Free Agency Roundup: Day 3

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

Welcome to Day 3 of NBA Free Agency 2014. The consensus seems to be that the league is in somewhat of a holding pattern until the big name free agents make their decisions, which isn’t great news for those executives hoping to enjoy some down time over the Fourth of July holiday.

While there are rules about what teams can and can’t say during the free agency moratorium, we are allowed to post what others media outlets are reporting. So here, without comment, is today’s roundup of the most recent news regarding the Trail Blazers and free agency …

Sources: Blazers Gauge Steve Blake’s Interest, Chris Haynes, CSNNW …

On Day 1 of free agency the Portland Trail Blazers inquired about the interest of veteran free agent point guard Steve Blake, league sources informed CSNNW.com.

These sources that requested anonymity describes the call to his representatives as merely a “feeler ” inquiry with sides expected to reengage down the road.

Blake, 34, is no stranger to the city of Portland. He played three and a half seasons with the team and loved his experience so much that he purchased a home in Portland where his family resides in the offseason. We’re told by one of the sources that Blake “would love to come back to Portland to play for the Trail Blazers.”

ESPN.com SportsNation Chat With Kevin Pelton

Ryan (The D)
Where does Monroe end up? Is it realistic to hope for sign and trade with Portland that sends Batum to Pistons?

Kevin Pelton
No. That wouldn’t fill a need for the Blazers, and would create one in the process.

kyle (portland)
what are some realistic options for the Blazers this off season? who should they be looking at?

Kevin Pelton
They seem to be focused on using their MLE on a stretch big man, which is a little disappointing for Thomas Robinson given how well he played late in the season, but understandable nonetheless. In that scenario, they probably bring back Mo Williams using his non-Bird Rights. If they don’t use the full MLE on a big, I’d encourage them to look at Bo McCalebb as a Williams replacement.

Nick (Boston)
How crazy is this idea: Heat sign and trade Bosh to Portland for Nic Batum and T-Rob. Then with remaining cap space, Heat sign Okafor. Remotely possible? Would PDX move Batum for Bosh?

Kevin Pelton
The Blazers aren’t trading Batum for a starter at a position where they already have a perfectly good starter in Robin Lopez.

Geoff (PDX)
who would Portland trade Batum for?

Kevin Pelton
Well, if someone wants to offer a younger/better small forward, the Blazers might listen. But a challenge trade is the only thing that really makes sense with Batum.

Dave (SLC)
Would you match a MAX offer for Hayward or try and work an S&T?

Kevin Pelton
I would probably match it. I feel similar to this about Nicolas Batum and Minnesota, when lots of intelligent people felt the Blazers should sign-and-trade him for Derrick Williams, a move that would not have worked well. At some point, you’ve got to keep quality young starters.

Short-term deal may be best option for Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons, Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press …

In numerous conversations with league executives, scouts and agents over the past two years, not one considered Monroe a max player.

Let’s look at the reported suitors: Portland, Washington, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, Cleveland and the Lakers.

It’s hard to see the Wizards’ interest when they will retain center Marcin Gortat.

Monroe’s camp was working on a deal with the Blazers as agent David Falk was trying to get something in place quickly. The Blazers have reportedly met with free-agent center Spencer Hawes.

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Leonard To Undergo Shoulder Surgery, Out For Season

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 month ago

It was always likely that Meyers Leonard would miss significant playing time after suffering a dislocated left shoulder, his second such injury this season, during a recent practice in San Antonio. The only question was whether the 7-1 power forward in his fourth season out of Illinois would heal in time for a potential playoff run.

Turns out, that won’t be the case. The team announced Thursday that Leonard will undergo surgery to repair his left shoulder and will miss the rest of the season. Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthapaedic Clinic in Los Angeles will perform the procedure April 8, five days before the end of the regular season. The team did not specify the exact nature of the procedure.

Leonard, who started the first nine games of the season, missed seven games over the course of 17 days after dislocating his left shoulder for the first time this season in a game against the Spurs on November 11. He did not undergo surgery after the first dislocation, opting for rest of non-surgical treatments. Leonard returned to the lineup on November 28 in a reserve role and appeared in the next 52 games before re-injuring his shoulder during a practice at Trinity College on March 16.

“Went to take a shot and Gerald (Henderson) tried to slap the ball away, just unfortunately hit me the wrong way and my arm,” said Leonard. “Same thing (as the last time he dislocated his shoulder) pinned down and in and it just came out.”

Leonard finishes the season having appeared in 61 games, averaging 8.4 points on 45 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from three, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 21.9 minutes. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, giving the 24 year-old big the option of entertaining offers from other teams while giving Portland the right to match any such offer.

“Definitely less than ideal timing to have something like this happen,” said Leonard on March 17. “One for the team, I felt like I was finally starting to pick it back up again, been shooting the ball pretty well, rebounding much better, felt like I was really helping the team. Just for me personally, obviously I’m more focused on how I’ve been playing. This summer, what’s going to happen is what’s going to happen. I’m not really too concerned about that. But I want to show people what I can do, so this obviously wasn’t very good timing.”

