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#pounditMonday, January 30, 2023

Articles tagged: Portland Trail Blazers

Klay Thompson could leave Warriors for 1 particular team?

Klay Thompson with a headband

Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) warms up before game two of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Klay Thompson may be pulling a Tony Parker-Charlotte Hornets-esque late-career surprise.

Heavy’s Sean Deveney spoke this week with a Western Conference executive who suggested the lifelong Golden State Warrior Thompson could possibly leave for the Portland Trail Blazers when he becomes a free agent in 2024.

“He grew up near Portland,” said the executive of Thompson. “So the Blazers, there has been talk he wants to play for them.”

The executive also mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers as a potential landing spot for Thompson but did not indicate that there has been any previous chatter linking the five-time All-Star to the purple and gold.

Portland is an interesting possible landing spot for Thompson, who indeed grew up in Lake Oswego, Ore. and whose father Mychal played for several NBA seasons on the Blazers. The team’s multi-year salary situation is pretty clear as well, and star player Damian Lillard has not had a stable long-term wing partner since CJ McCollum was traded (Anfernee Simons lacks some size and Jerami Grant will be a free agent after this season).

Thompson has spent his entire NBA career in Golden State, winning four titles and making multiple All-NBA teams with them over the years. But he will be 33 in a few weeks and is suffering from understandable post-injury decline. If Thompson wants to get one last bag before retiring, he can do worse than a Blazers team that is currently higher than the Warriors in the standings (and that also has reported interest in another Golden State lifer).

Damian Lillard psyched out Deandre Ayton at end of game

Damian Lillard talks to Deandre Ayton

The Portland Trail Blazers hung on to defeat the Phoenix Suns 113-111 in overtime on Friday night. The biggest play of the night wasn’t necessarily a play at all. Rather, it was Damian Lillard getting into the head of Deandre Ayton with just 1.2 seconds remaining.

Ayton stepped to the foul line with the opportunity to send the game into a second overtime. With nothing he could do to physically play defense on the court, Lillard started talking.

“I just asked him, ‘have you ever been in this situation before?’ I wanted him to think about it a little bit. And then when he ignored me, I felt like he was thinking about it,” Lillard said after the game, via Sean Highkin.

But that wasn’t all Lillard had to say in the moment.

As Ayton readied his first free throw, Lillard stepped up alongside him and asked, “You think they trust you with the game on the line?”

Lillard answer the question himself: “Hell nah.”

Ayton, who put up 26 points and recorded a game-changing block earlier in the night, fell flat. His first attempt bricked off the rim and the second attempt shared a similar result.

Jock Landale was able to grab the rebound and put up one final layup for the tie, but it rolled off the front of the hoop as the buzzer sounded. And as Lillard predicted, Ayton wasn’t able to get it done in the big moment, giving Portland the win.

Blazers hiring WNBA great as scout

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers already have a former NBA champion in head coach Chauncey Billups leading their team. Now they are adding a former WNBA champion to their organization as well.

Portland announced this week that they have hired Tina Thompson to their basketball operations staff as a scout. Thompson had spent the last four seasons serving as head coach of the Virginia women’s basketball team.

It is hard to beat Thompson’s hoops resume. She was a four-time WNBA champion, a nine-time All-Star, and an eight-time All-WNBA selection in her 17 years in the league (on top of winning two Olympic gold medals for Team USA in 2004 and 2008). Thompson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 and remains the second all-time leading scorer in WNBA history (Diana Taurasi surpassed her in 2017).

Thompson also previously played in the Pacific Northwest for the Seattle Storm from 2012 to 2013. She now becomes the latest WNBA legend to make a name for herself in the ranks of the NBA.

Damian Lillard had funny response to Blazers’ Summer League title

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers claimed the NBA Summer League title on Sunday. While that does not necessarily serve as much of a predictor for the future, it’s a cool accomplishment for the typically younger fringe players who take part in the competition.

That said, the league is not always a big focus among the league’s veteran players. Take Damian Lillard, for example. The Blazers’ franchise guard only found out about Portland’s win because he was with teammate Anfernee Simons, who got a FaceTime call from Trendon Watford in the winning locker room. Note that the video includes some NSFW language.

“Oh, y’all won it? They won it? Oh s–t!” Lillard laughed.

To be clear, Lillard sounds genuinely pleased to hear the news, and even jokes that he and Simons were celebrating the championship by the pool. Still, it’s pretty funny that this is how he found out.

Lillard might as well be happy about the news. He has committed himself long-term to the organization and wants to win a title there, so any hint of optimism for the future has to be welcomed.

Damian Lillard makes significant commitment to Blazers

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Loyalty may have an expiration date, but Damian Lillard’s loyalty certainly does not.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports Friday that Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to a two-year maximum contract extension worth an estimated $120 million. The new deal will take Lillard’s contract through the 2026-27 season for a total of five years and nearly $270 million. That makes Lillard one of the highest earners in NBA history, Charania notes.

Lillard, who will turn 32 later this month, had three years remaining on his existing contract and could have become a free agent in 2025. But with this latest agreement, Lillard is signed until the age of 37, all but ensuring that he remains with the Blazers for his entire NBA career.

The six-time All-Star Lillard had recently faced rumors of uncertainty over his future in Portland, particularly because of his alleged relationship with franchise owner Jody Allen. But Lillard appears to have sent those rumors to the canvas with this latest commitment to the Blazers.

Damian Lillard responds to report that Blazers owner snubbed him

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen are having issues, the star point guard is not about to admit it publicly.

