Tag:Nate McMillan
Posted on: February 21, 2012 3:44 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 3:55 pm
 

Reports: Blazers bench Raymond Felton

Raymon Felton is being benched in Portland. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

The writing has been on the wall, and now the move has finally been made. 

The Oregonian reported on Tuesday that Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan has elected to bench point guard Raymond Felton and will replace him in the starting lineup with Jamal Crawford.

CSNNW.com confirmed the report, and caught Felton's less than enthusiastic response to his demotion.
“He (Nate McMillan) called me this morning and told me we got to have consistency from that position and that a 7-point quarter was unacceptable,” Felton told CSNNW.com. “I'm not just going to blame myself for that first quarter. We're a team. We win together, we lose together.”
Felton's starting job has been in question for some time. As noted last week, he has struggled both on and off the court. He's averaging a career-low 10.0 points per game, he's shooting a career-low 37.1 percent from the field, he's shooting a career-low 22.9 percent from beyond the arc, he's averaging 6.3 assists (the fewest since his rookie season) and, according to HoopData.com, his turnover rate is at a career-worst level.

Meanwhile, the Blazers are 5-7 in February and scored just seven points in the first quarter of a Monday night loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. This after a Thursday night loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in which Felton shot shot 0-for-7 and committed five turnovers, playing just 24 minutes as coach Nate McMillan opted to sit him during the final stretches of the game.

Following that game, Felton said he didn't feel that McMillan trusted him.  

Those comments, coupled with Tuesday's insinuation that he is being blamed for Portland's poor performance against the Lakers, are not going to play well for McMillan, who told reporters on Saturday that the disagreement between Felton and himself had been resolved. Portland's brass also won't take too wel to the public nature of the comments, as the organization has long advocated an in-house solution to resolving any grievances.

The biggest issue here is that Felton still doesn't seem to have come to terms with the reality of his poor play. He's been one of, if not the least, effective players in the NBA playing 30+ minutes per night. His player efficiency rating is currently that of an average back-up point guard, not a surefire starter. His minutes and role had to be reduced. There's simply no way around it until he demonstrates he can return to being a far more effective player.

Crawford, a score-first two guard by nature, is not a likely panacea, although he has run Portland's offense somewhat effectively this season and is capable of running a nice two-man with forward LaMarcus Aldridge. He's certainly not a long-term solution for a team with aspirations of playoff success.
 
It sounds like a broken record, but the All-Star break can't come soon enough for Felton and the Blazers. You can probably say the same thing about the upcoming trade season.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:22 pm
 

Blazers G Felton: McMillan doesn't believe in me

Raymon Felton said he isn't feeling his coach's trust. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

An ugly performance in an ugly game got even uglier when it came time for the post-game explanation.

The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, 74-71, in the definition of a "lockout game," and Blazers guard Raymond Felton was the worst of the worst. He shot 0-for-7 and committed five turnovers, playing just 24 minutes as coach Nate McMillan opted to sit him during the final stretches of the game.

It was arguably the low point of what has been a putrid first season in Portland for Felton, and his growing dissatisfaction came to the surface after the loss, according to CSNNW.com.
“I know I'm struggling, but it's hard to perform the way you know how when you know they don't have confidence in you,” Felton told CSNNW.com. “Never in my days playing basketball, have I felt like a coach wasn't confident in my abilities. It's hard to play knowing that. Coming in and out of games is throwing my rhythm off, but it's something that I'll get through."

“Tonight was one of those nights where it was hard to get into the game knowing every mistake I made would be magnified,” Felton said. “It's to the point where the only person I could turn to was my mom."
These aren't the first words reflecting a developing rift between point guard and coach. In statements made to the Portland Tribune earlier this week, Felton compared McMillan to New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, pointing out that players seem to perform better in D'Antoni's system. Felton, of course, played some of his best basketball in New York prior to the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade last season that landed him in Denver, who eventually traded him on to the Blazers on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft. The underlying implication from those comments, it seemed, was that McMillan's system was not as suited to producing success for Felton.

The real cause for Felton's frustration and isolation isn't complicated: by virtually every important measure he's having a terrible season. He's averaging a career-low 9.9 points per game, he's shooting a career-low 36.0 percent from the field, he's shooting a career-low 20.6 percent from beyond the arc, he's averaging 6.3 assists (the fewest since his rookie season). According to HoopData.com, his turnover rate is a career-worst 19.46 and, according to Basketball-Reference, he's attempted the most shots from 26 feet and out without making a single one (17) in the NBA this season.

