies the problem with relying on Collins to make a leap this season in Portland. 

It’s no hyperbole that Stotts played Collins and Davis almost exclusively together a season ago. The two were part of Portland‘s best defensive lineups, with Collins never playing meaningful minutes that resulted in an acceptable defensive result without Davis, according to five man lineup data gathered from NBA.com.

That’s a huge weight on Collins’ shoulders this year. It’s also a lot to think about contextually when it comes to the gamble Olshey made in deference to ducking Davis and his potential luxury tax hit. There’s no doubt the front office genuinely believes Collins is ready for his role. But whether Collins can take the next step up is another thing altogether, added muscle or not.

For perspective, the Blazers finished eighth in the NBA in defensive rating last year, setting a record for the second-best season in Stotts’ career with the team. Portland's individual rankings when it came to important advanced statistics were middling, however. For example, the team allowed the 16th-best opponent percentage from the 3-point line. It was the same story when it came to opponent stats in the Four Factors.

Pouring over facts and figures is somewhat boring. Defense is notoriously more difficult to predict than offense based on statistics, and both individual and team metrics are somewhat unreliable. From an eye test standpoint, Portland will lean yet again on five players to anchor them against opposing offenses.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Nurkic, and now Collins are the core of Portland’s defensive lineup. Aminu and Turner stand as the Blazers best individual and team defenders, with each helping to rotate correctly more often than not. Nurkic is useful. Harkless and Collins, however, are larger question marks and could tip the scales as Portland tries to retain that Top 10 defensive ranking.

Harkless is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in spring, and stands as a huge variable on both sides of the ball for the Trail Blazers. At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Harkless gives Portland an athletic body that helps spell Turner in that wing defender role. As the team starts the season, his recovery could strain Stotts’ defensive rotations more that he might like.

The Blazers have certainly grown as a defensive team. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have turned into serviceable players on defense, but Portland suffers from the unenviable position of being top-heavy and its bench could be a real liability. It could get worse if Stotts is forced to play some of his younger players as a means to boost the offense. Any significant minutes for Nik Stauskas or Gary Trent Jr. will require some quick defensive adjustments from the coaching staff.

The real test on defense is for Collins to step into a position that will help the Blazers stay competitive without always having to outscore their opponents. There is already some worry that Portland won’t be able to do that, mind you, which is exactly why they have tried to install more ball movement on offense.

It’s more fun to watch what happens -- especially with this team and its stars -- on offense. The tweaks are coming, and they’re necessary. But Stotts, perhaps in some clichéd way, knows defense will be the thing that helps Portland win more games. It’s why the first practice of training camp, according to Collins, was focused roughly 75 percent on defense. 

It’s also exactly what I’ll be watching closest all season long in Portland.

After qualifying offer, Blazers will make Nurkic first free-agent priority

After qualifying offer, Blazers will make Nurkic first free-agent priority

The Trail Blazers have confirmed they extended a qualifying offer, as expected, to center Jusuf Nurkic Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent. It is believed he will be the team's first priority when free agency opens July 1.

The qualifying offer is $4.75 million for one season, the Trail Blazers would be able to match any offers Nurkic gets from other teams in order to keep him on the roster and he also has the option of signing the qualifying offer. In his first full season with the team he averaged 14.3 points, 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 79 games.

The team has until Saturday to decide on other possible restricted-free agents-to-be Pat Connaughton and Shabazz Napier. Ed Davis is going to be an unrestricted free agent.

 

'Shocked' Trail Blazers get swept, now face crossroads

'Shocked' Trail Blazers get swept, now face crossroads

NEW ORLEANS – The Trail Blazers over the years have experienced the pain of playoff loss, but it’s been a while since a series left a mark like this one to New Orleans. 

“I think this one probably hurts a little more because we had such a great season, and we came in with really, really high expectations,’’ Damian Lillard said. 

