Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is optimistic about his role on the team after the hiring of Chauncey Billups as head coach, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Billups mentioned Nurkic during his introductory press conference, telling reporters, “I want to get more out of Nurk this year. He’s a weapon that most teams don’t have.” The new coach talked about installing an inside-out offense that will take advantage of Nurkic’s low-post scoring abilities as well as the team’s shooting prowess.
It was welcome news for Nurkic, who felt like his relationship with the organization was “fraying” after last season’s playoff loss to the Nuggets, Quick adds. Nurkic wasn’t happy with the way he was used by former coach Terry Stotts and was starting to doubt his future in Portland. He met with Billups after hearing his comments and believes things will be different this season.
“It’s not a question anymore whether I want to be here or not,” Nurkic said. “When the team hired Chauncey and I have a conversation with him and (assistant) Roy Rogers, there was no doubt. I’m 100 percent committed to Blazers.”
There’s more from Portland:
- Nurkic has fully recovered from a left thumb injury he suffered in the playoffs, Quick adds in the same story. He hurt the thumb in Game 4 of the series and it continued to bother him into the summer. “I had that thumb thing to take care of, so I did a bunch of shooting to get my touch back,” Nurkic said.
- Second-round pick Greg Brown is relying on veterans to teach him about the NBA, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. Brown played alongside Michael Beasley, Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay during Summer League and he continues to seek advice at the team’s practice facility as training camp nears. “We had Larry Nance Jr. come in, I’m excited to see how he thinks about the league, pick his brain,” Brown said. “(Damian Lillard) for sure, CJ (McCollum) for sure, (Nassir Little) — I’ve been knowing Nas since high school, see how his transition is. Everybody has their story and you can pick something from their story and put it in yours to help you move further.”
- The Blazers’ offseason gets a C-plus grade from Zach Harper of the Athletic, who says the additions of Nance and Cody Zeller will help the interior defense, but he doesn’t see much improvement otherwise. Harper adds that questions about Lillard’s future will hang over the franchise until the situation is resolved.