Enes Kanter had the option to remain with the Portland Trail Blazers, but he claims he was not given nearly enough time to make a decision on his future.
Kanter agreed to a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics on Monday. He told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, however, that he had the chance to remain with Portland, but was given six minutes to decide whether he wanted to stay.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 1, 2019
NBA free agency moves quickly. One wonders if Kanter was prompted to make a quick decision because the Blazers were making a big trade involving a center on Monday, and perhaps their ability to swing it depended on Kanter’s plans.
The Miami Heat are shipping Hassan Whiteside out of town.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Heat have agreed to trade Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forwards Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard.
Miami is finalizing a trade to send center Hassan Whiteside to Portland for Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
Essentially, the Blazers have cover for Jusuf Nurkic without giving up any major pieces. Their goal is to remain among the biggest contenders in the Western Conference, and this deal helps them do so.
The Heat, on the other hand, are on a mission to clear salary to bring in Jimmy Butler on a sign-and-trade deal. While this helps, it won’t be enough on its own, and with other avenues seemingly closed to them, they’ll have to keep working on it.
Damian Lillard is reportedly closing in on a supermax contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Lillard is expected to sign a four-year, $196 million agreement to keep him in Portland for the foreseeable future.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
This move had been widely expected since Lillard was named second-team All-NBA at the end of last season. While he has two years remaining on his previous deal, that vote made him eligible to sign a supermax extension this summer, which he seemed eager to do as soon as he was able.
Lillard will likely be a Blazer for life, or close to it. He’s getting a lot of money to stay there, too.
Evan Turner reportedly has a new home back east.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Portland Trail Blazers will trade Turner to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Kent Bazemore.
Portland is trading Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, league source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2019
This is essentially a swap of veteran wings who are entering contract years, but Bazemore should be a nice fit in Portland, a team with playoff ambitions in a potentially wide-open Western Conference. He’s a good defender who can shoot from three fairly capably. Turner, a reserve for Portland last year, essentially becomes a veteran leader on a young Atlanta team with a gift for a good quote from time to time.
Damian Lillard is not set to become a free agent for two more seasons, but the Portland Trail Blazers could lock him in for even longer than that this summer.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Lillard is expected to sign a four-year, $191 million supermax contract extension with the Blazers this offseason. Lillard will be eligible for the supermax if he is named to one of the three All-NBA teams, and that is a virtual certainty after he averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and a career-high 6.9 assists per game this season.
A four-year extension would keep Lillard under contract with Portland through age 35, so the likelihood of him playing his entire career there seems high.
Lillard’s new deal would likely include a player option, according to Haynes. He said after the Blazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday that he is not yet focused on his contract situation.
While the end result was disappointing for Portland, Lillard brought us some of the most entertaining moments of the postseason. His importance to the Blazers cannot be overstated, and it’s no surprise they are willing to make that type of financial commitment to the 28-year-old.
The Portland Trail Blazers chose to try a bold defensive strategy on Steph Curry in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Golden State on Tuesday night and it did not pay off.
The Blazers’ big men dropped off on the pick and roll plays the Warriors ran for Curry rather than flash out to defend his deep shots. That gave Curry some ridiculously wide open looks, such as this one:
Not ideal defense pic.twitter.com/3FyqRCNjpd
— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) May 15, 2019
Here was another. Notice how there is no big man on the perimeter to defend Curry after he gets his screen.
Blazers flirted with all half, by using "drop coverage" on the high ballscreen, and finally got burned at the end of the half!
Back-to-back threes by Curry.#XsAndOs | #NBA#NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/BEfQIYILA8
— Doug Brotherton (@CoachBrotherton) May 15, 2019
Curry led the Warriors with 36 points, going 12-for-25 from the field, including an absurd 9/15 on threes. He kept getting open looks and knocking down his shots.
After the 116-94 loss, Blazers star Damian Lillard said his team’s defensive execution was poor.
“Poor execution defensively on our part. Just having our bigs back that far, understanding the team that we’re playing against, they’re not going to shoot mid-range jumpers. If they see an opportunity to shoot the three, they’re going to take it,” Lillard said. “We gotta bring our guys off and run them off the line.”
Enes Kanter, Portland’s big man, is notoriously weak in pick and roll, which might explain their strategy, but the Game 1 results should be enough to convince them to change things up. If your strategy is to let Steph Curry have open three looks and have him beat you, he probably will every time.
Paul Pierce has made some more comments that are sure to get the attention of the masses.
During ESPN’s pregame coverage before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, Pierce said he thought the Portland Trail Blazers could win if Kevin Durant misses games in the series due to his calf injury. In his explanation for his pick, Pierce said the Blazers’ guards are as good as the Warriors’.
“I do (think Portland can win),” Pierce said. “I think it’s closer than you think. For one, I think that the backcourts are a wash. Damian Lillard was a first-team All-NBA player a year ago. That will be Steph (Curry) this year. So these guys are neck-and-neck when we talk about talent and scoring. CJ McCollum is playing like an All-Star. Klay Thompson is an All-Star. So they’re not far off from each other. The difference is the role players.”
Pierce’s support of Portland’s guards is nice, but we can’t agree. Curry is an MVP and the greatest shooter in NBA history. There is a big difference between being second or even first-team All-NBA and being a league MVP. The difference between those two levels is similar to the difference between being a first or second-team All-NBA pick and just missing the cut. Similarly, Klay is so accomplished and has proven how good he is numerous times. McCollum is a very good player and proved his value in Game 7 of the conference semis, but he’s still a step below Thompson.
The best way for them to prove Pierce’s comments to be true is to play amazingly in the series and beat the Warriors. Then we may start to think differently. Until then, Pierce may get laughed out of the building the way he was on his last comments.