Tag: Portland Trail Blazers


Report: Adidas makes $200 million offer to James Harden


James Harden has been a Nike guy. While he didn’t have a signature shoe — yet — the Nike Hyperchase was pretty much his shoe.

However, Nike let their contract with Harden lapse as they tried to renegotiate and Adidas — still looking for a fulcrum, a superstar to build brand around — have jumped in with a $200 million offer, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

The company has submitted a bid of $200 million over 13 years to sign Houston Rockets guard James Harden, sources told ESPN.com. Nike, whose deal with Harden recently expired, has until the end of next week to match the deal or lose him…

With incentives, if the deal is consummated, Harden could very well make more from Adidas in the coming years than the Rockets. Harden signed an $80 million contract extension with Houston in 2012 that goes through the 2017-18 season.

If they land him, Adidas will make Harden and his beard the face of their basketball shoe line. Nike has been incredibly successful building its brand around stars (and great shoes) and they have long had the best in the game inked, from Michael Jordan up through LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Adidas has struggled to land stars and have that translate to shoe sales.

Despite having the NBA (jersey and apparel) deal, Adidas has slipped in recent years due to a lack of individual basketball stars. In 2012, the company signed a massive 14-year deal with Derrick Rose, only to see him miss plenty of action because of knee injuries. Its other star is Damian Lillard, whose Portland Trail Blazers aren’t really showing much promise. Endorser John Wall shows plenty of flash, but his first signature Adidas line fell relatively flat this year.

Adidas is giving up its uniform deal with the league after Nike came in with a massive bid to take it over.

While getting out of the uniform game, Adidas has shifted focus to finding the stars that can sell its shoes. They have Andrew Wiggins under contract and the Rookie of the Year shows potential to be a breakout star on an up-and-coming Minnesota team.

But Harden is an already established star with crossover appeal outside of just the basketball world — with his beard, sense of style, and being linked romantically to Khloe Kardashian, people know who Harden is who are not big hoops fans. Combine that with an MVP-level on-the-court game and this is a great gamble by Adidas.

Nike may match, Rovell says. Nike is still stung by getting outbid by Under Armour for Stephen Curry by $4 million, only to see him blow up into a superstar. They don’t want to lose another top NBA player.

Either way, Harden is about to get PAID.

Report: Derrick Rose undecided about attending Team USA minicamp

2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - USA v Turkey

In last summer’s FIBA World Cup tournament, Derrick Rose made his return to organized basketball after missing all but 10 games of the previous two seasons with two different knee surgeries. He looked rusty in the tournament, but he has said many times that the experience helped him prepare for the Bulls’ season. Rose missed six weeks of last season after undergoing another surgery on his right knee, but a strong performance in the playoffs leaves him optimistic for next season, and he hasn’t closed the door entirely on participating in USA Basketball in the future.

ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell reports that Rose is on the fence about participating in this summer’s Las Vegas minicamp:

Chicago Bulls star guard Derrick Rose is still undecided about attending Team USA’s minicamp, according to league sources.

Rose has indicated in the past that he would like to play for Team USA in the Olympics, but sources told ESPNChicago.com that he is weighing the potential benefits of taking more time off before the start of Bulls training camp in late September.

It’s unlikely that Rose will make the cut for Team USA for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 if he doesn’t participate in this summer’s minicamp. The program is loaded with other point guards, including Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, John Wall and possibly Damian Lillard, so he’ll have competition regardless, and he didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the 2014 tournament. It will be totally understandable if he decides to sit this summer out and prepare for the season. But given that this is probably his last opportunity to play for Team USA in a major tournament, that could be a tougher decision than it seems.

Report: Dwight Howard to attend Team USA mini-camp after all

Dwight Howard

Apparently Dwight Howard still might want a trip to Rio next summer.

USA Basketball’s mini-camp is coming up and players who do not attend are not likely to be invited to the tryouts for the Rio Olympics next summer (unless your name is LeBron, then you can pretty much do what you want). A few players frustrated with the USA Basketball process and decisions — Damian Lillard and John Wall in particular — have been hesitant in saying they would go.

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, seems to have had a change of heart, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Howard, because of his defense and mobility, would stand a good chance to make Team USA because he fits Mike Krzyzewski’s style of play. Howard protects the paint, can cover out on the perimeter on defense, and knows how to run the floor and finish on offense. Tyson Chandler was on the roster in London, Howard could slide right into that slot.

Predicting who will be available a year from now is next to impossible, there’s an entire NBA season still to be played. But if you don’t show up to the mini-camp this season you probably miss out next year, so it doesn’t hurt to show up (even for guys like Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, who cannot participate due to injury). This is the smart play for Howard.

