Ed Davis believes sitting out the NBA season is not the answer

Ed Davis believes sitting out the NBA season is not the answer

With NBA players sharing their thoughts on whether or not it is a good idea to resume the 2019-20 NBA season amid the Black Lives Matter protests and the social justice movements, former Trail Blazers fan favorite Ed Davis is voting for a return to the court.  

Last Friday, more than 80 NBA players hopped on a conference call to discuss any and all concerns and hesitations about resuming the season. The call was led by Nets guard Kyrie Irving, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.  

A lot has come out of that Zoom call in the last few days. Ed Davis was one of the 80-plus players on the nearly two-hour-long meeting.
In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Davis opened up about why he believes the players should take the court if and when the season resumes in Orlando.

The 10-year NBA veteran feels that not restarting this season could also have big implications on next season and for the future of younger NBA players.

I know a lot of guys are iffy about playing. But it’s sort of bigger than that because if we don’t play, I honestly think there’s a chance that we won’t play next year. I just had a 2-month-old so of course I don’t want to go away for two months, but it’s just something I feel that we have to do to save the league and for all the people who came behind us and all the people who are going to come after us. This is coming from a 10-year vet; I’m on the back end of my career and I’ve made enough money, so it’s not really about the money. It’s more about the future guys – a guy like Donovan Mitchell, who is looking at a $160 million dollar contract but he might only get $90 million if the cap drops. -- Ed Davis in a recent interview with HoopsHype 

And just because Davis is for playing in Orlando, doesn’t mean he isn’t still focused on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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

Davis spent three seasons with Portland from 2015-18 serving as the backup big man and the spark plug off the bench. 

Davis mentioned in the HoopsHype interview that he and former Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless used to take time to bring Portland police officers and black children together during their time in Portland.

I think you have to look at it from every player’s own perspective. For me, personally, I’m for the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve always been for it. When I was in Portland, me and Moe Harkless would go through the inner cities and really try to get involved in police reform. We’d bring black kids and the police together, trying to help them find some common ground and gain respect for each other. Like I said, I’m all for that. -- Former Trail Blazer Ed Davis

Davis believes bringing live sports back could have an even bigger and more positive impact on the country’s social justice movement.

“I mean, this is really the only time that you’re going to get that and it’s the only time you’re going to get 22 teams together for seven weeks, so we can really get down and meet every couple of weeks and do some really cool things.” Davis said.

“There’s some really great stuff that we can do for the world. I feel like all of us doing it together and working with the NBA and working with these owners, we can really help out. For me, I want to fight against police brutality. That’s my cause; that’s really what I want to focus on. I hope that when we get down there, we can do that together.”

The Jazz big man also mentioned that donating to black communities and various organizations that promote and advocate change is how he and others in the NBA can truly make a difference.

I’m looking at it like: With where we’re at as a Black culture and how we’re so far behind when it comes to black people and the wealth we have, the money we have, us missing the rest of this season (and possibly next year), we’re talking about billions and billions of dollars for the black community because a lot of guys in the NBA are black men from the inner cities and things like that. So, the way I look at it, we have to play for that simple fact. I saw Stephen Jackson say that we can’t play because it’s going to be a distraction. Yeah, it’s going to be a distraction, but we can take that money – those billions and billions of dollars – that we’re going to make and pour it back in the community. You can look at it like that – that us losing out on that money would hurt generations of people.

For me, I make $5 million a year and I’m taking a 25-percent pay cut [due to COVID-19], so I’m losing around $30,000 every two weeks. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s what is creating generational wealth and that’s what is really going to help the Black community. I don’t know if guys are looking at it like that. But, that’s just my perspective and the reason why I think we need to play. I get it, we need to take a stand; we got to do this, we got to do that. But you got to have money to do some of these things and make some of these things happen. -- Jazz big man Ed Davis


The 31-year-old has already made a living with his workhorse mentality in the league.

Davis realizes that as a role player and not a superstar, his situation and many others situations are a bit different from the likes of Kyrie or Dwight Howard. 

“It’s easy for a guy like Kyrie [Irving] to say that he’ll give everything back,” Davis continued. “But would he really give everything back? It’s easy for Dwight Howard to say that we don’t need to play when he’s in Atlanta in his $20 million mansion. But there are other guys on the rosters who need this money to provide for whoever they’re taking care of and things like that. It’s easy for the superstars in the league to say this and how they feel about this and that. But it means a lot more when it comes from the role players.”

