Portland Trail Blazers - Page 20

NBA Rumors: Breaking Down Candidates for Portland’s Head Coaching Job

The Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic are the only two teams in the NBA without a head coach, but it appears that list might be narrowed down to one in the near future. 

That’s because the Trail Blazers, according to HOOPSWORLD, are close to making a decision:

The Trail Blazers’ coaching search has been pared to four finalists: Terry Stotts, Elston Turner, Steve Clifford and Kaleb Canales, The Oregonian has learned.

It’s certainly not the sexiest group of names, but teams have proven (ahem, Miami Heat) in the past you don’t always need a Hall of Fame coach to have success.

Let’s take a look at the potential candidates.

 

Terry Stotts

Stotts has the most head coaching experience of anyone on the final list and it’s not even close.

The 54-year-old has been working as an assistant with the successful Dallas Mavericks since 2008, but before that he put in some work as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks (2002-2004) and Milwaukee Bucks (2005-2007).

While he never had a ton of talent to work with, Stotts’ record as a head honcho isn’t pretty: 115-168 (.406 winning percentage). The former Rocket did get a 40-win season out of the Bucks in 2005-06, but he failed to surpass 20 wins in his other three seasons (24-31 in half of a season with the Hawks in 2002-03).

Stotts may bring experience, but the chances of him being a “home run” signing are slim. 

 

Elston Turner

Besides being the father of one of my least favorite University of Washington basketball players of the past few years, Elston Turner has a solid resume.

He spent 14 years playing in the NBA, so his knowledge of the game won’t be questioned by anyone. Neither will his coaching experience, as Turner spent six years as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings, four with the Blazers (hello) and six more with the Houston Rockets.

Turner, who is known as a defensive mastermind, has been interviewed for plenty of head coaching vacancies in the past few years, but has never been hired.

Don’t be surprised if this is the year that happens.

I think Turner has a real shot at grabbing the job.

 

Steve Clifford

Clifford, like Turner, doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but he has been a coach for a long time. 

After more than 10 years of experience at the collegiate level, he spent time with the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic, always working under one of the Van Gundy brothers. 

While Turner is viewed as a defensive savant, Clifford is more of a mentor and a teacher, someone who will get the most out of his players.

 

Kaleb Canales

Then, of course, you have Canales, who served as the interim coach last season, racking up an 8-15 record.

The record doesn’t tell the story, however, as Canales is a real favorite of the players.

Before becoming the interim head coach, he worked as an assistant in Portland for four seasons, developing solid relationships with the players.

Those relationships, of course, are a lot easier to develop for Canales because is young (34) and knows how to relate with the guys.

It would be surprising if he was turned down. 

 

Read more Portland Trail Blazers news on BleacherReport.com

Where Did The Week Go…

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This past Thursday the NBA draft came and went. Following the five hour player crap-shoot; writers, bloggers, “experts,” and prognosticators began grading the draft. The Portland Trail Blazers seem to have done well as they were graded anywhere from a “B” to an “A+.”

Portland got what they wanted, a point guard in Damian Lillard and a center in Meyers Leonard, but like every team in the league, they won’t truly know how well these picks will pan out for a few years. Every NBA team has their fair share of “my bad” picks, but the Trail Blazers have a long history of making “Wow, could have won a lot of championships with that guy, instead took that guy picks.”

You’re clapping now. Let’s wait a couple of years to see if you still have that same level of enthusiasm.

It dates all the way back to 1972 when Portland selected LaRue Martin with the number one pick. Martin would play four seasons in his career (all with Portland) averaging a whopping 5.3 points per game. At the ripe old age of 25, Martin decided to hang it up.

The two players Portland passed up to take Martin: future Hall-of-Famer and scoring machine Bob McAdoo who went second, and ABA/NBA legend and also future Hall-of-Famer Julius Erving who was selected at number 12.

In 1976, Portland again had the opportunity to snatch up not one, but two future Hall-of-Famers and again failed. Instead of taking Adrian Dantley at five, Portland selected some white dude named Wally Walker who would play 75 games over two seasons for Portland. Dantley would play in six All Star games and score more than 23,000 points in his career. Oops!!!