The New York Post reported on Thursday that Lillard is unhappy with the direction of the Trail Blazers. He supposedly tried to arrange a meeting with Allen to discuss his concerns, but Allen never returned his call. Lillard then tried to email Allen and she redirected him to another Blazers executive, according to the report.

On Friday, Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he has a “great relationship” with Allen and Portland’s front office. The six-time All-Star called the New York Post report a “non-story.”

There was also a claim in the New York Post story that “toxic” behavior from Allen has had a negative impact on the Blazers’ management. Some recent rumblings indicated the Blazers might be for sale and that there is a notable prospective buyer, but Allen denied that.

Lillard is the face of the Blazers. There has been speculation that he is frustrated with the franchise and may request a trade. Lillard recently sparked concern among Portland fans with a cryptic social media post. The New York Post story then added to the uneasiness, which is likely why Lillard felt the need to address it.

Damian Lillard at odds with Blazers owner?

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Portland appears to be giving off the warm aroma of trouble right now.

The New York Post reported on Thursday that Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is not seeing eye-to-eye with franchise owner Jody Allen. Citing a team source, the report states that Allen has refused to speak with Lillard, who is allegedly having issues with the way the team is being run.

“Damian wanted to sit down and have a conversation with Jody about the team and she didn’t return his call,” the source was quoted as saying. “Then he tried to email her. Eventually she just never responded and put him in touch with [Trail Blazers executive] Bert [Kolde].”

The Blazers were purchased by billionaire Paul Allen in 1988. Since Paul died in 2018, the franchise has been owned by a trust in Paul’s name. Jody, Paul’s sister, is chairperson of that trust and has become the de facto owner of the Blazers.

The New York Post report also alleges further “toxic” behavior on the part of Jody that is affecting the management of the Blazers. Among the claims is that Jody has allegedly deferred all the decision-making for the team to Kolde, who serves as vice chair of the Blazers and was Paul’s college roommate and friend. You can read the report in full here.

There was some recent rumors that the Blazers might be for sale, and a notable name was even reported to have interest in purchasing the team. But Jody just released a statement saying that the Blazers (along with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, whom The Paul G. Allen Trust also owns) are not currently for sale (though they eventually will be according to Paul’s wishes).

As for Lillard, he is the undisputed face of the Blazers team and a persistent symbol of loyalty, having spent his entire ten-year NBA career in Portland. But he recently caused big concern among Blazers fans with a cryptic social media post, and now it turns out that frustration with Jody Allen may have something to do with it.

Former NBA Coach of the Year dies at 81

Mike Schuler in a suit

Apr 1987; Portland, OR, USA: FILE PHOTO; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Mike Schuler on the sideline during the 1987 season at Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

A former NBA Coach of the Year has passed away, his old team announced.

The Portland Trail Blazers said in a statement this week that their former head coach Mike Schuler died at the age of 81.

Schuler coached the Blazers for three seasons from 1986 to 1989 and earned Coach of the Year honors in 1988. He had a stellar record of 127-84 (.602) in Portland, coaching All-Stars such as Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth, Terry Porter, and Kiki Vandeweghe. Schuler would also go on to be head coach of the LA Clippers for two seasons on top of serving as an NBA assistant for 14 total seasons.

Additionally, the Ohio native Schuler was coach of the Blazers when they were purchased by Paul Allen, who just passed away a few years ago too.

Report: Damian Lillard contract extension not a ‘sure thing’

Damian Lillard in a Blazers jersey

Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers reportedly want to sign Damian Lillard to an extension beyond his current contract, but Lillard’s agreement is far from guaranteed.

On Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the Trail Blazers want to offer Lillard a two-year extension worth over $100 million. The deal would keep Lillard, who is under contract with Portland for two more seasons, through the 2026-2027 season.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported Friday that Lillard’s widely-assumed decision to accept the offer is far from a “sure thing.” According to Amick, the Trail Blazers “still needed to have a strong offseason” in order to convince Lillard to sign the extension that would keep him in Portland until the age of 36.

Lillard and the Blazers haven’t always seen eye-to-eye during the six-time All-Star’s 10 seasons with the team, but Lillard seems committed to remaining with Portland.

Portland has already gotten off to a good start this offseason with improving their roster. The Blazers traded for Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons prior to the 2022 NBA Draft. This week, the team signed former Golden State Warriors guard-forward Gary Payton II to a three-year, $28 million deal. Portland also re-signed guard Anfernee Simmons to a four-year, $100 million deal, and center Jusuf Nurkic to a four-year, $70 million contract. Nurkic averaged 15.0 points and 11.1 rebounds in 56 games last season. Simmons averaged 17.3 points in 57 games, and shot 44.3 percent from the field.

H/T Bleacher Report

Gary Payton II make surprising free agency decision

Gary Payton holds a ball

Apr 10, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during warmups before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors were expected to lose a few players in free agency, but Gary Payton II was not one of them. However, that is exactly what is happening.

Payton is finalizing a deal to join the Portland Trail Blazers, Shams Charania reported on Thursday night. The deal is reportedly for $28 million over three years.

That’s over $9 million per season, which should be affordable for a team like Golden State that prioritizes winning. However, due to Golden State’s cap situation, that $9 million would cost the team multiple millions more. The Warriors are repeat luxury tax offenders and would likely have to pay around seven times the amount of Payton’s salary as a tax.

Golden State may have really wanted Payton back, but the cost became too prohibitive for them.

This is a perfect example of how a salary cap/luxury tax can help create competitive balance. The Warriors can outspend most teams and do what they can to keep their squad together, but at some point it’s too costly to keep everyone they would like.

So even though Payton loves the Warriors and is grateful to them for giving him a shot, he will be leaving for a nice guaranteed contract elsewhere.