Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

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Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

COMCAST SPORTSNET PRESS RELEASE:

Portland,OR (June 8, 2012) ComcastSportsNet Northwest, home for Northwest sports, today announced the addition ofTrail Blazer and NBA Insider, Chris Haynes, with the signing of a three-yearcontract. Haynes, entering his second season with Comcast SportsNet, willcontinue to expand the role he began during the 2011-2012 Trail Blazers seasonon the network and on CSNNW.com breaking news and providing reliable insideinformation alongside CSNNW.coms senior editor Dwight Jaynes. His contract iseffective as of Sunday, July 1st.

Duringthe 2011-12 season, Haynes was the only member of Portland media to attend allTrail Blazers games, home and away. He will continue to be present at everygame, at practices, at shoot-arounds, at press conferences and at major NBAevents bringing exclusive videos, interviews and information to CSNNW.com.Additionally, Haynes will continue his popular Insider Blog on CSNNW.com and hewill be a regular on Comcast SportsNet programs Rip City Live and TalkinBall.

Lastseason, Haynes broke many stories that were continuously picked up by nationaloutlets such as Yahoo, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and HoopsHype. Those storiesincluded Greg Odens issues with blood clots in his ankle, Batums intent tosign his first offer this summer, Jamal Crawfords decision to opt out andSteve Kerr turning down the GM position.

Priorto joining Comcast SportsNet, Haynes wrote for SLAM Magazine andProBasketballNews.com and worked for Fox Sports Radio in Fresno, CA. Haynes hascovered a variety of major sports that include the NBA Finals, the World Seriesand the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. He is a member of the Pro BasketballWriters Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Weare thrilled to have Chris Haynes join our team here at Comcast SportsNet,providing year round coverage of the Trail Blazers for the TV network andCSNNW.com, said Director of Digital Media Kevin Berry. Senior Digital Editorand TV Host Dwight Jaynes said, We believe that Chris tireless work ethic andconnections throughout the NBA with players, coaches, agents and generalmanagers, combined with my decades of experience in covering the league willreinforce the fact that Comcast SportsNet and CSNNW.com are the premieredestinations in the Northwest for fans to find breaking news, unbiased analysisand year-round coverage of the Trail Blazers and NBA.

ReadChris blog at CSNNW.com and follow him on Twitter @ChrisBHaynes.

Lillard vouches for Plumlee's new shot: 'It looks better'

Lillard vouches for Plumlee's new shot: 'It looks better'

When Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee on Monday said he had developed a mid-range jumper that he plans to unveil this season, many took a wait-and-see approach to the news.

After all, Plumlee took less than a handful of shots outside the key last season and won’t confuse anybody for a pure shooter.

But according to those who have played against Plumlee this summer and who have watched him workout, the center is indeed making an earnest effort to add the shot to his offensive repertoire.

“A big part of shooting is having confidence … and he’s been confident in his shot all summer that I’ve seen him,’’ Damian Lillard said. “He’s been in here working on it and in pickup he has been taking the shot. It’s a lot better shot. It looks better and he’s making it a lot more. So, if he spends the time doing it, hopefully it’s something we can depend on.’’

Plumlee has cautioned that he won’t make every shot, and that the shot will only be taken within the flow of the offense. During the team’s first practice on Tuesday, the media was allowed to see 3-on-3 competition, but Plumlee didn’t attempt an outside shot.

“I’ve seen him work on it,’’ coach Terry Stotts said. “I think for him, if he is standing out there, it’s just getting use to take those shots and having the confidence to do it. He has put in a lot of time over the summer, and if you can make a mid-range shot and keep the defense honest, that’s a good thing. But it’s not going to happen overnight. He has to get comfortable.’’

The proof will come once the preseason begins Oct. 3 at home against Utah, then ultimately in the regular season, when the Blazers kick off the schedule Oct. 25 against the Jazz.

Plumlee said he studied his shot and broke it down this summer, much like a golfer would examine and refine his swing.

Last season, Plumlee refined his free throw form after a disastrous 5-for-20 start at the line. He ended up shooting a career-best 64.2 percent.

Now, after a summer of altering and practicing his shot, he says he will abide by a simple approach.

