The Portland Trail Blazers are setting up some genuine competition for training camp. They have 13 fully guaranteed contracts on the books, but they will carry 14 (and maybe 15) into the regular season. They have already given non-guaranteed contracts to Dennis Smith Jr. and Marquese Chriss, and they were going to battle it out for one of those roster spots.
That competition may get a little more crowded, reports Michael Scotto of Hoopshype on the Hoopshype podcast.
I’ve heard several forwards that Portland has interest in potentially bringing to training camp. One of them is Michael Beasley, who played in Summer League for the Blazers. I’ve also heard Patrick Patterson’s name linked to Portland as a possibility.
James Ennis has drawn interest from the Blazers as well as the Bulls, Lakers, and Magic, I’m told. Another guy who came up is a center, Isaiah Hartenstein. He’s drawn interest from Portland.
Beasley averaged 11.4 points a game and shot 45% from 3 in the Las Vegas Summer League, but to my eyes did not stand out as a guy ready to make a return to the NBA (I saw a couple of his games). Patterson makes more sense, he was in and out of the Clippers rotation last season, but when he played showed he can knock down 3s and make plays on the offensive end, he’s just a liability on defense.
Ennis is the best of this group — he started 37 games for the Magic last season, scoring 8.7 points a game, shooting 43.3% from 3, and is a serviceable defender — but may also have the most options. Both the Lakers and Bulls have full rosters and would have to waive and pay someone out to bring in Ennis, which is not likely but not impossible. While Orlando is rebuilding, Ennis is the kind of solid rotation player they could find a spot for. Other teams may call him once camp opens, but if he doesn’t like those options, he could compete for a roster spot in Portland.
Portland’s training camp is one to watch, and just not to see how new coach Chauncey Billups handles the Damian Lillard trade rumors minefield. Although, that will be worth watching, too.