Practice Notes: Matthews Returns, Freeland Rises

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers went through a light practice on Friday after finishing off their preseason schedule with a 90-74 victory against the Warriors in Oakland. A few items of note …

· Wesley Matthews, who missed Thursday’s game after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during practice on Wednesday, was medically cleared to return to practice.

“It wasn’t very settling,” deadpanned Matthews. “I didn’t know what it was, I was confused. I was worried because we do our stress echos and we do all of our heart stuff and testing during our physicals and that was three weeks ago and everything was fine, everything was normal. So something that just happened out of nowhere. Right away my mind went to fear but now, after talking to the specialist and talking to the doctor, everybody is more on line of that it was just a fluke.”

Matthews said he went through most of Wednesday’s practice without issue, but he knew something was amiss when he couldn’t get his heart to return to its normal rhythm during a break in practice.

“We were shooting free throws and all the sudden I just felt my heart racing, like it was trying to jump out of my chest,” said Matthews. “I kept playing for a little bit and then I pulled myself out. Then it was just a whirlwind of events after that.”

That whirlwind included Matthews being whisked from the practice facility to the hospital where his heart was put back into rhythm by using a defibrillator similar to what you’ve surely seen on any number of television hospital dramas. He said the doctors weren’t sure why he experienced the irregularity, but said a combination of stress, fatigue and, specifically, difficulty sleeping might have had something to do with it.

“We’re going to definitely monitor, we’re going to keep tabs on it but it’s basically how I feel,” said Matthews. “I’m going to get a heart monitor later today, just track it and make sure everything is okay. I’m going to go see a sleep specialist. I’m going to get hooked up with one of those chambers to make sure I can sleep. Make sure we’re covering all our bases.”

· After Joel Freeland played the majority of minutes at backup center in Thursday night’s game, signaling that he had won the role of backup center over Meyers Leonard, many in the media wanted to know how and why that decision was made. According to Stotts, it was simply that Freeland has performed better in the preseason than Leonard.

“Joel has earned his minutes,” said Stotts. “We need defense from that position. The focus that we’ve put on defense as a team has paid off so far. Joel has earned it. He’s had an impact on the game defensively, he’s had a really good summer. It’s nothing against Meyers. I think Meyers has improved. He’s much better than he was last year, he’s going to continue to get better, but at this point, Joel has earned it.”

Stotts also pointed out that just because he’s narrowed his rotation down going into the start of the regular season, that in no way means Leonard won’t have an opportunity to fight for more minutes as the season progresses.

“It’s a long season, 82 games, opportunities happen,” said Stotts. “He’ll get an opportunity, he just needs to keep working. Things happen throughout the season and when his opportunity comes, when his number is called, he has to be ready.”

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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
22 hours 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/ 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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VIDEO: McCollum Brothers Talk Tournament, Who’s Mom’s Favorite on ESPN

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.

But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.


“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”

Sounds about right.

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Stotts Talks Super Teams And Suits On The Doug Gottlieb Show

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.

You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…

On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”

On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”

On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”

His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”

On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”

On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”

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