 “If I’m open, I will take it,’’ Plumlee said. “I’m happier with my form.’’

It could be a substantial development for the Blazers and Plumlee, whose agent is in talks with the Blazers about a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline. Already an important cog in the Blazers’ offense because of his athleticism and passing ability, if Plumlee adds even the threat of an outside shot, it could present a bevy of problems for defenses.

“If he does (develop the shot) he becomes even more effective than he already is,’’ Lillard said. “In pick and rolls … it makes him an even more lethal weapon for us.’’

Stotts says he doesn’t want Plumlee to worry too much about the shot and thus forget about the things that made him so valuable last season.

“He is good at what he does: he’s a great passer, can put the ball on the floor, and he makes opportunities for his teammates,’’ Stotts said. “He was really good for us last year at the offensive end, and if he is able to make a mid-range shot, it’s all the better.’’

Agent for Mason Plumlee on extension talks: 'Everything is in a good place'

Agent for Mason Plumlee on extension talks: 'Everything is in a good place'

After an unprecedented summer of spending, the Trail Blazers still have one order of business left on the table: Whether to offer an extension to fourth-year center Mason Plumlee.

Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, said this week he has “dabbled” in extension talks with Plumlee’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, but feels no rush before the Oct. 31 deadline.

Bartelstein, meanwhile, says he remains in “constant” contact with Olshey about Plumlee, but their talks haven’t gained traction.

“I can’t say whether or not we will get something done or not,’’ Bartelstein said Tuesday. “We are fine either way, we really are. If we get a deal done now that works for both sides, great. If not, we will revisit it in the summer.’’

If the deadline passes without a deal, the Blazers will almost surely extend Plumlee a qualifying offer at the end of the season that will make him a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017. The Blazers will then have the right to match any free agent offer Plumlee receives – the same path they took this summer with Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe.

It’s a tricky equation for both sides: Signing an extension now prevents a player from entering the free agent market while also providing security should a catastrophic injury happen during the season. For Plumlee, there is also the lure of another projected spike in the 2017 salary cap – from $94 million to $102 million – creating another market where rich contracts are offered.

Even though the two sides are in open dialogue, Olshey said he doesn’t foresee straying from his usual approach to extensions – waiting until the final hours before the deadline to start zeroing in on terms.

“I’ve been pretty consistent with this: I don’t have extension discussions -- unless it’s a no-brainer max discussion – until the week that the deadline hits,’’ Olshey said. “But unless it’s a no-brainer Damian Lillard max (contract), or a no-brainer CJ max, nothing gets done over the course of four months that can’t get done over the course of four days.’’

Last season, Olshey made a 4-year, $40 million offer to Leonard the week of the deadline, an extension Leonard turned down in November. In July, Leonard signed a 4-year, $41 million offer.

Today, Leonard reflects back on his decision and says it played with his mind. And Plumlee on Tuesday said he would be lying if he said he didn’t think about the extension and the thought of this being a contract year, especially after the Blazers doled out $242 million in contract this summer.

“But look: I’ve spent one year here, and some of these other guys have been here longer, so I’m happy to come out here and prove myself and grow with the team. Like …  I’m very content either way. I’m OK playing another year;  I’m OK signing in the fall. So, we just have to look at it and make a decision, both the Blazers and me.’’

Plumlee had a career season for the Blazers after being acquired in a draft-night trade with Brooklyn. He averaged 9.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. In the playoffs, he was the catalyst to beating the Clippers, averaging 8.0 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

This season, he has added 10 pounds to his frame and says he has added a mid-range jumper.

The question now is do the Blazers, and/or Plumlee, want to secure his talent and potential now, or wait until the free agent market?

“Extensions are always difficult to do because you are dealing with some unknowns,’’ Bartelstein said. “There’s not a so-called marketplace. But Neil and I talk all the time, and Neil is someone I really enjoy doing business with because we look at a lot of things in a similar way.

“But one of the things I do know is Mason had the time of his life last year,’’ Bartelstein said. “He loves it in Portland. He loves the guys, he loves playing for Coach Stotts, and the fans embraced him. Portland fans know the game, and they loved his energy, his athleticism and his motor.’’

