Blazers will use Idaho Stampede soon to give young players seasoning
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  1. BlazerManiac
    Posts: 777

    Posted 11/29/2012 7:14 PM

    Send the whole Damn Team to the D League they may win!


    BOSTON — As the Trail Blazers suffered their most humiliating defeat of the season in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night, their minor league affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, opened the season across the country with a road game in Los Angeles. 
    What does this mean for the Blazers? 
    In the not-too-distant future, young players such as Victor Claver, Joel Freeland, Will Barton and Nolan Smith might be sent down to the NBA Development League for a little playing time and seasoning. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said he intends to use Idaho this season as a tool to foster growth with his young players and he has created a tentative plan to send guys east across the Oregon border.

    “We’re going to utilize the D-League when it’s appropriate, we want to use it when we’re not taking assets away from our team,” Olshey said. “We’re looking to get the most bang for our buck.”

    In recent days, at least two 2012 first-round draft picks have been sent to the Development League, as the Phoenix Suns assigned point guard Kendall Marshall to the Bakersfield Jam and the Oklahoma City Thunder assigned Jeremy Lamb to the Tulsa 66ers. But Olshey is reluctant to use the Stampede just yet.

    For starters, the Blazers are not a deep team and Barton, Freeland and Claver — before he injured his right elbow — have been seeing occasional playing time. Also, between LaMarcus Aldridge’s back, Wesley Matthews’ right thumb, J.J. Hickson’s left shoulder and a nasty cold that is spreading around the locker room, the Blazers have been hit with a variety of ailments and illnesses that would make sending players to Idaho risky.

    Besides, according to Olshey, the Blazers’ young players have benefitted more in the early going by being around the NBA, even if they’re not seeing major minutes.

    Freeland and Claver have played extensively in Europe over the years, but they are new to the NBA, so it’s most important that they learn the ins and outs of the league — from the opposing rosters, to the unique rules to the speed and skill of the competition. Once they have a greater handle on the NBA, Idaho could become an option if they’re not seeing extensive playing time with the Blazers.

    Similarly, Barton, the raw rookie guard from Memphis, is gaining valuable insight into the NBA and coach Terry Stotts’ system, from the vocabulary of the play calls to the ever-evolving system.

    “I guarantee you Will would go down there and average 20, 5 and 5,” Olshey said, referring to points, rebounds and assists. “What I don’t want to have him do is spend two weeks down there tearing up the D-League, scoring, rebounding and making plays, and then come back and be behind in terms of where the team is. Because every day, Terry is putting in new stuff.”

    Once the Blazers return to Portland after this seven-game, 11-day trip, the young players will be approaching their 20th game of the season and Olshey will have a better idea of who could benefit from an Idaho stint, and when.

    “When it becomes about playing time, that’s when they’ll go down,” Olshey said. “That’s the value add of Idaho. Because right now, they’re on the floor with our assistant coaches, they’re getting their drill work in, they’re watching film, they’re learning the NBA game, they’re learning the opposition.

    Once they build their foundation, then it’s about getting minutes and the only place they are going to get them is Boise.”

    Olshey has peeked ahead at the schedules of both the Blazers and the Stampede and identified some dates, starting in December, when it might make sense to assign players to the Development League. He wouldn’t reveal specifics, but his preference — assuming the Blazers have a healthy roster — is only to send NBA players to Idaho when the Blazers have multiple days without a game.

    The best opportunity next month would be Dec. 14 and 15, when the Stampede hosts Santa Cruz and the Blazers are off. Dec. 19, when the Blazers are off and the Stampede play at Bakersfield, also could be a possibility.

    “Right now, I think it’s important that they get a little bit of a taste of the NBA,” Olshey said. “But there will be a time when it makes sense for them to go to Boise.”

    —Joe Freeman; follow him on Twitter

    I am a fan of WES, the heart and soul of the Blazers.
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