NBA Playoffs connections to the Portland Trail Blazers and PNW

Even with the Portland Trail Blazers not making the playoffs this year and CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and the New Orleans Pelicans eliminated, Blazers fans can still find rooting interests in the remaining NBA teams still duking it out in the postseason.

Gary Payton II, Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Playoffs

Gary Payton II, Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Playoffs (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Former Portland Trail Blazers and PNW residents still in the NBA Playoffs

Phoenix Suns:
It could be hard for some to cheer for Phoenix since they defeated McCollum’s Pelicans. However, Head Coach Monty Williams was an assistant on Nate McMillan’s bench from 2005 to 2010 before taking the job as coach of New Orleans in 2010. Former Portland players Mark Bryant, Jarrett Jack, and Michael Ruffin assist Williams. Phoenix General Manager James Jones was a Blazer from 2007 to 2008.

Boston Celtics:
Celtics point guard Payton Pritchard played at the University of Oregon from 2016 to 2020, before being drafted by Boston 26th-overall in 2020. Guard Nik Stauskas signed a free-agent contract with the Blazers in 2018 and was traded to Cleveland that season in the trade that landed them Rodney Hood. And of course, Head Coach Ime Udoka, along with assistant Damon Stoudamire, were members of Rip City.

Golden State Warriors
Gary Payton II played collegiate ball at Oregon State from 2014 to 2016 and is the son of Oregon State great and former Seattle Supersonic, Gary Payton. Coach Steve Kerr wore a Blazers jersey from 2001 to 2002.

Milwaukee Bucks:
Guard Wesley Matthews was a Portland fan favorite from 2010 to 2015, as was Pat Connaughton from 2016 to 2018.

Miami Heat:
The only connection to the Heat comes from Coach Erik Spoelstra who graduated from Portland’s Jesuit High, played college ball at the University of Portland, and was an executive with the Blazers for several years.

Philadelphia 76ers:
Sixers assistant Dan Burke held several roles with the team including as an assistant coach from 1989 to 1997. He’d leave for the Pacers after that before eventually joining Philadelphia’s bench in 2020.

Memphis Grizzlies:
Grizzlies small forward Dillon Brooks was drafted in the 2017 draft by Houston out of the University of Oregon. He was traded by the Rockets immediately.