Blazer Banter

Trail Mix: Damian Lillard Trying Out For Team USA, Mo Williams Signs With Timberwolves

Damian Lillard presenting at the ESPYs on July 16 (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Damian Lillard presenting at the ESPYs on July 16 (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Damian Lillard is in Las Vegas, where the USA Basketball Training Camp started today, continuing his busy summer. Lillard is one of 19 players competing for 12 spots on the Team USA roster.

Lillard is going to playing with some of the league’s elite in camp including Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose. We will keep you updated on Lillard’s week as he tries to make the squad that will compete in Spain.

Meanwhile, he continues to spit hot fire from on Friday’s. This Friday will be the USAB Showcase game, where Lillard will play in a live scrimmages in Las Vegas that will be shown at 6PM on ESPN. NBATV will air “Real Training Camp Live” at noon on Tuesday from the USA Basketball Camp.

Ben Golliver put together a must-read guide about Team USA over at SI.com.

Colangelo and Krzyzewski are charged with selecting a 12-man roster, and they will use a four-day training camp in Las Vegas this week to help make their cuts. The roster will be composed of players drawn from a 19-man player pool and an additional set of USA Select players, a group that generally consists of up-and-comers working towards spots on future USA Basketball rosters.

Here’s how the current player pool and USA Select group looks as of Monday. Players are listed by their NBA position and in alphabetical order.

Player Pool

PG: Stephen CurryKyrie IrvingDamian LillardDerrick RoseJohn Wall
SG: Bradley BealDeMar DeRozanJames HardenKlay Thompson
SF: Kevin DurantPaul GeorgeGordon HaywardKyle KorverChandler Parsons
PF: Anthony DavisKenneth FariedPaul Millsap
C: DeMarcus CousinsAndre Drummond

USA Select

PG: Trey Burke, Marcus Smart
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.Victor OladipoDion Waiters
SF: Harrison BarnesTobias Harris, Doug McDermott
PF: Draymond GreenCody Zeller
C: Mason PlumleeMiles Plumlee

NBATV also posted this photo of Lillard signing autographs in Vegas.

Here’s another photo from Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com.

As for Lillard, he told The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman he wants to not only make this year’s team, but the Olympic team in 2016.

The next, and perhaps most important, step toward changing that starts next week, when Lillard and 18 fellow NBA players take part in a USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas. The five-day event, which starts Monday, will play a significant role in determining the 12 players who represent the United States in the FIBA World Cup next month in Spain and — eventually — the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“This is a great opportunity for me — an opportunity that a lot of guys don’t get,” Lillard said earlier this month at his youth basketball camp in Portland. “This is special and it’s something I really want to be a part of.”

John Schuhmann of NBA.com broke down the roster dynamics and writes that Lillard, most likely, will be competing for one or two guard spots with Washington’s John Wall and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving.

Once again, point guard will be a position of strength, especially if Derrick Rose is close to 100 percent after recovering from knee surgery. Rose hasn’t played competitively since last November, so he’ll be the big story on Monday and a great reason to watch Real Training Camp on Tuesday.

As the starting point guard of the 2010 team, Rose should have the edge on the others in camp, meaning that All-Stars Kyrie IrvingDamian Lillard and John Wall could be competing for one or two roster spots, depending on whether USA brass sees Stephen Curry as point or shooting guard.

Lillard and Derrick Rose were at an adidas event yesterday in Las Vegas for their new “BOOST” shoes, recapped nicely by Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com. The video below came from his post and he has lots of other pictures of the shoes and the event in Vegas.

Some other Blazers news from the weekend, third-year swingman Will Barton’s contract became fully guaranteed on July 25th, writes Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.

The third year of his rookie contract became fully guaranteed on July 25 since the team elected not to waive him by that date, we’re told. This decision comes as no surprise. Barton will earn a little over $900,000 for the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season.

“It just shows that there’s more work to be done,” Barton told CSNNW.com. “I’m thankful for the opportunity the [Trail] Blazers have given me and now I’m just looking forward to training camp and getting better with my teammates.”

Barton’s contract becoming guaranteed was more of a formality than anything. With him being fully guaranteed, the Blazers would not be able to release him without it counting against their salary cap. In short, the Blazers would have to make a move–most likely a trade–to open up a roster spot.

And, if you were one of those fans who wanted to see Mo Williams come back, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that he has agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Multiple outlets report that Williams’ deal is a one-year deal worth $3.75 million. Williams told reporters during his exit interviews he wanted a three-year deal.

The Blazers were hamstrung with the cap and only had two exceptions at their disposal to fill two roster spots. They used the bi-annual exception to acquire point guard Steve Blake on a two-year deal.

The bi-annual exception–which allows the Blazers to sign a player over the cap without going into the luxury tax–is worth just north of $2 million. So, Williams was evidently not in Portland’s price range.

 

 

 

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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