That same draft Portland took two of the three best players in the disbanded ABA Dispersal Draft: Moses Malone and Maurice Lucas. They kept Lucas who would go on to have a solid NBA career with Portland including help lead them to their only NBA title in 1977.

But the better of the two players, Moses Malone, would be dealt to the Buffalo Braves. Malone was a three-time league MVP and twelve-time NBA All Star. Imagine Portland having Malone, Dantley, Lucas and Bill Walton on the same team. Pretty safe to assume they would have won multiple titles with that group.

In 1978 Portland again had the number one pick. (Ah the good old days when you could win a championship and the following year get the top pick in the draft). The Trail Blazers selected Mychal Thompson with their pick. Thompson would go on to have a solid career with Portland averaging around 17 points-per-game and shoot 50%. But when you’re selected first, your career should be better than “solid.” A guy they could have selected that year, someone named Larry Bird. Ouch!!

Now we fast forward to 1984. You knew it was coming. That fateful year the Blazers made not only their worst pick in franchise history, but really the worst draft decision in NBA history. At number two Portland selected Kentucky Center Sam Bowie. With pick number three, Chicago drafted some guy named Michael Jordan.

Two centers with bones made of glass.

The excuse for not taking Jordan was that Portland needed a big man. They had already taken Clyde Drexler the year before and didn’t need another scoring guard. You already know Jordan’s resume. Bowie would go on to play five seasons with Portland. The last three years he would play a grand total of 25 games or 10% of Portland’s total games over a three year period. Here’s a thought, don’t draft a walking chandelier who missed two full seasons of college due to injuries.

So up to this point Portland either picked the right guy and traded him (Malone) or picked the wrong guy (Martin, Walker, Thompson, Bowie) and saw the better guy (Dantley, Bird, Jordan) go on to have great careers. In 1986 Portland again picked the right guy, but they didn’t see him for a decade.

Arvydas Sabonis was selected in the first round by Portland. Unable to come over to the states because he was still under contract with the Soviets, Sabonis would lead his Olympic team to the 1988 gold medal at the age of 23. Once Russia fragmented in 1989 and Sabonis was allowed to leave the country, he shockingly signed with Spain instead of joining the Blazers.

Sabonis could do it all: run, jump, shoot from anywhere and pass as well as any big man who has ever played the game. By the time he arrived in Portland in 1995, Sabonis was 31. His knee and foot injuries over the years sapped his quickness. The young spry immortal was replaced by a lumbering caveman who could only lightly jog up and down the court.

I wish we had gotten the center on the left.

Sabonis did play a key role on the 2000 Blazer team that got to the Western Conference Finals, but imagine if he had come over in the late ’80s. Those entertaining, high-scoring Blazer teams featuring Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Buck Williams made it to the finals in ’90 and ’92 with Kevin Duckworth at center. Replace Duck with one of the greatest centers of that era and those finals outcomes could have gone a little differently.

From ’86 to ’06, Portland had mostly mediocre drafts but it was because they were always making the playoffs and therefore never had a high draft pick. They did get Cliff Robinson in the second round in ’89 but their first round picks consisted of players like James Robinson, Shawn Respert, Chris Anstey and Erick Barkley.

They did draft Jermaine O’Neal right out of high school in ’96. But he sat on the bench for four years and eventually they traded him for veteran Dale Davis. O’Neal went on to make six straight All Star games for the Indiana Pacers.

In 2005, Portland had the third pick in the draft and decided to trade down and obtained the six pick. If they had kept the third pick, they could have taken either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Instead they took high schooler Martell Webster. In five season with the Blazers, Webster showed flashes of great ability, but he could never consistently put it together. Williams and Paul on the other hand have been arguably the two best point guards in the NBA over that time period.

Another star Blazer who couldn’t stay healthy.

The ’06 draft was the one year Portland did everything right. They obtained the two best players in that year’s draft (LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy) and they got both of them in draft day trades. Until knee injuries ended his career, Roy was the best player Portland had since Clyde Drexler. Aldridge is currently Portland’s best player and last year made his first All Star game.

The 2007 draft will unfortunately rank up there with the ’84 draft as one of Portland’s worst. Instead of taking three-time scoring champion and recent NBA Finals participant Kevin Durant, the Blazers took Greg Oden. Oden hasn’t stepped foot on an NBA court since December of 2009 and probably won’t again until 2013. He played 82 games in five seasons for Portland. Durant has missed only fourteen games in five years for the Thunder.

