J.J. Hickson's disappointing performance this season with the Kings surely made GM Geoff Petrie regret trading Omri Casspi and a first-round pick to get him this past offseason. Petrie and company were quick to cut bait, buying him out shortly after the trade deadline. The Blazers swooped in and claimed him off waivers, and in a dozen games with Portland, Hickson has suddenly returned to the form that made him a promising young commodity with the Cavs. He's averaging 13.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG and shooting 55% from the floor, and will see plenty of time down the stretch with LaMarcus Aldridge out. He spoke with Brendan Bowers of Slam Online and shared his thoughts on what's changed since he switched teams, and his upcoming restricted free agency:
- Hickson has indicated before he'd like to remain in Portland, but seemed to express a much stronger desire to do so in his comments to Bowers. "Of course, I would love it," Hickson said of returning to the Blazers. "I’ve been getting some positive feedback from Coach, and from the organization as a whole, and I would love to re-sign here. As far as the guys on the court, as far as my teammates go, we all like each other off the court and we all get along too. Guys hang out off the court, and I think that builds a chemistry that leads to winning basketball. So I would love to come back here, continue to be a Portland Trailblazer, and help be part of something special that we’re building here."
- Hickson harbors no ill will toward the Kings, against whom he scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Portland's loss yesterday, saying it just simply wasn't the right fit.
- He credits coach Kaleb Canales and a better mix of personnel with his Portland renaissance. Hickson said a ball-sharing offense and a heavy dose of pick-and-rolls have put him in a position to succeed.
- Hickson also shares how Canales has motivated the entire team. "Coach is a great coach, man," Hickson said. "He’s young and he’s very energetic; he’s just like me. He’s very hands on, but at the same time he’s a great coach who’s going to tell you when you’re messing up, and he’s also going to tell you what you’re doing well. He’s definitely a defensive minded coach too. I’ve only known Coach for a couple weeks or so, but I’ll run through a wall for him already. I think I speak for the whole team when I say that."