Competition could be stiff for Blazers' bench spots
The offseason was full of rumors and speculation about the Trail Blazers making big moves — maybe Damian Lillard going elsewhere? Ben Simmons coming to Portland? CJ McCollum departing?
Well, nothing major had happened heading into the opening of training camp with media day on Monday, Sept. 27, and practice on Tuesday.
The Trail Blazers landed some free agents, but not a star player who could ignite discussion of Portland being a challenger for the NBA Western Conference title.
Now, what has happened is Chauncey Billups was brought in as coach with the explicit goal of improving defense and other aspects of the team, and Neil Olshey, president of basketball operations, added a lot of new players to the roster.
If Olshey was looking to add depth to a roster that returns an intact starting line (as of Monday) — Lillard, McCollum, Norman Powell (re-signed), Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic — he sure succeeded. Nassir Little, Anfernee Simons and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson return as regular bench players, but they'll see ample competition during training camp.
Free agent signees were post Cody Zeller and guards Tony Snell and Ben McLemore (and Powell, technically), and the Blazers added athletic forward Larry Nance in a trade. The Blazers also drafted forward Greg Brown III, who has sensational athleticism.
And, training camp contract invitees are impressive: forward/center Marquese Chriss, forward Patrick Patterson and guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Quinn Cook. Each have been regular NBA players in recent years. The Trail Blazers also signed returning guard Keljin Blevins to a two-way contract.
CJ Elleby and Trendon Watford also will be looking for roster spots.
But, there are only 15 spots to be had in Portland. We'll see how it shakes out.
Upcoming, the Trail Blazers put on their annual Fan Fest at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Moda Center.
The preseason schedule: Oct. 4, Golden State, Moda Center; Oct. 11, Sacramento, Moda Center; Oct. 13, at Phoenix; Oct. 15, at Golden State.
The regular season starts Oct. 20 against Sacramento at Moda Center.
For coverage of Blazers' media day and training camp, see www.portlandtribune.com.
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