Maurice Harkless and Chris Kaman have seen increases in playing time based on matchups with Leonard out, a trend that will likely continue going forward.

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Leonard Discusses Shoulder Injury And ‘Less Than Ideal Timing’

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

SAN ANTONIO — The Trail Blazers held shootaround Thursday morning at the AT&T Center in San Antonio in preparation for tonight’s game versus the Spurs. Meyers Leonard was there, but he didn’t participate, as the 7-1 power forward is out indefinitely after dislocating his left shoulder for the second time this season during Wednesday’s practice at Trinity University.

“We were just doing five-on-five yesterday, working on switching guards to bigs pick and roll similar to something we might see with LaMarcus (Aldridge) or something like that tonight during the game,” explained Leonard. “Went to take a shot and Gerald (Henderson) tried to slap the ball away, just unfortunately hit me the wrong way and my arm. Same thing (as the last time he dislocated his shoulder) pinned down and in and it just came out.”

Leonard said it took a couple tries before the team trainer was able to get his shoulder back into its socket and that he’s still experiencing quite a bit of discomfort from the injury. He has not yet had an x-ray or MRI on his shoulder, as the team is waiting for the pain and swelling to subside before assessing the severity of the injury.

“I’m definitely very stiff and sore this morning,” said Leonard. “It’s hard knowing really specifically where it’s at just because this is the second time, but it’s also the morning after. I’ve just got to kind of take it day by day I suppose.”

There is currently no timeline for Leonard’s return, though he did say he would miss at least the three remaining games of Portland’s current four-game road trip. He missed seven games over the course of 17 days when he first dislocated his left shoulder in a November 11 loss to the Spurs, and considering that every subsequent dislocation increases the chances of the injury occurring again, it’s is possible he’ll miss at least the same amount of time, if not more, this time around.

“We’ll see over the next couple days. Being evaluated by (Director of Health and Performance) Chris Stackpole, (Team Trainer) Geoff (Clarke) and everybody will be very important. For the first couple days you really just want to kind of let it be… Once they get their hands on my shoulder, test range of motion and things like that, we’ll see.”

While there is never a good time to get injured, Leonard’s shoulder dislocation is particularly ill-timed. With less than a month to go before the end of the regular season, the Trail Blazers are in a tough stretch of games that will determine if they make the postseason and what seed they’ll end up with if they do. What’s more, Leonard will be an restricted free agent this summer, and while players over the last few years have managed to draw substantial offers despite suffering serious, season-ending injuries, it’s certainly not the preferred way one would like to enter a negotiation.

“Definitely less than ideal timing to have something like this happen,” said Leonard. “One for the team, I felt like I was finally starting to pick it back up again, been shooting the ball pretty well, rebounding much better, felt like I was really helping the team. Just for me personally, obviously I’m more focused on how I’ve been playing. This summer, what’s going to happen is what’s going to happen. I’m not really too concerned about that. But I want to show people what I can do, so this obviously wasn’t very good timing.”

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Lowe: Portland Probably Quiet At The Trade Deadline

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 months ago

It’s been relatively quiet in terms of rumors with the trade deadline set to expire on Thursday. But now that everyone is back in their offices and thawed out after a few subzero days in Toronto, it’s possible that the trade front begins to heat up.

Then again, the combination of the salary cap skyrocketing this offseason, prompting teams to keep their options open heading into the free agent signing period in July, and the feeling that no move is going to improve a second-tier team enough to contend with the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers of the NBA, leaves one with the sense that the deadline could come and go with little movement. But it only takes one deal to set off a chain reaction of transactions, and there’s still plenty of time between now and Thursday night for that to take place.

But according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, one of the few must-reads covering the NBA, and his tea leaves, the Trail Blazers will probably play it cool at the deadline despite currently sitting in 7th place in the Western Conference with a 27-27 record. Lowe notes that while Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey could try to accelerate Portland’s rebuild if there’s “a young-ish player who fits the timeline of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum” and notes that teams nervous about what offers their restricted free agents (both Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe will be restricted free agents this offseason) might receive from other teams have been generally more willing to trade those players rather than lose them without compensation.

But Lowe eventually comes to the conclusion (which I happen to share, by the way) that the Trail Blazers probably stand pat aside from using their ample cap space to lessen another team’s luxury tax bill in exchange for minor compensation…

The Blazers are high on Crabbe, but Leonard’s asking price in preseason extension talks gave them sticker shock. (The restricted free-agency thing is yet another reason to keep an eye on Boston, with both Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller ticking toward it).

Alas, the Blazers owe their pick to Denver if they make the playoffs, and given Olshey’s draft record, he might prefer to keep it. My best guess: Portland avoids an upgrade, uses its space to nab a couple of extra second-rounders and resumes its pursuit of (Greg) Monroe — or someone else — around draft time.

Which has always been the most likely scenario. The Trail Blazers are roughly $13 million below the salary minimum, so absorbing the contract of a player in the final year of his deal would cost Portland literally nothing while likely netting at least a second-round pick or two. It’s not sexy, but it’s better than nothing.

But again, there’s plenty of time between now and the deadline and we’ve all been wrong before.

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