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Maurice Harkless still showing love to Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers fans

Maurice Harkless still showing love to Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers fans

Now, almost two months into the NBA hiatus, players are still doing their part to stay in shape and stay connected with fans.

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless started an Instagram Q & A session Sunday night that rolled over into Monday afternoon.

Harkless fielded the typical questions of ‘Burgers or Pizza,’ which the New York native answered with a Pizza GIF.

And then sticking with his East Coast roots, Harkless chose Shake Shack over In-N-Out, adding, “In-N-Out is weak.”

While there was plenty to chew on with the food questions, Harkless’ Q & A session was dominated by Portland Trail Blazers talk.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old had found a home in Portland after being traded from the Orlando Magic in July of 2015 where he spent his first few seasons. His time in Orlando was very up and down.

But as Rip City knows, he fit the system in Portland and loved his time playing alongside Damian Lillard.

Now in his eighth year in the league and having played for four different teams, the current New York Knick is praising his former teammate.

When asked, ‘who was the best shooter you’ve played with?’

Harkless had two answers and one of them was the Trail Blazers five-time All-Star point guard.

In his four seasons with the Trail Blazers, Harkless averaged 7.8 points and 3.3 rebounds before he was traded to the Clippers last summer.

During his recent Q & A, Harkless shared his favorite things about his time in Portland and shared how much he loved being a Portland Trail Blazer.

And then there’s the friendship between Harkless and former Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu.

Harkless and Aminu would often be two of the last players still getting up shots following practices in Portland.

Their friendship was obvious. Harkless didn’t deny a ‘bro-mance’ between the two.

As for putting together a starting five that includes himself and four former teammates, Harkless decided he would want to play alongside, Lillard, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, and then it would be a toss-up between the Bosnian Beast, Jusuf Nurkic and Plum-Dog Millionaire, Mason Plumlee.  

Even though Harkless wouldn’t come out and say that he misses Portland, he did answer Anfernee Simons when Ant asked a very valid question.

(When other players ask questions that might be the best part of NBA players’ Q & A sessions).

And then there was talk of the playoffs.

Harkless reminisced about how much he enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd at Moda Center.

He even dubbed Moda as one of the most rocking postseason-atmospheres.

As for Harkless’ favorite game he has ever played in whether that was in high school, at St. Johns, or in the NBA, Harkless didn’t hesitate:

“Definitely game 3 vs. Denver last year, 4OT is hard to forget.”

That was a Trail Blazers’ instant classic.

In that May 3, 2019 Game 3 in Portland, Harkless came up big down the stretch and in the multiple overtimes, to finish with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the Blazers’ 140-137 victory.  

Anfernee Simons Q&A: "Seattle should have a team again"

USA Today Images

Anfernee Simons Q&A: "Seattle should have a team again"

Tuesday night was a perfect night for a question and answer session with Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons.

The No. 24 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft took to his Instagram to field questions from fans on his IG story.

Among some of his favorite things he mentioned were:

  • Call of Duty (favorite video game)
  • El Gaucho (favorite spot in PDX)
  • Popeyes and Chick-fil-a (He couldn’t choose between the two)

Simons also admitted that the Red Classic Jerseys are his fav Trail Blazers unis.

If he could play any other sport besides basketball it would be football.

Not only was this Q & A informative in regards to Simons' favorite things, it was also fun to see which of his teammates and former teammates chimed in to ask a question.

Jaylen Hoard wondered how Ant got his bounce?

So naturally, Simons gave all the credit to Hoard.

While, Rodney Hood was curious who the young fella compares his game to right now.

We’ll have to wait on that answer for another day.

Former teammate Maurice Harkless got in on the action as well.

Harkless asked simply, “you miss me?”

Of course it was all love from Simons.

But, even though he is just 20-years-old, Simons stills recognizes how much an I-5 rivalry is truly missed.

The Trail Blazers backup guard is all for an NBA team returning to Seattle.

Agreed, Simons. Agreed. 

So many emotions as Trail Blazers fans and Damian Lillard relive Game 5 win over Thunder

So many emotions as Trail Blazers fans and Damian Lillard relive Game 5 win over Thunder

No matter how many times you have watched Damian Lillard’s 37-footer at the buzzer that sent the Oklahoma City Thunder packing, it will never get old.

