Three-team NBA trade sends Lauri Markkanen to Cavs, Larry Nance Jr. to Trail Blazers

As part of a three-team NBA trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward Lauri Markkanen (LAU-ree MARK-a-nin) in a sign and trade agreement from the Chicago Bulls, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

In the deal, Cleveland traded forward Larry Nance Jr. to the Portland Trail Blazers and a protected 2023 second round pick (via Denver) to Chicago. The Bulls also received forward Derrick Jones Jr. from Portland and the Trail Blazers’ lottery-protected 2022 first round pick as part of the trade.

“We are extremely fortunate as an organization to be in a position to acquire another young and talented player with the skill-set of Lauri Markkanen,” said Altman. “He has the proven ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor from the perimeter and, at 24-years-old, we believe his best basketball is in front of him. We are committed to establishing a winning culture in Cleveland that can be sustained over time and Lauri helps elevate that description. I also want to thank Larry for his outstanding and impactful contributions to our team, both on and off the court. His selfless acts of kindness and support for small businesses in Northeast Ohio during a global pandemic says a lot about his character. He remained steadfast in his commitment to helping others in their time of need and it was an inspiration to us all. Larry truly embraced the community, its fans and his teammates and he will be missed. The Cavaliers have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Larry as a person and a player, and we wish him and his family all the best in Portland.”

Markkanen (7-0, 238) played in 51 games (26 starts) for the Bulls last season, averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per contest. He also shot career highs in field goal percentage (.480) and three-point percentage (.402), while going .826 from the foul line. Markkanen connected on 119 three-pointers in 2020-21, his fourth consecutive season with over 100 triples. He also became just the fourth player in Bulls franchise history to shoot a perfect 7-of-7 from beyond the arc, accomplishing that feat against Philadelphia on March 11, 2021.

A native of Finland, Markkanen was originally drafted out of the University of Arizona by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Traded on draft night to Chicago, he spent his entire four-year NBA career with the Bulls, averaging 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in 29.5 minutes over 221 games (195 starts). Markkanen was an All-NBA Rookie First Team selection in 2018 and leaves the Bulls ranked sixth all-time in franchise history in three-pointers made with 493.

“Larry is a talented and versatile player that impacts winning on both ends of the floor,” said Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. “We welcome him and his family to Portland and look forward to his contributions on the court and in our community.”

Originally selected by the L.A. Lakers with the 27th overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Nance (6-7, 245) holds career averages of 8.3 points (52.9% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 68.75 FT), 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.26 steals and 24.2 minutes in 350 games (123 starts) with the Lakers and Cleveland. A native of Akron, Ohio, Nance played collegiately for four seasons at Wyoming.

Trail Blazers sign rookie forward Greg Brown III

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed rookie forward Greg Brown III.

Brown, 19, was selected by the Pelicans with the 43rd overall pick in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft. The Trail Blazers acquired his draft rights on draft night in exchange for a future second-round draft pick and cash considerations.

As a freshman at Texas during the 2020-21 season, Brown (6-9, 205) averaged 9.3 points (42.0% FG, 33.0% 3-PT, 70.8% FT), 6.2 rebounds and 1.00 block in 26 games (24 starts). He was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection and was named to the All-Big 12 Newcomer Team and Freshman Team.

Brown attended Vandegrift High School in Austin, Texas. As a senior, he was a McDonald’s All-American and selected as the 2019-20 Gatorade Texas Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Trail Blazers sign Tony Snell

The Portland Trail Blazers yesterday signed free agent guard/forward Tony Snell.

Snell, 29, played in 47 games (23 starts) for Atlanta during the 2020-21 season, posting averages of 5.3 points (51.5% FG, 56.9% 3-PT, 100% FT), 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 21.1 minutes. His 56.9% shooting from the three-point-line (62-of-109) is the best mark in NBA history among players to attempt at least 40 three-pointers in a season.

An eight-year NBA veteran, Snell (6-6, 213) holds career averages of 6.4 points (43.3% FG, 39.7% 3-PT, 84.4% FT), 2.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 22.4 minutes in 548 games (298 starts) with Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Atlanta. He was selected by Chicago with the 20th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft out of New Mexico.

Trail Blazers re-sign Norman Powell

The Portland Trail Blazers have re-signed free agent guard/forward Norman Powell, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Powell, 28, returns to Portland after being acquired by the Trail Blazers from Toronto in exchange for Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. on March 25, 2021.

“Re-signing Norm was a priority this offseason and we are pleased that he chose to make a long-term commitment to Portland,” said Olshey. “We look forward to him building off his career year and are confident he will play an integral role in the future success of our franchise.”

Per the Oregonian, “the Blazers entered free agency with limited cap flexibility, given that they were over the league’s $112.4 million salary cap with four starters, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington set to make roughly $98 million combined. Because the Blazers traded for Powell, they inherited his “Bird rights,” which allowed Portland to sign him to a five-year deal and exceed the salary cap while doing so. Losing Powell, who became an unrestricted free agent, would have been a big blow to the team’s offseason plans.”

