Duck My Ride - Pasadena 2012, Enter now!

Duck My Ride - Pasadena 2012, Enter now!

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Report: Free agent Evan Turner reaches 4-year, 70M agreement with Blazers

Report: Free agent Evan Turner reaches 4-year, 70M agreement with Blazers

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Verticle, free agent forward Evan Turner has reached agreement on a four-year, $70 million deal with Portland. 

Last year, Turner, 27, averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game as the Celtics' sixth man.

Return of Dylan Ennis makes Oregon a Final Four favorite

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Return of Dylan Ennis makes Oregon a Final Four favorite

Before I begin making thrashing and gurgling sounds as if I'm drowning myself in Oregon Ducks basketball Kool-Aid, allow me to assure you that I have not yet booked my travel plans to Arizona for the 2017 NCAA Final Four. 

But only because CSNNW management won't allow me to do so nine months out. I fully plan to be on hand to cover the Ducks next April.

The news that senior guard Dylan Ennis has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing most of last season with a leg injury, reported by Tyson Alger of The Oregonian, cements the Ducks greatest ever returning collection of accomplished talent, and should make them a favorite to reach the Final Four.

Ennis,who averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 assists at Villanova two seasons ago, is a dynamic playmaker that will elevate the Ducks' offense and draw attention away from other scorers. Some said he was the best player on Oregon's team before he went down. 

Adding him makes up for the loss of senior forward Elgin Cook and leaves the Ducks with no excuses other than bad luck to not reach the Final Four. 

Oregon simply checks all the boxes:

  • Returning experience: The Ducks will welcome back four starters and five of their seven main rotation players headlined by junior forward Dillon Brooks, sophomroe guard Tyler Dorsey and senior center Chris Boucher.
  • Recent success to build upon: Returning talent means little if that talent didn't go anywhere the previous season. That's clearly not the case here. The Ducks won a program record 31 games and for the first time ever captured the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championships in the same season. 
  • Tournament experience: Oregon entered last year's tournament as a No. 1 seed and reached the West Region finals where it lost to a much more experienced Oklahoma team. Along the way, Oregon defeated Duke to capture one of the greatest victories in program history. 
  • Depth: Oregon, mostly limited to a seven-man rotation last season, could go nine or 10 deep next season. Ennis and junior forward Jordan Bell will likely end up in the starting lineup. Junior point guard Casey Benson and junior college transfer, center Kavell Bigby-Williams will be the primary backups. Also, three four-star recruits join the team, point guard Payton Pritchard, guard Kevin Smith and guard M.J. Cage.  Guard Kendall Small played last season, as well. 
  • Versatility: The Ducks will be able to play small ball with Ennis, Dorsey, Brooks, Benson and Bell or Boucher, or go much bigger with the 6-foot-10 twin towers, Boucher and Bigby-Williams. Both are intimidating shot blockers who can score. Bell certainly can block shots and has vowed to work on his offensive game. The depth and versatility will allow coach Dana Altman to match up with any team's strengths while also forcing opponents to deal with whatever it is Oregon choses to do on the court. 
  • Coaching: Atlman has proven to be a very good in-game coach and his emphasis on defense has paid off well for Oregon. He has simply needed the right mix of experience and talent to push the Ducks along. He has that now more so than ever. 
  • Star power: Brooks and Dorsey tested the NBA waters before wisely returning. Both need work before they are ready for the big time, but each certainly has NBA-caliber talent. 
  • Hunger: The Ducks haven't been to the Final Four since 1939 (won national title) but have reached the Elite Eight three times since 2002. The emotion in the locker room following the team's loss to Oklahoma was palpable, and many players vowed to work even harder to get over the hump next season. The return of Ennis ads to the hunger of this team. He watched his former team win the national title last season without him. 

Nothing is ever guaranteed in sports, espcially one with a single-elimination tournament like college basksetball. Nevertheless, Oregon will be flat ou better than it was last season, which makes taking the next step both logical and expected. 

 

Hillsboro Hops tighten screws in week two

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Hillsboro Hops tighten screws in week two

Written by Kyle Martinak 

The bottom line of the last week is that the Hillsboro Hops remain stymied by the Vancouver Canadians, but have found their stride against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

With the opening week’s growing pains in the bullpen, manager Shelley Duncan has likely accelerated the “getting to know ya” period and landed on the pitchers to trust with the heavy lifting, and chief among them is Tyler Mark. While the starters are sometimes flustered by the middle of the game, there’s no denying that the bullpen is hot; the Hops have 120 strikeouts in 14 games, coming second in the league only to the Spokane Indians’ 138. Mark threw 10 strikeouts for Hillsboro in a seven-inning appearance against Salem-Keizer on Tuesday, walking no one.

