ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
!function(d,s,id)varjs,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)0;if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="platform.twitter.comwidgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);(document,"script","twitter-wjs");It'sno secret that Nolan Smith is struggling for the Portland TrailBlazers this preseason and it looks like it's gotten to the pointwhere it has become a mental battle within.
In the first fiveminutes of action Smith saw Friday night against the Golden StateWarriors, he committed three turnovers. There were also a couple timesduring the game where Smith got a step on his defender and he justcouldn't finish at the rim.
His stat line was0-for-6, three turnovers, zero assist in 17 minutes. In five preseasongames, Smith is shooting 25 percent from the field and 23 percentfrom three-point range.
Trail Blazers headcoach Terry Stotts brushed off Smith's latest performance and chalkedit up to him just missing some gimmes that might have jump-started hisgame onto the right track.
He had a roughnight Friday because he went 0-for-6, Stotts said. He had acouple of really good moves that he wasn't able to finish and thatprobably would have changed the tenor of the opinion of the game.
Those two layupsgo in it's different game. But he struggled Friday scoring theball, but I think he still defends, he's quick, he gets by people.So, this is good for him. This is good for him to go through it andget minutes on the floor and Friday in crunch time, to be able totry and make plays and win the game.
Without question,Smith is a much better player than what he has shown of late and one has towonder whether he is pressing due to the Trail Blazers' team option.
The Trail Blazershave a deadline of Oct. 31 to exercise Smith's third-year option. Ifthey decide not to, Smith will become an unrestricted free agent nextsummer.
General manager NeilOlshey told CSNNW.com that he intends to use all of the timenecessary before making a decision.
Smith says he's notfocused on his contract.
That's somethingI can't control, Smith said. All I can do is go out there andplay my game. Whatever happens, I'll have to deal with it. But rightnow, I just got to play ball and be ready when my number is called.
If the contractsituation is not what's affecting him, then could it be that he'splaying out of position?
For most of hisplaying career, he has been an off-guard, playing off the ball andcoming off screens. However, when standing 6'3 in the NBA, thereare not many nights where you're matched up against a shooting guardthat size.
Nevertheless, maybethe shooting guard spot is where you're going to get the mostproduction out of Smith, but that still doesn't mean it'll benefitthe Trail Blazers.
Smith doesacknowledge that he's comfortable play the two, but he thinks he canbe effective at the one, as well.
I'm a basketballplayer, Smith said. Wherever coach puts me at on the floor, I'mgoing to play it with the best of my ability. It doesn't matter whereI'm at.
Whatever the reasonsare for Smith's struggles, he'll have to figure it out and correct itsoon. There's two preseason games left home-and-home matchupagainst the Utah Jazz and Smith will have to prove to theorganization in that time, that he's worthy of another year to develop.