Blazers add Tolliver as 16th player

By Brian T. Smith
Columbian staff writer
TUALATIN, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers signed forward Anthony Tolliver to a non-guaranteed contract Thursday.

Tolliver becomes the 16th player on the Blazers’ roster. He attended a Thursday morning shootaround at the team’s practice facility, and suited up for a game Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns at the Rose Garden.

“It’s great. It’s just another opportunity,” Tolliver, 24, said. “I’ve had a few opportunities to do a little something in the NBA. So, this isn’t my first time around. But at the end of the day, it’s just another blessing.”

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Tolliver averaged 20.7 points and 9.9 rebounds this season while playing for Portland’s NBA Developmental League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede.

“He’s putting up great numbers in the D-League,” Blazers assistant general manager Tom Penn said. “He’s shooting the ball really well; rebounding. He’s NBA ready. One good thing in the D-League is they’re playing NBA rules. They’re playing NBA pace. He’s able to come in and, if needed, play tonight.”

Tolliver, who attended Creighton University, previously played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets. He averaged 2.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 10.9 minutes in 19 games for the Spurs last season.

Tolliver said he was one of the three players to work out for the Blazers on Wednesday, and was joined by Chris Richard and Courtney Sims during the tryout.

“Hopefully I do get the chance to get on the court and show what I can do,” said Tolliver, who will wear jersey No. 44. “I’m just going to be prepared for whatever it is. It’s their decision to use me how they may. They’re the ones writing the checks.”

Tolliver’s signing was made possible when the Blazers were recently awarded a hardship exemption by the NBA. Portland received the exception because it had at least four players miss three straight games, and the players are expected to sit out an additional two weeks apiece.

At the time the Blazers were awarded the exemption, the team was down to nine healthy players on its then 15-man roster. Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum, Travis Outlaw, Jeff Pendergraph and Patty Mills are all still either inactive or injured.

Tolliver can remain on the Blazers’ roster until one of the team’s four most-recent injured players — likely Fernandez, who is expected to be out at least a month due to back surgery — returns to action.

Tolliver’s signing was not the only good news Portland received Thursday, though. Mills, a rookie guard, is expected to join the team on its upcoming four-game road trip. He has missed the entire season thus far due to preseason foot surgery.

“They told me today I’m going,” Mills said.

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