So as you can see, Portland has made a few bad decisions in the draft. Of course every NBA team can say the same thing, but Portland’s in particular have been highly noted. With every pick you make, there’s going to be what ifs.

Like in ’84 when they drafted Bowie out of necessity, they did the same this year in filling holes at point guard and center. Right now they look like the right picks. But as history has shown us, wait a couple of years and then decide whether or not this year’s draft grade deserves a high score.

 

With Two Picks in the Top 12, Blazers Look Towards Future

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After trudging through a season filled with bad luck (with all the drama surrounding Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, not even mentioning the disposal of their coach and GM), many Portland Trail Blazers fans were left with covering their eyes this offseason, wondering when all of the suffering would end.

Many of their prayers were answered on Wednesday night, when the Blazers secured the 6th and 11th picks as the dust from the 2012 NBA lottery draft settled.

Securing the top pick (and most likely acquiring Kentucky superstar Anthony Davis) were the New Orleans Hornets (21-45), whose luck was prevalent Wednesday as they only had a 13.7 percent chance of securing the pick, ranking fourth out of the fourteen teams eligible for the draft lottery. Following the New Orleans Hornets are the Charlotte Bobcats (7-59), who cannot seem to find any bit of fortune after securing the worst win percentage in NBA history.

With the firing of head coach Nate McMillan, the Blazers have more decisions this offseason to make than just who to draft.

Also included in the top ten of the 2012 NBA Draft are the Washington Wizards (20-46), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45), Sacramento Kings (22-44), Portland Trail Blazers (28-38), Golden State Warriors (23-43), Toronto Raptors (23-43), Detroit Pistons (25-41), with the New Orleans Hornets rounding it all out.

With the 6th and 11th pick in the draft, as well as the 40th and 41st pick (both in the second round, there are many options for the Trail Blazers to consider this year, but there is one over-arching theme: a big man is needed.

To accommodate this need, the Blazers have already worked out two of the more promising big men in the draft: Miles Leonard (C, Illinois) and Tyler Zeller (C, North Carolina).

Though Leonard seems to have the most potential, Zeller would give the Blazers the needed consistency right away to challenge for a playoff run, assuming they can put together the right pieces through the rest of their draft and free agency.

With Zeller, you know what you get. For a big man who is an excellent rebounder, Zeller has an excellent mid-range jump shot, thus adding pressure and strain to opposing defenses that will hopefully a more mature and developed Trail Blazer team in the 2012-2013 season. The problem with Zeller, however, is that nobody expects greatness out of him. With the 6th pick in the draft, you expect not only a player who will be around for awhile, but you also expect a player who will be an intimidating force on the court. Zeller is a viable option at number six or eleven that would give Portland a much-needed presence on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball right away, with the only downside being that many do not see room for improvement in Zeller’s game.

Leonard would be more of a project, though he could become one of those players that evolves into a franchise changer (assuming that he is still available at the number six/eleven pick). At the ripe age of 20 years old, Leonard has already accomplished much that other people have not. He led the Big Ten in blocks and had one of the better field goal percentages in all of college basketball (ranking number eleven overall). He is a daunting force in the interior and would give Portland a more solid defensive center.

Putting Leonard into context, he is still very young, and we have recently seen what can happen to some very young players. Leonard needs to develop his offensive skills a little further, but that could be done during the next few years as the Blazers try to pave their way back to greatness.

The New Orleans Hornets shocked the draft, ending up as the winner of the night. The unanimous No. 1 pick, so far, is Kentucky C Anthony Davis.

For those who believe the Blazers most pressing need is a point guard, there are still many viable options that should be available at both the 6th and 11th pick in the draft.

One option that is gaining popularity is that Portland will draft SG Bradley Beal from Florida. Though he may not have had the best statistics in the nation, scouts are raving about his basketball prowess and room to build into a dominant player at the NBA level. Fortunately enough for Portland, if Beal does drop to No. 6 in the draft, they should still have a shot at either Zeller or Leonard, or even both if circumstances work out for Portland.

