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.”
It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.
But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…
In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.
With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.
UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.
After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…
The Portland Trail Blazers have matched Allen Crabbe’s four-year, $75M offer sheet with Brooklyn, league source tells @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
Nets bid on Crabbe has been thwarted — and Crabbe returns to Blazers on four-year, $75M contract. Now, Nets wait on Tyler Johnson sheet.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
The message out of Portland ownership and management is clear: Blazers trying to win this year and beyond — loading up on this roster.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 10, 2016
As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.
But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.
There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…
— Allen Crabbe (@allencrabbe) July 10, 2016
With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.