Brandon Roy's return to the NBA would cost the Trail Blazers 17 million

Brandon Roy's return to the NBA would cost the Trail Blazers 17 million

By DWIGHT JAYNES (@dwightjaynes)

Former Trail Blazer all-star Brandon Roy has already announced that he's going to sign a contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom he chose over at least four other teams negotiating for his services after the Trail Blazers used the amnesty clause on him last season.

Roy still hasn't signed and right now, there is a question about Minnesota's cap room to sign him.

But if it turns out that Roy plays again in the NBA -- for anybody -- it's going to be very costly for his former team, which still must pay Roy his full previous contract. Without benefit of even partial insurance.

When the Trail Blazers gave Roy his max deal, they were apparently able to insure only a fraction of it because of the condition of his knees. But, sources say, they were able to get a limited amount of permanent disability insurance on him that would cover 17 million of the amount owed the player.

As long as he was "permanently" disabled.

If and when Roy plays again, Portland apparently will not be able to collect that 17 million, none of which has been paid to date.

Yes, Paul Allen is a billionaire. But I would guess even Allen would not be happy about losing 17 million.

New video replay screens to be installed at VMC

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New video replay screens to be installed at VMC

The Portland Winterhawks, in conjunction with the City of Portland and Portland Arena Management (PAM), are excited to announce that new video replay screens are being installed in Veterans Memorial Coliseum in time for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

There will be four screens each approximately 16.5 feet wide by 9.5 feet high, with full high definition capability. They will be hung along with a renovated scoreboard to give Winterhawks fans a state-of the-art experience at the games in the Coliseum.

“We want to thank the City of Portland and PAM for supplying and installing new video replay screens and a renovated scoreboard at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. We’re grateful they recognized the urgent need to modernize the game night atmosphere for our fans and to improve the experience for other upcoming events, including high school basketball and wrestling and the Phil Knight Invitational basketball tournament in 2017 among other events,” said Portland Winterhawks President Doug Piper. “From our standpoint, from the moment we took over the team, the replay screens and scoreboard have been one of the primary issues our fans have asked to have resolved. Today, with this exciting news, those questions have been answered and we couldn’t be happier to make it happen.”

CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

Future college football playoff semifinal games will be played on Saturdays and holidays, instead of on New Year's Eve. 

“We tried to do something special with New Year’s Eve, even when it fell on a weekday," said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. "But after studying this to see if it worked, we think we can do better.  These adjustments will allow more people to experience the games they enjoy so much.  For these four years, our previous call is reversed.”

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report tweeted the adjustments and dates for the upcoming semifinals:

Trail Blazers now have financial flexibility to make a big trade

Trail Blazers now have financial flexibility to make a big trade

I'm not going to sit here and debate whether Maurice Harkless is worth $40 million over four years. One important thing to be emphasized from the Trail Blazers' Summer of Spending:

The franchise now has a great ability to swing a blockbuster trade for a player earning a max contract without affecting a major part of the team's core. As you no doubt understand, when you're over the salary cap, salaries must match up in a deal. But you can aggregate salaries to match a major contract. Portland now has the ability to do that for the first time in quite a spell.

If you look down the list of salaries for the upcoming season, you can see the kind of flexibility Neil Olshey has built for himself. Depending on who you're chasing in a trade, there are all sorts of combinations that can be pulled together to match a huge contract -- making it possible to add another big-time player to this team without using the salaries of Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum,

And keep in mind, there aren't many untouchable players on this roster besides Lillard. You can now stitch together two or three salaries without killing your chances of still having a solid roster. That's why it's important that players on the current roster continue their improvement -- to make them more desirable in a trade.

And make no mistake, a major trade is the last and final avenue for making the Trail Blazers better. The cap room is going to be gone in the future and it's not likely that a good draft pick is going to fall into their laps without a big trade.

The next step in the development of this team is a major deal. And now that's quite possible.