For those fans who believe Portland has the tools to build around already and would rather see a veteran presence (a Rajon Rondo, perhaps?) in the Blazer rotation, your hopes are definitely out of the picture. In fact, interim GM Chad Buchanan has recently come out and stated that the Blazers are willing to trade one, or both, of the picks if the right players are included in the package.

This option leaves a lot of room to bring in players who have already established themselves in the league to fill in the needs, instead of drafting young players and hoping that they eventually pan out. Trading one, or both, of these picks also ensures that you have productivity right away, something that many Blazers fans see necessary to stay relevant in an NBA league that is constantly getting better, and one that may soon see the return of their hated rivals to the north, the Seattle SuperSupersonics.

Even though this year did not go as anybody had anticipated within the Portland Trail Blazers organization, one thing Blazers fans can look forward to is that there seems to be a better future ahead.

A new era is beginning in Blazer history, as the team says goodbye to superstar Brandon Roy and washes its hands of unfortunate Greg Oden. With one of the luckiest lotteries for the Blazers in recent memory, this draft now becomes one of the most important in Portland basketball history.

With the right pieces acquired (either through the draft or through free agency/trades) in the 2012 off-season, the Blazers could very well see themselves back in the playoffs sooner-than-later, with a flickering trophy starting to reveal itself in the clouded darkness.

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Blazers Fall to Jazz, Finish Season 28-38

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Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports Editor

Salt Lake City — It was another disappointing game for the 28-38 Blazers, Thursday night, as they conclude the 2011-12 season on a 96-94 loss to the Utah Jazz. The loss marked the seventh consecutive for the Blazers and brings their April record to a pitiful 4-10.

Utah Jazz forward Enes Kanter (center) is defended Blazers center Kurt Thomas (left) and guard Wesley Matthews (right) in the 96-94 Jazz victory on Thursday. (Photo credit: Jim Urquhart/AP)

Portland had an opportunity to win the game on a Wesley Matthews three, but the shot was a little off, that hit back iron. Some fans, coaches and players thought there was a foul on the

“It was a tough call at the end, but with the refs you have to respect it,” said Blazers’ J.J. Hickson, who led the Blazers in scoring (20) and rebounding (9) for the game.

The Jazz outrebounded the Blazers 48-36 on the night, a huge advantage that has hindered Portland all season long.

With the absence of center Marcus Camby (trade) and Greg Oden (injury), the Blazers have struggled to pull down boards and have been pushed around by bigger teams. Portland finished the season ranked 25th in the league (out of 30) in rebounds per game, averaging just 40.7.

But the Blazers are no strangers to injuries. Portland opened the season with all-star guard Brandon Roy announcing his retirement to the cries of Blazers fans.

It’s been a season fans are ready to put behind them and look forward to the NBA Draft over the summer.

The Blazers will have two lottery picks, one of their own and one acquired from the Nets, in the upcoming draft.

Portland will have numerous roles to fill in the offseason, starting with management.

Owner Paul Allen will need to find a suitable general manager to replace interim Chad Buchannan. That GM must then find a long-term answer at head coach, whether that is with interim head coach Kaleb Canales or going in a different direction.

Portland Trail Blazers interim head coach Kaleb Canales who replaced the fired Nate McMillan talks to reporters outside of the Bulls' locker room earlier in the season. (Photo credit: Brian Kersey/AP)

From here, the only thing the Blazers players can do is to keep their heads forward and move on. This team has enough talent to compete for the Western Conference, and will, sooner rather than later.

“This is one you try to forget about,” Matthews said of this season. “You know me — I’m not going to be able to. But it’s something you try to do.”

Depth was an issue in the game, as the Blazers only played eight men. Starters LaMarcus Alrdridge (hip), Nicholas Batum (quad) and Raymond Felton (Achilles) all missed the game due to various injuries.

A sign of good things to come was the impressive play of Portland’s young guards against the Jazz on Thursday. Matthews finished 14 points, Nolan Smith had 16 points and seven assists, and backup point guard Jonny Flynn finished with a double-double (18 and 11 assists).

“We played well enough to win it, we just didn’t get enough (bounces),” Matthews said after the game. “That’s the story of the year. We do enough, but we didn’t do … enough to get over the hump. And there’s easily 18 games like that this season.”

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