A few years ago, there was no doubt that the Portland Trail Blazers were Brandon Roy’s team. Then his knees happened. Now we are all rooting for him to make a comeback in Minnesota that sticks.
And now other guys are stepping up to lead in Portland.
New Blazers GM Neil Olshey was talking on KGW Sports Sunday in Portland (Ben Golliver at Blazers Edge gave us the transcription) and he discussed guys stepping up to be leaders. Specifically LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.
LaMarcus did a great job, he’s a real leader. He’s the one who orchestrated these voluntary offseason workouts so I’m excited about him kind of taking over the locker room and being a solid voice of leadership for the young guys….
When we met with Nic prior to him signing it, that was something he really wanted. He wanted to embrace being one of the leaders on the team. Having more responsibility on both ends of the ball.
Aldridge — the Blazers lone All-Star and best player — needs to be the leader. And he was stepping into that role last year.
Batum just got a massive new deal, with Portland matching his four-year. $46 million offer sheet from Minnesota. With that money and with his place as the best wing player on this team, he does need to step up. Rookie Damian Lillard is going to have the rock at the point, but Batum needs to set the tone working off the ball on offense and locking guys down on defense. He needs to step into that role.
If these two lead, you can start to see a path to a lot of success for Portland.
The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.
No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.
No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.
There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.
Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.
Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.
Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.
This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.
Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.
They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.
Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.