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.

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.

CJ McCollum inks contract extension

screen_shot_2016-07-27_at_9.26.49_am.png
Instagram

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.

In one summer, Trail Blazers move into season of high expectations

In one summer, Trail Blazers move into season of high expectations

In one summer, the Portland Trail Blazers have gone from the team with the lowest payroll in the NBA to a team with one of the highest. When the smoke clears this fall, it's expected Portland's payroll will rank at least in the top five of the league.

And make no mistake, heavy expectations always accommpany high payrolls.

Last year's plucky over-achievers are a thing of the past. Forty-four wins? Better do a lot better than that. Player development will still be a part of the team's overall plan but no longer the central focus. It's going to be all about winning games and advancing in the playoffs -- just like the big boys.

No slack will be cut.

I understand this team isn't going to be playing in the NBA Finals. A championship is still a faint dream. But there will be expectations this team will advance to a high level -- the top half of the Western Conference and, depending on seeding, getting to the conference finals.

These are young players, granted. But they are also veteran players who are, for the most part, well compensated. And while it would be unfair to expect this team to gel from Day 1 of the season, there certainly will be an expectation that even at its worst, this team will play .500 basketball until it finds steady roles and responsibilities for everyone.

Will these players be ready for this? They better be. And it may not be easy for some of them. We've all seen players get a big contract and then struggle with it for a time. Sometimes that dream contract can be a nightmare burden. Trying to prove you're worth several million bucks isn't easy, no matter what business you're in. In sports, it can be oppressive.

Being a highly paid player on a team expected to be among the NBA's elite is going to be an entirely new experience for many of these players.

But the Portland Trail Blazers have two max-contract players, good role players, versatile overall talent, depth and even playoff experience in a Western Conference that may be skidding a bit below its top team. The Blazers should be good. Very good.

Can they handle that responsibility?

 

 

Trail Blazers bring back Maurice Harkless for 4-years, $40 million

Trail Blazers bring back Maurice Harkless for 4-years, $40 million

Maurice Harkless is returning to the Trail Blazers after agreeing to a four-year, $40 million deal on Tuesday, according to his agent, Happy Walters.

Walters said there is language in the contract that could raise the value to $42 million. 

Harkless, who last season became a late-season starter at small forward and was a catalyst to the Blazers’ playoff run into the second round, receives a huge pay raise after making $2.9 million last season.  

Harkless averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds last season, but his real impact was made late in the season. He started the final 11 games at small forward, when the Blazers went 8-3, then became a central figure in the playoffs, when he averaged 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds.

His versatility on defense in the playoffs – during which he guarded point guards such as Chris Paul, shooting guards such as Klay Thompson, and power forwards such as Blake Griffin and Draymond Green – was an important facet to the Blazers advancing to the Western Conference semifinals.

His signing gives the Blazers 14 guaranteed contracts, one less than the maximum allowed by the NBA, while guards Luis Montero and Tim Quarterman will be in training camp with partially guaranteed contracts. Harkless will join a stable of talented wings that include Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner and Al-Farouq Aminu.

CJ McCollum, Blazers react to extension news

usatsi_9151996.jpg
USATI

CJ McCollum, Blazers react to extension news

The Trail Blazers locked up their backcourt for the next five years Monday with CJ McCollum reportedly set to sign a four-year, $106 million extension. 

And it didn't take long for McCollum and his teammates to weigh in following the news.

 

Trail Blazers sign Tim Quarterman to partially-guaranteed training camp contract

Trail Blazers sign Tim Quarterman to partially-guaranteed training camp contract

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent guard Tim Quarterman to a partially-guaranteed training camp contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Undrafted out of LSU, Quarterman (6-6, 187) posted averages of 11.2 points (41.5% FG, 34.3% 3PT, 63.2% FT), 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.97 steals in 33 games (27 starts) his junior 2015-16 season.

Quarterman, 21, played three seasons for the Tigers, averaging 8.4 points (39.7% FG, 31.0% 3PT, 66.0% FT), 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.04 steals in 98 games (43 starts).

 

CJ McCollum signs four-year, $106 million extension with Trail Blazers

usatsi_9213867.jpg
USATI

CJ McCollum signs four-year, $106 million extension with Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers offseason signings still aren't over as CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers have agreed to a four-year, $106 million extension, according to a report from The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi.


The deal includes no player option, and no trade kicker, according to Wojnarowksi.

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. 

Now, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has locked up the Trail Blazers backcourt for five years. 

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.

McCollum also shot 44.8% from the floor and 41.7% from three, both career highs.

There is no official news yet from the Trail Blazers. 

Damian Lillard takes his rapping talents to Las Vegas

Damian Lillard takes his rapping talents to Las Vegas

Damian Lillard a.k.a Dame D.O.L.L.A. performed in a special concert last night for fans at adidas Basketball’s #LVL3 presented by @adidasHoops experience at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Friday night in a concert that included fellow adidas spokesman James Harden and with a performance from DJ Esco.

#LVL3 is an immersive experience that showcases a first look at adidas basketball innovations, while bringing fans of the game together with NBA stars to test their own skills and create unique on-court looks, according to a release.

Here's a couple videos from the event: 

In addition to Lillard’s concert last night, the experience is open July 21-23 to fans ages 14-18. James Harden played video games with fans, Derrick Rose showcased his ping-pong skills, Andrew Wiggins judged a dunk contest via a 360 dunk cam, Jeff Teague participated in a Q&A session with Avery Bradley and Brandon Ingram, Serge Ibaka and Nick Young surprised fans at #LVL3.

Lillard has been all over the world this summer to promote adidas, including a tour in China. He even filmed a commercial while he was there.

His birthday concert was a huge success, as well. 

What will Dame D.O.L.L.A. do next?!