Meanwhile, the relievers are being deployed with sniper precision. Southpaw Kirby Bellow was awarded the win Thursday night when he stepped in to deliver a strikeout, retiring the top of the sixth inning and holding the Volcanoes to a 2-2 tied game. Tucker Ward and rookie Jake Winston have rounded out the arsenal, with only five earned runs between the two of them in a combined 13 innings.

Unfortunately, the lack of wood at the plate is the major malfunction. The Hops are just now averaging seven hits per game after the big night Thursday, and that victory over Salem-Keizer saw no hits for Hillsboro for four innings. That is not a professional standard. The lifeless pop-ups are numerous, and while batting coach Jose Amado is surely preaching patience (as evidenced by the team’s league low of 92 strikeouts at the plate), the key right now is some ground balls. The Hops need to put runners on by any means necessary. Base running is sharp through the entire order, as the Hops lead the league with 27 bases stolen. This was the key to the solitary 12-2 victory in Canada, as well as the strong series against the Volcanoes. While the double-threat of Luke Lowery and Justin Chigbogu is impressive, it can’t win games unless the team’s RBI potential is unlocked.

If these two series can illustrate one thing, it’s that the Hillsboro Hops are winning and losing all their games in the fifth and sixth innings. Against the Volcanoes, they can’t quite cut the Dijon until they are down by several runs or simply scoreless in the fifth, at which point they rally and take over the pace of the game entirely. Conversely, against the Canadians, they play sharp and disciplined throughout the first half until they are demoralized by a bad error or a rogue line drive. Then they go to sleep until it is too late. There are two approaches to this issue: A) the team needs to focus on maintaining that first-inning game face through the whole game, or B) they need to develop that underdog, last-chance moxie earlier, particularly if they have no hits after three innings.

The Hops have finally swept a series, but the uphill battle continues on the road against the Boise Hawks during the weekend, followed by a week at home for a four-game series with the Tri-City Dust Devils.

4th of July Weekend fishing opportunities

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4th of July Weekend fishing opportunities

For the active outdoorsmen, the 4th of July weekend offers a nearly unlimited opportunity.  There are literally (figuratively) a thousand different places to be fishing right now and we have plenty of great weather to enjoy it in.  Let’s take a look at the plethora of opportunity available right now in our region.

Summer Chinook is always a headliner this time of year.  The Columbia River ‘June Hog’ as some folks still call it, basically equates to a bigger, meaner, version of a Springer. Though they don’t currently return in the numbers that their spring arriving cousins do, they tend to fall prey to an anglers offering more easily since water conditions are generally better.  They can be caught on pretty much anything you would normally use for a Springer.  Trolled Herring or spinners, Wobblers, Kwikfish, and Maglips will all work.

Summer Steelhead are pouring into the lower Columbia (think below Kalama) and this stretch is littered with beaches that these little fighters travel along. Either by shore or boat, they will fall victim to a prawn spinner or U20 flatfish rather easily.  What’s even better is that these shallow lanes are often occupied by Sockeye, and Summer Chinook as well.  The tributaries are loading up with Steelhead too.  Savvy anglers will downsize their offering to compensate for low, warm, clear water conditions.

Speaking of Sockeye Salmon, the little guys are inundating the Columbia right now as they head upriver.   Counts at Bonneville have soared past well beyond expectations to this point.  The only problem is that they can be a bit finicky when it comes to getting them to bite in the lower river, however Coonstripe Shrimp and small spinners will get them on occasion.  Your best bet to get into large numbers of these tasty critters is to plan a trip to the upper river in mid to late summer.  Some years the daily bag limit will go to 6 fish per angler at Brewster pool and the Hanford area.

Perhaps you’ve had your fill of the big river and want to hit the beach for some salt therapy.  Bottom fishing for Rockfish and Lingcod remains good, and Cabezon retention opens July 1st.  The ocean appears it will cooperate over the long weekend too.  Always check with the Coast Guard before you head across the bar no matter what port you depart from.  It’s also a good idea to allow time at the boat ramp for a voluntary safety check from the CG as well.  This is a good way to help hedge your bet against trouble on the sea without finding out the hard way.

In addition to Cabezon opening July 1st, so does the Cape Falcon Salmon season.  The Chinook prospects certainly look promising this year, but catch rates aren’t usually that high on Kings for sport anglers at sea.  Most of these fish stay deep and can be tricky to locate but some are successful and occasionally adult Chinook will hit a shallow line targeting Coho.  Though the same can’t be said about the promise of the Coho forecast, it should be noted that even last year when the run came in at a fraction of pre-season expectations we still saw pretty solid Coho fishing in the ocean and at Buoy 10.

