Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers can continue search for a big, but answer could be on their own bench

Trail Blazers

After watching Saturday night’s game, it struck me… Why would the Trail Blazers go out and sign another big to their roster?

Last offseason, they had their choice of many of the same free-agent bigs who are available now -- and they chose to sign Harry Giles. And as near as I can tell, from his exhibition game performances and the tiny chances he’s getting during the regular season, Giles is better than any of those available players this team already passed on.

Against the Hawks Saturday, he played just 11:23 and had five rebounds, an assist and made one of the two shots he took. But for someone who hasn’t played much, he still seemed confident, comfortable and, most of all, active and energized.

By now, everyone knows that Coach Terry Stotts is reluctant to use young and inexperienced players for extended minutes. But what I notice is that Giles’ teammates always seem to say good things about him. They praise him for his work ethic and ability. It’s almost as if they are subtly lobbying for him.

After the Atlanta game, Damian Lillard was going down the list of teammates who contributed to the win and made sure he name-checked Giles.

 

“It was definitely a team effort,” Lillard said. “Everybody contributed, especially down the stretch -- Harry as well, I can't leave Harry out because he was big for us.”

Giles has played in only nine games and averages just a bit over eight minutes on the court. That really isn’t enough to find out what he can contribute in a bigger role.

The point is, there are players on the roster now who might be able to help fill the void created by Jusuf Nurkic’s injury.

But they aren’t getting much of a shot.

When Stotts uses small lineups with Robert Covington at center, it should create some playing time for Nassir Little, almost an unknown soldier on this team. Little has played in just three games for 18 total minutes. I’m not sure if he can help, but I do not think we will ever know that until he gets meaningful minutes on the court.

And for both players, that means minutes where they will not have to worry about being yanked out of the game after one mistake.

The small lineup should also mean more minutes for Gary Trent, who should be the No. 1 scoring option off the bench. Trent is shooting 44.3 percent from three-point range but getting only 5.5 attempts per game from that distance.

He is averaging 24.4 minutes per game, but if that time is extended, it would bring more production for a bench unit that often needs more scoring.

In short, the Trail Blazers can shop the discount market all they want, but what they need might just be right there on the shelf in front of them.