Tag: Nolan Smith

Chris Wright, John Jenkins

NBA stars will join Chris Wright to raise money to fight MS


This past season, Chris Wright became the first ever player diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to ever play in the NBA. After starting the season in the D-League he got a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

The disease, commonly known as MS, impacts the brain and spinal cord when the protective sheaths around the nerves become damaged, which in turn can cause the nerve to slow down or stop. Symptoms vary but can include loss of balance, problems walking or moving your arms, muscle spasms, and fatigue. There are an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States with the disease.

Wright is getting some NBA stars such as Kevin Durant and J.R. Smith in D.C. to June 29 for the MS Basketball Jamboree, to help raise money to find a cure, he told CSNWashington.com.

Said Wright, “[There’s] a lot of people that don’t know about MS, don’t know what it is, don’t know the side affects of it, don’t know the symptoms of it. A lot of the people that have MS just aren’t aware that they have it.”

The Jamboree will feature a show by local rapper Shy Glizzy, a conditioning workout for high school athletes, a St. John’s basketball game, and a pro game including Kevin Durant, Mike Beasley, J.R. Smith, Nolan Smith, and Nick Young, among others; players Wright hopes to call colleagues one day.

It’s a great cause and a great show. If you are in the Washington D.C. area Saturday you should swing by St. John’s College high school between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to check it all out.

NBA season preview: Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

Last season: Nothing will push you toward rebuilding like disappointment, and their 28-38 record was that. This was a 48 win team a couple seasons ago, but last season a team that should be playing fast and pressuring teams was average in pace and threatening nobody. Point guard Raymond Felton took the blame from fans for being out of shape (he was), coach Nate McMillan took the blame from management and they fired him and replaced him with Kalab Canales. None of it mattered. Outside of an All-Star season from LaMarcus Aldridge everyone else on the roster didn’t live up to expectations.

Key Departures: Consider it an overhaul — Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford are all gone. They got serious about rebuilding and shipped everyone out.

Key Additions: Through the draft they added two lottery picks — point guard Damian Lillard and center Meyers Leonard. Both looked good at Summer League (Lillard was co-MVP) and both are going to get a lot of run. They are going to be key for Portland. After that, unless Joel Freeland excites you none of these additions can be called key.

Two other key additions — the aggressive Neil Olshey as GM and Terry Stotts as coach.

Three keys to the Trail Blazers season:

1) Nicolas Batum, it is time to step up and earn that contract. Through four NBA seasons, Batum has been good — last season he averaged 13.9 points per game, shot 39.1 percent from three, took on more offense and had a PER of 17.3, and he shows flashes as a defender but is not consistent. This season — with Batum sporting shiny new a four-year, $45 million contract — they are paying him to play like a star. Portland needs him to be real NBA No. 2 guy on a team. He has to be better than just pretty good most of the time.

He needs to score more and lead on offense. He can knock down the three, but his handle needs to improve so he can attack better off the dribble. The defense needs to be there nightly. He needs to find a groove with Damien Lillard. The Blazers have locked themselves in a bit with big contracts to Aldridge and Batum, those two have to be the stars. Aldridge will be, no question. Batum has got the skills, but this needs to be his breakout year.

2) After Batum and Aldridge, who is going to step up? LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star, one of the best power forwards in the game right now. Nicolas Batum is good and on the verge of a breakout season. And after that…

There is rookie point guard Lillard, who has been given the keys to the Blazers offense and asked to run the show. Which is a lot to ask for a rookie out of Weber State. In the middle there is rookie Meyers Leonard, who is tall and athletic but with a raw offensive game. So far in preseason it has looked like J.J. Hickson could beat him out for minutes, which speaks to how far he has to go to be a starting NBA five. Leonard was always a project but they need to see something from him this year.

And after that… who do you like on the Portland roster? Wesley Mathews is solid. Hickson has shown flashes but misses a lot of jumpers (which he keeps taking). Who is left to step up? Nolan Smith? Jared Jeffries? Luke Babbitt? Ronnie Price?

Someone is going to step up or depth will hurt Portland this year.

3) They need to need to add pieces, but how? Portland is rebuilding, but with big contracts handed out to Aldridge and Batum plus other deals on the books, Portland is not in a place where they can just add guys easily via free agency. They can have some space if they let Hickson walk and don’t bring back guys like Babbitt, but they are not “we can go get a max guy” below the cap.