Plumlee, who turns 27 in March, said he is confident he won’t let the contract talks be a distraction, even if it’s on his mind.

“I’ve always had mentality that every year is a big year because you only get so many of them,’’ Plumlee said. “The life of the NBA is not forever, but I don’t wait until a contract year to prepare differently or do anything differently. I take the same approach every year.’’

In the meantime, Plumlee says he lets Bartelstein do his job so Plumlee can do his. And right now, roughly four weeks from the deadline, Bartelstein says the two sides are still in the early stages.

“We’ve kicked around some ideas and talked about different things,’’ Bartelstein said. “Everything is in a good place. It’s just a matter if it makes sense. If we get something done, great. If not, Mason will be locked in and trying to help the Blazers win.’’

UO RB Royce Freeman to return at WSU

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

UO RB Royce Freeman to return at WSU

Oregon junior running back Royce Freeman has a chance to rewrite the programs rushing record list this season. Each week we will provide an update on his progress. 

EUGENE - Oregon junior running back Royce Freeman will return to action after missing one game with a lower leg injury, Oregon running backs coach said today following practice. 

"He's been practicing full, so I expect him to be 100 percent," Campbell said following Tuesday's practice. 

Freeman, not available for comment, left Oregon's loss at Nebraska on Oct. 17 in the first quarter with 31 yards. He then was held out of Saturday's loss to Colorado at home. 

Missing seven quarters of action, and the team losing two games, have pretty much killed Freeman's chances at becoming a Heisman Trophy candidate. 

The action missed had also severely hurt Freeman's chances of breaking Oregon's career rushing record held by LaMichael James.

Freeman is 1,555 yards away from James' record of 5,082 set from 2009 through 2011. 

Freeman began the year with 3,203 career yards after rushing for a program-record 1,838 yards in 2015. That figure broke James' previous single-season record of 1,805 set in 2011. 

Here is a statistical breakdown of Freeman's run at both the yardage and touchdown records:

RUSHING YARDAGE

James' record: 5,082 yards.

Last week: Freeman sat out the team's 41-38 loss to Colorado. The week prior at Nebraska he rushed for 31 yards before leaving the game in the first quarter with an injury during the 35-32 loss. 

2016 total: Freeman has gained 325 yards on 37 carries this season. 

Career total: Freeman has 3,528 career yards. He needs 92 to move into second place all time ahead of Kenjon Barner (3,623)

Freeman needs: He sits 1,554 yards away from breaking James' record. 

Average needed per game (13-game season): With nine games remaining, Freeman must average 172.7 yards per game to break James' record. 

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

James' record: 53.

Last week: Freeman sat out. 

2016 total: He now has four rushing touchdowns. 

Career total: Freeman sits at 39 for his career. He needs two touchdowns to tie Barner (41) for second place. 

Freeman needs: He is 14 rushing touchdowns away from breaking the record. 

Next up: The Ducks play at Washington State (1-2). 

Terry Stotts reveals part of Trail Blazers' rotation

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Brett Davis/USA Today Sports Images

Terry Stotts reveals part of Trail Blazers' rotation

Don’t expect Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts to declare a starting lineup anytime soon, but after Tuesday’s opening practice the coach did reveal one important note about his rotation: Newcomer Evan Turner will share backup point guard duties with CJ McCollum.

“It’s one of the reasons Evan is here,  to help with that,’’ Stotts said Tuesday. “He played point last year with Boston. Whether you say he is point guard or point forward … he can initiate the offense from his position. I think if you watch what he did last year with Boston he is a very versatile player on both ends of the floor.’’

Last season McCollum exclusively – and capably -- handled the backup point guard duties, but the Blazers made an offseason point of emphasis to add another ball handler to alleviate the double-teaming pressure teams applied on McCollum and starter Damian Lillard.

Turner, who signed a 4-year, $70 million free agent deal with Portland, will be that man while third-year point guard Shabazz Napier is expected to be used only in emergency situations.

“That’s one of the reasons we signed (Turner) to begin with … there was so much pressure on Damian and CJ to be the primary ball handlers. Adding another play maker … this league is about being able to make plays and Evan is very comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’s an excellent passer, he can find bigs, and he can bring the ball up the floor.’’

