Stotts early favorite for Coach of the Year? His players think so and they could be right

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Stotts early favorite for Coach of the Year? His players think so and they could be right

Tualatin, Ore. – Most didn't expect the Portland Trail Blazers to be a team in contention this soon. It was suppose to be a retooling period, but so far, it's been anything but that.

You can credit LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, JJ Hickson or the top rookie thus far in Damian Lillard for the recent success the Trail Blazers are experiencing at the moment.

And rightfully so. Each player has played an integral role in why the Trail Blazers are four games above .500 and why they are currently sitting in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings.

But let us not forget who has made these pieces fit...Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts. And according to his players, he should be a serious early Coach of the Year candidate.

“I definitely think he is [an early Coach of the Year candidate] because of the way he handles our team,” Lillard said. “What everybody expected from us, it wasn't this. I can remember when people were saying 'We don't expect much' and 'It's going to be a rough year,' and in my head, I believed in our team and he did, too. As long as we continue on the same road as we are now, I think it's definitely a possibility he could win the award.”

It's been well documented what the Golden State Warriors have been able to accomplish under second-year Head Coach Mark Jackson. Last season the Warriors were 23-43 (lockout year). This season they are one win away (22-11) from surpassing that win total and are holding down the fifth spot in the Western Conference.
While not trying to take any credit away from Coach Jackson, Batum just wants everybody to keep in mind the differences between the Warriors and the Trail Blazers.

“Mark Jackson has the same team as last year. Our team is a totally different team,” Batum said. “We got a lot of young guys and people didn't expect us to be 19-15 in January and to be in the seventh and eighth spot after 34 games. You got to give credit to the coaching staff and Coach Stotts because he's doing a great job with us.”

The Trail Blazers have won 11 of their last 14 games and haven taken eight straight at the Rose Garden. They are 5-0 in overtime periods and in games decided by six or fewer points this season, they are an amazing 10-2. That speaks to the late in-game adjustments Stotts has made when the game calls for touch, quick, accurate decisions.

The Jan. 1 win over the New York Knicks was a prime example: Hickson was working on securing his 19th double-double of the season and was well on his way with 18 points (9-for-11 from the field) and nine rebounds. Stotts subbed him out the game to insert Jared Jeffries with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Luke Babbitt started the fourth and played the entire quarter at the four, moving Aldridge to the five to allow Babbitt's three-point presence to keep the court spread. Babbitt only went 1-for-3 from distance in that span, but Lillard, Aldridge, and Batum were able to maneuver in space because of No. 8.

Making the call to sit your starting center and best rebounder the last 17 minutes of a tight game is a bold move, and it's a move not too many coaches are willing to make in the NBA.

That's why this team is where they are now.

“A lot of it is feel, trust and sometimes it's just searching,” Stotts said. “That New York game in particular, JJ had a great first half. We built the lead with Luke in the game. I didn't want to screw it up. If you can find something that's working, you want to stick with it, but at the same time, you don't want to overplay your hand. It's a tough call, but those are some of the decisions you have to make as Head Coach.”

Not to mention that the Trail Blazers have a bench that is producing an NBA low 17.4 points per game. Yet still, Stotts is finding ways to make it work and win ball games.

“I would definitely say he should be Coach of the Year right now,” Aldridge said. “I think he has taken a bunch of pieces and he's meshed them together to put us in position to win every night and to put us in position to be in the playoffs right now. So he definitely deserves to be recognized for what he's done.”

Stotts says he was well aware what people were saying about this Trail Blazer squad when the roster was shaped and that didn't change his goal at all: The goal pf making the playoffs.

“Every situation that I've been in as a Head Coach or an assistant, you just try and do the best job that you can,” he said. “There's a lot of noise out there and one of the thing that you find out, that you have to coach your team and coach your players. Communication is important. You can't get caught up in all that [media talk}, good or bad. We want to make the playoffs. We can be a playoff team. We're not right now, but we can be.”

Despite the Trail Blazers impressive start, Stotts isn't content with where they are at the moment. He says their defense still needs to improve, the trust on offense could be better, and bringing it consistently on the road is a must.

However, he's happy with the progress his team has made from the beginning of the year.

“I'm pleased,” Stotts said. “I'm pleased with how we've comeback from a couple of four-game losing streaks. We had a bad road-trip and then we took advantage of our homestand. I'm pleased with the way we compete most nights and I'm pleased with our improvement. From day one, what I wanted from this team was to compete and to get better and build championship habits. I think we are doing that, we're not there yet, but I think we are doing that and that's the part that's most pleasing.”

As for the Coach of the Year talk, Stotts says that's no concern of his. His main focus is the improvement of this team and letting everything else play out.

“The record at the end of the season will be whatever it is, but as long as those big picture items are accomplished, that's all I'm concerned about,” Stotts said.

Practice Update:

LaMarcus Aldridge did not attend practice today. He was visiting the doctor about his right wrist that has been bothering him off and on this season.

