Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

Portland Trail Blazers trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Western Rumors: Lin, Nuggets, Matthews

March 23 at 9:24pm CDT By Dana Gauruder

Jeremy Lin will start the remainder of the season but it probably won’t affect the Lakers’ decision whether to re-sign the veteran point guard, according to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.  Oram writes that many people around the league believe it’s a given that Lin, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, will sign elsewhere. Coach Byron Scott told Lakers beat reporters that the team’s draft choices will affect Lin’s chances of returning. “It’s just a matter of what happens in the draft and everything else that determines what we’re going to do with the free agent market,” Scott said.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Interim coach Melvin Hunt has taken an upbeat approach to improve the Nuggets, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports. Hunt has used positive reinforcement to inspire his players, a stark contrast to predecessor Brian Shaw, who often criticized players in his postgame press conferences, Kyler continues. Ty Lawson told Kyler that he appreciated the change in philosophy. “He is giving everybody confidence,” Lawson said. “He is a very upbeat person. I think he just wants everybody to succeed; you feel it when he walks into the room and when he talks to us. He has us all on the same page, that’s helping us out right now.”
  • Wesley Matthews‘ season-ending Achilles injury has had a major impact on the Trail Blazers’ defense, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. Portland has gone 3-5 since Matthews suffered the injury and its defense has ranked 27th in defensive efficiency in those games, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions, Richman notes. The Blazers were No. 3 in that category up to that point, Richman adds. While all of the Blazers’ defensive problems cannot be attributed to Matthews’ absence, backcourt partner Damian Lillard tells Richman that he definitely sees a difference. “His ability to lock guys up defensively and kind of spark us at that end of the floor,” Lillard said of what the team is lacking. “His passion. Just the fire that he brought to our team is something that we definitely miss.”
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder is less concerned about making the playoffs than showing improvement the remainder of the season, Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News reports. Utah has made a late run but Snyder isn’t worried about wins and losses, McDonald adds. “I don’t think playoff awareness is necessarily going to improve our play as much as a focus on game to game, moment to moment,” Snyder said. 

This Date In Transactions History: Gerald Wallace

March 15 at 5:13pm CDT By Zach Links

On this date three years ago, the Nets paid a hefty price to give star guard Deron Williams some additional help.  New Jersey, gearing up for their long-anticipated move to Brooklyn, acquired Gerald Wallace in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a top-three protected 2012 pick.  Of course, the trade deadline is typically weeks earlier than March 15th, but the cutoff was pushed up in the 2011/12 season thanks to the NBA lockout, which resulted in an abbreviated 66-game season.

While Crash still had a great deal to offer talent-wise, the deal raised some eyebrows for a lot of people from the Nets’ perspective.  For starters, Wallace held a $9.5MM player option for the following season and, theoretically, this trade could have amounted to a ~20 game rental for the Nets, who were certainly not headed to the postseason.  Not only were the Nets not playoff bound, but they had the sixth-worst record in the league at 15-29, so they were giving away a highly valuable asset in their first-round pick, even though it was top-three protected.  On the plus side, GM Billy King managed to shed Okur’s expiring $10.89MM contract and avoid Williams exercising his $3.1MM option for the following year.

In the offseason, Wallace would decline his player option and the two sides instead inked a brand new four-year, $40MM pact.  While Wallace became a fan favorite with his hard-nosed style of play, it was clear that his approach to the game wasn’t the best thing when it came to his longevity.  In the following season, Wallace averaged 7.7 PPG (his lowest posting since 2003/04) with an 11.6 PER that put him well below the league average.  The Nets finished the 2012/13 season with 49 wins, but they were sent packing early when the Bulls knocked them off in the opening round of the playoffs.  Months after that, just one year after the small forward signed that lucrative new deal with the Nets, Wallace was shipped to the Celtics in the blockbuster deal that would bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Barclays Center.  Later on,  as a member of the C’s, Wallace would comment on how that deal was also ill-fated.

It was one of those stories of a get-rich-quick scheme. You either hit it big or you don’t,” Wallace said, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “They took a gamble. It backfired.”