Plus, it’s always fun to watch Game 5 in its entirety with other Trail Blazers fans.    

It’s hard to believe it was nearly a year ago.

It was April 23, 2019, when there were two seconds left on the clock as Lillard dribbled to his right, stepped back, lifted up, and drained the improbable 37-foot game-winner over an outstretched Paul George to eliminate the Thunder from the First Round of the 2019 playoffs.

With all that has changed, one thing is still certain: Damian Lillard has ice running through his veins.

Lillard waved goodbye to the Thunder bench after nailing the shot.

A moment that Rip City won’t ever forget and a game that Trail Blazers fans very much enjoyed re-watching Monday night.


Fans couldn’t help but share their emotions of how much they miss Trail Blazers basketball.

Damian Lillard was dialed in all night. Lillard scored 19 points in the first quarter alone. At halftime, he had 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting.  

Oklahoma City had swept Portland 4-0 during the regular season with an average margin of victory in the four wins of 7.0 points.

But, it’s no surprise that Lillard went off for 50 points in Game 6, he had been scoring with ease versus the Thunder all season. Lillard’s highest scoring average against a Western Conference opponent during the 2018-19 season was against OKC, averaging 34.8 points (46.2% FG, 25.0% 3-PT, 91.7% FT). He scored a season-high 51 points vs. the Thunder on March 7.

As if the tweets from Rip City Faithful aren't fun enough, Damian Lillard was also live-tweeting the entire game on the Trail Blazers’ Twitter account.

Can we have more classic games with Lillard tweeting about them!?

The five-time NBA All-Star gave some real insight into what he was feeling ahead of Game 5 as well as during it.

The Trail Blazers point guard wasn’t just talking about the positives in this game. When Oklahoma City made its run in the fourth quarter, Lillard admitted he had a few bad possessions during that stretch.

Again, there were just so many emotions throughout this game.

Lillard finished with a career-playoff-high 50 points, but fans on Twitter were showing him love long before The Wave.

While Lillard was in charge of the Blazers Twitter account, he also took time to do a Q & A with fans.

Here are some of the top answers:

Be sure to check out this week’s Talkin’ Blazers Podcast former Portland Trail Blazer Travis Outlaw joins Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:

Rip City went crazy once again on social media after witnessing Jusuf Nurkic’s first appearance of the postseason since his injury in March as well as Lillard’s late-game heroics.

Nurk showed up on the bench with 3:28 remaining in the game.

And then…

The Wave.

Bye-bye, Thunder.

Again… We say… bye-bye, Thunder.

Social media reacts to Blazers-Nuggets 4OT Game 3 again and... all the feels

Social media reacts to Blazers-Nuggets 4OT Game 3 again and... all the feels

Now that was fun!

It was sixty-eight minutes of basketball that became an instant classic last season. 

And really how great was it re-watching the Trail Blazers and Nuggets quadruple-overtime Game 3 from May 3rd of last year?

As if watching the game again wasn't exciting enough, it was also fun seeing Trail Blazers shooting guard Anfernee Simons takeover the Trail Blazers Twitter account.


It’s hard to believe that it has been 13 days since the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Not surprising -- Trail Blazers fans were elated to watch their hometown team once again.  

And, we all learned that the youngster Simons was kind enough to teach Rodney Hood such a nice floater. [Insert laughing/crying emoji here].

With Denver winning the season series last year against Portland, 3-1 and all four games were decided by single digits, it shouldn't have been shocking that these two would play extra basketball. 

But, seeing the injured Zach Collins (left shoulder) and Rodney Hood (left Achilles) on the court was giving Rip City all the feelings.


Trail Blazers fans were also missing the team chemistry and continuity.

And what about the Enes Kanter and Nikola Jokic battles?

Jokic finished with 33 points and played the most minutes out of anyone with 65 minutes. He also had 18 rebounds and 14 assists. 

While Kanter held his ground. The Blazers starting center had 18 points and on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds.

Kanter's three-point highlight video even got a retweet from Kanter! See even the former players were happy to look back at this game.

There were also plenty of #3J moments as well. CJ McCollum led all scorers with 41 points. It was late in the game and in the overtime periods when McCollum was in total takeover mode. He also added eight rebounds and four assists.