Right now, Stotts doesn't know the severity.

"I don't know. Obviously it's bothering him so there's always concern. He's been playing with it. So hopefully it doesn't get worse and it gets better."

Update: X-rays came back negative and a MRI confirms right wrist sprain. Aldridge is probable for Thursday's game vs. Miami.

Trail Blazers FanFest slated for October 2nd

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Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers FanFest slated for October 2nd

Fans will have their first opportunity to watch the 2016-17 Portland Trail Blazers live in action when the team holds its 12th annual Wells Fargo Fan Fest on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Moda Center.

The free event features first-come, first-served general admission seating, with doors opening at 3 p.m. The afternoon will be headlined by an intra-squad scrimmage at 4 p.m.

Free family passes are available now at all Wells Fargo branches in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Parking on the Rose Quarter campus will be free, subject to availability. Fans may click on the link at http://www.nba.com/blazers/fanfest to download their tickets.

Wells Fargo Fan Fest is a great opportunity for fans to get an up-close look at this year’s Trail Blazers, including NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, Al Farouq Aminu and more.

Fans will also get a chance to see performances by this year’s BlazerDancers and Stunt Team, and receive prize giveaways from team mascot Blaze the Trail Cat.

The Trail Blazers Foundation and Wells Fargo are taking it to the court once again to offer $100,000 in grants for schools across Oregon and Southwest Washington in support of their academic, art, athletic or community programs. Visit trailblazers.com/takeittothecourt between Oct. 2, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for up to $10,000 for your school.

Trail Blazers add Greg Stiemsma to training camp roster

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USATI

Trail Blazers add Greg Stiemsma to training camp roster

UPDATE from TRAIL BLAZERS PR: 

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed center Greg Stiemsma to a training camp contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

In four NBA seasons with Boston, Minnesota, New Orleans and Toronto, Stiemsma (6-11, 260) has averages of 3.2 points (50.9% FG, 70.5% FT), 3.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.14 steals and 15.0 minutes in 203 career games (42 starts).

He will wear No. 54 for the Trail Blazers.

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The Portland Trail Blazers are bolstering their fall camp roster, this time with a big man. 

In a report from on Twitter by Adrian Wojanorowski of The Vertical, 

Stiemsma is not new to the NBA. He's 30. After four seasons in international and D-League play, in which he earned 2010 NBA D-League Defensive Player of the year, he got his chance in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. In his 203 career NBA games in which he's suited up for Boston, Minnesota, New Orelans and Toronto, Stiemsma has averaged 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. He's started 42 games.  

His most recent stint in the NBA came in Toronto, where he played in 17 games during the 2014-15 season. 

A camp invite for the Orlando Magic last season, the 6'11" big man was waived following an Achilles' strain that prevented him from competing in preseason competition. 

The Trail Blazers currently have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, so the former undrafted Wisconsin grad will battle Tim Quarterman ($75,000 guaranteed), Luis Montero  (unguaranteed) and Grant Jerrett (unguaranteed) for that last regular-season roster spot.

Portland is pretty deep with big men: Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Festus Ezeli. But Leonard’s and Ezeli’s injuries could open the door for Stiemsma, so he's an intriguing addition to this Blazers squad.

The world of AAU basketball: Gary Trent's son transfers to a P.O. box

The world of AAU basketball: Gary Trent's son transfers to a P.O. box

Greg Doyel is one of the best columnists in the country and he's got a great story about the son of former Jail Blazer Gary Trent, an up-and-coming high school star, transferring from his Indianapolis high school to a prep school that isn't really a school.

The senior Trent was a poster child for the era when Trail Blazer players were known more for their appearances in court than on the court. He notoriously punched his pregnant girlfriend in the face and kicked her in the ribs. In separate incidences, he allegedly punched and choked a man and hit another over the head with a pool cue. If you're new to the area or just want a refresher course on those dark days of the Trail Blazers, you can find the text of an "Outside the Lines" show on ESPN that sums up just some of the team's problems.

Well, anyway, Trent's son, a senior, is going to transfer to a "prep school" in Napa, Calif. --  Prolific Prep -- that really isn't a school at all. It's a basketball program that houses its players with a host family and sends them to a nearby Catholic school for their education. The "school" has a website but no physical address. I bet they have nice uniforms, though. It's, of course, not the first "school" of this type to make basketball its top priority.

It's a very interesting tale about what a segment of the current basketball development process has become in this country and I recommend it.

Damian Lillard raps about the grind and loyalty in latest track

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USATI

Damian Lillard raps about the grind and loyalty in latest track

The Portland Trail Blazers were hard at work in San Diego this week, with nearly every roster player in attendance preparing for the upcoming season ahead. 

Though, while All-Star point guard Damian Lillard works to build another playoff caliber team, Dame DOLLA remains in mid-season form. 

What'd you think?