The Blazers, in essence, took advantage of the Nets’ desperation to fast forward their timetable for contention while taking on very little ($3.5MM thanks to Williams’ option) in future salary.  That first round pick from the Nets gave Portland the No. 6 overall choice in the 2012 draft, which they used to select guard Damian Lillard.  The pride of Weber State shot up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft and he has obviously proven to be worth the hype.  Lillard has blossomed into a two-time All-Star and one of the very best point guards in the NBA today.  Meanwhile, the Nets have watched Deron Williams decline sharply just three years after signing him to a five-year, ~$100MM deal.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Ennis, Middleton

March 14 at 5:29pm CDT By Arthur Hill

Kyrie Irving‘s recent performance is vindication for former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant, argues Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. Grant, who was fired in February of 2014, is widely remembered for his misstep in taking Anthony Bennett with the top selection in the 2013 draft. But Pluto contends Grant deserves more credit than he receives for identifying Irving as the best player in the 2011 draft class, then making a deal with the Clippers to acquire an unprotected pick that turned out to be number one overall.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • This hasn’t been the rookie season he expected, but the BucksTyler Ennis is finally getting to display his skills, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 20-year-old out of Syracuse is getting a chance to play after being shipped to Milwaukee from Phoenix in a three-team deal at the trade deadline. Ennis has moved into the reserve point guard role behind Michael Carter-Williams“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable, not only with the offense but with the speed of the game,” Ennis said. “I’m getting a lot more experience now and my teammates are telling me to be aggressive. With the second unit I try to go out there and make as many plays as possible. Coach (Jason Kidd) is giving me the freedom to do that.”
  • The BucksKhris Middleton is in elite company when it comes to real plus-minus rating this season, according to Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider (subscription required). Middleton currently ranks seventh in the league in that category, behind six players who are the leading candidates for MVP. Middleton, who was a topic of conversation at the recent MIT Sloan Analytics Conference, also leads the Bucks in Wins Above Replacement Player.
  • The Pistons don’t expect a long negotiation with newly acquired guard Reggie Jackson, tweets Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Jackson, who came to Detroit from the Thunder in a deadline-day deal, can become a restricted free agent this summer.
  • The Pistons will be without forward Shawne Williams for tonight’s game with the Jazz, according to Ellis (Twitter link). Williams and Blazers center Joel Freeland each received a one-game suspension after an altercation in Friday’s game.

And-Ones: NBPA, Smith, Orton

March 11 at 10:29pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the NBPA voting against the league’s cap smoothing proposal the salary cap is expected to increase significantly for the 2016/17 season, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The owners had hoped smoothing would appeal to the players because it would allow a bigger portion of the new television money to be spread to a wider group of players, Deveney notes. But now there will be nothing preventing the owners from using all the extra space next summer, which won’t benefit players becoming free agents in 2017 and beyond as much as the NBPA expects, Deveney adds.

A source with knowledge of the thinking of NBPA head Michele Roberts told Deveney, “The union should not have to police how much the owners spend. That’s not the job of the union. All of the caps that are on salaries now, the max deals and the shorter lengths and all of that, it’s all stuff that has been done to protect owners from themselves. Michele has been pretty strong on saying, hey, it’s not the job of the players to protect owners from other owners. Why should that fall on the players?

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Thunder GM Sam Presti said it was ludicrous to think that the team would consider trading Kevin Durant, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman tweets. It was posited earlier by ESPN’s Tom Penn that OKC would likely trade Durant next season rather than risk losing him in free agency for nothing.
  • J.R. Smith is happy be a member of the Cavaliers and playing alongside his friend LeBron James, and the guard has indicated that he’d like to remain in Cleveland past this season, Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Smith, who has a player option for 2015/16 worth $6,399,750, could be leaning toward opting in for next season with an eye on a larger contract come 2016 when the salary cap is expected to increase significantly, Vardon adds.
  • The NBA is projecting that the 2016/17 salary cap will be set at $78MM, a figure that many cap analysts believe is a very conservative estimate, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons‘ D-League affiliate, have acquired center Daniel Orton, Keith Langlois of NBA.com reports (Twitter link). Orton appeared in 22 games for the Sixers last season and averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per contest. The big man was in training camp with the Wizards this season.
  • Wesley Matthews underwent successful surgery today to repair his torn Achilles, the Trail Blazers announced.