TUNA!! Now that I have your attention, it’s time to go chase them out in the big blue.   Albacore started biting back in mid June and the action has only picked up since then.  As usual with the early part of the season, most fish are being taken on trolled plugs, but live bait should begin to produce in a few weeks.

If you plan on trying any of the fisheries off the North coast, make sure to bring 6/0 barbless hooks and Dacron leaders.  The Sturgeon bite in Astoria is absolutely insane right now.  Guides are often boating 40 or more gators in a day using Sand Shrimp and Anchovies.  Though retention is closed, most of these fish are in or around the “keeper” range so be prepared for a sore back and arms.  If you’ve never caught a sturgeon down here I can tell you they are fresh from the sea and fight like a fish twice their size.

All that and I didn’t even get to Trout, Kokanee, Bass, or Walleye.  The opportunities this weekend are limitless so don’t miss out on the great outdoors that this amazing country of ours has to offer.  Have a safe 4th and God bless America!

Blazers aim to land both Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard in free agency

Blazers aim to land both Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard in free agency

After courting Chandler Parsons with a near-max deal on Thursday evening, the Trail Blazers will turn to pursuing free agent center Dwight Howard, with their greatest attraction resting in the friendship of  Parsons and Howard.

Howard and Parsons formed their bond in Houston during the 2013-2014 season, and as early as February of this year, Parsons indicated he wanted to reunite with Howard.

“Obviously, I have a really close relationship with Dwight, and one year wasn’t enough playing with him in Houston,’’ Parsons told USA Today in February. “”I was a big reason why he went there, so I’ll have to revisit that when the time is appropriate. The relationship I had with him, and making him feel comfortable, that was big.’’

Despite the Blazers’ reported offer to Parsons  after a Thursday meeting in Los Angeles – The Vertical said it was four years, $94 million – the small forward will meet with Memphis today, where the Grizzlies are also expected to aggressively puruse.

Howard, meanwhile, has been reported to have meetings lined up with only Boston and Atlanta.  But if the Blazers get Parsons in the fold, the picture might change.

“We still talk all the time,’’ Parsons told USA Today in February. “We’re friends, on and off the court. And I don’t just do it because he’s a free agent. It’s just a relationship we have built over the years. He still has a lot left in the tank … I’m a big fan of his game.’’

 

Olshey always has a plan -- we just don't know it yet

Olshey always has a plan -- we just don't know it yet

The news that the Trail Blazers are hot on the trail of free-agent forward Chandler Parsons was a bit surprising last night. When healthy, Parsons is a very promising player but he's had his last two seasons prematurely end because of injuries to his right knee. And the first of those injuries required what was called "hybrid microfracture surgery," which is indicative of cartilage damage.

And while I ponder that possible signing, I'm thinking about the sort of planning that went into Portland's decision to go after Parsons. We know, of course, that General Manager Neil Olshey has had months to plan his strategy for free agency -- and months to know how important this chase is for the long-term future of his franchise. All that cap space he's been building comes due this summer. Next year, a big new contract for C.J. McCollum will be added and this team will never in the foreseeable future have the kind of room it has right this minute.

This is his chance. And I wouldn't bet against him pulling off some sort of "Wow -- I can't believe he did that" move.

We also know that Olshey loves to work in the background. He's one of those magicians who doesn't make a big production out of his sleight of hand until the end of the show. You don't know he has your wallet until he pulls it out to pay the bill at the end of the night. And right now, I have no idea what he's up to except I'm pretty certain we haven't seen the end of his show this summer.

Parsons, yes. But there's more here. There has to be. Everyone knows this team needs a rim-protecting, rebound-gobbling big man. Is he using Parsons' friendship with Dwight Howard to try to lure him to Portland? Is he after someone below the radar -- Bismack Biyombo, for example? Or maybe Festus Ezeli?

I don't think we'll know until Olshey is finished.

The one thing I do know from watching the first few hours of free agency is that baseball genius Bill Veeck was right about a half-century ago when talking about the salaries of players. And he's been proved right countless times over the decades:

"It isn't the high price of stars that is expensive," he famously said. "It's the high price of mediocrity."

 

 

Trail Blazers reportedly chasing Chandler Parsons in free agency

Trail Blazers reportedly chasing Chandler Parsons in free agency

As the free agency frenzy got underway Thursday night, the big news for Blazer fans was the reported interest in Chandler Parsons at a max level deal:

It appears, based on ESPN reports, that the main contender for Parsons' service will come from Memphis

The Vertical also reported that owner Paul Allen, GM Neil Olshey, head coach Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard all made the trip to LA to meet Parsons.

