With under a week until the beginning of training camp (thank goodness), the Blazers announced they are inviting four players to participate. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports that the Blazers will bring in Dwight Lewis of USC, a 6-5 shooting guard, who averaged 13.8 points a game last year for the Trojans. Joining him will be big man Raymond Sykes of Clemson who averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds last season for the D-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. In addition there is a mystery ACC guard who could get invited, and rounding out the list, former Oregon State Beaver Seth Tarver. Tarver–the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10– should be well known to Oregonians not only for his Beaver days but dating back to his days at Jesuit High School.
The big(ger) news was the following from Freeman:
Point guard Patty Mills, who played for the Blazers as a rookie last season and on their summer league team in July, is not expected to be a part of camp. The Blazers issued Mills a qualifying contract offer over the summer, but he has not signed it.
It’s newsworthy, but it should not be surprising. Going into summer league there was a some sort of unspoken battle between Mills and Armon Johnson. I figured Mills’ days were numbered considering the Blazers had made an effort to move up in the second round to grab Johnson. That investment, plus them signing Johnson to a contract put the nail in the coffin of Mills’ tenure in Portland. It’s unfortunate to see such a talented kid go, but there was no room for Mills. Management is clearly high on Johnson and believe his overall ceiling to be higher than Patty. Mills needed to show a better ability to ‘run the show’ as a PG, and obviously didn’t do enough of that.
Back to the invites to training camp, considering the fact that Portland’s roster is already over-loaded, it seems like a classic situation where extra bodies are brought in for the first few two-a-days. Nearly ever team does it and all of these guys seem like supreme longshots to make the roster. An interesting point was brought up by Ben Golliver over at Blazersedge who passed along a quote from D-League guru Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside.
The Development League’s new allocation system allows for each D-League team to acquire the rights to 3 players cut from their affiliate’s training camp. With the Blazers bringing these guys into camp, assuming that they are cut and interested in playing in the D-League, they will be automatically be assigned to the Idaho Stampede instead of going through the draft/waiver process and potentially ending up on another D-League team.
This could be a scenario where Portland is looking at using the D-League better and getting guys more ingrained into their system. It’s interesting that three of the four players Portland is looking to bring in are perimeter players, considering the fact that Portland is stacked on the wing. An extremely speculative mind would wander towards thinking Portland could be preparing for a major move…I wouldn’t go that far, but certainly something to think about.