Trail Blazers announce re-signing of Maurice Harkless

Trail Blazers announce re-signing of Maurice Harkless

The Portland Trail Blazers have re-signed forward Maurice Harkless, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

“Moe is an impact player with a bright future and a high upside,” said Olshey. “We look forward to his continued growth and are pleased he chose to make a long term commitment to the Trail Blazers.”

Harkless, 23, averaged 6.4 points (47.4% FG, 27.9% 3-PT, 62.2% FT), 3.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.62 steals and 18.7 minutes in 78 games (14 starts) with the Trail Blazers last season. 

“I'm excited to be back with the Blazers, ready to continue to grow as a team with this group of incredible guys and coaches, and build on what we accomplished last season,” said Harkless. “Portland has become a city I've grown to love and I'm happy to say that I'll be here for the next four years. I’m grateful to Mr. Allen and the organization for the belief they've shown in me and this opportunity they have provided for me.”

In 2015-16, his first season with the Trail Blazers, Harkless scored in double figures 23 times, eight of which came in the final 10 games of the season. He averaged 11.9 points on 50.0% shooting, and hauled in 6.6 rebounds in his 14 starts.

In four NBA seasons with Orlando and Portland, Harkless holds career averages of 6.7 points (45.9% FG, 30.0% 3-PT, 58.9% FT), 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.95 steals and 21.7 minutes in 279 games (118 starts). 

Originally selected by Orlando with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft out of St. John’s, Portland acquired Harkless on July 14, 2015 in exchange for a 2020 second round pick.

Our top three Ducks who must improve for UO to contend

Our top three Ducks who must improve for UO to contend

Oregon doesn't start fall camp on Aug. 8, so we're trying to kill time with a little prognostication here and there. Today, Bri Amaranthus and Aaron Fentress count down their top three Ducks who must improve if Oregon is going to contend for the Pac-12 title in 2016.

NO. 3

Fentress' pick - Senior linebacker Johnny Ragin III: - Ragin provides some experience within a group loaded with inexperienced returning players. To help Oregon's move to the 4-3, Ragin must provide consistency and leadership.  

Quote: "He was taken to media day. He needs to play like a guy taken to media day. Last year, just 20 tackles. He going to need 60 or 70 to have an impact on that defense." '

Amaranthus' Pick - Junior left tackle Tyrell Crosby: - The three-year starter is on the quiet side vocally, but certainly creates noise on the field when he plows into defenders. Oregon could need him to provide leadership after losing seniors Tyler Johnstone and Matt Hegarty.

Quote: "He's got the physical abilities. We saw it last year. He started all 12 games. But he needs to become that emotional leader for the Ducks on the offensive line."

 

NO. 2

Fentress' pick - Redshirt freshman center Jake Hanson: - Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood praised Hanson's development during spring drills. Problem is, Hanson has never before played center. 

Quote: His youth could be a red flag, but "the last redshirt freshman to start for Oregon at center was Hroniss Grasu, who went on to win a couple of Rose Bowls, etc."

Amaranthus' Pick - Senior defensive end Torrodney Prevot: - The former four-star linebacker recruit has had a spotty career to date, now he moves to defensive end, where he could excel as a pass rusher in Oregon's new 4-3 scheme. 

Quote: "He moved from linebacker to defensive line during spring ball... He's going to have to put on a lot of weight. He wants to get to 255 pounds."

 

NO. 1

Fentress' pick - Sophomore defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule: - The former four-star recruit has the talent to become a dominant force but has been limited by injures, including a major concucssion suffered last season. 

Quote: "He has been compared to Buckner and Armstead, who are gone. He needs to play like one or both of those guys in order for that front seven to elevate itself after losing six of seven starters." 

Amaranthus' Pick - Junior cornerback Arrion Springs: - Springs is ultra talented. Just ask him. But mental lapses and inconsistent play have prevented him from reaching his potential. That must change this season. 