Neil Olshey will be aggressive, he will make deals because that is what he does. But it will be interesting to see if he can get them more cap room to use in future seasons.

What Trail Blazers fans should fear: Meddling ownership. Paul Allen and his Vulcan crew stepping in to make decisions. The best owners stay out of the way — hire a smart GM, a smart person to run the business operations, then let the basketball people do their thing. Don’t let personal relationships with a coach or anyone influence business decisions. Only change the GM when it’s clear he has failed. But Paul Allen likes to stir the Blazers pot, and when he does plans seem to reset. It happens too often.

How it likely works out: Even if Batum does have a breakout year and Aldridge is once again an All-Star, the Blazers are trusting a rookie point guard to lead them to the playoffs. Which means it is going to be a long season. The Blazers will be entertaining and not an embarrassment, but when the inevitable injuries of any NBA season come the depth of this team will be exposed. And it won’t be pretty.

Prediction: Portland finishes 33-49 and is back in the lottery, hoping for a lucky Ping-Pong ball bounce. This is a year to be measured in growth of young players that lets them build for the future. They have Aldridge for three more seasons, they need to find a way to win with him in that time or the rebuilding may have to start again.

Josh Selby shows he’s closer to reaching potential at NBA Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — Josh Selby earned a vote for the NBA’s All-Rookie Third Team this past that many in the media felt wasn’t deserved. While that may have been the case, there’s a good chance he cemented himself a spot on the All-Summer League roster following Monday evening’s performance at the Cox Pavilion in lovely Las Vegas.

The second-year guard ignited the crowd as he scored 35 points as he caught fire from beyond the arc en route to hitting seven of his eight attempts from behind the 3-point line while also contributing seven steals. It was all for naught, however, as his his Memphis Grizzlies lost 83-77 to the Washington Wizards.

“I just come out here and knock down open shots when my teammates are able to find me and just be that scorer that they need me to be,” Selby told Pro Basketball Talk after his outstanding performance. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get that win, though … I don’t really care about how many points I scored.”

The performance showed that he might someday be able to reach his ridiculous upside — upside he realizes he’s getting closer to achieving as he matures.

“Everybody’s been trying to help me because they see the potential,” Selby said. “I just take all of the advice in, work on everything they tell me and try to better my game.”

Other standouts on Tuesday afternoon including the following players:

  • Byron Mullens looked like a competent player at times for the Charlotte Bobcats this season and, in a move that shouldn’t be surprising, it carried over to the Summer League. The big man didn’t do well as far as defensive rotations and the like were concerned, but he poured in 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kemba Walker couldn’t make buckets on a consistent basis as he shot 5-of-14, but he was able to rack up eight assists.
  • Shavlik Randolph never showed anything overly outstanding, but the journeyman big secured a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in a victory for Washington against a less-than-stellar Grizzlies’ frontline. The rest of the starting lineup wasn’t quite able to play up to his level, however, as Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack finished with a victory despite making just 15 of their 46 shot attempts.
  • E’Twaun Moore had 25 points and seven rebounds while Dionte Christmas had 18 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting performance, but it might’ve been Jamar Smith who did the most for his future. The former D-Leaguer made 3-of-6 from downtown to finish with 11 points off the bench.
  • The Denver Nuggets picked up their first Summer League victory with an 85-81 victory over the New York Knicks. Second-year pro Kenneth Faried hustled like he was playing for a roster spot on his way to 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and two steals while fellow former rookie Jordan Hamilton scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a pretty efficient manner. Rookie Evan Fournier also was pretty impressive on his way to 14 points and a couple of 3s while Derwin Kitchen rounded out the Nuggets’ standouts with 14 points and six assists as he attempts to earn an NBA training camp invite.
  • The Chicago Bulls were the last team to play in Vegas and, unfortunately, their first game ended with a loss. Jimmy Butler, last year’s first round pick, had a team-high 25 points while former D-League standout Malcolm Thomas posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
  • The Knicks didn’t have many bright spots, but Chris Copeland and Wesley Witherspoon both played pretty well once again. Copeland scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds while showing the ability to put the ball on the floor while a summary of Witherspoon’s afternoon can be found here.
  • The game between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers was ended early following a head injury to Nolan Smith, but the players missed less than a minute to fill up the box score as that was the time remaining on the game clock. Houston was able to pick up the victory behind an excellent game from Terrence Jones (24 points, 12 rebounds) while fellow NBA rookies Jeremy Lamb and Donatas Motiejunas contributed 23 and 20 points respectively. Royce White nearly had a triple-double — and picked up the ever-elusive Summer League technical foul — with six points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers.
  • Smith had been leading the Blazers with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists as part of a stellar backcourt performance for the Blazers. Rookie Damian Lillard scored 27 points himself as he connected on five of his 10 3-point attempts, though the sixth overall pick did have seven turnovers.
  • The San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their fourth consecutive loss in the Thomas & Mack’s first game as Spurs rotation player Kawhi Leonard exploded for 27 points and eight rebounds. Last year’s other first round pick — Cory Joseph — also played well with 18 points and five assists.
  • The Lakers were led by Darius Morris as he finished with 24 points while going a perfect 9-of-9 from the field (in between a lot of over-dribbling). Former UCLA player Reeves Nelson also played well with five points, three rebounds and a block while finishing +13 in the +/- department.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Phoenix Suns as Samardo Samuels scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench in a very efficient 22 minutes. Fourth overall pick Dion Waiters scored 16 points, but struggled in the efficiency department once again as he missed 10 shots from the field.
  • Markieff Morris scored 24 points and grabbed an insane 17 rebounds in the loss for the Suns as he simply couldn’t make up for the lack of scoring Kendall Marshall didn’t provide. The rookie out of North Carolina was on the court for 28 minutes, but missed his only shot attempts while contributing five assists.
  • The Timberwolves got a solid showing out of Wesley Johnson with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting — though he missed a potential game-typing 3-pointer on the team’s penultimate possession — and second-year player Derrick Williams played well, but it seemed like veteran free agent Coby Karl was one of the better players on the court despite having to match up with Kemba Walker. The son of Nuggets coach George Karl had just three points on 1-of-2 shooting, but contributed seven assists and six rebounds.

The action has now reached a mid-point heading into Wednesday morning’s games.

Blazers’ Nolan Smith carted out on stretcher after Summer League injury

nolan smith

LAS VEGAS — A scary incident happened on Monday night at the Cox Pavilion during the Portland Trail Blazers game against the Houston Rockets involving second-year guard Nolan Smith. The Duke Blue Devils product needed to be wheeled off the court on a stretcher after suffering what many believe to be a concussion.

Without the benefit of instant replay live at the arena, it looked as though Smith was fouled in the body as he attacked the basket late in the game. Rockets hopeful Zoran Dragic challenged the shot, but didn’t look to make any contact with Smith’s head before the guard walked a few paces past the sideline and collapsed in front of media row.

Head coach Kaleb Canales, teammate Wesley Matthews and front office executive Michael Born (who had been watching from the stands) were among those that rushed to Smith’s side as medical personnel tended to him on the baseline. After going through some tests in which his eyes continued to twitch — though he was responding to the doctor’s requests — he was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons.

The game was called following the delay, awarding the Rockets a 99-88 victory. Smith finished with 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals before the injury.

NBA Season Preview: Portland Trail Blazers

Paul Millsap, Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews
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2010-11 record: 48-34

Head Coach: Nate McMillan

Key Departures: Brandon Roy, Greg Oden (out for season), Rudy Fernandez, Andre Miller

Key Additions: Nolan Smith, Raymond Felton

Best-Case Scenario: The Blazers somehow find a way to once again overcome a slew of injuries and use their depth to be a mid-level playoff team in the Western conference. Felton’s speed and shooting add a new dimension to the offense. Gerald Wallace stays healthy all season, the Blazers use their speed to put tons of pressure on teams on both ends of the floor, and the team catches a few breaks and wins a playoff series.

More Likely Scenario: Portland is unable to overcome all the injuries, and once again ends up calling it a season after the first round of the playoffs, and once again has to hope that Greg Oden will be healthy for the 2012-13 season.

Prediction: 36-40 wins.