Joel Freeland

Blazers’ Joel Freeland, Pistons’ Shawne Williams suspended one game for headbutting each other


Shawne Williams and Joel Freeland have each been suspended one game for “head-butting each other,” the league announced on Saturday via official release.

The incident occurred near the end of Portland’s blowout win over the Pistons on Friday, and seemed completely unnecessary.

Williams took offense to a shove from Meyers Leonard, and then when Freeland stepped to Williams to stick up for his teammate, Williams went for the headbutt, and Freeland responded in similar fashion.

Neither player is of great importance to his respective team, so this matters little in the grand scheme of things.

Williams will serve his suspension Saturday when the Pistons play the Jazz, while Freeland will serve his suspension on Sunday when the Blazers face the Raptors.

Joel Freeland, Shawne Williams ejected for headbutting each other near end of Blazers-Pistons (VIDEO)


The game was essentially over, with the Blazers up 21 points on the Pistons with just 1:05 left. But to Detroit’s Shawne Williams, there was evidently something worth fighting for.

The nonsense began when Myers Leonard appeared to give Williams a shove in the back. Williams had words for Leonard, but got even more upset when Joel Freeland chimed in to stick up for his teammate.

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Williams gives Freeland a little headbutt, Freeland retaliates in similar fashion, and the two were ejected from the contest.

Freeland’s reaction can be seen in the clip below.

Wesley Matthews says teams don’t fear the Trail Blazers

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The Blazers were off to a strong start this season, winning 30 of their first 38 games and, if Wesley Matthews is to be believed, were striking fear into the hearts of their opponents at the very same time.

But injuries to big men Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland significantly impacted the defense, and Portland has lost eight of its last 10, partially due to their absence.

There are other issues at play, too — like some low-percentage outings from Damian Lillard, and a general inability to close the opponent out. The games have been close; all of the losses during this slide came by seven points or less, save for one rough outing on the road against the Spurs in Kawhi Leonard’s return from injury. But what’s really missing, at least in the eyes of Matthews, is a certain level of swagger that at one point had other teams concerned before the opening tip.

From Mike Richmond of The Oregonian (via Basketball Insiders):

Whatever the reason for the down turn over the past ten games, Matthews knows the Blazers need to figure it out and get back to the execution that made them elite group in the first 40 games of the season.

“It’s about getting better, It’s about winning, it’s about playing the right way, it’s about getting back to what we were and who we were when we were feared,” Matthews said.

“We’re not feared right now. I don’t think teams come into the Moda Center and fear a game. I don’t think teams know that when they wake up and have shootaround at their place that the Trail Blazers are in town. That was like that earlier in the season. We’ve got to get that back and we can.”

To be fair, the amount of teams each year that are truly feared, even in a small capacity, is a very short list. It might have been the Heat and the Spurs last year, and it might be the Warriors, Grizzlies and possibly the Cavaliers this season.

Being feared (which seems silly the more we keep saying it) is a luxury that is earned by running your opponents off the floor by wide margins on a seemingly nightly basis. Portland was that good at times earlier this season, but it’s questionable at best whether their opponents ever gave them quite that level of pregame respect.

Delaying surgery could cause LaMarcus Aldridge to miss start of training camp


LaMarcus Aldridge shocked the NBA by playing in the Portland Trail Blazers’ Saturday night win over the Washington Wizards, just days after the team announced he needed a thumb surgery that would sideline him six to eight weeks.

He’s going to continue to play through the injury as long as he can, but the team believes that if he puts the surgery off until the offseason, it could keep him out through the start of training camp.

From The Oregonian‘s Jason Quick:

Although Aldridge is not risking his long-term health by playing with a torn ligament, a specialist in the field said he could now be facing a recovery that will take twice as long — up to three or four months.

And if the Blazers reach the conference finals, or the NBA Finals, his recovery could extend into training camp, which typically opens around October 1.

Playing through the injury was always going to be a risk for Aldridge, but they can ill afford to lose him now. Robin Lopez is still out with a broken hand, and Joel Freeland with a shoulder injury. Nicolas Batum has dealt with wrist issues. In the brutal Western Conference, they can’t afford to lose Aldridge for two months, at least not until they have those other players healthy.

If Aldridge is able to play and be effective with the injury, and there’s no long-term risk to his career, missing him for the start of next year’s training camp is a tradeoff the Blazers will gladly make.

If nothing else, this move should ease fans’ concerns that Aldridge might look to leave after this season. He’s already said that he wants to stay in Portland, but he’s a free agent this summer and will have no shortage of suitors. But if he was thinking about leaving, he wouldn’t be playing hurt in a contract year. Having the surgery would still put him on track to return in time for the playoffs, but he knows the Blazers need him to keep their standing in the playoff race.

With any luck, it will work out the way he hopes.


Blazers become latest team interested in Jermaine O’Neal


When we last heard from Jermaine O’Neal, he took to Twitter to address the speculation that he may make his return to the court later this season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

O’Neal made it clear that family will play a big role in his decision, which makes the Mavericks an even likelier fit when considering he makes his home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

But other teams will of course come calling, and the Blazers — where O’Neal began his 18-year NBA career — are the latest to be added to the list.

From Marc Stein of

The Portland Trail Blazers have joined the race to try to convince former All-Star center Jermaine O’Neal to play one more NBA season at age 36, according to league sources.

Sources told that the Blazers, who drafted O’Neal out of high school in 1996 and employed him for his first four NBA seasons before a career-changing trade to Indiana, have made overtures to O’Neal about returning to the Pacific Northwest to bolster their hobbled front line in the wake of recent injuries suffered by Robin Lopez (hand) and Joel Freeland (shoulder).

O’Neal hasn’t made a firm decision of whether or not he’ll play this season, but after posting a picture to his Instagram page from Germany with a caption that read, “Today was a great first day of treatments here in Germany! If you know me then you know what this means! But this is the 2nd step in a 3 step process! The first step being my family,” it seems as though he’s preparing for the possibility.

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O’Neal appeared in 44 games for the Warriors last season, and averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per contest. The Cavaliers and the Clippers are also reportedly interested in retaining his services.