Trail Blazers waiting to trim roster until they have to

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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PORTLAND -- While teams across the NBA continue to slim down rosters -- just on Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs waived Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown and the Orlando Magic released a player by the name of Christian Eyenga -- the Trail Blazers are still waiting until the very end.

Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said on Tuesday that the team would not make cuts until the Saturday's deadline. This move will help build the organization's NBA Development League team, the Idaho Stampede.

As long as Portland has a player's rights by the deadline, he automatically gets assigned to the D-League affiliate.

Players like Demonte Harper and Dallas Lauderdale were invited to Blazers' training camp for the specific purpose of later joining the Stampede roster.

Both Harper and Lauderdale are no longer with the team but will not be waived until Saturday, while others like Justin Holiday, Coby Karl, and Adam Morrison are waiting to hear if they have found a home on the packed Portland roster. The Blazers already have 15 players under guaranteed contracts.

Still, no matter the fate of the three hopefuls after the waive deadline, the Blazers will retain their rights and can keep them within the organization, just in Boise.

NBA rosters must be set by Monday.

Batum breaks out

Even with their All-Star sitting out, the Blazers hit their preseason peak on Monday night with a 120-114 win over the Utah Jazz.

That may not be just sheer coincidence, but rather the design of Nicolas Batum.

With LaMarcus Aldridge choosing to rest on Monday, Batum viewed the Jazz game as a moment to step up and show the young Blazers how to do the same. Batum played boldly through nearly 28 minutes, shooting 9 of 15 from the floor (5 of 8 from the 3-point line) and scored 27 points, the 2012 preseason high for any Blazer.

Behind Batum, the Blazers followed his lead to produce the team's best offensive preseason win since 1999 (Portland defeated Seattle 124-115 in overtime).

"I know I'll have to step up sometime when (Aldridge) is out. That's what Damian (Lillard) and I tried to do, Wesley (Matthews) too," Batum said. "We know we have to work together. L.A.'s an All-Star. He's one of the best players in his position, if not the best."

"I tried to show the young guys like Joel (Freeland) and (Meyers Leonard), who replaced LaMarcus, to do a good job -- and they did a good job."

Three points

• Matthews sat out the final 20 minutes of Tuesday's practice after banging his knee with a teammate. However coach Terry Stotts said, "he's fine."

• Olshey reiterated that injured point guard Ronnie Price is also "fine." Price sprained his right ankle during the fourth-quarter of the Blazers' Oct. 12 game in Phoenix, but Olshey anticipates him playing opening night against the Los Angeles Lakers (Oct. 31).

"He's making great progress," Olshey said of Price. "He was running around the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) today."

• The Blazers will play their final preseason game in Salt Lake City on Thursday, and Aldridge will be expected to get extended minutes.