Turner, of course, will also be a candidate to start at small forward, with competition coming from Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe. It figures to be the only intrigue in Stotts’ opening night lineup, as Lillard and McCollum will start in the backcourt and Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee figure to start in the front court.

Stotts, who eschews talk of starting lineups throughout the season, held true on the first day of training camp, saying he wants to keep an open mind.

“That’s what October is for,’’ Stotts said. “I’m not going to talk starting lineups. I think you are going to see different players get starts throughout the preseason; that’s what this three, four weeks is for.’’

Whichever lineup Stotts chooses for the Oct. 25 season opener against Utah doesn’t mean it will be etched in stone. Last season, Stotts used seven different starting lineups, and this season his roster is much deeper and more versatile, affording him to make adjustments on the fly. 

“It’s fun … it’s a challenge,’’ Stotts said of his options. “You want to make good decisions, but again, that’s what October is for: Who plays well with whom?  (Seeing) different lineups and different combinations and then we will settle on something. But I don’t think you have to have all the answers going into the first game of the season.’’

Notes: Rookie Jake Layman did not practice Tuesday and Ed Davis withdrew himself from the end of practice, both because of injuries the Blazers did not disclose … Owner  Paul Allen attended the first practice. “I’m really optimistic about this year and I think you can feel that atmosphere in the gym,’’ Allen said after the practice … Neil Olshey, Blazers president of basketball operations, said the team will give “full support” should its players choose to express themselves on social issues through protest or other means. Damian Lillard said he imagines he will do something, but doesn’t have anything planned at the moment.

First practice highlight for Blazers: The return of Meyers Leonard

First practice highlight for Blazers: The return of Meyers Leonard

It was only the first day of Trail Blazers training camp, and it was only a 3-on-3 drill, but there was a welcomed, if not surprising, sight Tuesday on the court: Meyers Leonard.

But it wasn’t just that the 7-foot-1 big man was on the court after having April surgery on his left shoulder. It was what Leonard was doing.

He made a nifty back-door pass that resulted in a layin from a cutting CJ McCollum. He made a sweeping hook shot in the lane. He made a smart swing pass to McCollum for another basket. And twice he defended the rim, which mirrored his earlier efforts during the team’s defensive drills.

“I blocked more shots today than I ever have in a practice,’’ Leonard said.

It was only a snapshot of the team’s 2 ½ hour workout, but Leonard was certainly one of, if not the, highlight of the segment open to the media.

“The truth is, I felt really good out there,’’ Leonard said. “I was a bit surprised. I didn’t think my mind would be as good as it was. I made shots. Defended. And like I said, I’ve been trying to work on my game in the post.’’

Leonard is still under the watchful eye of Chris Stackpole, the team’s director of health and performance, and isn’t scheduled to take part in 5-on-5 activities until Oct. 8.

But on Tuesday he banged bodies, contested shots, and was in the fray of the action – all without incident on his surgically repaired left shoulder, and with some noticeable results.

“I thought he had a good day in the things he was able to do,’’ coach Terry Stotts said. “He played with confidence, had no ill effects from his shoulder surgery. It was good to see him out there.’’

Captain Damian Lillard said it was difficult to fully judge Leonard because it was only 3-on-3, but he liked what he saw.

“He looked good, especially for not having played so long,’’ Lillard said. “The scrimmaging we did today really benefitted him because he was popping back and there was no other guys on the weakside, so he could make jumpers. But he looked really good.’’

Leonard is stressing he is a changed player and person this season because he has freed himself of the mental burden he carried last season after turning down a $40 million contract extension and playing through injury.

In July, Leonard signed a 4-year, $41 million deal after averaging 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range. He is projected as a backup power forward and center on this year’s team, although Stotts said he will evaluate all of October’s practices and exhibition games before naming starters.

If Leonard continues to show what he did Tuesday – heady passes, a defensive presence inside and a steady shot – he figures to be a factor.

But Leonard is the first to remind: It was only one day, and one practice. But still, it was a positive step.

“Every day isn’t going to be as good as today,’’ Leonard said. “But I have a standard for myself and a clarity in my mind that allows me to be in a good spot every day.’’

Just one little inside story from Trail Blazer media day ...

