Paul Allen

Northwest Notes: Tolliver, Murray, Blazers, Westbrook

Timberwolves power forward Anthony Tolliver is disappointed about getting benched but vows not to be a distraction, he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Tolliver, who signed a one-year, $5MM+ contract to essentially replace Nemanja Bjelica in the rotation, had his first DNP of the season on Wednesday against New Orleans.

“Obviously it’s not what I came here for, but it’s been one game,” the Timberwolves forward said. “It’s a long season. Just figuring out where my value lies and go from there.”

Tolliver wasn’t notified by Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau that he would sit out. But he added that “you won’t see me complaining about anything.” Tolliver is averaging just 5.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 19.1 MPG, though he hasn’t gotten a lot of shots up (Twitter links here).

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray didn’t start Thursday’s game against Atlanta because he was late for the team’s shootaround, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Murray only played 23 minutes, contributing 14 points and five assists in the blowout victory. Murray, who is averaging 17.5 PPG and 3.9 APG for Denver, will return to the starting lineup on Saturday against New Orleans.
  • Multiple sources believe the Trail Blazers will likely be sold during the next three years, says John Canzano of The Oregonian. Speculation has been rampant about the future of the organization in the aftermath of owner Paul Allen’s death. The timeline for the sale of the franchise, according to Canzano, would be in the 18-36-month window. The most likely buyer would be a syndicate headed by Merritt Paulson, who owns the Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers.
  • The Thunder’s offensive numbers suffer greatly with Russell Westbrook out of action but they’re posting strong defensive stats when he sits, Rob Searles of DailyThunder.com notes. OKC is scoring at a 118.1 points per game clip and shooting 47.4% in the games he’s played, compared to 103.9 PPG and 42.5% without him. However, opponents are averaging 112.3 PPG on 46.5% shooting when Westbrook is in the lineup, compared to 99.6 PPG and 44.2% when he’s in street clothes.

Western Notes: Ball, Allen, Schroder, Rose

Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about passing — he ranks fifth in career assists with 10,141 — but Johnson, a three-time NBA MVP, also knows the importance of scoring. Johnson held a stellar mark of 11.2 assists per game in his career, but his ability to keep defenders guessing by also becoming an elite scorer is what truly made him great.

Johnson, who is in his second year as Lakers President of Basketball Operations, strongly believes this is the transition Lonzo Ball must now enter, according to Nick Schwartz of USA TODAY Sports. Ball has already become an accomplished passer, but has plenty of room to grow as a scorer.

“He has to learn how to attack the paint and get his floaters, and then take it all the way to the rim,” Johnson said. “He loves to pass first – and that’s fine, we want him to stay with that – but a lot of times now the defense is baiting him. ‘Go ahead and drive the lane, we know you’re going to kick it out.’ So they don’t really play him. So he’s got to take it all the way.

“He’s got to be able to score. And once he’s able to score… he can do everything else. He can play defense. He’s one of the best rebounding guards in the league. And he knows how to get his teammates great shots. We want him to keep the pace going, because we want to run, run, and run.”

Drafted by Johnson’s group, Ball, 20, can help round-out his overall offensive game by taking these strides. He made his season debut on Thursday against the Trail Blazers, three months after undergoing knee surgery.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers were more than just a team for the late Paul Allen — they were his passion, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Allen passed away this week after a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He owned the Blazers for 30 seasons, purchasing the franchise in 1988.
  • Dennis Schroder proved his worth in the Thunder’s season-opener on Tuesday, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Schroder finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes of work, filling in for the injured Russell Westbrook.
  • Derrick Rose‘s role will fluctuate with the return of Jimmy Butler, writes Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Rose was labeled as a starter alongside Jeff Teague before Butler’s return, but came off the bench in the team’s first game this week. “[Rose] has the versatility to play with both groups,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So he’s gotten comfortable playing the off guard; his natural position is the point. I think you can mix and match with those guys.”

Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen Passes Away

6:05pm: NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement:

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports.  As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

5:15pm: Paul Allen, the owner of the NBA’s Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, has died, according to a statement from his family (link via Mike Rosenberg of The Seattle Times).

Allen, who was 65 years old, had announced just two weeks ago that he was once again being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Allen was treated for the same cancer in 2009.

A co-founder of Microsoft, Allen had owned the Trail Blazers for three decades, having purchased the franchise way back in 1988. Although the Blazers didn’t win a championship during Allen’s tenure as owner, the club appeared in the NBA Finals twice – in 1990 and 1992 – and made the playoffs in all but seven seasons.

Our condolences go out to Allen’s family and friends.

Northwest Notes: Allen, Nuggets, Harkless, Allen

Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen announced in a press release that he is once again being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Allen was treated for the same cancer in 2009. Allen says he will remain involved in the operations of Trail Blazers as well as the NFL’s Seahawks and his other business ventures.