Put it all together and you have one of the league's least effective players who actually gets big minutes. Felton has started every game so far for the Blazers this season, averaging 32.8 minutes per game. Felton's PER is 10.06, which places him as the No. 52 overall point guard in the league. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher is the only starting point guard with a lower PER than Felton, and he plays seven fewer minutes per game.

Taking this a step further, there isn't a single other NBA player averaging more than 30 minutes per game with a PER lower than Felton's. Indeed, he's one of just three players -- along with New York Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert and Detroit Pistons rookie guard Brandon Knight -- to average at least 30 minutes per game while producing a PER of less than 11.

If math isn't you're thing, the takeaway point here is this: through Portland's first 31 games, nearly half the season, Felton is playing at the absolute bottom of the barrel. And, the related point: he's had plenty of opportunities. Citing a coach's lack of confidence after that stretch of play -- and that much playing time -- is just about the most obvious buck-passing imaginable.

The Blazers must now decide whether to turn over the starting point guard duties to reserve guard Jamal Crawford, a score-first two guard by nature, or simply continue to limit Felton's minutes even further. With the All-Star break less than a week away and the trade deadline not far beyond that, there's no question they have to be fully exploring other options, even if that means over-paying for a stopgap solution. Playing in the NBA's toughest division, the Northwest, the Blazers are going to battle night in and night out with the Division's ninth best point guard as their starter. That's not a formula for a fringe playoff team that considered itself a contender earlier this season and wants badly to make a push.

The worst part of this situation is that there is no full-time GM to step in and smooth this one out. The Blazers continue to operate with a front office that includes president Larry Miller and Acting GM Chad Buchanan, after owner Paul Allen abruptly fired former GM Rich Cho last May. There's no full-time GM to back Felton in public. There's no full-time GM to act as intermediary between Felton and McMillan. There's no full-time GM to make the big-picture decision of how and when it's the right time to move on. There's not even a full-time GM to credibly explain the team's stance on McMillan, who is hearing some hot seat talk percolating with his team going 2-5 over their last seven games.

For everyone involved, the All-Star break can't come soon enough.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:07 am
 

Paul's pretty 4th quarter saves ugly night

Posted by Ben Golliver

Chris Paul shot the Clippers past the Blazers in a strong fourth quarter performance. (Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An anticipated four quarter battle for power forward supremacy was replaced by one quarter of point guard brilliance.  

The Los Angeles Clippers faced the Portland Trail Blazers for the third time this season, the teams having split the first two match-ups. Instead of the latest installment of LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Blake Griffin -- All-Star vs. All-Star -- the Rose Garden crowd was treated one of the ugliest "lockout" games of the season, as Aldridge was forced to sit for the second straight game with a sprained left ankle he suffered on Tuesday night.

The Clippers pulled it out, 74-71, with the flat, ugly game being broken open in the fourth by Chris Paul, who managed to find a way to turn a manure night into gold down the stretch. 

Through three quarters, Paul was 0-for-7 with three turnovers. An 85 percent career free throw shooter, he even missed a technical foul during the first minute of the second half. In the final quarter, though, Paul shot 5-for-8 to finish with 13 points. He had two of his four steals in the fourth, nailed a three-pointer with roughly three minutes remaning and then sank a jumper with just over a minute left to send large swaths of the crowd th the exits early.

"It's just a matter of time before Chris starts taking over the game," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "When it gets close he wants the ball in his hands, not only to score but to make the easy plays… Having Chris out there to control things is a great weapon."

"All the shots I missed are shots I can make with my eyes closed," Paul said. "I pride myself on the last two or three minutes of the game. If we're up two, or down one, I pride myself on managing situations, [forcing] turnovers, getting good shots. I'm used to it."

Turnovers were in abundance and good shots were not fort both sides. The Blazers scored more than 17 points in just one of the four quarters: 27 in the first. The Clippers never broke 22 in a quarter. The teams combined for 34 turnovers, the Clippers shot 2-for-17 from deep and the Blazers, not including Nicolas Batum, combined to shoot 19-for-55 (34.5 percent). Griffin worked hard for 21 points and 14 rebounds, dealing with all sorts of defensive looks along the way, but no one else, not even Paul, left this game with a complete night.

Blazers guard Raymond Felton probably captured the flavor of the evening better than anyone, failing to make a basket in seven attempts while throwing a ball into the stands, stepping on the sideline, and chucking a pass off of Kurt Thomas's ankles while he was standing 25 feet from the basket. He wound up sitting during crunch time, as fellow guard Jamal Crawford was only able to do slightly better.