Just one little inside story from Trail Blazer media day ...

When I started showing up for Trail Blazer media day it was a little more than three decades ago and things were a lot different.

Players had to autograph a few hundred basketballs, as they do to this day, pose for promotional pictures, read a few scripted lines for promotional videos or the radio and then, at the end of a long day, head into the media room for interviews. I never blamed them for dreading the media part of it during what was already a taxing day -- nobody likes to be asked the same questions over and over, particularly on live television or radio where there are no do-overs.

Monday, as the Trail Blazers went about their duties of autographing everything from skateboards to basketballs, mugging for promotional pictures and all the rest, I could have excused some weary and wary looks from the players as they joined our "Talkin' Ball" set. But after a full day of all the other chores, they came to us with an almost universal attitude that I don't recall from previous teams.

Now remember, I go all the way back to the Jack Ramsay and Rick Adelman eras and the players in those days were, by and large, an affable group. Good guys. I can't say nearly as much for players of other eras, though.

But I was extremely impressed with what I saw from the Trail Blazers Monday. Almost without fail, each player reached across the desk, looked us in the eye and shook hands with each of us prior to the cameras turning on. Players were not just polite, they were cordial, outgoing, smiling and seemingly trying their best to have fun with the situation. During the interviews they were relaxed, letting a little personality show.

Now while I'd like to think that all this was simply because they'd missed us over the summer and were just excited to renew our acquaintance, but I know better. This is just a pretty nice group of people on this team. Good guys from all I can see. What you hear from the coaching staff and front office about these players and their character appears to be legit.

"They're good guys," said head coach Terry Stotts after practice Tuesday. "I've said this before, but last year was a very refreshing year from a coaching standpoint because of their work ethic, their character, the type of people they are and certainly they're talented. But all that stuff matters. It makes them want to come to work. They enjoy coming to work and they enjoy each other's company.  It makes it easier for the coaches and everyone else in the building."

Does having players like that make a long-term difference on the court for a franchise?

"Yes," said Stotts emphatically. "Certainly you have to have talent. It starts with talent. But character and culture and all those things  aren't far behind."

The team certainly brought a lot of enthusiasm to Tuesday's first practice, at least the part the media was allowed to watch. I'd expect that to continue. The leadership among the players is as solid as it is in the front office and on the bench. This organization is tight. Close.

And that can only help it navigate through the long season ahead.

Safety sensation Brenden Schooler surfs with sharks: The DuckSquad Podcast

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Safety sensation Brenden Schooler surfs with sharks: The DuckSquad Podcast

The DuckSquad podcast dives into:
-Can Oregon still win the Pac-12 title?
-True freshman Brenden Schooler, the overlooked recruit, who has something to prove at Oregon
-Royce Freeman injury update
-Should Mark Helfrich be on the hot seat?

 

Confidence, Cohesion Return to Seahawks' Offense

Confidence, Cohesion Return to Seahawks' Offense

It was a boost of confidence if nothing else.

During Sunday’s wire-to-wire win over the 49ers, bookended by slicing touchdown runs and another scary injury to Russell Wilson, we saw an ode to offenses of the past and a glimpse into what the Seattle Seahawks can be.

The offensive line was a beautiful portrait of cohesion. The receivers (see: Baldwin, Doug - 164 yards, one touchdown) were finding pockets of space; the tight ends (see: Graham, Jimmy - 100 yards, one touchdown) were both impactful and effective.

We don’t know what lights turned on for the offense, specifically. But the most visible improvement came from the running game, which had been practically dormant for the first two weeks.

Christine Michael was the main reason.

“I think that the coaches did a nice job of emphasizing, the players did a nice job of embracing the challenge of improving, and we took a step ahead,” Head coach Pete Carroll said in his press conference on Monday. “Christine was really the recipient of most of the good shots, and he did a really nice job, 20 carries for him. He had a nice day’s work and he looked really explosive. We really left a lot of yards out there too, with some penalties that we would like to get rid of. I think it was just a real good approach during the week and guys embraced it really well.”

