After failing to establish themselves as long-term cornerstones in New York (and Atlanta) and Philadelphia, respectively, fourth-year forwards Cam Reddish and Matisse Thybulle are welcoming the opportunity to prove their worth in Portland, where they’ve immediately been inserted into the Trail Blazers‘ starting five.
As Jason Quick of The Athletic writes, Reddish shed tears when he learned of the trade sending him to Portland, which came as a surprise to the 23-year-old, who said he didn’t “really know why” it happened: “I think it was I just had so much stuff bottled up.”
Following the Blazers’ acquisition of Reddish, head coach Chauncey Billups told the former lottery pick that he has a “clean slate” in Portland and that he’ll only be judged on what he does going forward, rather than what he’s done in his first three-and-a-half NBA seasons.
“I just haven’t really had like a real, real shot to really play my game at the level I know I can play it,” Reddish said. “I feel like, honestly, I’m blessed to be in Portland, to have this opportunity. And I want to take full advantage of it. I’m not going to take it for granted, not even for one second.”
As for Thybulle, Billups pulled the two-time All-Defensive wing into his office before his first game as a Blazer to tell him how happy the team was to have him, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Billups also advised Thybulle to play freely and not worry about making mistakes.
“The first thing was I felt comfortable,” Thybulle said, per Fentress. “I didn’t realize how much you can take that for granted. So, just to be out there and feel comfortable and to feel and know that I’m wanted and needed, and this coaching staff and players have my back. I think it showed in just my ability to play and be more of myself.”
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Within a feature on Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr., his father Jabari Smith Sr. suggests to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that his son believed he had a promise from the Thunder to draft him second overall last June. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link) doesn’t dispute that claim, but notes that Holmgren’s agent Bill Duffy told him on draft night that Holmgren – who was widely viewed as the favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick – was OKC’s “number one priority.” It’s possible the Thunder were counting on either Smith or Holmgren to be selected first overall and intended to draft the other.
- Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com argues that Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth has a strong case for this year’s Executive of the Year award after drafting Christian Braun, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and signing Bruce Brown as a free agent last summer. More recently, Booth addressed a pair of roster holes by acquiring Thomas Bryant at the trade deadline and signing Reggie Jackson on the buyout market.
- One under-the-radar Nuggets move last offseason was the decision to sign little-used forward Vlatko Cancar to a new three-year deal. As Wind writes in another TheDNVR.story, Cancar has enjoyed a breakout season in the first year of his new contract, posting a shooting line of .506/.442/.958, making high-IQ plays, and holding his own against most assignments on the defensive end.