The Trail Blazers held shootaround Friday morning at the Smoothie King Arena in preparation for tonight’s game against the Pelicans in New Orleans (tipoff at 5 PM on CSNNW and 620 AM). Some notes …
· Though he’s not going to play tonight, let alone on Sunday versus the Warriors, the big news at shootaround was LaMarcus Aldridge, who took a nasty fall in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s loss to the Spurs in San Antonio. Aldridge, who is using crutches to get around, took questions from the media for the first time on Friday for the first time since the injury, which he described as a Sacroiliac joint sprain. Here’s what he had to say …
What was going through your mind after the injury happened?
“That I had broke my tailbone or something, something in my back was fractured because it was just so painful that I felt like something was broke. I couldn’t move and it was just a really, really sharp pain going through my backside. I just was in pain. I was freaking out really.”
How are you feeling now?
“I’m better than I was. I’m not back to normal, I’m still on crutches. The area was so traumatized that it’s just taking time to get everything back active and moving good. But I’m definitely better than I was. I couldn’t even sit down my first day, my first night. I couldn’t sit like this, so this is improvement.”
When walking off court, it looked like you didn’t want to put weight on your right leg. Is it affecting your leg?
“Your back affects your leg. I landed on my right side on my back. When you walk, the back on your right side moves, so it was just painful. That’s why I’m not back walking yet because I have that contusion on the right side of my back, which makes it painful to walk.”
What is the treatment?
“Icing and working on range of motion, mobility, just trying to get everything back active.”
Any idea when you might return?
“No. We’re going to do those two games and reevaluate. So we’ll see.”
What were your emotions right after the injury occurred?
“I was mad at first because I felt like it wasn’t a good play to make by (Aron Baynes). Because the ball was gone and I had scored, so I was kind of mad that he even slid in there. It couldn’t have been a charge. So I was kind of mad at the way the whole thing happened. And then I was also mad because I had energy, and I felt like I was finna try to take over the game and be better than I was. So I was just kind of mad that it happened at that time, when I started to feel better. And then I was just concerned, because there was so much pain than I had ever felt before. And it wasn’t going away. So I was just freaking out.”
Your mother, Georgia, was probably concerned.
“Yeah. My mom called me like eight times. So I got into the locker room finally and I calmed down a little bit from the pain and I called her back.”
Where you freaking out? It seemed like you were really struggling. How long did it take for the initial pain to go away?
“Like 30 or 40 minutes for me to actually get my nerves. Your back is nerves and I hit it so hard that my nerves were just off. I was shaking and everything was just off. So it took like 30 or 40 minutes to just calm down and get the pain under control and realize that I wasn’t dying. Once I realized I wasn’t going to die, we started trying to do more things.”
Can you talk about the relief of it not being more serious?
“It probably looked bad to you all, but it felt worse. I fell like if they had a different angle it definitely would have looked worse. It definitely was some relief of it not being anything overly serious. It was just something that I could just rest and come back from.”
Have you been able to sleep with the injury?
“Not great, because you really can’t move. I just started to lay on my back. Last night was my first night to be able to lay on my back. I’m getting better though, it just takes time.”
· The the union that represents NBA players, the NBA Players Association, has been without an executive director since Billy Hunter, the long-time head of the union, was removed after various allegations of impropriety back in February. The search for a new leader is reportedly down to two finalists, though there have been complaints from some players that the process has been less than open, which is one of the complaints some had regarding Hunter’s 17-year reign.
To that end, NBA agent Jeff Schwartz recently wrote in an article on ESPN.com’s TrueHoop blog that the process of selecting a new executive director has been plagued with issues and should be conducted from scratch. Trail Blazers rookie CJ McCollum tweeted out a link to the column saying there were “some valid points” to Schwartz’s assertions.
“This is my future,” said McCollum when asked about the article at shootaround. “If you read through the article it has some very
interesting points. This is kind of the biggest decision of our lives for the next 10, 15 years. I feel like we should make sure we do all of our research and put the proper amount of time in rather than having us watch a video. I don’t think that’s a proper way to conduct a search that really depends on so much.”
The general feeling among players is that the union has come out too often on the losing end of recent negotiations with the NBA, with the most recent example being the current collective bargaining agreement, negotiated in 2011, which resulted in the players taking a lower percentage of league revenues in order to end an extended lockout.
“We started out at what, 63 percent (of basketball-related income),” said McCollum, “and went down to 57 (percent) now we’re at 51 or 49? Obviously there’s an increase in the amount of revenue the NBA is generating and we’re getting a decrease in money.”
When asked what kind of executive the union should look for, McCollum pointed to another professional sports league as a example of good leadership.
“I don’t know much about it just being a rookie, but obviously someone who has experience in the field, somebody that knows what we’re looking for in terms of the collective bargaining agreement and who can kind of relate to the player perspective,” said McCollum. “Obviously the MLB (union) is doing a great job of getting players money, getting players locked into guaranteed contracts, so hopefully it can be someone similar to who the MLB has in place.”
· Finally, Blazers center Meyers Leonard recently tweeted that he wouldn’t be posting on social media such as Twitter and Instagram until the end of the season. Leonard said there was no one instance that lead to his decision, just a desire to narrow distractions going into the most crucial part of the season.
“I guess just to kind of focus in and not really worry about what the outside world is saying,” said Leonard of his decision. “I think right now for our team especially, but for me personally as well, just to really lock in right now. Not that I’m not locked in, but with social media you see things. Positive or negative, I just want to be me for 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.”
Regarding what he’d tell free agents who might have “red flags” about joining Portland’s locker room…
“When I speak to these guys, I’m going to tell them what it is with our team on how we do things, what will be tolerated and what won’t. If we happen to get someone that has red flags, we don’t know for sure if that’s ‘he said, she said’ or if it’s real or if it’s the situation or people around him or what. But if it comes to our culture and our individual, it will be addressed. Nobody going to back down to nobody, let somebody come in here and think something is going to change, because it’s not. That’s not just me. I’m going to be the first one to say something because that’s just what it is. I know CJ (McCollum) is going to back that up and each guy down the line is going to back that up. We show up every day to practice to work, we show up on time, we hold each other accountable, we allow our teammates to hold us accountable and that’s the bottom line. We don’t do cute stuff, we show up and do what we’ve got to do and that’s it. If you don’t want to do it, it’s not going to work.”
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.