Michael, with Thomas Rawls out, had the breakout game many were hoping was in him. He finished with 106 yards on those 20 carries, but more than anything, he ran like he knew he would be successful. There was no hesitation. Perhaps it was an inexperienced 49ers defense; perhaps he had seen something developing during the week with his offensive line. Or, perhaps, Michael knew it was his time to shine, and that his team would need him more than they normally do.

Whatever it was, the Seahawks have to hope it was just the beginning.

This has been a reoccurring theme through the first three weeks of the season, but Wilson again went down with an injury on Sunday; this one was severe enough, however, that Seattle was forced to go to Trevone Boykin, their undrafted rookie backup.

Unlike Week 1, when Wilson was forced to stay in, the Seahawks had enough of a lead, 30-3, that he was able to sit.

After an admirable performance, on Monday, Carroll expressed confidence in his rookie QB:

“He threw the ball around a little bit, a little bit too much. We got to see him on the field and it’s good for him, it’s good for the players too. We’ve watched him a lot and of course seen him in preseason and practice. He’s a very poised and comfortable athlete. He’s not going to get flustered and he showed that again the other day. That’s just a good sign and I’m excited to see what he can do. He can make plays, make things happen. You saw him, he looked pretty sharp for coming off the bench like that, and that’s about all we should hope for.”

Confidence. It’s not a word that’s thrown around in the NFL as much as it is in college, where youth and emotion plays a much bigger role. But on Sunday, that’s exactly what Seattle got. In San Francisco, they found a team they could toy with; they found someone they could take a few chances against, and flex their muscle. Because that’s what was missing most during their 1-2 start: the muscle.

The physical muscle. The mental muscle. So much of Seattle’s success the past few seasons has been a byproduct of the bravado they played with; the “you can’t beat us” swagger, both offensively and defensively; the “Beast Mode” mentality.

It’s been gone, replaced with uncertainty and trepidation.

It was back against the 49ers. And whether it was a reflection of a bad opponent or a renewed sense of worth, we won’t know for a while. But for guys like Michael and Wilson, Baldwin and Graham, it was a chance to look in the mirror and be reminded that they can still do it.

Yes, Marshawn Lynch is gone. Yes, the offensive line is on constant shuffle. But playmakers still abound, the defense is still elite, and the core guys who made back-to-back Super Bowls are still in uniform.

It was one game, but it could mean so much more.

Top 10 things to know about Trail Blazers' media day (No's 6-10)

Top 10 things to know about Trail Blazers' media day (No's 6-10)

As the Trail Blazers’ arrived at Monday’s media day, we knew they were a deeper and more expensive team than last season.

But we also found out some other interesting tidbits.

Some players had developed new shots. Some had adopted a new mindset. And others had a new position.

To help you sift through the day’s events, here are the Top 10 things you need to know from Monday’s four-hour media day, including the sixth-through-10th most important storylines.

The top five storylines can be found here.

6. Allen Crabbe and his “small things”

There will be a lot of eyes on wing Allen Crabbe this season, eyes looking to see if he is worth the four-year, $75 million deal he signed in July.

On Monday, there was nothing to see (practice doesn’t start until Tuesday), but there was plenty to hear as the fourth-year player revealed his offseason emphasis, which included three facets that should be encouraging to coach Terry Stotts and Blazers fans.

  1. Becoming better with the ball in his hands.
  2. Adding a post game to his repertoire.
  3. Becoming a better defensive rebounder.

Crabbe called his points of emphasis “small things,” but if they come to fruition, they will be huge to the Blazers and Crabbe’s stake as an $18 million player.

The last time we saw Crabbe he was one of the team’s better perimeter defenders and a solid three-point shooter (39.4 percent last season). Outside of those two very valuable assets, Crabbe’s game was limited.

He was shaky with the ball in the open court. Had trouble creating his own shot off the dribble. And he was a rather non-existent factor as a rebounder (2.7 last season), with one notable missed defensive rebound against the Clippers in last year’s playoffs.

So if Crabbe just adds two of his three areas of emphasis, it would greatly enhance his chances of living up to his monster contract.

One thing Crabbe made certain on Monday: Just because he might be sleeping in silk sheets now doesn’t mean he will be resting on his laurels.

“It’s not like I’m coming in relaxed because I got a new contract, or because I played last year,’’ Crabbe said. “I know as fast as it came, it can be gone just as quick.’’