During the 2020-21 season, Powell averaged 18.6 points (47.7% FG, 41.1% 3-PT, 87.1% FT), 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.19 steals and 32.0 minutes in 69 games (58 starts) with Toronto and Portland. His averages for points, assists, steals and minutes were all career highs, as were his shooting splits from the three-point line and the foul stripe. He was one of 14 players in the league to average at least 18.0 points while shooting better than 40.0% from the three-point line during the 2020-21 season.

An NBA Champion with Toronto in 2019, Powell has reached the playoffs in every season of his career. In 73 postseason games (14 starts), he has averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist. His averages of 17.0 points and 2.0 assists for Portland during the 2021 NBA Playoffs were both career bests.

Powell was originally selected out of UCLA by Milwaukee with the 46th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft and dealt to Toronto in a draft-night trade. In six NBA seasons with Toronto and Portland, he holds career averages of 10.4 points (46.3% FG, 37.7% 3-PT, 83.7% FT), 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 21.2 minutes in 376 games (147 starts).

Trail Blazers sign Ben McLemore

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent guard Ben McLemore, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

McLemore, 28, appeared in 53 games (five starts) for Houston and the L.A. Lakers during the 2020-21 season, posting averages of 7.7 points (37.0% FG, 34.6% 3-PT, 73.6% FT), 1.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 17.1 minutes.

In eight seasons, McLemore (6-3, 195) holds career averages of 8.9 points (41.6% FG, 36.3% 3-PT, 77.6% FT), 2.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 22.9 minutes in 492 games (261 starts) with Sacramento, Memphis, Houston and the L.A. Lakers. He was originally selected by Sacramento with the seventh overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft after one season at Kansas.

Trail Blazers sign center Cody Zeller

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent center Cody Zeller.

Zeller, 28, arrives in Portland after spending the first eight seasons of his career in Charlotte. He appeared in 48 games (21 starts) for the Hornets during the 2020-21 campaign, posting averages of 9.4 points (55.9% FG, 71.4% FT), 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 20.9 minutes.

Selected by Charlotte with the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft after two years at Indiana, Zeller (6-11, 240) holds career averages of 8.7 points (51.8% FG, 22.7% 3-PT, 72.9% FT), 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.67 blocks and 22.7 minutes.

Trail Blazers sign forward Trendon Watford to two-way contract

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed forward Trendon Watford to a two-way contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Watford, 20, averaged 16.3 points (48.0% FG, 31.6% 3-PT, 65.1% FT), 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.11 steals in 28 games (all starts) as a sophomore at LSU during 2020-21 season. He ranked sixth in the SEC in scoring and fifth in rebounding while earning All-SEC First Team honors from the Associated Press. In the postseason, Watford scored a career-high 30 points against Alabama in the SEC Tournament Championship Game and averaged 11.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in two NCAA Tournament games.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Watford (6-9, 240) played in 59 games in his two seasons at LSU, averaging 14.9 points (48.4% FG, 29.0% 3-PT, 66.2% FT), 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.98 steals. He was selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team following the 2019-20 season.

Trail Blazers hire Scott Brooks, Roy Rogers, Steve Hetzel, Edniesha Curry and Milt Palacio as assistant coaches

The Portland Trail Blazers have hired Scott Brooks, Roy Rogers, Steve Hetzel, Edniesha Curry and Milt Palacio as assistant coaches and Parker Hines as video coordinator, adding to head coach Chauncey Billups’ staff, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Brooks joins the Trail Blazers after serving as the head coach of the Washington Wizards for the last five seasons. In 12 seasons as a head coach with Oklahoma City (2008-15) and Washington, Brooks has a career record of 521-414 (.557). The 2010 NBA Coach of the Year, Brooks has led his teams to eight playoff berths, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012 and Western Conference Finals appearances in 2011 and 2014. He has four 50-win seasons to his credit, including a 60-22 mark with the Thunder during the 2012-13 season. Before becoming a head coach, Brooks worked as an assistant coach with Seattle/Oklahoma City (2007-08), Sacramento (2006-07) and Denver (2003-06).

A native of Lathrop, California, Brooks played collegiately at Texas Christian University, San Joaquin Delta College and UC Irvine before embarking on a 10-year NBA career with Philadelphia, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New York and Cleveland. Brooks won an NBA championship in 1994 as a member of the Houston Rockets.

Rogers arrives in Portland with 13 years of experience as an NBA assistant coach. He spent the 2020-21 season with the LA Clippers, where he worked alongside Billups and helped the team reach the Western Conference Finals. Rogers spent the 2019-20 season on the Chicago bench and before that spent three seasons with Houston, which included an appearance in the Western Conference Finals in 2018. He has also worked as an assistant coach with Washington (2014-16), Brooklyn (2013-14), Detroit (2011-12), Boston (2010-11) and New Jersey (2008-10). As a player, Rogers appeared in 137 games in three NBA seasons with Vancouver, Boston, Toronto and Denver. He played four seasons at Alabama from 1992-96 before being selected with the 22nd pick of the 1996 NBA Draft.