And on Tuesday night, everybody was showing their appreciation for McCollum's Game 3 performance. 


You can’t forget about Headband Moe though. Maurice Harkless finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.



But, let’s be honest the tweets were coming in hot down the stretch and into the FOUR overtimes.


Trail Blazers fans were reliving all the nerves of this one. 

Playing in a quadruple overtime game, the minds and legs were starting to go… And then… It was a fresh Rodney Hood to the rescue who led the final charge coming off the bench in the final OT to boost Portland to a 140-137 victory.



Hoodie finished with 19 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting. Hood had scored 16 points total in Portland's first round series against Oklahoma City. 


But in watching the re-air, it was just nice to see him out on the court, period. 

Here's where to go if you're looking to place blame for Trail Blazers' rough start

Here's where to go if you're looking to place blame for Trail Blazers' rough start

PHOENIX – The Trail Blazers have struggled through the early season and a segment of the fan base is always looking to blame someone.

And rather than simply looking at the injury list and being done with it, they’re trying to blame just about everyone but Blaze the Trail Cat.

What I’m hearing a lot is the idea that the team should have held on to Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu. And should not have “let go” of Enes Kanter and Seth Curry.

I’ve dealt with this before, but this seems like a good time to go over it again.

First, let’s differentiate between trades and free agency. Kanter and Curry were free agents last summer and it wasn't a matter of the team "letting them go." The Trail Blazers knew they would be priced out of the market for Curry, who had a very good season with Portland. He eventually re-signed with Dallas, where he played before he became a Trail Blazer, for $32 million over four years. That was out of Portland’s reach, since all it could offer was the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.7 million.

Kanter was given the first call by Neil Olshey last summer at the onset of free agency and he vacillated on his decision to take the TMLE. So, Portland went to its second choice, Rodney Hood, who had been off to a career year before suffering a season-ending injury. A good move, obviously … and Kanter ended up signing with Boston for about a million bucks less than he would have made in Portland.

Now, let’s get to the other three players. Harkless and Leonard went to Miami in a deal for Hassan Whiteside, who is in the final season of his contract. Whiteside was brought in to give the Trail Blazers a replacement at center for Jusuf Nurkic, who isn’t expected back until sometime in the new year. Bazemore, also on an expiring deal, came in a trade with Atlanta for Evan Turner.

Both those deals allowed Portland to preserve cap space for one more big trade – hopefully for a major star making a lot of money with multiple years left on his deal. Since the Blazers have had little luck luring free agents to town, the idea of making a deal for a big-time player who would be under their contractual control for a while, is the next best thing.

And it's also a big (and expensive) commitment to building a team that can compete for a championship.

OK, that said, those trades have turned out just fine for Portland and I’m tired of hearing how much the departed players have been missed. I’m not knocking them in any way, but the fact is, what came in return has been very good for this team.

Whiteside has averaged 16.2 points. 12.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.4 blocked shots per game this season. Leonard, Harkless and Aminu (who is now hurt) have COMBINED for 15.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game this season.

And oh yes, a player by the name of Carmelo Anthony was added to the mix a while back – amidst all sorts of pleas from fans begging them not to do it because of fears about the bad raps that have dogged Anthony,

But so far, Anthony has been a solid player who has blended seamlessly with his new teammates. And, of course, he’s given the team 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

So, this all leads back to the original point. If you have trouble figuring out what’s wrong with your Trail Blazers, look no further than that injury report – which features Zach Collins, Hood and Nurkic.

That’s this team’s entire starting front court. And they are most certainly missed more than the players who were traded away.

What happened to the Thunder? Moe knows

LA Clippers

What happened to the Thunder? Moe knows

Maurice Harkless was traded to the Clippers this offseason, but for the last four seasons, he called Portland home. That means he had a front-row seat to Damian Lillard's magnificent 37-footer that knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs last year and led the franchise rebuilding. 

His new teammate Patrick Patterson was on that Thunder team, and at Clippers' media day the breakup of OKC came up.

Patterson was asked about the disappointing end to the season, and as he listened closely to the question, Harkless stole the show. 

Seated next to Patterson, Harkless gave the reporter the double thumbs-up as to say, "I know what happened to OKC. Dame happened to OKC."

That quick reaction was funny enough, but it got better. 