The Crabbe-Evan Turner competition will be interesting to watch in the preseason, and it sounds like Crabbe is anxious for Tuesday’s training camp to arrive.

“That’s where you earn your money, where you earn your minutes,’’ Crabbe said of the preseason practices. “I want to go out there and I want to play and prove to people I’m getting those minutes because I’m worthy of them.’’

If he adds ball handling, a post game or better defensive rebounding, he will be more than worthy.

7. CJ McCollum and being at ease

Probably the most unsettling words on Monday for Blazers’ opponents came from CJ McCollum, who said he is entering this season more at ease mentally.

“I think there is less pressure,’’ McCollum said.

Last year, McCollum said it was somewhat “nerve wracking” for him to produce in his third season after spending most of his first two seasons injured and out of the rotation.

After a breakout season last year (20.8 points, 4.3 assists, team-best 41.7 percent three-point shooting), McCollum says he enters this season feeling more “comfortable.”

“I know what it takes to do it,’’ he said.

Built into comfort is a more nuanced understanding of the game, both from what the Blazers are doing and what the opponents are trying to take away.

“I’m understanding the game better, thinking the game through,’’ McCollum said.

Already one of the game’s more crafty shot makers, McCollum figures to be even more dangerous with the comfort a year of experience and knowledge brings.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu and the move to power forward.

One of the more underrated facets of the Blazers’ late-season push and success in the playoffs was the effectiveness of Al-Farouq Aminu at power forward. But internally, the Blazers knew his shift from small forward to power forward was a difference maker, so during his exit interview last May, coach Terry Stotts posed a question:

How do you feel about moving to power forward next season?

Aminu, who is as carefree as they come on the team, shrugged his shoulders and gave a familiar reply … “I just want to play.’’

“He asked my comfort level,’’ Aminu said. “I told him it was pretty high. It’s something that if it’s in the best interest of the team, it’s something I want to do.’’

So heading into the season, the team has made no secret that Aminu will be the team’s starting power forward, in part based on their analytics team projecting a 53-win season with him at power forward and in the mid-40’s with him at small forward.

A dogged and versatile defender, Aminu was a surprise offensive weapon last season with streaks of three-point shooting (36.1 percent last season) and huge rebounding nights, even if his ball handling looked more like an exercise of hot potato. The ability to have a three-point threat at power forward helps create one of the key components to Stotts’ flow offense: spacing.

Of course, Aminu will also see some time at small forward, adding another card to Stotts’ deck of versatile players.  That makes Aminu one of the Blazers’ central players moving forward, and he doesn’t seem to care which forward spot he plays.

“If I’m on the court,’’ Aminu said, “I’m happy.’’

9. Ed Davis and his added bulk

There are two factors that explain everything you need to know about Ed Davis and his summer:

1. He lifted weights five times a week.

2. He estimated he ate five-to-six meals a day.

“I cranked up the calories,’’ Davis said.

The result? An estimated 15-to-20 pounds in added weight (he says he’s about 245 pounds today), which includes noticeably larger biceps from a year ago.

The Blazers’ top big man reserve was among the team’s better defenders last season, but if he had a defensive weakness it was holding his ground against the brawn of players like DeMarcus Cousins, Brook Lopez and DeAndre Jordan. It’s why the team felt the need to go out and secure a rim protector like Festus Ezeli.

With the team exercising caution in bringing Ezeli back from an offseason knee procedure, Davis will be a key element to the team’s early season interior defense, and the front office has to be happy to see his thicker arms and more dense frame.

10. The battle for the 15th spot

Who wins spots in the starting lineup won’t be the only competition at hand during the next month. Olshey brought in an intriguing stable of talent to challenge holdover Luis Montero for the 15th and final roster spot.

The options for the final roster spot are varied, from guard Tim Quarterman, to forward Grant Jerrett, to center Greg Stiemsma.

Stotts said he will make sure he takes time every day from his evaluations of lineups and combinations to monitor the competition for the 15th spot.

“That’s what entire month of October is for,’’ Stotts said. “You don’t want to have preconceived notions but that’s why you bring guys in. I’ll keep an eye on it daily because it’s the decision we will have to make at some point.’’