Portland’s 2014 NBA trade deadline was one of the quietest in recent memory, with the team making no moves as the noon deadline came and went Thursday afternoon.
A trade was always unlikely, as the Trail Blazers have no draft picks to include in trades, no room on the roster with 15 players already under contract and, maybe most importantly, no heartfelt feelings within the organization that a move needed to be made at this time.
“We like our team, we like our players, we like where we are and what we’ve done so far this season,” said Trail Blazers head coach after Portland’s practice, which didn’t commence until after the noon deadline on Thursday. “We’ve been very competitive with the roster that we have.”
Not only did the Trail Blazers not make any trades at the deadline, they weren’t even mentioned as a team considering trades. Not a single rumor regarding a current Trail Blazer ever made it to the light of day in the run up to Feb. 20. That doesn’t necessarily mean general manager Neil Olshey and his staff weren’t working the phones, but if they were, they did so quietly.
“I haven’t heard all the trades today, but how many of them had you heard about before the trades were made?,” said Stotts. “I don’t know, in this day and age, there’s a lot of chatter and a lot of rumors and innuendo and things like that about trades and possibilities and most of them are not true. Most the trades that do happen, you don’t know about until they happen.”
There’s something to be said for players not hearing their names mentioned in trade rumors, which seems to play into Olshey’s goal of making the Trail Blazers a “players first” organization. The Trail Blazers used to be featured prominently in trade rumors, though that doesn’t seem to be the case under Olshey. And while that might just be the way he does business, it also serves in lessening the chance of players becoming disgruntled or distracted on and around the trade deadline.
“Everybody handles (the trade deadline) differently,” said Stotts. “I don’t know that anybody necessarily sensed (that they might be traded). Over the years, I think think there is an underlying concern this time of year… When your name is being thrown around, different guys handle it different ways, but the other part of it is there were a lot of names being thrown around before the trade deadline and those guys are still with the same team. You take it with a grain of salt, you get through it then finish the season.”
This year, there were no salt grains necessary in Portland’s locker room. At least one player, albeit one who had no chance of being traded, didn’t even know the deadline had arrived.
“I thought it was further out,” said Damian Lillard of the trade deadline. “I didn’t even know it was today until yesterday I saw trades started happening. I didn’t hear anybody say anything. I don’t think anybody was really worried. Of course, things could happen but I don’t think anybody was worried.”
And with the way the deadline ended, no Trail Blazers needed to.
A little over a week ago, Damian Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A., held his first concert ever, a sold out affair at the Crystal Ballroom that also featured CJ McCollum and Tim Frazier dancing on stage, on his 26th birthday. By all accounts (including my own), the show went off without a hitch.
After getting his first official show under his belt, Lillard took his show on the road last weekend, performing for a packed crowd of high schoolers at the adidas LVL3 event, which was a part of the adidas Uprising AAU tournament held in Las Vegas. Media wasn’t granted access to Lillard’s Portland show, so video of that performance is scarce (though a, new “License To Lillard” episode chronicling the night is in the works), but there are a few clips of Lillard performing this weekend in Vegas, with fellow NBA players such as James Harden and Derrick Rose in attendance in case you’re curious about Dame’s stage presence…
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 24, 2016
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 23, 2016
Lillard also shared the stage with a few of the players on Team Lillard Elite, the AAU team he sponsors in conjunction with adidas, who were brave enough to test their battling skills in front of a crowd of their peers…
— #4BarFriday (@4BarFriday) July 24, 2016
In addition to the show, Lillard spoke during a panel about his signature shoe, the D Lillard 2, and participated in a number of stations adidas was running in order to keep the large number of teenage boys in attendance from the tournament from doing the kind of things teenage boys do when they get bored…
Just the beginning.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 24, 2016
Join the movement.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 23, 2016
Yesterday was a movie.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 22, 2016
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 21, 2016
Looks like everyone had a great time and Lillard was right in the center of the action, which is good news if you’re a Trail Blazers fan. After all, it’s never a bad thing to have young, talented players rubbing elbows and building relationships with your franchise player.
Comedian/actor/radio show host Jay Mohr was in Portland on Thursday during which he hosted a live edition of Jay Mohr Sports on Rip City Radio 620 AM. Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who is still in Las Vegas taking in Summer League, joined the show to discuss a host of NBA topics. You can listen to the entire interview below, though I’ve also transcribed a few of the more interesting answers…
“They’re going to be damn good, that’s for sure. They’ll be a little bit different, they lost three of their big guys so they’ll have to tweak their defense a little bit. One of the keys to their success the last two years was their defense and I think that got overlooked because of how well they scored the ball. They’re going to be a better offensive team, they’re going to be the favorite to win, but you never know until you toss it up.”
On signing free agent guard/forward Evan Turner…
“I’ve read some of the experts about us signing Evan and I’m surprised they don’t see the fit, because Evan is a really good basketball player. He handles the ball, he’s got a high assist ratio, he makes players better. I talked to Brad Stevens about him afterwards, they’re going to miss him in Boston. He’s a versatile defender, he’s unselfish, I think he fits into our culture. The one thing that I think gets overlooked is there was such pressure on Damian and CJ last year to be scorers and playmakers and particularly, the way I rotated the players, one of them was in the game at all times. Well Evan gives us another playmaker to take some of the load off of Damian and CJ, hopefully they’ll get better shots. You can add more playmaking — you look at the Golden State Warriors, how many playmakers they had on the court. They had two, three, four playmakers on the court at one time and that just adds to your effectiveness offensively. And defensively, Evan’s a versatile defender, he can guard two or three positions. Like I said, I think he fits in really well.”
On Damian Lillard tweeting “Hell no” when asked about returning to Oakland to play for the Warriors…
“It was pure Damian. He’s proud to be a Blazer, he loves Portland, he loves the franchise and he’s really embraced the role of being the face of the franchise. I was glad to read that.”
On the baseless speculation that the team is moving to Seattle…
“(Laughs) No. With all due respect to you Jay, and I do have immense respect, but that doesn’t really deserve a response. We’re the Portland Trail Blazers, always have been.”
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.