The Trail Blazers were aggressive about seeking out roster upgrades this offseason, trading for Robert Covington and Enes Kanter while signing Derrick Jones in free agency and bringing back Rodney Hood on a new deal.
According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, a push from Damian Lillard provided president of basketball operations Neil Olshey with some extra motivation as he completed those transactions. Lillard said he’s been “transparent” with Olshey about wanting the team to make roster moves that give the Trail Blazers a “real shot” at winning a title.
“That’s just what I’ve been communicating to him: ‘Come on man, let’s really make a run for it. Let’s go for it,'” the Trail Blazers’ star point guard said. “Let’s not be the organization that says, ‘Oh, we’ve made the playoffs this many years in a row. We’ve got a good culture, we’ve got this …’ Let’s put ourselves out there and try to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a real shot. Let’s try to bring the glory back to Portland.”
Covington and Jones will likely open the regular season as the Trail Blazers’ starting forwards, head coach Terry Stotts said on Tuesday, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. That would mean Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench, which is something the team discussed with him before he re-signed.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who is coming off of wrist surgery, said on Tuesday that he’s “really happy” with where he’s at in his recovery process, though he admitted he’s not sure whether or not he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune has the details.
- The Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Sixers, and Bucks were among the teams that had interest in JaMychal Green in free agency, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post, but the veteran forward ultimately chose the Nuggets. Green cited the Nuggets’ unselfish play, young talent, and tenacity in explaining his decision. “Blowing a 3-1 lead, they just fought,” Green said, referring to Denver’s Western Conference Semifinals win over his Clippers. “It just showed you the type of heart they had.”
- The Nuggets experienced more roster turnover than usual this fall. Now, facing an unorthodox training camp and preseason schedule, head coach Michael Malone says it’ll be a challenge to get everyone integrated and comfortable before the regular season begins. “Continuity has been one of our greatest strengths for the last few years, and this is probably the first time in my five going on six years we’ve had this much of a turnover,” Malone said, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. “So that will be the biggest challenge.”