Leonard from Illinois University shakes hands with NBA Commissioner Stern after he was selected by the Portland Trailblazers as the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NBA basketball Draft in Newark

Coach’s assessment: Blazers’ Leonard is a work in progress

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Portland is rebuilding their team. They will not be terrible because LaMarcus Aldridge won’t let them be (and because I think Damien Lillard is going to be pretty good), but they have time to let young players learn and develop.

Like rookie center Meyers Leonard. He has a lot of developing to do.

Blazers assistant coach and big man gury Kim Hughes — a great coach to speak with because he is just honest and a good guy — put it plainly and simply for Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

“He needs to set picks and he needs to roll,” Hughes said. “A lot of times if he’s standing on the weak side, that means he’s making a mistake. If he makes a move on the low block without conviction, it’s wrong. He should probably throw it out and set a pick. And he can garner that information pretty quickly.”

“Defensively, he has to be a lot more active, he’s got to vocalize what’s going on. If he sees it, it has to say it,” Hughes said. “So for instance, if his man sets a pick, he has to tell the guard the pick and the location of the pick and that’s been hard for him. He’s not a vocal kid that way.”

At the collegiate level his size and athleticism could cover up a multitude of mistakes, if for no other reason than a lot of players were making them. That is not the case any more. Leonard is going to be on the court nightly against men as more athletic than himself, and with a knowledge of the game.

As with most rookies, it’s not the physical but the mental side that is the hardest adjustment, and what Hughes said he was working hard on.

“He’s struggled a little bit in training camp, he admits it,” Hughes said. “And he’s gotten down a few times and I try to fight that with him in saying that, ‘You’re tired, it’s a battle out here. It’s a war and you have to just fight through the fatigue, the stress of learning a new offense and just learning a different game…

“He’ll have to learn that and his own teammates are going to get on him and he can’t let it get him down. So far he’s been good that way, but young guys always do that, they get too down on themselves and he can’t fall victim to that.”

These comments shouldn’t be seen as an indictment of Leonard, rather it is pretty much what most NBA rookies face in one form or another. Anthony Davis is going to be facing some of these same challenges and issues. It’s a matter of what it takes to overcome them and how Leonard works through it. His development over the next couple years could be huge for the Blazers and what they are trying to build.

Gordon Hayward dunks on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker (videos)

Gordon Hayward (20), del Jazz de Utah, intenta un enceste ante Thon Maker (7) y Michael Beasley (9), de los Bucks de Milwaukee, en el duelo del viernes 24 de febrero de 2017, en Milwaukee. (AP Foto/Benny Sieu)
AP Foto/Benny Sieu
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Are we obligated to call Gordon Hayward “deceptively athletic”?

The Bucks have something special in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they think they have something special in Thon Maker.

But Hayward jammed all over those two in the Jazz’s 109-95 win last night.

First, he got Antetokounmpo:

Then, he got Maker:

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.

Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)

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Bobby Portis didn’t enjoy getting blocked by Marquese Chriss. And Portis sure didn’t appreciate how Chriss fell on him.

But it was all worth it (for me, at least) just to see the Bulls forward make a face that reminded me of this:

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.