Quote: "Definitely talks the talk. We have to see him walk the walk a little bit more."

One Duck makes Top 20 'Freaks' in college football for 2016

One Duck makes Top 20 'Freaks' in college football for 2016

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman has ranked his top 20 'Freaks' in college football for 2016.  The criteria for the list? "Top workout warriors in the sport or the guys who possess some rare physical abilities that wow folks inside their programs," says Feldman. 

One Duck graces the list at No.2 and it may not be who you think. In other words, it's not Royce Freeman. Can't figure out who it is? 

Devon Allen! 

From the article: In 2014, as a redshirt freshman, Allen — a legit world-class sprinter — was one of the Ducks’ most consistent wideouts as they made it to the national title game. He led Oregon in touchdown catches with seven and was third in receiving yards. Allen didn’t get to play in that title game after tearing up his knee and was limited last season, but he showed this summer that all of his speed is back. In fact, Allen qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rio with a 110-meter hurdles time of 13.03 seconds — the second-fastest time in the world this year. Allen also became the first man to win the 110 hurdles at both the NCAA Outdoor Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials in 60 years. After the Olympics, Allen plans to return to the Ducks football team, hoping to be ready for Oregon’s second game of the season.

Read more

 

Trail Blazers announce contract extension with CJ McCollum

Trail Blazers announce contract extension with CJ McCollum

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed guard CJ McCollum to a contract extension to bring him under contract through the 2020-21 season, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

The reigning winner of the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, McCollum averaged 20.8 points (44.8% FG, 41.7% 3PT, 82.7% FT), 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.21 steals and 34.8 minutes in 80 games (all starts) last season. 

“I’m ecstatic to be able to extend my career in Portland and grateful for the trust and the opportunity the organization has provided for me,” said McCollum. “Since I arrived in Oregon I've considered it home and look forward to building something special, not only on the court, but in the community as well.”

Portland selected McCollum, 24, with the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Lehigh University.

“CJ is a foundational player and an essential member of the core of this team,” said Olshey. “We are excited about his long term commitment to our organization”

In three seasons with the Trail Blazers, McCollum holds averages of 12.7 points (44.3% FG, 40.8% 3PT, 78.4% FT), 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.86 steals and 23.5 minutes in 180 career games (83 starts).

McCollum increased his scoring average by 14.0 points from the 2014-15 season last year and finished ninth in the NBA with 197 3-pointers, the fourth-most by a Trail Blazer in a single season and the most by a Trail Blazer while shooting at least 40% from the three-point line.

WHY MICHAEL BENNETT IS A TOP-20 NFL PLAYER RIGHT NOW

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WHY MICHAEL BENNETT IS A TOP-20 NFL PLAYER RIGHT NOW

With Olivier Vernon and Von Miller signing huge deals this offseason, the deal Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett signed back in 2014 looks even better for the Seahawks. The four year, $28.5 million deal looked good for the Seahawks at the time, but given the current market value, it’s even more of a bargain. Bennett noted something to that effect this week, stating his desire to be paid more in line with his peers at the position.

At 90.2, Bennett had the fifth-best player grade among edge defenders in the NFL last year. Only Kansas City’s Justin Houston, the Giants’ Olivier Vernon and Denver’s Von Miller, all of whom have signed huge deals recently, and Oakland’s Khalil Mack, who will surely be signing his own big-money deal within a couple of years, graded higher.

Bennett has consistently been among the very best players in the league over the past five years, grading well both as a pass-rusher and against the run. Last season he produced 11 sacks, 17 hits and 63 hurries on 572 snaps as a pass-rusher, including the playoffs. Our pass-rush productivity stat looks at how many pressures a pass-rusher produces on a per-snap basis, with weighting towards sacks and hits. Bennett posted the third-best mark among 4-3 defensive ends last year, the fourth year in a row he has ranked in the top 10.

