• Leading up to the Portland Trail Blazers’ season-opener against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center on October 18, HoopBall is profiling the team’s 15 players with guaranteed contracts, in reverse order of price.

    Player: Gary Trent, Jr.

    2018-19 salary: $838,464 (via spotrac)

    Position: off-ball guard

    Age, experience: 19, rookie

    Measureables: 6-foot-6, 204 pounds (6-foot-8 and 3/4 inch wingspan)

    Strengths: shooting, strength, ball security

    Weaknesses: finishing ability, lateral quickness, first step, positional versatility, youth

    Swing factor: 3-point shooting

    Likely role: deep reserve/G-League

    The Trail Blazers paid a pretty price for Trent, sending out second-round picks in each of the next two drafts to the Sacramento Kings for the rights to the No. 37 overall pick. A teenager who broke Duke’s single-season record for triples during his one season in Durham, he has the size and skill-set teams covet from off-ball guards in the modern NBA – at least at first glance.

    Portland lists Trent at 6-foot-6, and his 33 1/2 inch standing vertical leap ranked third at the pre-draft combine. He bench pressed 185 pounds 12 times, too, a solid number for a perimeter player just one year removed from high school. Unfortunately, those measurements paint a far rosier portrait of the physical tools he actually brings to the NBA game. He struggled immensely as a finisher at Summer League, beset by a relative lack of length and his need for space to explode the way his impressive jumping metrics indicate What’s likely to set Trent back more from an athletic perspective, though, is his lateral quickness. He fared better defensively in Las Vegas than most anticipated given his performance on that end of the floor at Duke, but nonetheless showed little to suggest he has the defensive chops to fit the ever-coveted 3-and-D archetype.

    Players of that caliber are rarely found outside the top half of the first round anyway; the Blazers probably view Trent’s realistic ceiling as a valuable bench player rather than a solid starter. He won’t be either unless he lives up to his reputation as a marksman, something he failed to do over the summer. Trent, after shooting 40.2 percent on 6.5 threes per game in college, connected on just 9-of-his 40 attempts in Las Vegas. It’s not like Portland wasn’t producing good looks, either; both Jake Layman and John Jenkins made comfortably over half their tries from deep.

    The good news: Trent’s textbook release was unchanged by the extra distance from the college line to the NBA’s, and his balance both from both a stationary position or otherwise was impressive. He made all 15 of his free throws, too. More notable considering that type of refinement was expected, though, was Trent’s poise and comfort on the floor no doubt instilled by an entire life spent around the game at its highest level. Assuming the jumper comes, he looked the part of a future rotation player, basically, no small feat for a second-rounder who doesn’t turn 20 in January.

    On a losing team with a priority of player development, Trent could perhaps be earmarked for a handful of  on a nightly basis. But that’s not the Blazers. Big changes could come for Portland if it doesn’t earn a playoff berth in what’s maybe the strongest conference the league has seen this decade.Terry Stotts just doesn’t have the luxury of patience for a player like Trent, and Neil Olshey, who talked in July about the rookie potentially getting some burn this season, signed Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas to address his team’s dearth of shooting behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The performances of Layman and Wade Baldwin, both older incumbents, theoretically push Trent further down Stotts’ list of options on the perimeter, too.

    Does that mean there’s not a possible path for Trent to the rotation? Not necessarily. If he shoots lights out from three in training camp and Curry is still a step slow after a full season away from the game or, just as likely, Stauskas proves unplayable defensively, Stotts could find himself playing a rookie not just in front of Portland’s first-round pick, but also as his second or third perimeter player off the bench. More likely is that Trent joins Anfernee Simons at the end of the Blazers’ bench when they aren’t getting reps down in the G-League, with hopes of developing into real factors for Portland this time next year.

Fantasy News

  • Dwight Howard - C - Washington Wizards

    Dwight Howard will return to Washington D.C. and start on-court work on Wednesday.