 Unable to stop Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, and unable to solve the defensive schemes of New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, the Blazers were swept Saturday after a 131-123 loss at Smoothie King Center. 

“They were the better team for four games,’’ Maurice Harkless said. “They outplayed us, they outhustled us, they were more physical.’’

The 13-game winning streak, the Northwest Division title, the three seed and hosting a first-round playoff series were all erased with the ease of a Holiday layin and the force of a Davis follow dunk.

“I felt like coming into this playoffs, there was no way you were going to tell me we weren’t going to have a Game 5. You know?’’ Blazers big man Ed Davis said. “I mean, you can tell me, somebody was going to beat us in six or seven, but no way swept.’’

Davis surveyed the quiet locker room, with players cutting tape off their ankles for the final time.

“I mean, we are all shocked right now that we got swept by a team that we really felt like we were better than,’’ Davis said. 

Perhaps most shocking was the inability of the Blazers to free Lillard from the layered Pelicans defense that used two and sometimes three players to trap him.

After having his best overall season in his six-year NBA career, Lillard had his worst playoff series, being held to 18.5 points while shooting 35 percent from the field and amassing 16 turnovers to his 19 assists.

“You have to give them credit for how well they executed offensively and they came in with a great defensive game plan, threw something at us we haven’t seen, and it worked out for them,’’ Lillard said. “We just didn’t play great. We didn’t have our best series.’’

The loss brings the Blazers to a crossroads: Continue full speed ahead with the NBA’s youngest roster to make the playoffs? Or break up a core that has lost 10 consecutive playoff games?

“Ultimately, you are defined by the postseason,’’ coach Terry Stotts said. “I think it’s a little early to say what direction we are going to go and what needs to be done moving forward, but one thing is Neil (Olshey) is really good. We’ve been to the playoffs five straight years and he continues to change and build the roster. I’m pretty confident with that.’’

Lillard, who in January met with owner Paul Allen to discuss the direction of the franchise, said Saturday that he believes the franchise is doing all it can. 

“I feel like to this point, we have,’’ Lillard said. “We’ve done what we can, but obviously there is room for improvement, especially when you come up short in the playoffs and get swept. Obviously there are a lot of things that can be done better on our part as an organization and as players. 

“But for me, the same thing remains: I’ll go back to work and do my part,’’ Lillard said. “Everybody has a job to do and I’ve got to focus on what my job is.’’

Al-Farouq Aminu, who had a standout series with averages of 17.3 points and 9.0 rebounds, said he hopes the team is allowed to grow together.

“The core of the team is still really young and these are some of the lumps we will have to take in order to get better and continue to grow,’’ Aminu said.

The Blazers have four free agents – starting center Jusuf Nurkic; Davis, the NBA’s top reserve center; reserve Pat Connaughton; and reserve Shabazz Napier. 

Davis, for one, says he wants to return. 

“Like I’ve been saying since Day One: I hope I’m back here,’’ Davis said. “I hope July 1 at midnight we have something done and it’s over with. That’s what I’m hoping and banking on.’’

For now, the Blazers will lick their wounds and try to forget the dominance of Anthony Davis (33 points, 12 rebounds, 2.9 blocks), the two-way play of Holiday (27.8 points) and the masterful game-management of Rajon Rondo (11.3 points, 13.3 assists) and look ahead to the future of Zach Collins and what should be the prime years of Lillard and CJ McCollum’s careers. 

“I think we should be proud of what we did in the regular season,’’ Harkless said. “And then just learn from what happened in this postseason.’’

Trail Blazers' Ed Davis targets early return from sprained ankle

Trail Blazers' Ed Davis targets early return from sprained ankle

Trail Blazers center Ed Davis says he will be back from injury sooner than later.

Davis on Sunday told NBC Sports Northwest he expects to return from his sprained right ankle either Saturday at San Antonio or Monday in Denver.

Davis rolled the ankle in the third quarter of Friday’s game against the Clippers and left the arena in a walking boot after x-rays showed no break and an MRI confirmed a sprain.

