On this week’s BS Report, one of the weekly podcast on Grantland.com, host Bill Simmons and TNT analyst and Trail Blazer player Steve Kerr discuss the Portland Trail Blazers twice throughout the course of the hour long show. You can listen to the podcast in it’s entirety here, but for your convenience, I’ve transcribed the two segments pertaining to Portland.
First, Simmons brings up the Trail Blazers as the anti-Cavaliers, a team struggling at 4-7 with roster issues.
Kerr: … (Cavaliers guard Dion) Waiters is the guy who doesn’t really fit into the whole equation. You kind of mentioned it, he needs the ball. To me the biggest problem is he wants to dribble the ball all the time. You really only want one guy on your team who is going to break down the defense off the dribble. Once you get more than one, you get two or three guys like that and they all want to do it all the time, then you get no offensive rhythm and no ball movement. I think that]s a problem. The Waiters/Kyrie (Irving) combination just does not look very good.
Simmons: Then you look at it on the flip side, you know, Portland, which was a team I actually thought was going to make the playoffs. You watch that team offensively and the pieces make sense, right? Like, (Damian) Lillard has the ball most of the time, they have shooters in place, they have a low post game, (Robin) Lopez doesn’t want the ball. And just the way that roster, the way their five guys mesh, makes sense. I watched that Cleveland team and it didn’t make sense.
But the section with the most meat comes when the conversation turns to the Rockets and Omer Asik, who is reportedly disgruntled with his role as Dwight Howard’s backup and who the Rockets are currently attempting to trade. Simmons throws out the idea of Houston moving Asik to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, to the Pelicans for Ryan Anderson, to the Celtics for Jeff Green or to the Trail Blazers for Lopez and parts …
Simmons: I think Portland’s a possibility too because you think, like, (Houston) gets (Robin) Lopez back, they get one more shooter, they get Portland’s draft pick. And just Portland upgrading from, if they could figure out a way to upgrade from Lopez to Asik, now all the sudden they’d have a chance for like a four or a five seed, I feel like.
Kerr: Yeah, Portland would be interesting. They’re obviously a great story at 9-2. I thought they’d be pretty good. I thought they’d be the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs just because they’re very good offensively and I felt like they’d be better on “D”. Terry Stotts has made some adjustments with their pick and roll coverage. Lopez, even though he’s not a flashy guy who you say “Wow, look at that guy!” he does some good things for them. He protects the rim, so their defense has gotten much better, which has allowed them to finish out games on the road like we’ve seen the last couple nights in Toronto and Brooklyn.
Simmons: You drafted Lopez.
Kerr: I did (Kerr was the Suns general manager from 2007 to 2010). I did, so you have to take that for what it’s worth. Maybe I’ve got a little bias going but I just think, if you want to really compete in the NBA at a high level, you have to have rim protection of some sort. Chicago, two years ago, the reason they were so great and they were in the conference finals with Miami was there bench play with (Taj) Gibson and (Omer) Asik coming in together was so devastating defensively and then they always had (Joakim) Noah in the there to protect the rim as well. Unless you have Lebron — then you can do things in an unorthodox manner — you better have somebody who can protect the rim.
Simmons: I like Lopez. That trade, everything that New Orleans did, and I wrote about it, Jalen and I talked about it in our big preview series, I just hated what New Orleans did. To give away Lopez, who I think was only five million bucks this year, to just give him away because you wanted to overpay Tyreke Evans is just nonsensical to me. I’d rather have Lopez! Just in a vacuum I’d rather have Lopez. But then if I were to pay him half as much as Tyreke Evans, I would double rather have Lopez!
Note: If the Trail Blazers pick in the 2014 Draft is 13 or later, it goes to the Bobcats, which was stipulated in the trade that netted the Trail Blazers Gerald Wallace.
Let’s also remember that this is just Simmons and Kerr shooting the breeze, not a rumor of any substance. Having said that, I know a lot of folks love Asik, but is he so much better than Lopez that you pay almost double for him AND potentially give up picks and, as Simmons suggests, a shooter? I suppose I could be persuaded, but I just don’t know. I like what we’ve got going right now.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is currently holding his annual youth basketball camp in Beaverton, and unlike some of these events put on by other players, Lillard is there actually there working with the kids every day. If you send your child to the Damian Lillard Basketball Camp, he or she is going to meet Damian Lillard.
But even though the focus is on the kids, Lillard took a few minutes to take questions from the media about the camp, his recent trip to Asia, working with Special Olympics, the upcoming free agent signing period on his involvement with recruiting and why he declined to to play for Team USA.