Hetzel has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach under Steve Clifford, first in Charlotte (2014-18) and most recently in Orlando (2018-21). He previously was the head coach of the Canton Charge of the NBA G League during the 2013-14 season. In his lone season in Canton, Hetzel led the Charge to a 28-22 record, finishing second in the East division. Prior to Canton, Hetzel spent four seasons as a player development coach with the Detroit Pistons (2009-13). He began his NBA career in the video room, first as an assistant video coordinator with San Antonio in the 2005-06 season and then as video coordinator for Cleveland for three seasons (2006-09). Hetzel graduated from Michigan State in 2005, where he served as a student manager for the men’s basketball team.

Curry joins the coaching staff from the University of Maine where she was an assistant coach with the men’s basketball team from 2018-21. She previously served as a player development and assistant coach for the Maine women’s basketball program from 2015-17. Curry is a graduate of the NBA Assistant Coaches’ Program where she gained experience working at the NBA Draft Combine and the NBA G League Showcase. In 2019, Curry served as a guest coach for San Antonio’s summer league team and assisted with Minnesota’s pre-draft workouts. She has also coached and done player development work internationally in Vietnam, China, Israel and Palestine. As a player, Curry played in the WNBA for Phoenix and Los Angeles along with teams overseas in Greece, Poland, Israel and Hungary from 2002-09. It is a return to the Pacific Northwest for Curry, who graduated from the University of Oregon, where she played the final two seasons of her college career.

Palacio comes to the Trail Blazers after most recently spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League from 2018-20. Previously, Palacio served for one season as head coach of Durham United in the Canadian Basketball League (2016-17) and spent two seasons as the director of player development at the University of Idaho. A Los Angeles native and Colorado State alumnus, Palacio played seven seasons in the NBA with Vancouver, Boston, Phoenix, Cleveland, Toronto and Utah from 1999-2006 before playing six seasons overseas from 2007-13. Palacio has dual citizenship in Belize, where he played for the national team and now serves as its head coach.

Hines is hired as Portland’s video coordinator after spending the 2020-21 season as an assistant coach with the Austin Spurs of the NBA G League. He spent the four prior seasons with San Antonio, holding the roles of assistant video coordinator (2018-20), video coordinator quality assurance assistant (2017-18) and basketball operations quality assurance assistant (2016-17). Hines is a graduate of Augsburg University where he played guard from 2010-15.

Trail Blazers forward/center Zach Collins undergoes additional ankle surgery

Portland Trail Blazers forward/center Zach Collins underwent a second revision surgery on his left ankle yesterday, to repair a left medial malleolus stress fracture.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Martin J. O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) In New York.

Collins underwent previous ankle surgeries on September 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020.

Per the Oregonian, “Collins has concluded his rookie contract. The Blazers this summer could make Collins a qualifying offer of roughly $7.4 million for next season that would prevent Collins from becoming an unrestricted free agent.”

Collins is out indefinitely.

Trail Blazers name Chauncey Billups new head coach

The Portland Trail Blazers have named Chauncey Billups as the team’s head coach, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Billups becomes the 15th head coach to lead the Trail Blazers.

“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been,” said Olshey. “He is prepared for the challenge of developing the Championship habits and strategic approach we need to achieve the expectations and goals for our franchise.”

Billups joins the Trail Blazers after spending the 2020-21 season as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers. As a part of head coach Tyronn Lue’s staff, Billups helped coach the Clippers to a regular season record of 47-25 (.653) and a playoff run that currently has the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. Billups is a proven leader, a mentor with the ability to grow and develop players and has a knowledge of the game that is unparalleled.

“I’m very excited and humbled to be the next coach of the Trail Blazers,” said Billups. “Portland is a special place and a unique franchise. As a player I always loved playing here because the passion and knowledge of the fans brought out the very best in me as a competitor. Now I’m looking forward to being on the other side of that energy and engaging with the Portland community on a whole other level.”

“I want to thank Jody Allen, Bert Kolde and Neil Olshey for their trust and for giving me this incredible opportunity,” continued Billups. “And, most importantly, I want to say to the fans that I know what this team means to you, and I promise to pour every ounce into continuing to make you proud of what the Trail Blazers stand for.”

Billups, 44, played 17 seasons in the NBA for Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, New York and the Clippers. In 2004 he was named the NBA Finals MVP after leading Detroit to an NBA Championship. A five-time All-Star, Billups was named All-NBA Second Team in 2006 and All-NBA Third Team in 2007 and 2009. He also received NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors in 2005 and 2006. In addition to his playing accolades, Billups was awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2008, the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2009, and the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in 2013. Billups’ No. 1 jersey was retired by the Pistons in 2016. For his career, Billups averaged 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 1,043 games.

“Chauncey is a proven and consistent winner with NBA championship experience as an All-NBA player,” said Jody Allen, Portland Trail Blazers Chair. “He has demonstrated throughout his career, first as a player, and currently as an Assistant Coach a unique ability to lead. We are very happy to welcome him to Portland.”