He’s not just a top pass-rusher, though, as has graded very well against the run, too. Our run-stop percentage stat takes into account the percentage of plays in run defense where a player records a tackle resulting in a defensive stop, giving a better indication of production against the run than tackle stats alone. Bennett’s run-stop percentage was the sixth-best of any 4-3 defensive end in the NFL last year, with Bennett ranking in the top 10 here in each of the past three seasons.

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2016 SEASON PREVIEW: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

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2016 SEASON PREVIEW: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

The Seattle Seahawks have been perennial contenders in the NFL over the past four seasons, making it as least as far as the divisional round every season, including hoisting the Lombardi trophy once, and coming within one pass of repeating as Super Bowl champions the following year. They’ll be expected to contend once again this season, even with the Arizona Cardinals proving to be the best team in the NFC West in 2015. With a roster loaded with talent on offense and defense, the Seahawks will be confident that they can push the Cardinals harder in 2016 and reclaim their throne at the top of the division.

Russell Wilson a top-five NFL QB entering 2016

Quarterbacks: Fourth in PFF’s season preview rankings

Russell Wilson earned the sixth-highest passing grade among NFL QBs in 2015, at85.5. He struggled somewhat in that regard in the playoffs, but over the full regular season and postseason, he threw 38 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. He was incredibly dangerous when opposing defenses blitzed him, completing 111 of the 181 passes he attempted for 1,633 yards, 21 touchdowns, and three interceptions on such snaps. He did a lot of damage with his legs, too, racking up 644 yards on the ground (including the playoffs), second-most on the team. 445 of those yards came on 63 quarterback scrambles, but he was tough to handle of designed runs, too, averaging 8.1 yards per carry on 19 runs off right end.

Young, unproven talent fills Seattle’s backfield

Running backs: 13th

It’s a statement of the overall strength of the roster, but this is the Seahawks’ second-weakest unit heading into the 2016 season. Potential future Hall-of-Famer Marshawn Lynch has retired, leaving the talented—but relatively untested—Thomas Rawls as the team’s top running back heading. Rawls’ 81.1 overall grade was 12th among running backs in the NFL last season, as he forced 26 missed tackles on 147 carries (including the playoffs). Despite this impressive rookie production, it’s important to consider that he’s still inexperienced, with less than 150 NFL carries under his belt. The Seahawks added three rookie in the draft in Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise, Arkansas’ Alex Collins, and Clemson running back Zac Brooks, so they obviously believed they needed to bolster the position following Lynch’s retirement.

Seahawks’ receiving corps continuing to rise

Receiving corps: Fifth

Once referred to as “pedestrian,” Seattle’s group of wide receivers and tight ends are now among the best in the NFL. Tight end Jimmy Graham didn’t produce his best season in 2015, but still earned the seventh-best receiving grade among tight ends. The Seahawks will be hoping to utilize him better in the red zone in 2016, though, with his two touchdowns in 2016 the lowest output of his career. At 91.1, Doug Baldwin earned the seventh-best overall grade among wide receivers, and has really grown as a player the last few seasons. In 2015, he forced 18 missed tackles on 78 receptions, and scored 14 touchdowns in the regular season. Tyler Lockett was one of the best rookies in the league last year, and is poised to be one of the top big-play threats in the NFL next year, both on offense and as a returner, after forcing eight missed tackles on 51 receptions as a rookie.

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CJ McCollum inks contract extension

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CJ McCollum inks contract extension

Well, it's official. The ink has dried on CJ McCollum's four-year, $106 million contract extension.


 

His deal reportedly does not include a player option or a trade kicker. McCollum still has one year remaining on his current rookie contract where he is set to make $3.2 million and would have entered next offseason as a restricted free agent. 

McCollum, the 2015-16 NBA Most Improved Player, posted career-highs in points at 20.7, assists at 4.3, rebounds at 3.2, and steals at 1.2 per game and shot 44.8% from the floor and 41.7% from three, both career highs.