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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Blazers add two more for training camp

Pressey, Alexander both have much to prove

By , Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published:

The Portland Trail Blazers added two players to their roster on Friday afternoon, signing guard Phil Pressey and forward Cliff Alexander.

The Blazers now have 16 players on their roster for training camp.

Pressey, 24, averaged 3.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 125 games (11 starts) over the past two seasons with the Boston Celtics.

Pressey will be in the running to make the roster as a back-up point guard.

Portland has Tim Frazier on the roster, the reigning MVP and Rookie of the Year in the NBA Development League.

Frazier had a strong showing during the first few games of the NBA summer league. However, his production and impact on the later games in the tournament did not help his cause with the Blazers bringing in his competition.

The Pressey-Frazier training camp battle to come has the most riding on it than any other on the roster, because the player who doesn’t earn the spot will have to look for work again with the rosters for almost every NBA team set after training camp.

The Alexander signing fits the mold of several of Portland’s other recent acquisitions.

Alexander — like the trade of Moe Harkless — is another high-upside, low financial risk addition for the Blazers.

Alexander was once one of the top recruits in the nation and the 2014 Naismith High School Player of the Year. He has since seen his stock plummet in just over a year.

He went undrafted in June after one season at Kansas. He played for Team USA in the Nike Hoop Summit alongside players like Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor and Miami’s Justise Winslow, even sometimes stealing the show from his teammates in practices.

Now Alexander is just trying to stick with the Blazers.

Injuries in the summer and a tough start to his college career at Kansas certainly hurt Alexander’s cause.

But perhaps nothing hurt him more than an NCAA investigation centered on whether his mother accepted “impermissible benefits” from a third party.

As recently as April, draft experts were pegging Alexander as a possible late first round pick to early second round pick.

The 6-foot-8 power forward played for the Brooklyn Nets in both the Las Vegas and Orlando summer leagues.

Alexander, only 19, is a power forward of the bruising variety rather than the “stretch-4” type that has become du jour around the league at this stage of his career.

Alexander did not attempt any 3-pointers in 11 games of summer league. He averaged 22.8 minutes, 7.45 points, 6.36 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 38 percent shooting from the field for the Nets summer team.

Alexander has great athleticism and was at one point one of the most coveted players in his class, alongside many of the players who went in the lottery in June’s draft.

Portland is wagering — with very little risk — that the talent that made him so highly touted as a prep is still there and that they can bring it out.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer