Trail Blazers extend qualifying offers to Leonard, Harkless, Crabbe

Trail Blazers extend qualifying offers to Leonard, Harkless, Crabbe

The Trail Blazers on Tuesday extended qualifying offers to Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe, ensuring the three players will be restricted free agents beginning July 1.

By extending the qualifying offers, the Blazers reserve the right to match any offer the players receive on the free agent market, which begins July 1. A qualifying offer is 125%  of the players’ previous salary.

Leonard, a 7-foot-1 forward/center, received a $4.2 million qualifying offer after averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 22 minutes a game. He played in 61 games, missing the final month of the season and playoffs to have surgery on his left shoulder.

Harkless received a $4.0 million qualifying offer after a strong finish to the season, when he became a starter at small forward. The fourth-year forward averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds during the season and 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 11 playoff games.

Crabbe received a $2.7 million offer – larger than the projected $1.8 million offer because he played more than 2,000 minutes – after averaging 10.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 26 minutes a game.

The players can still negotiate with other teams and the Blazers for a higher salary, but teams have until June 30 to extend the one-year offer in order to maintain the ability to match offers from other teams. 

CJ McCollum plays reporter, interviews NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

usatsi_9291534_1.jpg

CJ McCollum plays reporter, interviews NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

It is no secret that Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has long wanted to become a journalist one day. He graduated from Lehigh with a degree in journalism, has his own radio show in Portland, and has even launched a high school journalism program to help foster the next generation of sports journalist. This offseason CJ has devoted a lot of time to his post basketball goals, and all this practice paid off with the interview of a lifetime; A one-on-one with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Check it out in the video below.

If Blazers chase Whiteside, they're running with the big dogs

If Blazers chase Whiteside, they're running with the big dogs

The Trail Blazers are said to be among the teams that will be chasing Miami free-agent center Hassan Whiteside when free agency begins Friday.

But Portland better have its big-boy pants on when it walks into that competition. The other teams reportedly involved in that hunt are the Dallas Mavericks (where owner Mark Cuban's prepensity for treating his players well is legendary), the Los Angeles Lakers (good weather, Hollywood, Showtime, tradition), Golden State (a chance to play alongside some great players) and Miami (where Pat Riley says retaining Whiteside is a top priority).

That's a tough field to beat.

Whiteside is 27 and a max contract for him would be in the neighborhood of $22 million, so he'd possibly be cheaper than some other max players. And while people have a perception that another free-agent center, Dwight Howard, could be a locker-room problem, Whiteside's past isn't exactly spotless.

He came out of college with a reputation of being arrogant and over-estimating his own talent. One story, in fact, features a former NBA front office executive calling him a "jackass:"

Hassan Whiteside, for lack of a better word, was a jackass when he came out of college. He was delusional and would say things that were not commensurate with how great he was as a player.

“It turned a lot of people off. His work ethic wasn’t very good. He had to hit rock bottom and figure out that, ‘Oh my gosh, my approach in life has not gotten me where I want to go,’ and credit to him that he did that.”

Yes, credit to him. But if you're about to write a big check to a player with that reputation, wouldn't you worry about him returning to his previous self? When he gets that major deal, wouldn't you worry that his work ethic might return to its previous state?

But if the Trail Blazers and Neil Olshey could somehow figure a way to land Whiteside, it would certainly -- given the competition -- put to rest forever the idea that the Trail Blazers can't land a major free agent.

 

 

Trail Blazers' guard Pat Connaughton launches a football 80 yards

usatsi_8831261_147386290_lowres.jpg

Trail Blazers' guard Pat Connaughton launches a football 80 yards

Trail Blazers guard Pat Connaughton posted the video below on his twitter account this weekend, showing off an impressive arm while throwing a football. As the tweet indicates, the toss appears to be about 80 yards in length. In addition to playing for the Trail Blazers, the Baltimore Orioles control his contractual MLB rights. Connaughton was drafted as a pitcher in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by the Orioles.