Trail Blazers License Plates are now available

Trail Blazers License Plates are now available

The Portland Trail Blazers specialty license plate is now available.  The  license plates were authorized by the 2015 Oregon Legislature and were debuted during the Trail Blazers home game versus the Atlanta Hawks on January 20th, 2016

The license plate is only for passenger vehicles titled and registered in the state of Oregon. 
 

 

 

In addition to regular title, registration and plate manufacturing fees, the Trail Blazers specialty plate has an additional $40 surcharge due when you first order the plate and again every time you need to renew your registration.  All of the surcharge funds will go directly to the Trail Blazers Foundation.

Blazers back in San Diego for offseason team retreat 2.0

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USATI

Blazers back in San Diego for offseason team retreat 2.0

Voluntary workouts may have begun for NBA players, though for members of the Trail Blazers, they're anything but. 

In what became one of the largest, most defining moments in which the entire season's foundation was built off of, members of the Trail Blazers have returned to San Diego for team bonding and summer workouts, and it seems they have better turnover. 

If you follow CJ McCollum on Snapchat, you would know that he arrived in San Diego off a tour from China where he visited both Beijing and Shanghai on behalf of the NBA. 

In his Snapchat story, McCollum, along with Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier, Maurice Harkless, Pat Connaughton, Festus Ezeli and assistant David Vanterpool have spent time on campus at San Diego State University where they worked out and at various restaurants as a group around town. So far, 11 have been spotted on CJ's Snapchat.

Jake Layman, Mason Plumlee and Luis Montero have not shown up on CJ's story yet, though that doesn't mean they're not there. Noah Vonleh, who underwent a procedure to remove a bone fragment from his right thigh, was not in attendance. Vonleh was in San Diego last year. 

We'll continue to update you all the latest goings on. Stay tuned!

Podfather Godcast with Kevin Calabro

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Podfather Godcast with Kevin Calabro

Dwight breaks down the latest in local sports and talks extensively with Trail Blazers new TV voice Kevin Calabro. How does he think Blazers fans will receive him being a former enemy of the state as the Sonics announcer. And why take up a local gig again? Learn more about Calabro here. Check back every Thursday (or subscribe on iTunes) for a new podcast.

Plus, you don't want miss Dwight's rant on Portland traffic. He hates it more than anyone!

LISTEN HERE:

Trail Blazers release TV Broadcast Schedule - 60 Games on CSN

Trail Blazers release TV Broadcast Schedule - 60 Games on CSN

The official TV Broadcast Schedule for the 2016-2017 season was released today by the Portland Trail Blazers. 

It features 60 games exclusively on CSN plus 15 games aired locally on KGW and another seven nationally televised games (six on TNT, one on ESPN).

This season will also feature a revamped broadcast team including new Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd calling the action along with Brooke Olzendam working the sidelines.

FULL SCHEDULE BELOW
Download Link 

Trail Blazers finalize new broadcast team

Trail Blazers finalize new broadcast team

Earlier this summer, the Trail Blazers made waves in the Portland market when they announced long time TV broadcasters Mike Barrett and Mike Rice would not be returning to the team for the 2016-2017 season. The team also let go radio broadcaster Antonio Harvey in the process.

On June 17th, the team announced that former Seattle Sonics play by play man Kevin Calabro would take over Barrett's job. Calabro had been doing radio play by play for a variety of national broadcasters for both NBA and NCAA basketball as well as some TV work for the Pac-12 Network. 

Today, the Blazers round out the new look broadcast team. Former Oregon State star, Lamar Hurd, takes over the color commentary role previously held by Mike Rice. After his OSU playing days, Hurd played professionally in Germany but returned home in 2007. Hurd started his broadcast career with FSN/Root Sports in 2008 and since 2012, he has been doing TV work for the Pac-12 network as a studio and game analyst and you may remember him from some apperances on CSN's Talkin' Beavers. 

In another effort to bolster the broadcast team, the Blazers have hired CSN's Brooke Olzendam to be their full-time sideline reporter. In previous years, Michael Holton has worked the sidelines for the team in some capacity but a consistent sideline reporter at all games will be a new addition. Olzendam previously worked the sidelines for FS Indiana while covering the Pacers.

Not only will the on-court broadcast team have a new look, but the studio crew will get a makeover as well. Former three-sport star from Oregon, Jordan Kent, will take over duties as the primary pregame, halftime, and postgame host alongside Holton in the analyst role. Kent has been seen widly across CSN over the past few years as the host of Talkin' Ducks, Track Town, and Postagme Live as well as a host and analyst on Talkin' Ball. Kent has also done work for various other media outlets including ESPN on the track and field side. 

As in years past, you catch Rip City Live on CSN one hour before tip-off of every Blazer game plus Talkin' Ball immediately after each game. We'll also have a live web only pre and postgame show, The Scoop, streaming to your phones/tablets/computer at CSNNW.com and on Facebook.com/CSNNW before and after every game this season. Plus year-round coverage on social media and right here at CSNNW.com from our Insider Jason Quick, the Godfather Dwight Jaynes, and our Digital Reporter Jamie Hudson