TUALATIN, Ore. — Three years after he was drafted by the Trail Blazers, Spanish forward Victor Claver will be coming to Portland this season.
Selected by Portland with the 22nd pick in the 2009 Draft, the 23-year-old signed a 3-year-deal with the organization and met with reporters Wednesday.
Given the three-year lapse since his drafting, Claver was asked “Why now?”
“Why?” Claver responded. “I was waiting for this moment. I think it’s good to take this step.”
Claver, (6-foot-10, 235 pounds) spent the past three years playing for the Spanish ACB League in Valencia, where he averaged 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Hickson signs one-year deal
Yahoo Sports reported that J.J. Hickson has agreed to a one-year deal with Portland.
Last season, the 23-year-old averaged 15 points and eight rebound in 19 games with the Blazers, who picked him up off of waivers after the Kings released him. Hickson may provide some insurance at forward for Portland if Batum does not return.
Freeland coming too?
British big man Joel Freeland is reportedly coming to Portland as well. The 25-year-old was selected 30th by the Blazers in the 2006 Draft, and has spent the past three years playing for the Spanish Euroleague team Unicaja Malaga, where he averaged 13.3 points and six rebounds this past season.
British journalist Ian Whittell reported on Twitter that the Freeland’s contract would be worth $9 million over three years, while the Oregonian confirmed with Freeland’s agent that his client and the Blazers are close to a deal.
Well, maybe not jitters. But Kaleb Canales, who served as the Blazers interim head coach for the final 23 games of last season, did liken Wednesday to “the first day of school.”
The first day of summer league practice yielded some familiar faces such as Luke Babbitt, Nolan Smith, and Elliot Williams. It also marked the first time draftees Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard donned Blazer uniforms.
Second-round pick Will Barton did not attend due to a personal matter.
Lillard said it was a bit of an adjustment playing with new teammates, especially teammates who would instruct him after various plays. The point guard played for four years at Weber State, where by his senior season, he was the one giving most the feedback and advice.
So this was different.
“First few times up and down, it was guys talking to you. I wasn’t used to it,” Lillard said. “But I got comfortable with it. It makes you better.”
And Lillard impressed.
Williams said that Lillard already plays like a veteran, while also noting Leonard’s athleticism.
However, asked if Leonard could challenge him in a dunk contest, Williams wasn’t having it.
“No,” Williams said. “I could take him on that.”
Practicing, not playing
Williams had shoulder surgery in March and missed the rest of the regular season. He has been cleared to practice with the summer league squad, but will not play in games nor immerse himself in full-contact drills.
He said that Blazers athletic trainer Jay Jensen will likely clear him after summer league concludes, and that is has been “very difficult” to be limited.”