Trail Blazers guarantee Allen Crabbe’s contract for next season

LV Celtics v Trailblazers

Allen Crabbe impressed at the Las Vegas Summer League — 15.5 points a game (second best on the Trail Blazers) on 53 percent shooting overall and 43 percent from three. Coach Terry Stotts was going to have to take a long look at Crabbe and how he might fit in the new Portland rotation.

Then he went down with a nasty sprained ankle that would sideline Crabbe at least a month.

But the Blazers saw enough from the games he did play to lock Crabbe down for next season, reports Jabari Young at CSNNW.com.

The Trail Blazers have informed Allen Crabbe his contract will be guaranteed for the 2015-16 season, CSNNW.com has learned….

“It’s always good to know that your [contract] is going to be guaranteed so it just makes you focus on continuing to work hard for the rest of the summer and get prepared for training camp,” Crabbe told CSNNW.com on Friday. “I’ve got a clear mind just knowing that I’m going to be on the roster next year.”

This is a $947,000 contract, so it is certainly a good value move by Portland.

Crabbe got in 51 games last season and looked good on the defensive end (filling in for Nicolas Batum at times). That earned him some trust from Stotts, but Crabbe didn’t show much offensive punch. Which is why the development he showed at Summer League mattered — he is getting better at his weaknesses.

If he keeps showing improvement at both ends, Crabbe can work his way into the guard rotation with Damian Lillard, Gerald Henderson and C.J. McCollum. Even if he’s on the fringes of the rotation, at Crabbe’s cost it’s worth keeping him around to see if he can grow into a solid rotation guy.

NBA lands in Africa trying to put down roots, which is all about youth programs, infrastructure

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Under David Stern and now Adam Silver, the NBA has tried to grow its brand across the globe and establish itself as the world’s premier basketball league. That has meant games and outreach to Europe, China, South America, India and the Philippines.

Now the NBA has landed in Africa for the first-ever NBA game on that continent — a Team Africa vs. Team World exhibition featuring some of the biggest names in the league Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chris Paul, Luol Deng, and Marc Gasol will be there, as will be native Nigerians and NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Twenty NBA players in all are taking part, along with coaches Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks.

“It’s incredible to see all these guys here,” said Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on a conference call Thursday.

“It’s an honor to be part of this,” said Bismack Biyombo, the new Raptors center and native of the Congo, on the same call. “Growing up here in Africa you watch an NBA game every now and then, or when someone had one recorded.”

Much of the talk about growing the sport in Africa has seemed to focus on the NBA brand — bringing an NBA preseason or maybe even regular season game to the continent. That’s a long ways away — Saturday’s exhibition will be in a 4,000-seat arena — but it’s a possibility.

“We’ve definitely had discussions, but they are elementary in some ways…” Ujiri said. “(The Raptors) would definitely be a team that would be very, very interested.”

The real test, however, is not bringing another NBA game to Africa, but finding ways to grow the sport at a grassroots level in Africa.

“The reason you see African nations (doing well internationally) in soccer — or football — now is that we played at a young age,” Ujiri noted. “You just had a ball and two rocks to be the goals, as I used to play growing up.”

Growing youth basketball will mean building infrastructure — in the USA we just expect to see even pocket parks in cities with a basketball hoop. They are ubiquitous, as are youth hoops programs. All of that is lacking in Africa, where soccer but not basketball is part of the culture.

“One thing to come out of this will be more camps, more clinics, more games, more youth competition, and from that you get into infrastructure, and building more courts,” Ujiri said, adding that what the NBA needs to help do is “coach the coaches” who will help teach the game.

“We’ve worked with kids the past few years here, and I worked with kids in the Congo the last few weeks, and the potential is here,” Biyombo said. “The problem we all have is we started playing basketball late. That’s why we’ve been trying to build courts around the country.”

The game Saturday is just one step in that direction, but exposing the youth of Africa to the highest levels of the game is a start. Now comes the hard part of building that youth infrastructure.

The words that kept coming up in everyone’s press conferences was the potential of the market and the youth in Africa.

“There is talent there,” Ujiri said of Africa. “It’s how this motivates them and the opportunities it creates for them.”

“I want (African youth) to use basketball as a way to gain an education because all of them are not going to make it to the NBA,” Biyombo said. “I want to show them they can reach their dream with a lot of hard work.”

“Africa is a continent with huge potential and many different levels,” said Pau Gasol, who also will take part in the game and spoke with the media Thursday. “It has a lot of struggles, but it’s worth investing the time and the effort and the energy to give this country and this continent a chance, and I think a lot of players are coming out and obviously have come out already, but there’s potential that a lot more younger players can come out and be ready and become great basketball players and have an opportunity to have a great life for themselves and their families.”