Parsons has battle knee injuries the last two seasons where he played 66 and 61 games respectively. If healthy, Parsons would be a nice addition to Coach Stotts' offense. In Parsons' best year, he averaged 16.6 points per game in 2013-2014, his last with Houston. 

Our Trail Blazer Insider, Jason Quick, weighed in with some thoughts on the potential addition of Parsons:

You may remember Parsons as the defender on this shot:

 

NCAA Grants Ennis Sixth Year

NCAA Grants Ennis Sixth Year

EUGENE, Ore. – Senior guard Dylan Ennis’ petition for a sixth-year of eligibility was granted by the NCAA on Thursday.

Officially termed a Fifth-Year Rule Waiver, Ennis was granted a sixth year “based upon the totality of the circumstances and student-athlete well-being,” according to the NCAA.

Ennis appeared in just two games for Oregon in 2015-16 due to a left foot injury. The injury to the foot was initially discovered in the fall, after which Ennis went through surgery and rehabilitation, before returning to action Dec. 29. He played against Western Oregon and Oregon State before re-aggravating the injury.

The Brampton, Ontario, native transferred to Oregon from Villanova as a graduate senior in the summer of 2015. He averaged 9.9 points per game as the Wildcats won the 2014-15 Big East title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s third round.

Ennis is pursuing a graduate degree in conflict and dispute resolution.

Damian Lillard 'excited' after being briefed on Trail Blazers plan for free agency

Damian Lillard 'excited' after being briefed on Trail Blazers plan for free agency

BEAVERTON – Damian Lillard said Neil Olshey has briefed him on the Trail Blazers’ free agency plan, and the star point guard said it left him feeling “excited.’’

Lillard said he is “somewhat” in the know of Olshey’s plans when free agency opens Thursday night at 9 p.m. Portland time, but he chose to let Olshey’s actions do the talking.

“I will keep that in house,’’ Lillard said. “You all will find out soon.’’

Lillard was coy when asked whether he is scheduled to meet with free agents, saying “maybe … maaaaybe” while smiling and rubbing his chin.

The Blazers, coming off a second-round playoff appearance, can have as much as $40 million in cap space to address their needs, which include a rim-protecting big man and depth at small forward.

Rumors have linked the Blazers to Miami center Hassan Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocks, and Houston center Dwight Howard, one of the NBA’s most accomplished big men in the last decade.

“I’m excited because it’s not hard to see,’’ Lillard said. “There are guys … our whole roster could look at free agency and say ‘This guy could help us … this guy could help us …’ so it’s just a matter of how bad (the free agent) wants to be here, how much we have to offer compared to what they like. We will see where it goes.’’

Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, said on Wednesday that he will not comment throughout free agency. ESPN has reported that Whiteside will meet with the Blazers on Friday morning. If that meeting does take place, it doesn’t figure to include Lillard, who said he will be in Beaverton for the final day of his youth basketball camp.

Both Whiteside and Howard come with red flags, mostly from an attitude and chemistry standpoint. The Blazers, meanwhile, have one of the NBA’s strongest cultures when it comes to work ethic, togetherness and team-first priorities.

Much of that culture has been fostered by the leadership of Lillard, and on Thursday Lillard said he will be up front in addressing any potential character flaws with a free agent.

“When I speak to these guys, I’m going to tell them what it is with our team and how we do things, and what will be tolerated and what won’t be,’’ Lillard said. “If we happened to get someone who, like you said, has red flags – we don’t know for sure if that’s he-said, she-said, or if it’s real. Or if it’s the situation, or the people around him, or what.

“But if it comes to our culture or this individual, it will be addressed. Ain’t nobody going to back down to nobody or let someone come in here and think something is going to change, because it’s not. It’s not just me. I will be the first one to say something, because that’s just what it is,’’ Lillard said. “But I know CJ (McCollum) is going to back that up and each guy down the line is going to back it up. We show up to practice each day to work , we show up on time, we hold each other accountable and we allow out teammates to hold each other accountable and that’s the bottom line. We don’t do the cute stuff … we show up and do what we do, that’s it. If you don’t want to do it, then it won’t work.’’

Lillard, who says he is in the best offseason shape of his career, said he isn’t worried about Olshey’s success in the free agent market because he has a belief in the guys who are already under contract with the team.

“I think there are some guys out there who can take our team to the next level, but I really like the guys we have, too,’’ Lillard said. “I’m a strong believer in if guys go home and get better over the summer, we come back and we will be that much better. We will continue to get better.’’

In the meantime, the player in the know of Olshey’s plans is on call to be the team’s ambassador with free agents, as well as the locker room spokesperson to Olshey and his front office.

“When I’m asked about a player who can help us, I’m going to give my honest opinion,’’ Lillard said. “That’s my duty to our team.’’