"We didn't execute, of course, down the stretch," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We basically got stagnant and it became a one on one basketball game."

The extenuating circumstances that led to that type of game were clear. Portland was on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back, made worse by the middle game being at Golden State. The Clippers were on the second night of a back-to-back themselves. L.A. managed to have the legs when it mattered, taking the final quarter, 22-11, to win their first game in Portland since Dec. 11, 2008.

"I've been in this situation time and time again," Paul said, amid shrieks of laughter from his teammates in the showers. "When you're in games like this it comes down to certain plays, teams tighten up. It all comes down to who makes the big plays."

The Blazers certainly tightened up, giving away an 18-point third quarter lead and dropped to 2-10 in games decided by five points or less. Portland has handled late-game situations uneasily even with Aldridge, their No. 1 scorer. Without him their possessions often amounted to hopeless prayers. 

"I'll call it a self-destruction," McMillan said. 

That self-destruction included Felton's follies and an inability to engage Batum, who scored 15 first quarter points but finished with 19, missing his only fourth quarter attempt. With Portland coming up empty play after play, the door opened wide for Paul.

"I don't now if he was playing possum or if he found the energy in the fourth quarter to keep going, but he definitely took over the game," Crawford said.

"It's the fourth quarter, it's one of those things where nothing else really matters," Paul explained. "When you're a team trying to build something like us, you've got to win ugly games like this sometimes."

Posted on: February 15, 2012 2:48 am
 

LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle sprain) to miss time

Posted by Ben Golliver 

Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge suffered a left ankle sprain during the first quarter of a Tuesday night loss to the Washington Wizards at the Rose Garden and will miss an undetermined amount of time.

The team announced that X-rays of the ankle were negative but that he will not travel with the team to Oakland for its Wednesday night game against the Golden State Warriors. His availability after that is not known. Blazers coach Nate McMillan said only that Aldridge told him at halftime of the game that the ankle was "pretty sore."

Aldridge was injured less than two minutes into the game when he came down on the foot of Wizards forward Trevor Booker after attempting a jump shot. Aldridge immediately went to the court in pain and was able to walk off the court under his own power. Without their No. 1 scorer and captain, the Blazers went on to lose to the Wizards, 124-109.

Aldridge, 26, was named to his first All-Star game last week and is in the midst of a career year. He is averaging 23.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season and had appeared in every game for Portland this season. He has missed just six games due to injury since the beginning of the 2008-2009 season.

The timing of the injury couldn't be worse for Portland. The Blazers have lost four of their last five games and are in the midst of a back-to-back-to-back against the Wizards, Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland will also face the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in advance of the All-Star break next week.

Here's a video replay of the injury.


Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 4:58 pm
 

NBA admits referee blew late goaltending call

Posted by Ben Golliver

Oops, we did it again.

The NBA has publicly admitted once again that one of its officials made an incorrect call on a game-deciding possession.

In a statement posted to NBA.com/official on Tuesday, the NBA acknowledged that referee Scott Foster made an "incorrect call" when he whistled Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge for a goaltending violation with six seconds remaining in regulation of a Monday night game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Rose Garden. Aldridge, who was defending Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant, blocked the shot into the backboard, but was still whistled for a violation, as Foster apparently thought he had pinned the ball on the glass.

Here's the league's statement.

With six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge was called for goaltending on a shot attempted by the Thunder's Kevin Durant (shown below). With the benefit of slow motion replay following the game, it has been determined that Aldridge made contact with the ball just before the ball hit the backboard. Therefore, this should have been ruled a good block and goaltending was the incorrect call. (As determined by the NBA's Competition Committee, referees may not use instant replay on goaltending calls.)

The basket pulled Oklahoma City even in regulation and the Thunder went on to win in overtime, 111-107.

Following the game, Blazers coach Nate McMillan disputed the call and told the media that he would send video of the play to the league office for review. 

Aldridge disputed the call and was upset that the referees did not offer him an explanation.

"They act kind of sensitive sometimes," Aldridge said when asked if the referees had given him any explanation of their call. "He just told me the call was done and walked away... I timed it perfect, I put it on the glass, it didn't hit the glass first. I figured it was a clean block. The ref who called it was the furthest one from the basket so that's pretty interesting."

Back on Jan. 21, the NBA admitted its referees blew a no-call on a fourth-quarter kick ball by Pacers guard George Hill, which helped push Indiana to a late win. The NBA also admitted this season that their referees blew a late no-call on a traveling violation by Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James.