 

Trail Blazers, Olshey get their target: Maryland's Jake Layman

Trail Blazers, Olshey get their target: Maryland's Jake Layman

Shortly after the college basketball season had ended this spring, Neil Olshey had targeted his player for the 2016 NBA Draft: Jake Layman, a sharp shooting wing from Maryland who could defend and play multiple positions.

“Neil and I have been talking about Jake for the past two months,’’ agent Mark Bartelstein said. “He was a guy Neil really targeted. He told me if he could trade into the second round, he was a guy they would really go after.’’

On Thursday, Olshey did just that in the second round of the NBA Draft, trading with Orlando for the 47th overall pick to select the 6-foot-9 forward.

Olshey gave up $1.2 million and a 2019 second round pick to get his guy.

“Jake is a high character young man with a skill set we value on both ends of the floor,’’ Olshey said in a release from the team. “His ability to defend multiple positions and shoot the ball from range will be positive additions to our roster.’’

Layman, 22, played four years at Maryland where he had career averages of 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from three-point range.

But Bartelstein, a long time power agent in the NBA, said there is much more to Layman.

“He’s one of those rare seniors with gigantic upside to his game,’’ Bartelstein said. “He’s kind of a late bloomer. His strength is coming and he has gotten better and better each year, and even late this season. So I think he’s a fascinating guy because he has so much upside. I think he will be a terrific player.’’

Layman on Friday said he can see similarities between his game and that of Utah wing Gordon Hayward.

“I’m not saying I’m him right now, but a guy who I can (model his game after) is Gordon Hayward,’’ Layman said.

He comes from Wrentham, Mass., a town of less than 11,000 located about 35 miles south of Boston and is the son of athletic parents: his dad played baseball and his mother basketball for the University of Maine.

It was in Wrentham where he watched Thursday’s draft, finally getting a call from Bartelstein who told him “It’s a home run!’” before he even mentioned which team had selected him.

“To finally hear my name called … it was a big sigh of relief,’’ Layman said. “I was very excited, especially to be picked up by the Blazers. I think their style fits me well.’’

Bartelstein said he told his client getting picked by Portland was a home run for two reasons: it’s always big to be a team’s only selection in a draft; and it’s important to be a targeted player, not just someone who is picked because they are available.

“It’s really important to come into the league and know a team wanted you enough to get the rights to get your pick,’’ Bartelstein said. “I know how much time Neil spent scouting and watching him, how much he focused on him, and to me, that says a lot.’’

Layman said he will arrive in Portland next week for the start of training camp for the Blazers’ Summer League entrant. The Blazers’ first game in Las Vegas will be July 9.

Golf, 1.2 million, and a phone call: How Jake Layman became a Trail Blazer on NBA Draft Night

Golf, 1.2 million, and a phone call: How Jake Layman became a Trail Blazer on NBA Draft Night

Despite having no picks in the NBA Draft last night, Neil Olshey and Paul Allen found a way to wheel and deal their way into the draft by making a trade with the Orlando Magic for the #47 overall pick and used that selection on Maryland's Jake Layman. Daniel Martin of CSNMidAtlantic.com spoke to Layman last night on a conference call who said, “Honestly, going into it I was confident that I was going to get picked no matter what round it was or when. I found out that Portland traded in to get that pick and I’m their only pick, so that’s a good sign.”

Read more about Layman's draft day experience which started on a golf course and ended with him being drafted by a team he didn't even work out for

 

 

Trail Blazers select forward Jake Layman with 47th overall pick

Trail Blazers select forward Jake Layman with 47th overall pick

The Trail Blazers drafted Maryland forward Jake Layman with the 47th overall pick on Thursday after acquiring the second round pick in a trade with the Orlando Magic, according to The Vertical.

The Blazers paid Orlando $1.2 million and sent their 2019 second round pick, according to The Vertical.

[WATCH: Jake Layman highlight reel]

Layman is a 6-foot-9 forward who played small forward his senior season at Maryland but is probably best suited as a stretch four.  He is considered a good leaper and impressed with his shooting at the Chicago Combine in May. Weaknesses include his ball handling and ability to create his shot.