Patterson proceeded to talk about all the factors that led to the Thunder being bounced, but he never once mentioned Lillard's shot or the Blazers. At this point, Harkless couldn't hold back and had a classic reaction that all of Rip City understood. 

Maurice Harkless is now and forever a Portland Trail Blazers Legend. Moe knows, and fans on social media loved it:


Trail Blazers take their home-run swing with Hassan Whiteside

Trail Blazers take their home-run swing with Hassan Whiteside

Neil Olshey should just go take a nap. He’s earned it.

Olshey’s Trail Blazers engineered a blockbuster trade Monday morning, finishing off – unless he’s got something else up his sleeve – the team’s major off-season work with a flourish.

Already this summer, Olshey has upgraded the team’s shooting from the wing, drafted a promising rookie with just the No. 25 pick, signed Damian Lillard to a supermax contract and Monday, brought in a starting center, Hassan Whiteside, on an expiring contract to stand in for Jusuf Nurkic.

And Whiteside isn’t just another center. He has led the league in blocked shots and rebounds per game and has a career true shooting percentage of .589. Last season he averaged only 23.3 minutes per game but chalked up a double-double, 12.3 points and 11.3 rebounds along with 1.9 blocked shots per game.

Portland made the trade without touching its core players, sending Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless to Miami in return for Whiteside. All three are embarking on the final season of their deals. The Heat are trying to clear cap space in order to complete a complicated deal for free agent Jimmy Butler and they will gain about $4 million with this trade.

Sunday, Portland added free agents Rodney Hood and Mario Herzonja, bolstering the small-forward position already strengthened by the addition of Kent Bazemore in an earlier deal for Evan Turner.

Whiteside does not come without some baggage. The 7-foot, 265-pounder has complained about playing time in Miami, where he became another big man who was a casualty of small-ball lineups and eventually lost his starting job to Bam Adebayo. Famously, he came under fire from Miami President Pat Riley after the 2018 playoffs:

“There's no doubt he was in a bad state in the playoffs,” Riley said of Whiteside. “Whatever the reasons why, I have not really sat down with Spo and really talked about all of these things. Hassan was less than without a doubt in the playoffs. I'm not going to give him any kind of excuse. But the season started with an injury and all year long there was a dilemma of some kind. By the time we got to the playoffs I don't think he was ready. He wasn't in great shape. He wasn't fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He and we got our heads handed to us.

“The disconnect between he and Spo (Coach Erik Spoelstra) that's going to take a discussion between them and it’s going to take thought on the part of Coach and also Hassan. How will Hassan transform his thinking – 99 percent of it – to get the kind of improvement that Spo wants so he can be effective? How can Spo transform his thinking when it comes to offense and defense or minutes or whatever? However he uses him, that's what you do. I have the same problem with Hassan. That problem is that he's going to have to do something to change because he's a helluva player.”

In Portland, where the Trail Blazers are accustomed to using Nurkic (and then Enes Kanter) in the post, Whiteside should be a much happier player. And if he isn’t, he’s a $27 million expiring contract at the trade deadline.

Leonard was a polarizing player in Portland for fans who wanted seven-footers playing inside instead of shooting three-pointers. He did not get consistent playing time in Terry Stotts’ system. But he made a big splash in the playoffs last season in the final two games against Golden State and has a career 47.9 field-goal percentage and a 38.5 percentage from three-point range. Harkless, a starter for most of the last three seasons, has averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for his career. He was a solid defender, especially when used in concert with Al-Farouq Aminu, for the Trail Blazers.

The Trail Blazers made it to the Western Conference finals last season without Nurkic, who sustained a broken leg late in the season. It would be hard to argue that they aren't a better team now, after the flurry of activity the past few days.




Trail Blazers reportedly trading Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard for Hassan Whiteside

Trail Blazers reportedly trading Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard for Hassan Whiteside

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ---- Harkless heading to the Los Angeles Clippers as a part of the Jimmy Butler trade to Miami.


It looks like the Portland Trail Blazers have their new starting center until Jusuf Nurkic returns.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a trade between the Blazers and Miami Heat has been agreed upon.

In the reported deal, the Heat will send center Hassan Whiteside to Portland for forward Maurice Harkless and center Meyers Leonard.

With Nurkic’s timetable still up in the air, this gives the Blazers a starting caliber big in Whiteside who is on an expiring contract.