    Dwight has been recovering from November spine surgery, and it's good to see him progressing. He's still a few steps away from playing, and with the injuries he's been dealing with this season, it's hard to see him being useful outside of deep free throw punt teams. More likely, the greatest impact he'll have is eventually taking a few minutes from Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Henry Ellenson - F - New York Knicks

    Henry Ellenson plans to sign a 10-day contract with the Knicks.

    Ellenson has shown promise at times, but he has never really put together any fantasy-relevant stretches. Leave him on the wire for now, but it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where the tanking Knicks are missing or sitting a couple bigs, giving Ellenson some decent run.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela (thumb) returned to practice on Tuesday with no limitations, which could determine his playing status for Thursday's game against the Lakers.

    Capela underwent surgery on January 17 and was initially given a 4-to-6 week timetable, so this would be at the early end of a return. The fact that he is returning to practice without any limitations is a great sign for owners, meaning a return is imminent. Watch out for the Rockets injury report on Wednesday.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Jodie Meeks - G - Toronto Raptors

    Jodie Meeks is signing a 10-day contract with the Raptors, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Meeks was waived by the Bucks following the conclusion of his 25-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug program. He hasn't played since last season with Washington and is unlikely to see much action with Toronto. He'll give the team some extra shooting when he does see the floor.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Jared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets

    Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) was scheduled to be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

    Dudley has already made it known that he's planning to return right out of the All-Star break, so unless today's checkup revealed some kind of further issue we're expecting him to be ready for Brooklyn's two games this week. His biggest fantasy impact will be taking minutes from more intriguing players.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Caris LeVert - G - Brooklyn Nets

    Caris LeVert will undergo an evaluation from the Nets medical staff on Tuesday.

    There's no sign of any setbacks from LeVert but the team will obviously keep a close eye on him after he's returned from a dislocated foot. This shouldn't be anything more than routine maintenance, so fantasy owners don't need to worry about it.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Ray Spalding - F - Phoenix Suns

    The Suns are expected to sign Ray Spalding to a 10-day contract.

    Spalding was the 56th pick in last summer's draft but only appeared in one NBA game this season with the Mavs. He was waived at the trade deadline with Dallas taking on one more player than they sent away, and will look to make an impression in a crowded Phoenix rotation. His college numbers (12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game) make him a name to file away in deep dynasty leagues.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • MarShon Brooks - G - Chicago Bulls

    Marshon Brooks has agreed to terms with the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Sportando.

    Brooks played 29 games for the Grizzlies this season averaging 6.6 points and he is expected to replace Malcolm Delaney. Leave him on the waiver wire.

    Source: Sportando

  • Kristaps Porzingis - F/C - Dallas Mavericks

    Mark Cuban said that Kristaps Porzingis won't play this season, even if the Mavs somehow are able to make the playoffs.

    The Mavs want to put their world-class training staff, led by Casey Smith, to work, strengthening Porzingis’ body the rest of this season and throughout the summer to hopefully prevent similar injuries in the future. And after all, given the amount of money the Mavs could be committing to KP this summer, a max salary of $158 million, there is no need to risk something happening to him in a season where making the playoffs seems unlikely. Kristaps remains a great stash in redraft leagues.

    Source: 247sports.com

  • LeBron James - F - Los Angeles Lakers

    Joe Vardon of The Athletic is reporting that the Lakers are "somehow a little concerned" about LeBron James.

    LeBron hasn’t been showing the same speed or overall movement lately and the team is concerned that he’s not fully recovered from the groin injury that cost him to miss a career-high 18 games. The Lakers are in the 10th place in the Western Conference, three games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot and they will need LeBron to be healthy for the rest of the season. James is averaging 26.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in 35 minutes per game, while his shooting percentage (51 percent), 3-point percentage (35 percent) and free-throw percentage (68 percent) are all down from last season. He is still returning borderline top-15 value in standard leagues and owners can only hope he doesn’t suffer a setback.

    Source: The Athletic