The Blazers entered the 2016 Draft without a pick, but secured the athletic forward midway through the second round. Layman averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds his senior season and scored 27 points in the Terrapins’ opening round game in the NCAA Tournament.  As a senior, he shot 39.6 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the field.

 

 

 

Trail Blazers Draft Day trade rumors

Trail Blazers Draft Day trade rumors

Written by Casey Mabbott and Bryant Knox

The NBA draft is tonight, and with a perceived lack of depth (some calling it the shallowest draft pool in years), many teams are looking to the trade and free agency markets for impact players. If Portland is interested in improving its roster overnight, there are plenty of potential deals to be had if Neil Olshey is willing to pull the trigger and send one of his home-grown talents and/or future draft picks for a player that could help take this team from good to great very quickly.

There are sure to be many scenarios out there, but few that actually suit all sides involved, which is the main reason most deals don’t go through. Casey Mabbott (CM) and Bryant Knox (BK) teamed up to give you the most likely scenarios if Portland decides to makes a move, why Portland should consider them, and the potential pitfalls.

Trade Scenario #1: C.J. McCollum for Nerlens Noel

Why it makes sense: (CM) Philadelphia has a heavy mix of young big men but lacks shooters, while Portland is at the other end of the that spectrum so the two sides could help the other. Noel is a budding star on the defensive end, and would be the rim protector and defensive presence Portland needs desperately while McCollum would equate to instant offense for the 76ers and provide a talented shooter inside and outside. Losing McCollum would certainly hurt Portland in the short term, but the move would open up the starting shooting guard spot for Allen Crabbe and ensure more minutes off the bench for Moe Harkless, and the chance exists that either player could morph into a star if given enough time on the floor.

Why it won’t happen: (BK) If you believe in curses, you believe that the Rose Quarter is likely built on an old burial ground dedicated to big men who ultimately entered the afterlife with the official cause of death being injuries to lower extremities. For those who are superstitious, bringing on a big man with a history of knee injuries is insane. Losing a 20-points-per-game player who happens to be one-half of arguably the second-best backcourt in the NBA is out of the question. But curses and superstitions aside, this move goes against everything that the NBA has become. In a pace-and-space league, Noel gives you nothing while McCollum and his shooting are the lifeblood that keep you going. Noel has an undeniable defensive presence, which Portland badly needs. But at the cost of McCollum, the deal should be cut off before Olshey is give the chance to say yes.

Trade Scenario #2: C.J. McCollum for Jahlil Okafor

Why it makes sense: (BK) Although Okafor isn’t anywhere near becoming a stretch-4 / 5, he provides the offensive spark that Noel seemingly never will. He’s an old-school player in terms of scoring with his back to the basket, but that’s an area Portland lacks at this juncture. His porous defense is an issue, but again, he’s a young player who has already established a set of low-post moves that many of today’s bigs simply don’t have. If you’re going to give up a dynamic scorer, at least bringing on the former Duke Blue Devil gives you an offensive spark in return to complement, not repeat, the skill set of Damian Lillard.

Why it won’t happen: (CM) Sending an established offensive star for a guy who may one day be the center they need doesn’t add up for a Portland team trying to take two steps forward without taking any back. Okafor is  decent offensive player but he would most likely slow down the offense and isn’t as of today set up to be the primary or secondary scoring option. That’s not to mention Okafor’s current deficiencies on defense. If you’re trading your second best player in order to get a defensive star who can also contribute on offense, Okafor just isn’t your guy.

Trade Scenario #3: Meyers Leonard and 2018 first round pick for Derrick Favors

Why it makes sense: (CM) This might be the best move for Portland this offseason aside from re-signing Crabbe and Harkless. Bringing in Favors keeps Mason Plumlee at center and provides a talented forward with a good all around game who is still young (24) but has 5 years of quality NBA experience. Utah is almost as loaded in the front court as Philadelphia but doesn’t have a job for everyone, this move would eliminate at least one mouth to feed. Favors is a double-double machine and the kind player down low that Portland could use to round out their offense. Portland would essentially give up nothing they need in exchange for a player that would allow Lillard and McCollum to continue to expend their energy on offense.

