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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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
43 mins ago

Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. Thanks as always for listening.

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McCollum Talks Extension And Staying Hungry On Rip City Radio

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
6 days ago

Though it hasn’t been officially announced, news broke Monday that the Trail Blazers and CJ McCollum have agreed on a four-year maximum extension that will keep the combo guard out of Lehigh in Portland for the foreseeable future. A day later, McCollum joined Dan Sheldon and Aaron Fentress on 620 Rip City Radio to talk about signing the extension and his future in Portland, which you can listen to in its entirety below…

A few choice quotes from the 20 minute interview…

On when he found out that the extension was in the works..
“I found out a little while ago that we were in talks, we were discussing an extension this summer. I actually flew out to Las Vegas for a photo shoot with Nike around the time the Select Team was out there and my agent told me not to fly back to the east coast because I was supposed to fly back to Philly to watch my brother’s 3v3 tournament game. So once he told me to fly back to Oregon I had a pretty good idea things were going to be finalized shortly.”

On whether he was smiling on stage at Damian Lillard’s concert because he knew about the extension…
“I had a good idea they were in discussions and I was excited about the opportunity to extend my career with the Portland Trail Blazers. I love the city, I love the team and the organization. That smile was the combination of a lot of things.”

On why he didn’t hold out for any player options or trade kickers in his extension…
“I love the city and I’m happy here. I’ve actually been looking for homes since my rookie year but I was not going to buy because I’m a business man and I think it’s important you have a secure situation before you begin to make expensive purchases such as purchasing real estate. But I told my agent I like it here and I’m content. I like the situation I’m in, I like the staff and I’m happy to be here with no outs, no trade kickers, ect. I want to be here and I told him that. So I said ‘Do what you’ve got to do to get it done and have me here long term.’”

Regarding whether or not it will be difficult to wait a year before his new contract kicks in…
“No, no no. I do a really good job of keeping my team close. My business manager, my financial advisor, my agent, we do a great job of discussing financial situations and continue to play a budget. I’m just thankful to have the opportunity, but I’m not really counting down the clock or anything like that. This is a game I love dearly, this game is priceless. You can’t really put a price on this game I’ve played my entire life for free, it just so happens I’m fortunate enough to get a max contract and be able to play at the highest level and have a role that’s carved out. But the next step is to continue to get better and not worry about the money, not worry about the labels and all that stuff. You perform well on the court and everything else will fall into place. I don’t really have any dates set. I make good money now and obviously I’ll make great money later, but it’s all in good time. I just try to live in the present.”

How he plans on staying motivated with a max contract…
“I stay paranoid. That’s the thing that got me to this point is being paranoid, playing with a chip on your shoulder understanding that it’s more than just money, it’s more than just playing for a starting spot. You’re playing for your last name, you’re representing the organization, I’m representing Canton, Ohio every time I step on the court, I represent Lehigh University. Growing up my mom and dad always told me you play this game because you love it, you play it because it’s fun and the rest will fall into place and you just have to pretend every time you step on the court there’s a little kid watching you that’s never seen you play before. He’s never seen you play, he’s only heard stories about you and his only impression is going to be of how you perform that day. So that’s kind of how I carried myself and why I put so much time in, because I don’t want that little kid to be disappointed in me. I don’t want him to say ‘Ah man, CJ’s not as good as we thought, doesn’t play as hard as I thought he was going to play.’ I want him to say ‘Wow, he goes hard no matter what, he plays a total game, he plays unselfishly and he had fun doing it.’ So that’s the kind mark I want to leave and eventually when I have kids I want them to understand that I got here through hard work. Nothing was ever handed to me.”

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Trail Blazers Fourth In The West In ESPN Summer Forecast

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
6 days ago

We’re nearing the dog days of the NBA year now that summer league is over and free agency has cooled down. There’s still the release of the 2016-17 regular season schedule, which usually takes place in early to mid August, and the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will feature a bevy of NBA players from various countries, but other than that, things should be relatively quiet until training camp starts at the end of September.

But with the main pieces of most rosters already in place, it’s somewhat feasible to start considering how the 2016-17 season is going to shake out, especially considering the Cavaliers, the 2016 NBA champs, made it through the offseason mostly intact (assuming LeBron James actually signs his contract) and the Warriors, already a favorite to make it back to the NBA Finals, added Kevin Durant. Barring significant injury, both those teams are likely to win their respective conferences, or if nothing else, will be picked by just about very NBA analyst to meet for the third-straight season in the Finals. But what about everybody else?

Well, the folks over at ESPN are taking a crack at that question, despite the season being almost a quarter of the year away, with their yearly summer forecast. As expected, the panel at ESPN is picking the Warriors to win the West in 2016-17 with a projected record of 67-15, which is six games worse than their 2015-16 record (one assumes that’s due to the notion Golden State won’t be gunning for the NBA record for most wins in a season this year). From there, they’ve got the Spurs in second, the Clippers in third and your Portland Trail Blazers in fourth

Last season’s surprise, our panel sees further progress for a Portland team that spent serious dough this summer to keep its roster intact. The Blazers spent just north of a combined $290 million dollars this offseason on new deals for C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Evan Turner. And with Damian Lillard’s five year, $139.9 million contract kicking in this season, Portland is going all-in to return to contention in the West.

The ESPNers have the Trail Blazers going 46-38 this season, which would be a two-win improvement over last season. I’ve heard a number of people throw out 50 wins as a best-case scenario for the 2016-17 team thanks to the additions of Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli along with continued improvement from Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Mason Plumlee, Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe, so this projection seems in line with local consensus (if there is such a thing three months before the season starts). But outside of record, finishing fourth in the West after ending last season fifth seems like a good goal for an up-and-coming team trying to prove their 2015-16 performance wasn’t a fluke.

As for the rest of the West, the ESPN panel has the Jazz in fifth, the Durant-less Thunder in sixth, the Grizzlies in seventh and the Rockets rounding out the playoff-eligible in eighth. Also worth nothing the 2015 summer forecast had the Trail Blazers finishing 11th in the West with a 31-51 record, so you never know.

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