On Saturday, the team said he would be evaluated in seven-to-14 days.

Davis before Sunday’s game against Memphis was no longer wearing the boot and was walking without a limp. There was swelling on the outside of the ankle, but Davis said he was confident his return would be closer to the seven days than the 14 days.

If he returns against San Antonio, it would be seven days after the team announced the timeline.

Davis is having one of the best seasons of his career as he has emerged as the NBA’s top reserve center. He is averaging 5.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 19 minutes a game. He has led the Blazers in rebounding 23 times this season and has recorded six double-doubles. If he returns in San Antonio, Davis will have missed only three games because of the injury.

In the first game without Davis, coach Terry Stotts used Meyers Leonard and rookie Caleb Swanigan at backup center. Leonard had six points, five rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes and Swanigan had four points, four rebounds and two assists in nine minutes.

 

Terry Stotts lays into Blazers after they nearly blow game vs. Charlotte

Terry Stotts lays into Blazers after they nearly blow game vs. Charlotte

After some sharp words from coach Terry Stotts, the Trail Blazers on Thursday received a message: It’s time to get serious about this season.

“I can’t call back exactly what he said,’’ veteran Ed Davis said. “But it had to do with we have big aspirations and we are not playing up to that.’’

After blowing a 17-point lead with seven minutes to go against a subpar Charlotte team, the Blazers were pushed into overtime, where some big plays from Maurice Harkless finally got them over the hump in a 109-103 victory.

Normally a mild-mannered coach who teaches through positive reinforcement, Stotts, players say, laid into his team afterward, and it left a mark.

“He knows we are capable of much more,’’ CJ McCollum said. “We haven’t played our best basketball. We have been pissing away games and not executing. We have to do some things better so we are not in those situations where … we could have lost tonight.’’

Often times this season, the Blazers players have been outwardly positive following wins with subpar play. Not Thursday.

“Unacceptable,’’ Davis said. “We want to be one of those elite teams and elite teams don’t play around at home, especially a game we are supposed to win and had control of the whole game.’’

In his postgame address to the media, the Blazers coach was terse, choosing to release one sentence answers through pursed lips in what probably stands as his most uptight and irritated session during his six seasons. 

Maybe it was because it’s that time of year. Or maybe it was because the Trail Blazers were so spectacularly awful in the fourth quarter. Or maybe Stotts had just had enough of  the up-and-down play.

Whatever the reason, he let the team have it.

Harkless said it was the most angry Stotts has been after a victory, and Meyers Leonard said “he was definitely upset with us” – but both Damian Lillard and Ed Davis said it wasn’t a notable tirade.

“It wasn’t like he was m’fing this, m’fing that – but it was like, ‘This is what it is: we are playing great basketball for three quarters then we (poop) the bed in the fourth and give a team that is not supposed to be in the game a chance to win.’

Lillard said he has seen Stotts more angry, and he noted that the group even laughed at one point.

That humor came via Evan Turner.

According to the players, Stotts at one point realized he was harping after a victory. He caught himself, and said, “I don’t want to be …”

As Stotts started to search for the right word, Turner chirped from his corner stall.

“A Debbie Downer?” Turner asked.

“No,” Stotts said. “I need another one …”

“Negative Nancy?’’ Turner retorted?

As Stotts pondered Nancy, Turner added another one:

“Emotional?”

The last one busted up everyone in the room.

“It definitely helped lighten the mood,’’ Harkless said.

The win ended a three game losing streak and pushed the Blazers’ home winning streak to nine, the longest home run in five seasons. Portland (30-25) is in sixth place in the West, one-half game behind Oklahoma City.

As the team boarded a plane later Thursday night for a flight to Sacramento for Friday’s game against the Kings (17-36), it was a group that knows time is running out to back up their own talk that they can be an upper-echelon team.

