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Around The World: June 29

06/29/12
  1. Written by: DHawes22

    June 29



    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Neil Olshey Post-Draft Press Conference

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: At The Podium: Meyers Leonard

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: At The Podium: Damian Lillard

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Meyers Leonard Interview

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Damian Lillard Interview

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Meyers Leonard Instant Analysis

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Damian Lillard Instant Analysis

    Trailblazers.tv: Video: Paul Allen Draft Day Interview

    Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard And Will Barton Headline 2012 Draft For Trail Blazers
    "With the depth of players available, this was one of the more intriguing drafts that I've been a part of," said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. "I thought it was a very good night for the team and our fans. We got the guys we wanted. We still have work to do, but tonight was an important step forward."

    Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard: 'Nobody Wanted To Be Me'
    "Whenever I got frustrated in college about not getting respect and people saying he's not that good or something like that, I would always come back to the gym," said Lillard. "Instead of getting mad about it, I just let the chip on my shoulder get bigger and I'd be in the gym putting in work. So whenever the chance presented itself, when it was on the line, all of that work that I've been putting in, they would know 'He's the real deal.'"

    Trail Blazers: Ford: B+ For Blazers' Draft
    "The Blazers needed size and Leonard was the biggest player in the draft at 7-foot-1. He's a very good athlete and he can be a good defender. He's a project, but if he gets serious, he could be a nice big man down the road."

    Trail Blazers: The Journey Of Meyers Leonard
    "For rookie Meyers Leonard, there will be no waiting on his story. It's out there. At the age of six, he lost his father and along with his mother and brother, Bailey, went without a bed, water and electricity. But through that hardship came an unbreakable bond between two brothers."

    Trail Blazers: Olshey Moves Ahead To Free Agency: ‘We’re not going to go for moderate upgrades’
    "It’s a chance. I’ll say this, if we don’t get the right guys this off-season, guys that are going to grow with this organization and fit into our vision, then we’ll have no problem deferring the cap room into 2013-14 and having that flexibility once there’s fewer teams with room. But it’s not going to stop us from being very aggressove this year. But what you’re not going to see is adding the five, six, seven million dollar moderate upgrade. We’re not going to do that. That’s not going to get us to a championship caliber organization, where you spend money just because you happen to have it. You know the kid that spends his allowance by Wednesday and then he’s got nothing to spend the rest of the time, then the weekend comes and he’s not gonna have any fun? We’re not going to do that. Like I said, we’re going to be very aggressive for guys that we think are impact players that move the needle for this organization and if we get them we’ve really accelerated our curve and if they’re not there we’re not going to go for moderate upgrades. We’ve got really good, young players at all positions and we’ll maintain the flexibility and then we’ll do what I talked about."

    Trail Blazers: Draft Just One Step in the Process
    "In one of Portland's early pre-draft workouts, I got to watch Leonard perform in Tualatin and go up against North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, who, at the time, was projected to go well ahead of Leonard. As many have mentioned, Zeller might be a bit more able to contribute right away, but it was pretty clear Leonard had the greater potential. Leonard is 7'1 and has an impressive frame. To me, at least physically, he resembles Brook Lopez when he came out of Stanford. But, he runs the floor better than Lopez, and is probably a better defender than Lopez was at the same time. I know that's a lofty comparison, but that's who instantly came to my mind. Leonard is also a very likable kid who has a great story that you'll be hearing more about."

    ESPN: Draft grades: 30 team evaluations
    "I've been Lillard's biggest fan all year and think he's a great fit in Portland. They really needed a point guard, and I think with time, he could be very good. He shoots the ball well, attacks the basket and plays very hard. He'll need to continue to develop his floor vision, but his work ethic is tremendous, and I think he'll find a way to succeed. I'm not as crazy about Leonard. I see the upside, and I see the need. But I think he's a bigger project than people think. I wouldn't expect dividends on this pick for several years, Blazers fans. Barton was a nice get in the second round. He's got a great midrange game, is a good athlete and has a scorer's mentality. I wouldn't be surprised if he, in a few years, supplanted Wes Matthews as the starting two guard in Portland."

    Sports Illustrated: 2012 Team Draft Grades
    "Tremendous work by a Blazers group that prepared for the draft while dealing with a major transition period, as general manager Neil Olshey was hired just weeks ago after a year with Chad Buchanan running the show as an interim GM. Weber State point guard Damian Lillard (No. 6) was their top target, and he'll fill the void left by free-agent point guard Raymond Felton. Illinois center Meyers Leonard (No. 11) has his critics and isn't a sure thing, but he impressed numerous teams more than Tyler Zeller during the draft process and has a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism (he was in play for New Orleans at No. 10 as well). The rich got richer at No. 40, where Will Barton was a steal. Barton, who deemed himself the best wing in the draft earlier this month, was seen by many as a first-round pick."

