The Trail Blazers will probably wait until the offseason to start making trades to decrease salary, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland is looking at the highest payroll in the league next season and has gotten limited production in return, a half game out of the West’s final playoff spot entering tonight’s action. The Blazers have their own draft pick as well as Cleveland’s to offer, but Marks believes those will be more valuable in a possible June deal than they are now. Portland can also deal the contract of Festus Ezeli, who hasn’t played this season and has a $7.733MM salary for next year with just a $1MM guarantee through June 30. However, Marks warns that luxury tax concerns should make the team think twice about taking back any long-term deals.
Here are the D-League transactions from the day:
- The Trail Blazers have assigned guard Tim Quarterman to the D-League, the team has announced on its website. He’ll suit up with with Windy City Bulls.
- The Raptors have recalled Jared Sullinger, Bruno Caboclo and Delon Wright, tweets the team’s media relations department. In his lone game of action, a rehab stint, Sullinger scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
- The Bulls have recalled rookie Denzel Valentine from their D-League affiliate, the team has announced via press release. The guard dropped 24 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists in his only performance.
- The Trail Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the league in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but they may need to break it up to build a contender, writes Michael Pina of RealGM. He suggests dangling both players in trade talks to see what kind of return they might bring, mentioning Andre Drummond, Jimmy Butler and Nerlens Noel as possibilities.
- In a Q&A with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Damian Lillard reaffirms his love for Portland, suggesting that he’d like to stick with the Trail Blazers for his entire career, if possible. “Obviously, with this being a business, people’s feelings change about players. And players’ feelings change about organizations,” Lillard said. “I don’t think mine will, though, because I really like where I am and where I live and stuff like that. But you just never know.”
Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- Bruno Caboclo and Delon Wright have been sent to the Raptors‘ D-League affiliate, the team announced today (via Twitter). The duo figures to be in action for the Raptors 905 tonight against the Texas Legends.
- The Pacers have recalled Rakeem Christmas and Joseph Young from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to a press release issued by the club. Both players have played sparingly for Indiana this season.
- Rookie forward Joel Bolomboy has been recalled to the NBA by the Jazz, per a press release. Bolomboy put up 19 points and nine rebounds for the Salt Lake City Stars on Sunday.
- The Trail Blazers are sending 2016 second-rounder Jake Layman on an assignment with the Windy City Bulls, a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Portland doesn’t have a D-League affiliate of its own, so Layman will play for Chicago’s team via the flexible assignment rule.
- The Nets have recalled Chris McCullough from Long Island in advance of Brooklyn’s game against San Antonio tonight, the team announced in a press release.
Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner credits Celtics coach Brad Stevens with turning his career around, relays Josue Pavon of WEEI.com. Turner, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft, enjoyed limited NBA success before coming to Boston in 2014. He spent two years playing under Stevens before signing a four-year, $70MM deal with Portland. “He helped me figure out myself and a lot of guys in the locker room’s career, re-energized it,” Turner said of Stevens. “I just always thought he was a great, classy person. A sincere individual. Never thought he was too big and he does a lot of great things but I really appreciate the friendship I was able to form with him and get to know what type of guy he is. Very special person, special coach. It makes a lot of sense why he’s had so much success throughout his career because he’s a good individual and his mentality stuff has definitely helped me learn how to be a pro and how to see bigger picture, point of views.”
- According to Brett Koremenos of RealGM.com, the Trail Blazers are one of the NBA’s teams that finds themselves in no-man’s land, not good enough to contend for a title, but not bad enough to land a strong draft pick. Koremenos takes a closer look at how Portland got here, and what the next step is for a team that finds itself somewhat hamstrung financially.
Here are today’s D-League assignments and recalls:
- The Blazers recalled guard Tim Quarterman from the Windy City Bulls, according to The Oregonian. Quarterman played three games with them under the flexible assignment rule, averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 30.8 minutes per game. Quarterman has played limited minutes in 12 appearances with the Blazers in his rookie season.
- The Blazers are in the midst of a disappointing season, but they are not a candidate to tank and position themselves for a better draft choice, Mike Richman of The Oregonian argues in his latest podcast. Richman believes the team has too much talent to lose enough games to make tanking a worthwhile cause.
Few NBA teams spent as aggressively and as extensively as the Trail Blazers did in the offseason — in addition to committing more than $240MM to free agent contracts, Portland also signed C.J. McCollum to a nine-figure extension. However, through the season’s first half, the team hasn’t justified its owner’s financial commitment, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.
As Freeman details, most Trail Blazers players are confident that the club can turn things around and have a strong second half, earning a playoff berth. But since its summer spending spree, Portland has been considered one of the NBA teams most likely to make a trade at some point this season, given the franchise’s overlap at certain positions and its huge future financial commitments. So it will be interesting to see how the team performs over the next few weeks, and how that might affect what GM Neil Olshey does at the trade deadline.