Tag: Portland Trail Blazers

Nicolas Batum, Quincy Poindexter

Report: Nicolas Batum wants to play in Toronto


When the Hornets traded former lottery pick Noah Vonleh to Portland for Nicolas Batum, it was always going to be something of a gamble. Batum has just one year left on his contract, and will become a free agent in time for the massive salary cap spike of 2016. Charlotte will have to pay big if they want to keep him, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports that the French forward has his sights set on another team: Toronto.

Batum is an impending unrestricted free agent on a borderline playoff team, diving into an unprecedented cap frenzy in which two-dozen suitors could offer $20 million per season. Batum’s people have already made noise about how much Batum would like to play in Toronto, a city that appeals to his international roots, per several league sources. He is a flight risk, even though both Cho and Chad Buchanan, the team’s assistant GM, know Batum well from their days in Portland. “We are very comfortable given that Chad and Rich know Nic well,” Polk says.

This is all purely hypothetical at this point, because Batum’s free agency is a year away, but the Toronto fit is interesting. They could potentially have an opening on the wing if DeMar DeRozan opts out of the final year of his deal, which he almost certainly will. DeRozan could command max money in next summer’s free-agent market, and it’s very possible that the Raptors will be uninterested in giving him that type of money. A defensive duo of Batum and DeMarre Carroll on the perimeter is incredibly versatile and dangerous, and Batum is an outstanding passer and ballhandler in addition to a solid shooter. It would cost the Raptors a lot to sign him, but if his interest in playing there is real, he’d be a good fit for the team Masai Ujiri is building.

Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons

Warning: If you play the entire video, the language is NSFW.

If you know anything about Will Roush, you probably know him as the guy who went viral saying he spent $4,500 for tickets on the glass to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Turns out, he’s a rapper.

Turns out, he’s tight with Mason Plumlee.

Roush tried to capitalize on this viral fame with his new track “4500” and you had to know Mason Plumlee was going to be part of it throwing down some lines. And playing with a money gun. I need a money gun (although I hope it can shoot $1 bills). Credit for the video to thebocinc.com.

Check out Roush and Plumlee talking about the song with our old friend at PBT Eyton Shander  in an interview on 97.5 the Fanatic in Philly.

As a reminder, Plumlee is going to be a West Coast rapper now, he’s playing in Portland next season.

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts says no hard feelings toward LaMarcus Aldridge, “we move on”

Portland Trail Blazers Team Practice

Trail Blazers fans will not be so forgiving. Boos will rain down on LaMarcus Aldridge next time he sets foot in the Rose Garden.

While the NBA business model is built on fans having deep emotional ties to a franchise, players and team management knows it’s a cold-hearted business.

As last season moved along the Trail Blazers knew more and more that Aldridge was going to bolt town as a free agent (he eventually joined the San Antonio Spurs to become a contender there). Now that it’s over Damian Lillard wished Aldridge well, and now Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said essentially the same thing, talking to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

“I knew it was going to be a close decision — it wasn’t an easy decision for him and it came down to the last minute,” Stotts said. “I certainly respect his decision and it was a difficult one. And personally I thanked him for the three years I was here with him. He earned the right to be a free agent and we’re certainly going to miss him. But we move on.”

What else was Stotts going to say? He looks bad ripping Aldridge and that would get the attention of agents who might want to send their client to Portland in the future. Stott’s attitude is what you see around the league — it’s a business. You move on.

Portland secured Lillard with a max deal this summer to be their foundation to rebuild around — he certainly speeds the process.

Now it becomes about drafting, finding young talent, and player development in Portland. They made some nice moves this summer, getting Mason Plumlee and taking a shot on Noah Vonleh, who looked good at Summer League. It’s a different role for Stotts and staff, but if they do it well, Portland is positioned to bounce back much more quickly than other teams trying to rebuild right now.

Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry among latest big names headed to Team USA mini-camp

New Zealand v USA

Guys want to play in the Olympics.

There is injury risk — just ask Paul George. Players don’t get as much summer downtime to rest their bodies in the offseason. It doesn’t matter. The chance to represent the USA — and grow their personal brand on a massive international marketing stage like the Olympics — has players lining up for the chance to play in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. (Oh yea, Rio is another reason guys are lining up.)

That means those players will be at the Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas in early August. We knew Carmelo Anthony would be there even though he cannot fully participate, now you can add Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to the list. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN had the Griffin news.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will participate in next month’s USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas and hopes to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a league source told ESPN.

Griffin is one of those guys who has had injury issues with Team USA. Remember in 2012 he was likely to make the London Olympics roster but tore his meniscus in training camp after stepping on John Wall’s foot during practice. His back injury sidelined him two years ago from the FIBA World Cup.

Then there are the Warriors stars.

The camp also will be crowded with guys like Jimmy Butler of the Bulls trying to earn a roster spot. Stein says as many as 40 guys could be at camp, including Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee. It’s an important place to make an impression. Players with a long Team USA history and enough talent don’t need to attend — if LeBron James or Kevin Durant want to play in Rio, they are in no matter what they do this summer.

Whoever makes the cut for Mike Krzyzewski’s team, the USA will go to Rio the heavy favorites to win the Gold Medal again. Spain — if both Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol go — will again likely be the biggest challengers.