And-Ones: Franklin, Draft, Matthews

March 10 at 10:38pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Based strictly on his skills on offense, Jahlil Okafor is likely to be the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes. The Duke freshman doesn’t project as a good enough defender to become an impact pro on both sides of the ball, and he isn’t a good enough athlete to have an extremely high ceiling, Howard-Cooper adds. “His offensive ability on the box,” one NBA executive said of the draft appeal of Okafor. “I’m not a huge Okafor guy. But I think the general consensus is that he’s the best player in college basketball.” Both ESPN and DraftExpress have Okafor projected to be the first player selected in this year’s draft.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jamaal Franklin, who currently plays for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, is likely to receive an NBA callup soon, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). Franklin appeared in 21 games for the Grizzlies last season, averaging 1.9 points in 7.7 minutes per game.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has overtaken Okafor for the top spot in Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com‘s (Insider subscription required) latest mock draft.
  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said that he likes Quincy Miller, who is inked to a 10-day pact, and the team is considering signing him for the remainder of the season, Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • Wesley Matthews is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his torn left Achilles on Wednesday, the Blazers announced. Matthews, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is out for the season courtesy of the injury.

Northwest Notes: Hunt, Afflalo, Exum

March 8 at 10:01pm CDT By Zach Links

Rockets forward Corey Brewer spent two seasons in Denver when Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt was an assistant and believes he will succeed as a head coach, according to  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I’m not saying for sure it’s going to be [with the Nuggets], but I’m certain he’s going to be a good head coach,” Brewer said. “He just has to get a chance. He knows his players. He knows how to coach. And he has a system. It’s a great system, kind of like George (Karl’s) system. You can watch them play fast, get up and down, and guys play hard.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • It’s not always sexy to go with the guy who’s holding down the fort, but that doesn’t mean that Hunt might not be the right guy for the job, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes.  Hunt is running a system similar to Karl’s and that’s a game plan that has been proven to work.
  • The loss of Wesley Matthews is unfortunate, but fortunately, Blazers GM Neil Olshey traded for shooting guard Arron Afflalo right before last month’s trade deadline, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes.  He’ll be counted on to replace much of Matthews’ production, but what isn’t clear is how much he’ll adopt Matthews’ role, or if he’ll continue to play his usual game.
  • Jazz rookie Dante Exum said his biggest adjustment to the NBA has been the constant schedule of games and travel, according to Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders. The Australian said there were more breaks between games in his homeland. “We had a game Tuesday in Memphis and didn’t arrive at the hotel until 3 a.m. (Wednesday in Boston),” Exum said. ” Just trying to deal with that and having to step back out on the court and play another NBA game, it’s just one of the challenges in the NBA. I learned that I can sleep a lot. Here, that’s the biggest thing. I have to get rest when I can.”

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Afflalo, Lee, Robinson

March 6 at 8:58pm CDT By Will Joseph

Arron Afflalo should fill a lot of the void for the Blazers that was created after soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Wesley Matthews‘s season ending injury, Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes. Afflalo, who has a player option for next season worth $7.75MM, was acquired in a February deal. His skill-set and unselfishness make him a solid replacement for Matthews, Freeman wrote. “I’ll be me,” Afflalo said. “Even before Wes went down, the goal wasn’t for me to come in here and try to be somebody that I wasn’t. Obviously adjusting to a new role is difficult and takes time, but the way I lead, be it vocally or by example, I’ll continue to do that.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Clippers continue to show interest in free agent guard Nate Robinson, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link). It was first reported back in January that the Clippers were Robinson’s preferred team, and Los Angeles possessed some level of interest in the diminutive guard.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens says that the Spurs have thrived, in part, because of their roster continuity, according to Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter links). “Obviously, there’s going to continue to be some change but I think a lot of these guys are going to be in Celtics uniforms for a while coming, and that’s encouraging,” the coach said.
  • The Jazz had serious discussions with the Warriors at the trade deadline about acquiring David Lee, according to Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone (via Twitter).  The Warriors were said to be willing to trade Lee, but they were looking to get assets of value in return.
  • David Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton, in his return to the D-League’s Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s affiliate, scored a season-high 44 points in what Erika Marmolejo of NBA.com called a “statement game.” The Kings previously decided against signing Stockton to another 10-day contract. Stockton was unable to find decent time behind starting guard Ray McCallum and newly acquired veteran Andre Miller, Marmolejo notes.

Zach Links and Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

Blazers Called On Ray Allen

March 6 at 2:23pm CDT By Zach Links

You can’t blame the Trail Blazers for trying.  Shortly after losing guard Wesley Matthews for the season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon, Portland GM Neil Olshey called agent Jim Tanner to see if Ray Allen might be interested in signing, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  However, Olshey was informed that Allen, 39, remains intent on sitting out the season and wouldn’t consider the possibility of joining Portland – or any other team.