Regarding the Damian Lillard Basketball Camp experience…
“When I get up there and speak, I tell them ‘Make sure you thank your parents, make sure you listen to the coaches, follow their instructions, be coachable, work hard.’ Just simple things like that, a lot of basic things that could teach them a lot more than how simple it is, things like that. Just being here and having a presence is the biggest thing. The session that you guys just watched, it’s something that I’ve enjoyed because it allows me to kind of break apart the game for the kids. For them it might be a little bit boring, but it’s 10 minutes of the day where they get to listen and see what’s going on, that it’s deeper than just a pass and a shot. Some of them are probably too young to follow it as well as the older ones, but I think it’s something that you can really teach them at a young age.”
On his relationship with Special Olympics…
“When I was 17, when I first got on campus at Weber State, it was a mandatory thing, we did a one day camp with Special Olympics. The first day I kind of just went in there, I didn’t really know much about it. But then I saw that some of them, they wanted to play against us and they could actually play. They had as much passion with the game as I did, they really enjoyed our company. I’ll never forget, it was a random day like months after the Special Olympics event and there was a kid — I’ll never forget his name — Jason Depper. I was at the mall and he walked up to me at the mall like ‘Remember I made that shot on you?’ and I was just like ‘That’s funny.’ It had that type of impact on him. I’ve been involved ever since.”
On his recent trip through Asia with adidas…
“It was fun, did some pop-ups at stores. I went to some 3-on-3 tournaments, watched a lot of kids play. They’re playing so they can all make it to Beijing and it’s like a super tournament over there right now. I did some promotion for my shoes and things like that, I went back to a store that I opened up after my rookie year in Taipei, I went back to Manila. We did a huge event there, I got to get in the three-point shootout, they let me perform a couple times over there. It was kind of on the spot performances, but I had a lot of fun.”
Why he decided not to be a part of the 2016 Olympic team…
“It was simple: the last three months of the season I played with plantar fasciitis and it really bothered me. There was days the games seemed like the only time I could play, and that was adrenaline and two hours of treatment before the game. I didn’t want to go into next season dealing with it. I actually really wanted to play and I was really close to saying ‘Just forget it, I’m going to go’ but I didn’t want to go to Rio and come back a month before training camp and my foot still be bothering me, then I can’t give what I want to give to my team. That was just more important to me.”
On free agency…
“I think there’s some guys out there that can really help take our team to the next level. I really like the guys we have, too. I’m a strong believer that if guys go home and get better over the summer, we come back, we’ll be that much better. We’ll continue to get better. But my job is to make sure that I’m prepared and when I’m asked about a player that can help us, I’m going to give my honest opinion. That’s my duty to our team.”
His thoughts on Portland’s free agency plan…
“I’m excited, because it’s not hard to see… Our whole roster could look at free agency and say ‘This guy could help us, this guy could help us.’ It’s just a matter of how bad they want to be here, what we have to offer compared to what they would like. We’ll see where it goes. I have no doubt that our team is going to be ready regardless of who we bring in, who we don’t bring in. We’ll come back ready.”
Whether he’s going to help recruit free agents in person…
“Maybe. Maaaaaaybe… I might. To help our team, of course.”
Greetings fans of NBA offseason news. With the 2106 Draft now completed and the free agent moratorium less than 48 away, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
This week, Trail Blazers power forward Meyers Leonard joins the show to discuss his travels around Oregon this offseason, rehabbing from the shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his 2015-16 season, “sprint mechanics” and his upcoming restricted free agency. As for the rest of the show, we briefly recap Portland’s draft night, which netted the team Maryland forward Jake Layman, discuss what we know about the negotiations regarding the team’s television rights and discuss the unpredictability that is free agency.
The relationship between Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver predates both of their current occupations. When the two first sat down for a interview back in 2010, McCollum had not yet been drafted by the Trail Blazers with the 10th overall pick of the 2012 Draft (though that would happen later that night) and Silver, while already tabbed to take over for outgoing commissioner David Stern, was still pulling duty as deputy commissioner.
Every year since then, McCollum and Silver have met up in New York City after the end of the season to discuss topics pertaining to the NBA and society in general. In 2014, they discussed the situation with the previous Los Angeles Clippers ownership, the age limit, emerging technologies, Silver’s first year as the NBA’s head honcho and their favorite Jay-Z tracks. In 2015, McCollum, armed with a few seasons of experience and a new job at The Players’ Tribune, followed up on some of the questions from the year before regarding the age limit while also bringing up issues such as ads on jerseys, transparency in officiating and head injuries.
And in their fourth annual interview, released on The Players’ Tribune as a part of McCollum’s summer internship with the athlete-owned website, the two discuss how far they’ve come (or in CJ’s case, how much weight he’s lost) since their first meeting in 2012, Silver’s handshakes, whether the NBA would have their All-Star Weekend at “remote locations” like the NFL, whether the league is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the 2016 NBA Finals and the suspension of Draymond Green and recent efforts to increase diversity in NBA front offices. You can watch an excerpt of the interview in the above video, or read the entire Q&A over at The Players’ Tribune.