Grgurich in town to ‘support’ Blazers

Canales calls on mentor to give players a boost

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

TUALATIN, Ore. — Wins are relatively seldom when it comes to the Trail Blazers this year, but new faces are anything but.

The latest to grace the team was longtime NBA assistant coach Tim Grgurich, who was helping out at Portland’s practice facility Monday.

Grgurich has had stints with the Sonics, Blazers and Nuggets among other teams. At one point, he was the highest-paid assistant in the NBA.

As to what he was doing in Tualatin on Monday?

Well, according to interim Blazers coach Kaleb Canales — support.

Whatever that means in this case.

“Coach is here just to support me, support the team,” said Canales, adding that Grgurich would only be there for a couple days and would not be sitting on the team’s bench. “I have a real close relationship with him. He’s always been a mentor and he’s just here for support.”

Canales repeatedly said that Grgurich was there for support. In fact, after the fourth or fifth time he said the word, a reporter joked “is he here for support?”

Canales laughed, but when asked what prompted Grgurich to help out, he didn’t give the clearest of answers.

“We talk basketball throughout the year,” Canales said. “This is not different than any other year. He’s a real special mentor to me. He’s here for support for a couple days ... I’ve talked to coach for the past eight years on a consistent basis. He’s here for a couple days. He’s here on vacation. He’s here to support me and the team.”

Grgurich was the head coach for five seasons at Pittsburgh and for part of a season at UNLV during the 1994-95 season. In the NBA, he is generally regarded as a development coach who can take a player to the next level.

Jamal Crawford has known him since he was 16 years old, and while he realizes Grgurich won’t likely be in town too long, appreciates him while he’s here.

“He’s a legend,” Crawford said. “His wisdom is much needed. We can all learn from him. He’s been at the top, he’s won a championship ... He’s just giving us ideas, giving us thoughts, interjecting.”

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com