Whiteside averaged 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season for the Heat. Over the past five seasons in Miami, he has averaged 14.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

His 2015-16 season with Miami, he was named second-team all-defense after averaging 3.7 blocks. Following that season, Whiteside earned a four-year max contract worth $98.4 million from the Heat.

The 30-year-old will bring rim protection, and be a much-needed defensive stopper as Portland looks to build on its Western Conference Finals run from last season.  

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

The Portland Trail Blazers had the same fatal flaw this season that they had last season. And the season before that, and the season before that. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, embattled by double teams in the playoffs, were better this year at moving the ball before opponents could cause turnovers. But they needed the recipients of those passes — or the recipients of the passes from those passes — to knock down open 3-pointers.

They didn’t.

Portland had a wonderful season, and its strength was largely due to the rise in production by Jusuf Nurkic and the faith its bench unit had in each other. Both of those things were taken away in the postseason. Nurkic sat out with a broken leg, and with Terry Stotts shortening his rotation in the playoffs, the backups looked unsteady.

That put pressure on the Blazers’ high-minute wing players to perform. Moe Harkless, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, and Al-Farouq Aminu were on the attacking end of plays where imbalances on McCollum and Lillard should have let them dominate. They got more open looks, and were in better positions during these playoffs.

In part, Portland used those gaps in the defense to punish opponents with passing. The ball moved more, particularly to the high post. The nail acted as a pivot point: cutters ran the baseline and collapsing defenders dictated whether a layup or a corner 3-pointer was the best shot available.

Aminu, with his trebuchet-style shooting form, hit just 24 percent of his corner treys, per Cleaning the Glass. Harkless knocked down 14 percent from the same area, an astonishing number. Turner took and hit a single three all postseason.

This resulted in defenses being able to clamp down a bit more on Hood and Seth Curry, the two known quantities as shooters. Portland’s designated bench gunners — both subject to taking above-the-break threes already — were more predictable and thus, easier to guard.

Hood shot 33 percent on non-corner threes, and his stats from deep ranked him in the 59th percentile for the playoffs at his position. Curry put up better numbers, but his game log was uneven. He played heavy minutes for the Blazers in the postseason but in 12 of 16 games played, Curry’s jumper accounted for either one or zero 3-pointers. Without volume, Curry’s effect was limited. With that limitation, Hood had to do the bulk of the bench 3-point scoring. It just wasn’t enough.

That’s without mentioning Turner, whose inability to shoot one again hurt the Blazers. Turner was brought in to relieve trapping pressure from Lillard and McCollum in 2016. It didn't quite go as planned, but this season Turner finally found his niche as the independent leader of the bench unit. That was a positive for the Blazers, but the reason why Turner wasn't able to act as a release valve for Portland’s stars remained.

That takes us back to Aminu and Harkless. The younger forward, who battled nagging injuries all season long, came on strong in the final two months of the year. Although his shooting suffered, he was an effective scorer and his offensive rating jumped in March and April. But Aminu was never a threat, and in the playoffs opponents often allowed him space to shoot so they could prevent Portland from dominating the offensive glass. As Harkless’ percentages in the postseason rounded out, eventually he was left more space, too.

At their core, the Trail Blazers need more wing shooting. They know that — it's why they’ve stuck with Harkless for so long. Where Aminu provides defense and others must make up for his lack of 3-point consistency, Harkless could provide both. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, including during his first season with Portland in 2015-16, when Harkless was exactly the player Neil Olshey wanted in the postseason. The Queens native was able to guard the best opposing wing player while also shooting effectively from 3-point range. He thrived as a cutter. He passed the ball.

This postseason, Portland was forced to revert back to their old ways. Harkless, Aminu, Turner, Curry, and Hood provided one or two skill sets when the Blazers really needed each to give them three or four. Their compartmentalization of tasks laid bare Portland’s biggest flaws, its lack of fluidity apparent when Stotts’ rotation shrank in the postseason.

There's no easy fix for what ails this team. The front office knows exactly what they are trying to get from the wing. This summer will perhaps be their biggest test, with both Harkless and Aminu’s status with the team up in the air. Whether by trade, draft, or free agency, Portland needs a more dynamic wing lineup. It’s now their most glaring weakness, and next season can’t be played with such large disparities created by the trade-offs in roster construction as it’s stood for the past few seasons.