Blazers select forward Hollis-Jefferson, trade him

Jun 25, 2015, 11:06 PM
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson walks off stage after being selected 23rd overall by the Portland Trail Bla...
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson walks off stage after being selected 23rd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers continued a retooling of their roster Thursday night when they selected Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with the 23rd pick of the NBA draft then sent him to Brooklyn as part of a four-player deal.

The Blazers acquired center Mason Plumlee and shooting guard Pat Connaughton in exchange for Hollis-Jefferson and guard Steve Blake. Connaughton was the Nets’ second-round pick, the 41st overall selection.

The 6-foot-11 Plumlee played two years for Brooklyn. Plumlee, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds last season. Connaughton played four years for Notre Dame. This past season, the 6-5 Connaughton averaged 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Irish.

Hollis-Jefferson is a 6-7 small forward who played two seasons at Arizona. Blake, a 12-year veteran guard, has a year remaining on his Blazers contract.

Portland general manager Neil Olshey said parting with Hollis-Jefferson was difficult, but the opportunity to acquire a front-court talent like Plumlee was “too good to pass up. We get a dynamic young center who has a tremendous upside. Mason is capable of being a starter, but he’s also capable of being a high-end backup.”

On Wednesday, the Blazers shipped small forward Nicolas Batum to Charlotte for shooting guard Gerald Henderson and power forward Noah Vonleh.

Olshey said once the Blazers dealt Batum, the opportunity to move up in Thursday’s draft ended. But in Vonleh, the ninth pick of the 2014 draft, Olshey felt like Portland landed a lottery pick. Henderson upgrades the Blazers’ athleticism, a focal point this offseason, according to Olshey.

“We had 48 really good hours building this roster,” Olshey said.

Including Batum, Portland may have to replace as many as four starters this offseason.

The Blazers’ key free agents are starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, shooting guard Wes Matthews and center Robin Lopez. Portland went into the offseason with nine free agents on its roster.

Aldridge, the second pick of the 2006 draft, recently finished his ninth season in Portland. The four-time All-Star, who has career averages of 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, is one of the top available free agents this summer.

Earlier in the day, ESPN reported that Aldridge was likely to opt out of returning to Portland. A phone call placed to Aldridge’s agent seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Olshey said it’s “not true” that Aldridge has told the Blazers of his intent to leave.

“I hung up with LaMarcus a half-hour ago. We talk multiple times each week. He was amused as much as I was about these reports. I asked him, how would you like me to address this? And he said, ‘Just say it’s not true,'” Olshey said. “I can tell you he has not informed anyone in our organizations that he doesn’t plan to return to our team.”

Aldridge is eligible for a max contract that would pay him $18.9 million in the first year of a new deal. Some of the teams said to be interested include the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks. Aldridge is from Texas and still lives there.

Also uncertain to return are Matthews and Lopez.

Matthews figures to be one of the most intriguing and risky prospects on this summer’s free agent market. Matthews, a prolific 3-point shooter who averaged 12.5 points last season, tore his left Achilles tendon on March 5 but says he hopes to be ready for light contact by the start of October training camp.

The 7-foot Lopez was the Blazers’ starting center last season, though he missed 23 games with a right hand fracture.

Olshey cautioned against reading too deeply into the Portland trades of the past two days as a signal that many of the team’s free agents may walk. NBA teams can begin negotiating with free agents on July 1.

“We made trades we really like. In no way does it indicate what may or may not happen on July 1,” Olshey said. “We have a lot of business to take care of. We don’t control all these situations. A lot have indicated their desire to be back in Portland, but some of them may not be back.”

Portland has yet to announce a decision on its team option for 2015-16 regarding center Chris Kaman.

Other Portland free agents are small forwards Dorell Wright and Alonzo Gee and center Joel Freeland.

Late in the draft, Portland acquired the rights to the No. 54 overall pick from Utah for cash considerations. The Blazers selected 6-8 small forward Daniel Diez from Spain.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Penguin Air


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Other Drop Down

FILE – In this July 25, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak...
Arizona Sports

Trump hosts Women’s British Open as Park resumes slam quest

Inbee Park resuming her quest for the career Grand Slam. Teenage prodigy Lydia Ko seeking that elusive first major. Michelle Wie going for victory with an injured left foot.
7 years ago
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, right, motions to Democratic Reps., from left: Peter Barca; ...
Arizona Sports

Wisconsin Assembly approves Milwaukee Bucks arena deal

The Wisconsin state Assembly voted Tuesday to spend $250 million in public funds on a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, a deal that both Republicans and Democrats lauded as good for the state and city.
7 years ago
FILE-In this Nov. 13, 2014 file photo former PGA golfer Charlie Sifford sits in the dining room in ...
Arizona Sports

Family of late black golf great accused of $1 million theft

The son and ex-daughter-in-law of late black golf pioneer Charlie Sifford were indicted Tuesday on charges they stole more than $1 million from him.
7 years ago
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during a practice round for the Quicken Loans Nat...
Arizona Sports

Michelle Wie limps into her next major

that matched her best result of the year -- she developed a bone spur in her left foot that she attributed to the hilly terrain of Lancaster Country Club.
7 years ago
Lexi Thompson holds the trophy after winning the Meijer LPGA Classic golf tournament Sunday, July 2...
Arizona Sports

Golf’s youth movement means 30 is the new 20

a major -- from an otherwise remarkable record. Ko had never missed the cut in her career until that week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. A month later, she was never in contention at the U.S. Women's Open.
7 years ago
Tiger Woods smiles as he answers a question during a news conference prior to the start of the Quic...
Arizona Sports

Tiger Woods running out of chances to salvage season

Tiger Woods knows he's played poorly over the past two years. Now, he's facing the prospect of an early end to his season.
7 years ago
Blazers select forward Hollis-Jefferson, trade him