Aldridge Withdraws From Team USA, Lillard Still A Go

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

The 19-man pool from which the 12-man roster for the 2014 USA Men’s National Team that will be competing at the FIBA World Cup (formerly known as the World Championship) this summer in Spain was announced this morning, and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who drew much praise for his performance at the Team USA minicamp back in July of 2013, is included. Lillard was one of the 26 players included in the initial pool of players announced back in January, so it’s no surprise that the second-year guard out of Weber State has been invited to compete for one of those roster spots, especially after his performance during the 2013-14 NBA regular and post season.

From the USA Basketball press release …

Featuring 19 players, including two players who are new additions to the 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team roster, USA Basketball Chairman and National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo today announced this summer’s USA Basketball Men’s National Team from which the 2014 USA World Cup Team will be selected.

Added to the 2014-16 USA National Team roster and participating in the July-28-Aug. 1 USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas, Nevada, are NBA standouts DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors) and Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks).

Previously named USA National Team members who are confirmed to participate in the 2014 Las Vegas training camp include: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).

What does come as a bit of a surprise is that LaMarcus Aldridge, who was also on the initial list of potential Team USA players, is not on the roster. A source confirmed that Aldridge was initially invited, but has since withdrawn his name from consideration (USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo apparently said the same thing after the roster announcement was made).

“We can only offer an opportunity,” Colangelo said in a conference call Monday morning, “and then they can either accept or not. In Aldridge’s case, this has happened a couple of times previously. But the bottom line is he advised us that he’s not available.”

It’s not entirely clear why Aldridge decided not to make himself available for the 2014 World Cup team, though it’s possible that he’s simply opting to use the summer to rest and prepare for the Trail Blazers 2014-15 season.

On the international side, Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum and Victor Claver are expected to play for France and Spain, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup, which begins August 30.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Post Free Agency Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
44 mins ago

With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. And a reminder that the offseason is a great time to leave a review on iTunes!

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Trail Blazers Match Four-Year Offer For Allen Crabbe

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.

ORIGINAL POST

After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…


As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.

But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…

With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.

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Trail Blazers Sign Meyers Leonard To Four-Year Deal

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announce that they have signed Meyers Leonard to a new contract. From the press release…

“Meyers is a core member of our organization and continues to show the promise and potential we anticipated when we drafted him,” said Olshey.

Leonard averaged career-highs with 8.4 points (44.8% FG, 37.7% 3-PT76.1% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 21.9 minutes in 61 games (10 starts) in 2015-16. He missed the final 14 games of the regular season due to an injured left shoulder.

“Today is a day which is hard to describe. I’m overcome with happiness and joy,” said Leonard. “I’m thankful for the people who have remained loyal and loving in my life. This is the product of a lot of hard work and time. I feel like I have found a new gear mentally and physically and really am excited for the next four years. The future is going to be bright with this team.”

ORIGINAL POST

The Trail Blazers and Meyers Leonard sat down at the negotiating table prior to the start of the 2015-16 season in an effort to hammer out a new contract in an effort to keep the 7-1 power forward from hitting the (restricted) free agent market. Despite mutual interest, the two sides were unable to strike a deal, though considering the Trail Blazers had the right to match any offer Leonard received as a free agent, it always seemed likely he’d be back even if terms on an extension couldn’t be reached.

As it turns out, an offer sheet from another team wasn’t needed for both sides to ultimately come to an agreement.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Leonard and the Trail Blazers have agreed on a new four-year deal worth $41 million

Leonard, a restricted free agent, has built his value as a stretch four with an ability to spread the floor and deliver a presence on the defensive boards.

Leonard is part of a core expected to compete for 50 victories in the Western Conference this season.

Leonard, 24, missed the final 20 regular-season games with a left shoulder surgery in 2015-16, but has shown steady improvement in the past two years after being selected at No. 11 overall in the 2012 NBA draft.

The reported four-year deal is roughly the same as the offer the Trail Blazers reportedly extended to Leonard prior to the start of the 2015-16 season. At the time, it was reasonable to assume Leonard might receive a larger offer from another team, as his combination of size, athleticism and shooting are highly sought after in today’s NBA. But missing the final 20 games of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, not to mention the widely-held assumption that the Blazers would match any reasonable offer for Leonard, likely cooled interest from other teams. And though he didn’t say it explicitly, it always seemed as though Leonard’s preference was to continue his career in Portland after being selected by the Trail Blazers with the 11th overall pick of the 2012 Draft.

“I was drafted here, I’ve been with Terry (Stotts) the entire time, Neil (Olshey) obviously drafted me, being here with now our franchise player Damian (Lillard),” said Leonard back in March. “So the future is bright here and I truly hope that I can be a big part of it.”

Leonard returns to a big man rotation that features Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Festus Ezeli, who signed with Portland as a free agent on Friday.

While Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said the team is done chasing new free agents for the year, whether restricted free agents Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe, who received an offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets worth reportedly $75 million over four years on Thursday, return to Portland next season is still to be determined. The team has until 9 pm Sunday night to decide whether or not to match the offer made to Crabbe.

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