Why it won’t happen: (BK) What, you’re ready to give up on Meyers Leonard already? The truth is that Derrick Favors is an excellent two-way player. His total win shares are well above league average, per Basketball-Reference.com, and his splits in that category show effective on both sides of the court. But what you don’t get from Favors, at least not consistently, is the ability to spread the floor. According to NBA.com, Favors shot just 22.6 percent between 15 and 19 feet this past season, and while that number rose to 37.5 percent in the 20-24’ range, his attempts shrank to just eight in that category. Leonard struggled with injuries this past season, and getting him healthy is the first step toward a resurgence. He still has the potential to be a modern day, prototypical stretch-5. This is a good trade for Portland in the immediate future, but it comes at the sacrifice of the long-term shooter.

Trade Scenario #4: C.J. McCollum for Kevin Love

Why it makes sense:(BK) It’s easy to pick on Kevin Love. His numbers are down from his days in Minnesota, he’s clearly the third fiddle in Cleveland and he gets rejected by LeBron James on high-fives. But you know who else was easy to pick on in The King’s shadow? Chris Bosh. The same Chris Bosh who was a dominant big man in Toronto and saw his value rise again once James took his talents back to The Land. Love in Portland would not be the Love we’re seeing with the Cavs. He’d reestablish himself as an All-Star-caliber presence, and he’d spread the floor, which as we’ve discussed, is a must in today’s NBA. Giving up McCollum isn’t ideal, but it shouldn’t be an automatic deal-breaker. Picking up a defensive-minded 2 in free agency would help complement Lillard in the backcourt, and placing Love in the starting lineup would instantly replace the offense you’re missing from the shooting guard position.

Why it won’t happen: (CM) Love is a talented player, but he is too inconsistent for the price tag, doesn’t get up and down the court as well as other guys his size, and is a defensive liability – not ideal for Portland. It would be a huge risk for Portland from a chemistry and production standpoint but it would be a huge payday for Cleveland as McCollum would be a big upgrade over J.R. Smith and would fit right in with the Cavs’ all-ISO all the time offense. If Portland goes after a player on Cleveland not named LeBron or Kyrie, Tristan Thompson might be the better trade target but Love or Thompson for McCollum straight up would be a net loss for Portland.

Trade Scenario #5: Meyers Leonard for Greg Monroe

Why it makes sense: (CM) If Portland cannot get Favors, Monroe is the next best thing. Milwaukee seems to have buyer’s’ remorse after they lured Monroe away from Detroit (and Portland, for those keeping count)  in the offseason, and are now shopping him. Monroe is another double-double machine, still young at age 26, and would absolutely fit in Portland. As the Bucks are looking to deal him, they may not require the extra incentive of a first rounder to get the deal done, and Portland absolutely has the room in the salary cap to cover the deal he signed last summer.

Why it won’t happen:(BK) Remember when Portland offered Greg Monroe a max contract last summer? And remember when he ultimately spurned the Blazers for Milwaukee? Rip City should be thanking the Bucks. The fact that Milwaukee so quickly regretted signing the Moose should be a sign that Portland needs to stay away. His defense proved to be a bigger burden than anyone expected, and that’s not something that’s likely to change. None of this, of course, is to say that Monroe is a useless player. His game can be effective on offense, and his contract isn’t going to look terrible two seasons from now when the cap has spiked twice. But this deal feels like a just for the sake of making a move. If offense is Monroe’s selling point, I’d rather see what Leonard can do over the next few seasons.

Report: Damian Lillard withdraws from Team USA consideration

Report: Damian Lillard withdraws from Team USA consideration

In the ongoing saga of constructing Team USA Basketball for the 2016 Summer Olympics, news today from The Vertical that Damian Lillard has withdrawn his name from consideration. 

Lillard is added to a long list of players who have withdrawn this summer for a variety of injury related or Zika virus related concerns.

Though, there is a report from Sam Amick that it might not all be injury or Zika related.

Nate Jones, who works closely with Lillard, chimed in after Amick's report:

Team USA is expected to announce the final roster before the end of the month.