The statement reads in part, “A lot has happened in medicine since I overcame this disease in 2009. My doctors are optimistic that I will see good results from the latest therapies, as am I. I will continue to stay involved with Vulcan, the Allen Institutes, the Seahawks and Trail Blazers, as I have in the past. I have confidence in the leadership teams to manage their ongoing operations during my treatment.”

We have more news from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets have most of their rotation players back from last season and that led to a productive first week of training camp, according to Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website. “I think the advantage that we have is continuity – year four, we know each other,” coach Michael Malone told Dempsey. “That’s already in. … We’re ahead of the curve. So, we have hit the ground running. We are, I think, ahead of a lot of teams because of the continuity that we have.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless has been limited in camp by a left knee injury he suffered last March, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports. Harkless would like to play in a couple of preseason games and ease his way into the regular season. “I want to play in a couple,” he said. “I don’t want to just go out there and just go all out. It’s tough on the body. Coming from an injury, it’s probably not smart to do.”
  • Jazz rookie guard Grayson Allen made a promising preseason debut, as Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders examines. Allen scored 19 points off the bench against Australia’s Perth Wildcats, making 7-of-14 shots overall while going 5-for-9 on 3-point tries. Bench scoring was an issue for Utah last season and the Duke rookie could prove to be a significant asset in another postseason run, Hicks points out.

Lillard Met With Blazers’ Owner To Discuss Team’s Direction

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard met last Thursday with team owner Paul Allen to discuss the direction of the franchise, league sources tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes. According to Haynes, Lillard requested the meeting in order to reaffirm his commitment to the club and to receive assurances that Allen remains devoted to putting together a championship-caliber roster.

League sources tell Haynes that Allen was worried in the weeks leading up to the meeting that his star point guard would ask for a trade, but Lillard made no such request. Per ESPN’s report, the 27-year-old did make it clear during the sitdown that he “desperately” wants to win a title in Portland, inquiring about how the Blazers’ brass plans to try to make that happen during his prime years.

The meeting represents the first time that Lillard and Allen have sat down privately to discuss the state of the franchise, but Haynes’ sources described it as a productive session that could lead to more meetings in the future. No one else in the organization was aware of the meeting until after the fact, when Allen informed both the basketball and business operations staffs, according to Haynes.

Haynes’ report also provides a few details on topics discussed during the sitdown, noting that Lillard gave head coach Terry Stotts a “heartfelt vote of confidence.” However, the point guard questioned the front office’s decision to trade Will Barton in 2015, making it known that he disagreed with the move. Conversely, Allen sought an explanation from Lillard for the Blazers’ inconsistent play in the first half of this season. Lillard and Allen also talked about possible trade targets, Haynes notes.

Lillard remains under contract through the 2020/21 season and has shown no desire to leave Portland, but requesting a meeting with ownership signals that he’ll be monitoring the front office’s roster moves closer than ever going forward. With Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard all locked up to eight-figure salaries through at least 2019/20, the Blazers don’t have a ton of cap flexibility, so it will be interesting to see how president Neil Olshey and his staff look to upgrade the club’s roster at the deadline and in the offseason.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Allen, Butler, Gibson

Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell intended to return to Louisville for his junior season when tested the draft waters, Tim MacMahon of ESPN reports. Mitchell paid his expenses to the Creative Artists Agency pre-draft camp because he wanted to see what improvements he needed in his game before returning to college, MacMahon continues. Chris Paul and Paul George convinced Mitchell during the camp that he was good enough to be a first-round selection. The Jazz targeted him after an interview during the Chicago pre-draft camp and traded into the lottery to snag him, MacMahon adds.

In other news involving the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone downplays the feeling that the franchise made a mistake dealing Mitchell, the No. 13 pick, to the Jazz, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News tweets. “The only thing I can say is obviously we got (forward) Trey Lyles in that deal and Trey Lyles has been great for us,“ Malone told Woodyard. Mitchell doesn’t hold any grudges against Denver for trading him, Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is the biggest reason why the franchise is wallowing in mediocrity, John Canzano of The Oregonian opines. Allen’s hands-on approach has been a failure, which has led to numerous GM and coaching changes, Canzano continues. The best way for the franchise to move forward is for Allen to let his basketball staff and coaches do their jobs without his constant meddling, Canzano adds.
  • The acquisitions of Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson have transformed the Timberwolves, as coach Tom Thibodeau told Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other reporters. “Just the toughness,” Thibodeau said. “You’re talking about two elite defenders and knowing how important defense is and making the right plays offensively. … You can ask (Butler) to guard any player on the floor and he does it. They don’t take any possessions off and they understand how hard you have to play on every possession. With young guys, sometimes they don’t understand that. You can’t take plays off and you can’t pick and choose when you’re going to play defense.”