Here's a video replay of the blown goaltending call during a game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder.


Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 12:59 am
 

Blazers will keep Brandon Roy, no amnesty

Posted by Ben Golliverbrandon-roy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The league's toughest amnesty clause decision has apparently been made.

The Oregonian reports that Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller announced Monday that the team will not use the amnesty clause on guard Brandon Roy unless he suffers an injury during the preseason prior to the deadline to waive players, which is still unknown.

"Our plan right now is not to use the amnesty," Miller told the paper. "We expect Brandon to be a part of this team when the season starts. He has been there for us, and we want him to know we are supporting him. [Owner] Paul [Allen] is on board with this and feels the same way.’"

The news comes just hours after Miller, Acting GM Chad Buchanan and coach Nate McMillan held a press conference in which they stopped just short of pledging that Roy, 27, would be back on the team.

Instead, the three men told reporters that they met with Roy, who is owed more than $63 million guaranteed over the next four seasons, and his agent, Greg Lawrence, face-to-face in Portland on Monday. The Blazers trio agreed that they were impressed by Roy's attitude and said that they were planning to see Roy in camp with hopes that he would be on the opening night roster.

"Brandon is in a great spot," Buchanan said. "I think he feels good. [He's] excited about the season."

Buchanan later added that it would take a "drastic change" for the Blazers to decide to waive Roy and that the team was approaching free agency with the understanding that their flexibility would be "limited" by their position in the luxury tax, a spot they could have avoided by waiving Roy.

Miller, meanwhile, spoke glowingly of Roy's mental and physical outlook.

"One thing that Brandon said today was that he feels much better coming into this season than he does coming into last season," Miller said. "His knees feel much better."

Roy underwent arthroscopic surgeries in both knees during the 2010-2011 season and played just 47 games. Following the surgeries, Roy moved to the bench and saw his minutes fluctuate. He posted career-lows in points, rebounds and assists last season.

"I think he had enough time off resting his knees [and] he went through his normal workout routine up in Seattle with NBA players, college players," Buchanan said. "He just made the comment to us that he feels really good right now. He's tested his knee in workouts, it feels very strong, he feels a lot different this year heading into camp than he did last year and he's very encouraged how his knees feel right now."

McMillan told reporters that Roy will be operating without minutes restrictions and that he hopes Roy will move back into a starting two guard role, although he noted that Roy told the Blazers taht he would be open to a reserve role if necessary.

"One of the things that you have to look at is Brandon going back into that starting lineup," McMillan said. "That's something you didn't see last year due to medical reasons. Brandon is feeling better so Brandon back at the two position is something that I'm leaning towards and making our adjustments from that."

Reports had surfaced in recent weeks that Allen had already made the decision to waive Roy. Miller denied that during an informal press conference last Wednesday and multiple team sources disputed the report in various ways, including on Twitter.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:26 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 8:07 pm
 

Blazers president Miller confirms GM interviews

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

PORTLAND, Ore. -- More than 100 days after "parting ways" with former GM Rich Cho weeks before the 2011 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers have yet to hire Cho's full-time replacement.

Blazers president Larry Miller did finally confirm that the GM search process has progressed in a telephone interview with CBSSports.com on Monday.

"We have talked to and interviewed some candidates," Miller said. "I'm not going to mention any names but we have interviewed candidates."

Yahoo Sports has reported that the Blazers are eying Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver, San Antonio Spurs executive Dennis Lindsey and former Golden State Warriors executive Chris Mullin, while ESPN.com added Cleveland Cavaliers executive David Griffin and Los Angeles Clippers executive Neil Olshey to the list.

Miller refused to confirm any of those names but did say that he has interviewed "more than four" candidates in a "formal" setting. That interview process has yet to include owner Paul Allen, though.

"The process is running smoothly," Miller said, after weeks of refusing to comment about the GM search. "I think we feel good about what we we've gone through in terms of identifying potential candidates. It's gone pretty smoothly. But we're not going to rush, we're going to continue to take our time, with the goal of bringing in the right person that is going to be able to provide some consistency for us."

Miller said that the organization has settled on the ideal criteria of a prospective candidate, as laid out in a vague plan following the announcement of Cho's depature, but he would not divulge what that might be.

"I don't want to get into any of the details, but we have come to an agreement on what the skillset is we're looking for."

Miller has never been the most popular executive in Portland. His failed efforts to restructure and expand the team's television distribution deal and the firings of Pritchard and Cho have made him an obvious target for critics, who say he is now afraid to make promises that he won't be able to keep. Earlier this summer, he admitted that he rushed the hiring of Cho to the detriment of his organization and vowed to avoid that mistake during the current hiring process. 

