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Blazers Notes: Small Forwards, Harkless, Napier

The Trail Blazers committed a ton of money to free agent contracts and extensions this summer, and will have one of the NBA’s highest payrolls in 2016/17. However, owner Paul Allen suggested earlier this week that he believes in the team’s current group of players and had no problem handing out those contracts. Still, Allen didn’t sound overly eager to become a taxpaying team this season, and Portland is currently right on that threshold, so it will be interesting to see if the team makes a conscious effort to slip below the tax line with its roster moves.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is keeping an “open mind” about the team’s small forward spot, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Allen Crabbe – each of whom signed lucrative long-term contracts this offseason – will all be in the mix for minutes at the position, and any one of the three could be the starter. “We’re all just pieces to the puzzle,” Harkless said. “It’s up to him to put it together.”
  • Speaking of Harkless, the 23-year-old said Thursday after practice that he never seriously considered playing anywhere besides Portland when he became a restricted free agent in July, calling the Blazers a “very well-run organization.” “I wasn’t really paying mind to any other team,” Harkless said, per Cody Sharrett of Blazers.com. “I wanted to be here, and I think I made that clear. [The team] knew that. We knew that. This is where I wanted to be, and I’m happy.”
  • The Blazers have been impressed so far by Shabazz Napier, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Napier, who was acquired by Portland in a summer trade, knows he won’t have a major role with the team, but he’s looking forward to making the most of any opportunities he gets. “My résumé in this league is not good at all,” Napier said. “So I can’t worry (like), ‘There’s minutes up in the air so I gotta do this or I gotta do that.’ I just gotta play my game.”

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