“We are at a point in the season where we have to start separating ourselves,’’ Davis said. “The games where we need to blow teams out, we need to do that, and tonight was that night.’’

Instead, they got a talking to from their normally laid-back coach.

“He gave us the same message we’ve been preaching all year: we have to be consistent,’’ Harkless said. “When we are consistent we are a pretty good team. But over the course of one game, we can go from really good to average, to good, to average … we just have to maintain.’’

Damian Lillard says Ed Davis might be too important for Trail Blazers to trade

Damian Lillard says Ed Davis might be too important for Trail Blazers to trade

Ed Davis said he likes living in Portland. He loves playing for the Trail Blazers. And when his contract runs out in June, he said he hopes he is able to sign another deal to keep him in Portland.

But after seven-plus NBA seasons for four different teams, Davis knows what he thinks about an organization, and his desire to stay in a city doesn’t mean much when it comes to the NBA’s trading deadline.

The NBA is a business and sometimes, business can be cold.

“I talked about it with my lady last night,’’ Davis said. “There’s a good chance that something could happen. We have to be prepared for it.’’

The trade deadline is Feb. 8, and Davis – who is in the middle of a stellar comeback season after undergoing left shoulder surgery – figures to be one of the more attractive assets the Blazers can dangle in their pursuit to improve their roster.

Davis is not only working with an expiring contract, which can be attractive to teams interested in saving money, he has once again emerged as one of the premier backup centers in the NBA because of his rebounding, defense and ability to set sturdy screens.

What might not be known outside of Portland, and outside of the locker room, is what Davis means to the Blazers beyond the court.

Within the Blazers’ locker room, emotions run deep for Davis. He is a mentor. As straight-forward as they come. And he is an old soul who is quick to joke, but also doesn’t promote or stand for ulterior or misguided motives.

“I’m not jut saying this to say it,’’ team captain Damian Lillard said, “but it don’t get no better than Ed. That’s just the truth.”

It’s why among his teammates, there is a little more excitement, a little more umph to the celebrations when Davis excels, as was the case Friday, when he had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in the Blazers’ win at Dallas.

Sure, his stats of 5.4 points and 7.0 rebounds won’t push a fantasy league owner over the top, but in the real world, where playoff appearances and championships are won with hard work and grit, Davis has established himself as a commodity.

So Feb. 8? It’s safe to say that date has the Blazers attention, particularly when the subject is Davis.

“He’s probably going to be a wanted man,’’ Lillard said.

And in a statement that will likely reverberate all the way up to Neil Olshey’s office, Lillard on Monday gave an emphatic endorsement.

Citing the bond that existed in Miami between Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, which kept them together for 13 seasons, Lillard said he wants to create the same legacy with Davis.

“Look man, for me, the same way D-Wade was in Miami all those years and Udonis Haslem was there because he brought something to the team nobody else had … that’s how I feel about Ed,’’ Lillard said. “I always want Ed to be on my team. That’s the best way I can put it. I always want him on my team.’’

**

Four years ago, during his only season in Los Angeles with the Lakers, Davis said his career changed.

He was one of five big men competing for playing time, and as he watched Carlos Boozer, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill, he took notice.

“Every last one of those guys, all they did was take jump shots,’’ Davis said. “And I sense that (coach) Byron Scott was like, ‘I’m going to need somebody to do something different.’ So I said, ‘Forget this. I’m not going to take any jump shots. I’m just going to be a dawg, and that’s how I’m going to stay on the floor.’

“Ever since then, it has just stuck.’’

Davis has impacted games in several ways this season. Against Indiana this month, his offensive rebounds led to three second-chance baskets for teammates. On Friday against Dallas, he thwarted a soaring dunk attempt by Dennis Smith Jr. to protect a four-point lead in the third quarter. It was the game-changing moment of the game, as the Blazers ended up winning going away.

All told, Davis is fourth in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage, and ninth in overall rebound percentage.

