Shootaround Notes: Injury Updates, Stotts Opposed To A Four-Point Line

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers held shootaround this morning at the Pepsi Center in Denver in preparation for their game tonight against the Nuggets (tipoff at 6 PM on CSNNW and 620 AM). Some notes …

· Despite traveling with the team to Denver, Trail Blazers starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (left groin strain) will not play in Tuesday night’s game versus the Nuggets. It is not known if he underwent the evaluation he was scheduled to undergo after the team announced on Feb. 18 that he would sit out at least a week. Head coach Terry Stotts said only that there was “no update” on Aldridge’s status.

Aldridge was seen on court shooting jumpers after the team’s shootaround on Tuesday. Stotts said after the team’s practice on Monday that they would have to ease Aldridge back into the rotation since he hasn’t played a competitive game in roughly two weeks.

· Nicolas Batum is close to being able to take off the splint he’s been wearing on his left (non-shooting) middle finger since fracturing it in the fourth quarter of the Jan. 4 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Moda Center.

“I’m a week away from taking it off and not wearing it every day, just for games,” said Batum. “It should be six weeks, but we broke (the splint) so I have to wear it one or two more weeks.”

Batum suffered a minor setback when he aggravated the injury in Portland’s 126-113 loss to the Rockets in Houston on Jan. 20, but has had no issues with the finger since.

“I’m good now,” said Batum. “I’ve got no pain when I play. It gets hit, I got no pain. I haven’t bent my finger for weeks now, so that’s going to be the next part. After I take it off I have to do a little rehab and see how it feels. But I have to play with (the splint) for the next three weeks anyway. Off the court I can take it off, start to do normal life and stuff without it. ”

· While Meyers Leonard (sprained left ankle) didn’t travel with the team to Denver, fellow Trail Blazers big man Joel Freeland, who suffered a right MCL sprain in the Feb. 11 loss to the Thunder at the Moda Center did make the trip despite being out for at least the next three weeks.

“I feel okay, it’s just the knee is real unstable at the moment,” said Freeland. “Slight movements I’m doing I can feel it, like a slight clicking and an opening up of the knee. But other than that, there’s no pain. I’m working out, I’m doing a lot of bike work, just trying to stay in shape as much as I can. That’s pretty much it.”

While there might be instability in his knee (the MCL is one of the ligaments that helps stabilize the knee, particularly when moving laterally), Freeland said there isn’t much pain associated with the sprain, especially when wearing a brace, which, somewhat ironically, makes the injury more frustrating to deal with.

“If I’m injured, if it doesn’t hurt, I’m ready to go,” said Freeland. “Pain has always been my guide to if I’m ready or not. Now I don’t really have a guide. The only guide I have is the strange feeling I have in the knee where it kind of opens up. They said that’s really my pain, that’s what I have to go by.”

The initial prognosis that Freeland would miss four to eight weeks with the injury has not changed, though he did say he was told by doctors that he was healing faster than expected.

“I’m hoping I’m going to wake up one day and I’m going to feel a difference,” said Freeland, “like a difference in the structure and how it feels stability-wise and I’ll go from there.”

· Finally, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com reported Tuesday morning that the league has had very loose, exploratory discussions of adding a four-point line, though the NBA has since put out a release stating that ESPN.com, “chose to make a story that doesn’t exist.”

Which is just fine by Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who was not enthused at the idea of adding another range beyond the three-point line.

“I’d be opposed,” said Stotts. “To give a halfcourt shot four points? You play good defense (for a possession) and a guy throws one in, I think it’s probably too much of a gimmick.”

One might assume that Stotts, whose offensive system heavily features three-point shots, would be supportive of an extra reward for long-range shots, especially considering, as Haberstroh points out, that Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is shooting 60 percent on shots between 28 and 32 feet this season. But Stotts says that, while it might work for his team, it wouldn’t necessarily be good for the game.

“There’s always been coaches that kind of lobby for rules changes that benefit their team,” said Stotts, “but I think you’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of the game.”

While he might not care of the idea of a four-point line, Stotts was adamant that it is vital for the NBA to continue to look at ways to improve the game, as the league did over a decade ago when rules regarding handchecking, backcourt violations and illegal defense were changed.

“I think you always have to look at different things that might improve the game,” said Stotts. “I think discussion is very important. I think the game is good but, we made radical changes to the game in 2001 and it was for the better and the game today, I think, is thriving because of the big time shift in the defensive rules. I think that was a watershed moment for the NBA. So you need to have those discussions in an effort to improve the game.”

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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day 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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VIDEO: McCollum Brothers Talk Tournament, Who’s Mom’s Favorite on ESPN

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 days 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
5 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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