All in all, there were reportedly 14 teams – nearly half the NBA – interested in signing Allen until his announcement earlier this week.  The Blazers would have presented Allen with a chance to join a playoff-bound team badly in need of a three-point shooter following Matthews’ injury, but it sounds like his mind is made up for good.

It would almost take less time to list the teams that weren’t after the veteran.  The Cavs were linked to Allen more than anyone, but they were informed in late February that Allen was not Cleveland-bound.  The Grizzlies, too, were ruled out of the running recently.  The Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, Heat and Hawks were keeping in touch with Allen’s camp as of early February, and Clippers coach/exec Doc Rivers spoke to him around that time, but they were all rebuffed.  The Blazers might go down as the last team to call on Allen this season, but you never know who might give it the old college try.

If Allen doesn’t play again this year, he’ll walk away as the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and career earnings in excess of $184.356MM, according to Basketball-Reference.

Wesley Matthews Tears Achilles, Out For Season

March 6 at 12:21am CDT By Chuck Myron

Soon-to-be free agent Wesley Matthews will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon in Thursday’s win against the Mavs, the Blazers announced (Twitter link). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the news. It’s a crushing blow not only to Portland’s title hopes but to the Jeff Austin client, who appeared poised for a lucrative contract in free agency this summer.

The 28-year-old was averaging 16.1 points in 34.0 minutes per game on 39.1% three-point shooting with a career-best 16.1 PER this season. The trade deadline acquisition of fellow shooting guard Arron Afflalo looms even larger for the Blazers in the wake of Matthews’ injury. It’s too late for Portland to apply for a disabled player exception, but the team does have an open roster spot, another product of that Afflalo trade.

Matthews hinted before the start of the season that he had no intention of leaving the Blazers when he hit the open market in July, and last month he made his preference to stay in Portland clear. The Knicks nonetheless apparently plan to give chase. The Cavs were reportedly a trade suitor for him this season, though it’s unlikely they end up with enough cap flexibility to make a competitive contract offer for him in the offseason.

Just what sort of money a healthy Matthews would have merited isn’t exactly clear, but he was probably set for a significant raise on his salary of more than $7.245MM this season, likely into eight-figure territory, though that’s just my speculation. The torn Achilles clearly hurts his value, though Matthews, a sixth-year veteran, has only missed 13 regular season games in his NBA career. He said tonight that he’ll try to heal within five months, according to Jabari Young of CSNNW.com (Twitter link), which would bring him back to the court in August. Matthews nonetheless acknowledged a more common timetable would encompass about eight months, Young also notes, putting him in line to miss the first few games of the regular season in 2015/16.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Thunder, Shaw

March 5 at 11:10am CDT By Zach Links

After years of heartbreak, the Blazers franchise deserves something special, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes.  The team has dealt with repeated disappointment on the court and recently the tragic loss of fan favorite Jerome Kersey. Here’s more from the Northwest Division..

  • In this week’s mailbag, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes that he likes what the Nuggets did at the trade deadline by getting a first-round choice from Portland and then unloading JaVale McGee‘s salary.  Dempsey writes that it was never a realistic expectation for Denver to blow up their roster at the deadline and he expects bigger fireworks to go down when we approach the draft.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown admires how the Thunder were put together, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Thunder GM] Sam Presti; I worked with him for many years,” said Brown, who worked with Presti in San Antonio. “In many levels, I pay attention to this program as much as any on how could we learn from the great things that they have done and things that they may have done differently.”
  • The Nuggets picked up their second win under interim coach Melvin Hunt when they topped the Wolves 100-85 on Wednesday night.  When asked if he expected that kind of energy out of Denver, Wolves veteran Kevin Garnett told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post, “No. To be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw. I thought they’d quit again, A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that. If you got any kind of self-pride about your future, then you want to anticipate someone playing hard. But, no, I wasn’t really concerned about the Denver Nuggets or how they were going to come out. I was more concerned about us, and us going forward and being better.
  • Pacers forward David West recently said that Shaw was fired because the Nuggets don’t have “grown-ups” on the roster and Denver forward Wilson Chandler doesn’t necessarily disagree, as Chris Tomasson writes for The Denver Post.
  • Hunt is excited to be at the Nuggets‘ helm, but this isn’t how he wanted to get his big break, as Jhabvala writes.