USA TODAY Sports
Checking in with the Idaho Stampede, the Portland Trail Blazers' D-League affiliate, at this week's D-League Showcase.
Ian Thomsen of SI.com checks in with a longer look at the Idaho Stampede at the D-League Showcase. The Blazers sent guards Nolan Smith and Will Barton to play in two games at the Showcase in Reno this week and GM Neil Olshey was in attendance. The Stampede lost both games. Boxscores here and here.
"I was actually very excited about this,'' said Smith, the second-year combo guard from Duke who scored 17 points (on 5-of-18 shooting) with five turnovers and five assists in a 110-100 loss Tuesday to the Canton Charge. "Most people look at it as a demotion and 'I'm going to the D-League, poor me.' But I was excited -- you come down here, you get to play, you're not sitting on the bench, and they tell you to just come out and play basketball. Have fun, let loose. To get the opportunity to play in front of everybody in this building right now, it's an opportunity.''
"It's invaluable,'' Olshey said of Portland's affiliation with the Stampede. "One thing you can't promise young players on an NBA team is minutes, because you can't put the team in position to suffer in terms of wins and losses.''
[Coach Michael] Peck did what NBA coaches are forced to do habitually -- he maintained composure in front of his players, and then expressed frustration to Blazers assistant GM Bill Branch, who put an arm around his rookie coach and encouraged him to remain upbeat. "It's hard for any coach in this situation,'' Branch said. "He wants to win -- and we want to win too.''
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