    Oregon Live: In Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard, Trail Blazers hit their targets
    "His efficiency in the pick and roll or as a facilitator was unparalleled in this draft," Olshey said. "When you've got LaMarcus, who's a big-time pick-and-roll player; to get a guy like that, who complements him ... that's a coup. Damian Lillard was brought here to be our starting point guard. It may not be Day 1 in camp. But at some point he is going to be our starting point guard."

    Oregon Live: Blazers draft: Superb solo workout was key factor in selection of Damian Lillard
    “He’s got a very Brandon Roy-type personality,” Buchanan said. “He’s got a very articulate, very confident, very relaxed way about him and is very comfortable with who he is.”

    Oregon Live: NBA High-5: Will Harrison Barnes become the one that got away for Blazers?
    "That made North Carolina guard Harrison Barnes available to Portland. Barnes was ranked a top four or five player by most draft experts, and he never did work out for Portland. GM Neil Olshey said there was discussion in the Blazers draft room about taking Barnes, but “not as much as you’d think.”

    CSNNW: Batum's agent requested Olshey not contact his client
    “Out of respect for Bouna, I haven't spoken to Nicolas because it's not right,” Olshey told CSNNW.com. “If he (Ndiaye) gives me permission to talk to him, I will. But, he wants to control the process and I understand that.”

    CSNNW: J.J. Hickson's status rested on the draft; expect him to be set free
    "To be honest, Hickson will command more on the open market and the Trail Blazers don't sound like they're up for forking out a substantial amount on Hickson. "

    CSNNW: Colangelo on LaMarcus' Olympic status: "He's out"
    “He's out,” Colangelo told CSNNW.com. “LaMarcus sent me an email about a week ago saying he wouldn't be available until around August 1, so that told me all I needed to know. He's out and we're moving forward.”

    CSNNW: Blazers F Shawne Williams officially opts in for next season
    "By doing so, Williams is scheduled to make $3.1 million next season. Williams can still be released and his salary would be spread out over three years. He signed a two-year, $6.1 million deal with the Nets last December."

    Columbian: Blazers draft picks at a glance
    "A scoring guard with exceptional athletic ability who can shoot from about anywhere on the floor. He is a high-character guy by most all accounts, too, and of all the prospects that worked out for the Blazers, seemed to have made the best impression on the front office so far."

    Columbian: Blazers begin building with draft
    "I can play half court, I can run the ball, I think I can adjust to whatever situation they need from me," said Lillard, who averaged 24.5 points per game for the Wildcats last year but dished out just 4.0 assists. "I'll be able to show that I can make plays because I won't have as much of a responsibility to score."

    Portland Tribune: New Blazers Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard say they have what it takes
    “The chance to play alongside LaMarcus, a very good power forward, an All-Star in the league, it’s a good feeling,” said Leonard, who averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in 31.8 minutes in his first season as a starter for the Illini. “He’s someone I believe can mentor me. The way he carries himself both on and off the court is very professional.”

    Portland Tribune: A solid draft for Blazers team in full rebuild mode
    “At the sixth selection, we felt like we found our franchise point guard,” new general manager Neil Olshey told the assembled media."

    Rip City Project: 2012 NBA Draft: Three New Blazers
    "I’ll tease my feelings a little by saying this, it’s nice to see Portland go into a draft knowing what issues they have to address and come out having addressed those issues. This isn’t like last year’s draft where everybody knew Portland needed a serviceable big guy, and the team decided to go with Nolan Smith."

    Blazersedge: Analysis of the Portland Trail Blazers 2012 NBA Draft
    "Three names may come back to haunt the Blazers in the future. Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond were both available with the 6th pick. Barnes is a multi-faceted small forward with a great body and good mid-range scoring ability. He would have played behind Nicolas Batum initially but he ultimately might have made Batum expendable. Drummond was the tantalizing athletic deity at center with questions about his head and offensive development. His body, lateral quickness, and defense would have made Blazer fans drool. Portland also passed on Jeremy Lamb at #11. He carries a freakish wingspan--making him an instant threat for steals--and a beautiful shooting touch. He would have been to Wesley Matthews what Barnes would have been to Batum. One could argue that all three of these players have a better combination of upside and likelihood of reaching it than do Lillard and Leonard."

    SB Nation: NBA Draft Grades: Who Won (And Lost) The West?
    "The Blazers filled two immediate needs at point guard and center, so alright! The question is whether either of them are any good. I tend to believe that Lillard will be a good pro because of his shooting ability. We'll see how he is as a passer; the canvas is pretty blank on that one, as it is for every small-conference scoring guard. Leonard looked like a disaster on draft night; he should fare a bit better on the court, provided he can get up to speed quickly on what space LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers' star, takes up. Because of the NBA learning curve and the vital positions these two rookies will be in, it could be a tough season for Portland. But the future looks brighter today. GRADE: A"

    CBS: With his climb to lottery pick, Lillard most unlikely story of 2012 Draft
    "Moments before Lillard's dream comes to fruition -- it's all happening really fast -- Goodwin moves from his seat in the arena down to the Green Room table. The news is shared, and seconds later, at 8:05 p.m., David Stern calls Lillard's name. He's stifling the tears best he can. Lillard makes his way off the stage, where 11 fans with a Weber State flag and matching school chant scoot down from their seats to congratulate him. Lillard tries to implore some other brand-new fans -- in Blazers jerseys -- who are looking for a photo, but is ushered along to the bowels of the arena. For the next 100 minutes, Lillard goes through nearly a dozen interviews. This is what it's like to be drafted: more questions in between the smiles. It's blurry."

