Kenneth Faried

No matter what happens the rest of his career, Nolan Smith has accepted that he will always be linked to Kenneth Faried.

After every mammoth dunk, every dizzying double-double, every hustle-infused highlight-reel moment Denver’s “Manimal” unleashes, somewhere, some disbelieving Trail Blazers fan will curse under his breath: “He should be a Blazer.”

“I don’t blame them,” Smith said. “I don’t blame them at all. Seeing what he’s doing, seeing how he plays when he’s on the court with his team, it’s very easy to say, ‘Damn, we could have had him.’ But they could have had Michael Jordan, as well. It’s part of the draft. They’re mad at Greg Oden, too. So you can just add me to the guys they can be mad at.”

And there’s no question Blazers fans are mad. The team’s decision to select Smith one spot ahead of Faried with the No. 21 overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft is one of several personnel moves that led to last season’s roster implosion and this season’s rebuild.

– Reported by Joe Freeman of the Oregonian