Turns out, that day in Los Angeles when he realized his Lakers teammates were all the same, was the smartest thing Davis could have done.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts says that anybody who watches the team’s shooting contests can attest that Davis has a nice jumper from 15-feet. But because Davis knows, understands, and accepts his role, Stotts says he rarely attempts outside shots.

“There’s a difference between role definition and role acceptance,’’ Stotts said. “And Ed knows and accepts his role and knows he can excel in that role. Not everybody can do what Ed does. That is a talent. What he does is maybe not glamorous but it isn’t what everybody can do, and I think he takes pride in that.’’

**

As the 2012 trading deadline neared, Davis was enjoying the best stretch of his young career in Toronto.

As he boarded a team bus to head to Philips Arena in Atlanta, he learned that he had been traded to Memphis. Later that night, in his hotel room with his mother, Davis cried.

It was an experience that hardened him to the realities of pro sports, and it taught him to be ready for anything.

It’s why even though he is playing at the top of his game these days, he keeps a wary eye on the calendar.

“We have 15 guys on team, and I think a good 11 of the guys are like, man, I could be moved,’’ Davis said. “It’s human nature.’’

But Lillard, the team captain who recently met with owner Paul Allen to talk about the direction and plan for the team, said he hopes Davis is kept out of the Blazers’ trade talks.

 “I think he just means too much to our team,’’ Lillard said. “I mean, I don’t see anybody giving us anything worth giving him up. As far as backup centers, I don’t know that there’s another backup center out there that you give up Ed Davis for. I just don’t. Not just because of his production on the court, but because of what he means to a locker room.’’

It is those intangibles – Davis’ locker room presence, his embracing of the dirty work, and the mentoring he provides to younger players – that make him so beloved among his teammates.

He can sense it and see it when he has night’s like Friday in Dallas, the bench standing and waving towels, teammates pushing his chest on the court, the non-stop ribbing in the locker room.

“Honestly, I can feel it. When I do well, I know the reaction I get from teammates and it’s genuine,’’ Davis said. “I know how it can be. I played on teams where there were guys I just didn’t like as a person. Even when they did well, I wasn’t really happy for them, because I just didn’t like them as a person. Could be because how they treated people or how they carried themselves. For me, on this team when I play well, everybody from the coaches down to last person on roster is happy for me. That means a lot.’’

He offers a valuable element to the locker room dynamic. Lillard is the unquestioned leader, but Davis – who turns 29 in June – is the resident sage, a player whose life experience is as long as his 6-foot-10 frame.

He tells the youngsters to be on time. To support teammates whether you are playing or not. And, be real.

“There is certain stuff I can relate to with guys on the team that Dame can’t,’’ Davis said. “Like, Dame has never had a DNP-Coach’s Decision … little things like that.’’

And it’s not just what Davis says, it’s how he says it.  With Davis, there is no pretense, no act, no politicking. What you see, and what you hear, is 100 percent real.

“I’m not fake with nothing I do,’’ Davis said. “And I think a lot of the guys respect that.’’

Now, he and the rest of the team play the waiting game. The first domino in the 2018 trading deadline fell Monday when the Clippers reportedly sent Blake Griffin to Detroit. It will likely sink in further when the Blazers play at the Clippers Tuesday, then at Detroit next Monday.

He says he tries to narrow his focus to the next day, and the next game, but he admits it is human nature to think of what can happen.

The ultimate goal, he says, is to help the Blazers achieve their newly identified goal – securing home court advantage in the playoffs – while deepening the roots of his family in Portland (Davis has infant twins).

“I say it all the time – this is where I want to be,’’ Davis said. “When the season is over hopefully we can get a deal that works for both of us. I love the organization, I’m comfortable with the city. This is where I want to be. But at the end of the day, I understand it’s a business and there’s a lot that comes into play. But I’ve been around a little bit, and I know what I like, and what I don’t like. Being here is something I like.’’