"Our position has been that we are not going to play the search out in the media," Miller said. "I'm going to stick with that position. We are trying to do what we think is best for the organization and bring in the best possible person that we can. That's why we are taking the approach that we are taking. It's not about being afraid to make promises or anything like that."

Even though the process has dragged for an entire summer, there is no clear end in sight. Miller said it was his "hope" that the Blazers would have a full-time GM in place when the Blazers are back on the court, but he passed on the opportunity to guarantee it.

"That's our hope for sure," Miller said. "I'm not going to put any kind of timeline out there. I'm going to stick with that. I'm not going to lock us into any timeline."

He also said the Blazers were prepared to enter a free agency period without a full-time GM, relying instead on Acting GM Chad Buchanan if need be.

"I would hope to [hire a GM before the free agency period]," Miller said. "But we are prepared in the event that we don't. I think Chad and the rest of the team there have continued to work on preparing us for that so once free agency does open up we're going to be ready for it whether we have a GM in place or we don't have a permanent GM in place. We feel confident that Chad and the team will have us ready for that in the event that there's not a GM in place at that point."

The organization's drawn out, cloak and dagger approach to finding a replacement for Cho, who was fired less than a year after former GM Kevin Pritchard was deposed on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, has worn on many fans in Portland. Miller acknowledged that he is feeling some disengagement with the team's rabid fanbase this summer and that he "definitely" understands their frustration.

"This is always a down time for us anyway," Miller said. "Usually, before training camp starts, things are a little bit quiet in terms of fan interaction. It's kind of typical... There's a lot that we can't talk about right now. Because of that, it is creating some issues with our ability to engage with fans. It is what it is. That's where we are at this point. But I do understand what you're saying [about fan frustration] and I think there is some validity to it."

Even if the Blazers haven't hired a new GM, there have been executive moves: the team's senior vice president of business affairs resigned in June and two long-time media executives were let go in July. 

"I would paint those moves as restructuring moves," Miller said. "They were all individual situations. We constantly look at our organization, evaluate it from a structure perspective and decide what changes we need to make."

Finally, Miller confirmed that longtime, popular assistant coach Bill Bayno, who will reportedly join the Minnesota Timberwolves to serve as an assistant under Rick Adelman, will not be back next season.

"I can confirm that we haven't re-signed Bill," Miller said. "We are looking to fill that position. That's really going to be [coach] Nate [McMillan]'s call for the most part. I think the way the situation will work, Nate will talk about it with myself and Chad and his other assistants. At the end of the day it will be Nate's call."
Posted on: June 16, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 8:56 pm
 

Jeremy Tyler has no idea who Nate McMillan is

Draft prospect Jeremy Tyler works out for the Portland Trail Blazers but has no idea who Nate McMillan is. Posted by Ben Golliver.

This is the most unintentionally hilarious exchange from an NBA pre-draft workout that you will ever see. Period.

Jeremy Tyler has had a whirlwind journey over the last few years, as he left high school early so that he could play professionally in Israel and Japan. Over the last few weeks, he's travelled cross country multiple times working out for teams, looking to boost his stock back up into the first round after he nearly fell off the map.

Apparently, all the world travelling and pre-draft workouts have left his head spinning.

Tyler was in Portland for a pre-draft workout with the Trail Blazers on Thursday and was asked an innocuous question about whether he had crossed paths with Blazers coach Nate McMillan over the years.

Tyler responded with a quizzical look, wracking his brain as he tried to untangle the query. "Nate McMillan," he said finally. "No ... What college is that?"

The answer drew dropped jaws and laughter from the assembled media, and Tyler was quickly reminded that McMillan was the coach of the Blazers. "Oh," Tyler then responded. "I'm tripping."

Here's video of the unbelievable exchange courtesy of YouTube user CSNNW.




McMillan attended the workout and met briefly with the players afterwards. As Tyler met with the media, McMillan was standing no more than 30 feet away.

Draft prospects generally go through extensive interview preparation and training prior to the pre-draft combine. This error is so basic, though, I'm not sure it even gets covered in those training sessions.

"Make sure you know the coach's name when you workout for his team. He might draft you. Also: No NBA head coach is a college." Do agents really need to remind players of that?

It's worth noting the interview was conducted after a lengthy workout that left him gasping for air and clutching his shorts near the end. Is fatigue a legitimate excuse here? Who knows. Let's just watch the video over and over and laugh without over-analyzing it.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com