    CBS: 2012 NBA Draft Report Card: Grading every pick for every team
    "The best point guard available at the sixth spot, fills a big need and doesn't overlook a bigger one. The Blazers landed their franchise point guard, even if he's not in that elite class, and didn't have to go up or down. And they avoided Andre Drummond. Bonus!"

    Sports Illustrated: Steve Nash, Raptors a free-agent fit
    "Back to Nash: He remains a transformative offensive player who can’t realistically log more than 30 minutes a night, meaning the Raptors could feasibly sign him, keep Jose Calderon (and Calderon’s expiring contract) and split minutes between the two — all while dangling Calderon as trade bait. Nash is arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history, and the combination of his historically great shooting and passing remains devastating to defenses; the Suns continued to score at a top-three level with Nash on the floor, even as the talent around him declined. That holds obvious appeal to a Toronto team that improved defensively under Dwane Casey but dropped all the way to 29th in points per possession — a collapse admittedly linked in part to Andrea Bargnani getting hurt after the best start of his career."

    Sports Illustrated: Odom going from Mavs to Clippers, source says
    "An agreement is in place that would send Lamar Odom back to Los Angeles for a second chance with the Clippers and reunite Mo Williams with the Utah Jazz, a person with knowledge of the deal said Thursday night."

    ESPN: No Deal For Thunder's Scott Brooks
    "It's a sign of the times that the Thunder and Brooks have not been able to work out an extension yet, considering how much success they've had together. Since Brooks succeeded P.J. Carlesimo after a 1-12 start to the former Seattle franchise's first season (2008-09) in Oklahoma City, the Thunder's trajectory has been nothing but skyward. In his first full year as head coach, they qualified for the 2010 playoffs. The next year, they reached the 2011 Western Conference finals. Now, of course, they're coming off a trip to the Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in five games."

    Ball Don't Lie: Ball Don’t Lie grades the 2012 NBA draft
    "A strange draft. Big centers taken where Leonard was selected almost never pan out, but if the team utilizes him as six fouls and gravy in the second quarter, then they may have found something. Still, several much better basketball players were taken ahead of Leonard. It's hard to say as much about Lillard, who we like; though we are wary that he'll never get over being a waterbug scorer instead of a playmaker. If he were heading to a different team (one that isn't working with a power forward that needs the ball), I'd probably be more enthused. As it stands, though, he could put his head down and fight for Rookie of the Year votes."

    Ball Don't Lie: Chris Bosh went to Taco Bell between the Heat’s championship and party
    "I live about eight blocks from a Taco Bell and eat it more than a 27-year-old person reasonably should, so I feel like I understand Bosh's mindset fairly well here. After a tough day, he needed sustenance in a short amount of time. In those moments, few places do as good a job as Taco Bell. Where else can you buy the entire menu for under $50?"

    Ball Don't Lie: Joe Dumars on drafting Darko Milicic: ‘I look back on it now and realize you didn’t know half of the stuff you needed to know’
    "Detroit did jump the gun, with Milicic. Joe Dumars wasn't even in New Jersey when the Pistons were awarded the second pick. No, Memphis Grizzlies GM Jerry West represented his team, a team that was allowed to keep its 2003 pick if it landed in the top overall spot. The Vancouver Grizzlies had traded away the conditional rights to that selection all the way back in the summer of 1997 — when NBA executive Stu Jackson was running the team — to Detroit for Otis Thorpe in a terribly misguided attempt to add an angry veteran past his prime to a young and rebuilding team years away from needing to field someone in their 30s."

    Ball Don't Lie: Why did Perry Jones III fall in the NBA draft?
    "Jones was named among the 10 best prospects in the draft at various times over the past few months — ESPN's Jay Bilas even listed him as his 10th-best during Thursday's telecast — and his fall came as a surprise to many. Jones certainly isn't a perfect prospect, though some think his perceived motor problem is a physiological rather than mental issue. Yet for a player this talented to fall this far says more about the general tendencies and fears of NBA teams than any problems with Jones himself. More than anything, he fell because middle-of-the-road teams (i.e., the ones who know they need immediate help) usually want to draft sure things and not projects. And while those supposed sure things often end up crashing out just as much as the potential-filled maybe-stars, it doesn't change front-office behavior."

    The Basketball Jones: The 2012 NBA draft fashion superlatives
    "Portland’s draft hat is great because you can’t beat a black and red hat. New Orleans’ hat is great because it literally looks like something you’d own in 1993. Brooklyn’s hat is great because they’re the one team who just has their city name. Houston’s hat is great because the red and silver looks boss together. Cool hats right here. Maria Bello would be proud."

           



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