Haynes: Nuggets F J.J. Hickson Jabs Blazers C Robin Lopez Over Rebounding Numbers

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Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson offers some thoughts about his time with the Portland Trail Blazers and assesses Robin Lopez's strength on the glass.

Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com doubles back with Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson, who expands on his comments about Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and takes a little jab at new Blazers center Robin Lopez.

"It just rubbed me the wrong way some of the comments that were made by [Trail Blazers general manager] Neil Olshey," Hickson explained to CSNNW.com. "I heard something to the extent of, ‘For the Blazers to be better, we can't bring JJ back.' That was one of the ones that really caught my attention. I was like, ‘wait, what?' And they go out there and get a new center [Robin Lopez] and he has only three rebounds."

To be accurate, Lopez had two rebounds in that season-opening 104-91 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. But you get Hickson's drift.

"He can say whatever he wants to say," Lopez responded. "I'm a true center."

...

"I know for a fact that L (LaMarcus Aldridge) doesn't like to play center. He doesn't like it. He just doesn't. He's an All-Star so he's going to trump whatever. I had no problem playing out of position. I feel like I did it to the best of my ability. I was one-of-six guys in the league to average a double-double, so I think I did pretty good."

The full story is right here.

On Thursday, one day before Portland faces Denver, Hickson took exception to some comments made last season by Olshey, telling Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post...

"A couple of things were said in the media by Neil Olshey that kind of rubbed me the wrong way," Hickson said. "But other than that I appreciate the opportunity and there's no bad blood."

...

"It's my sixth year in the league," Hickson said. "I've played previous teams before. I've been there, done that."

Hickson, 25, averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds for the Blazers as the starting center last season.

Portland claimed Hickson off of waivers after he was released by the Sacramento Kings in March 2012 and then re-signed him to a one-year, $4 million contract in 2012. He then signed a three-year, $16.1 million contract with the Nuggets in July, days after the Blazers agreed to trade for new starting center Robin Lopez.

Hickson wasn't expected back in Portland, although he left the door open during his April exit interview.

Future with Blazers: "That's to be determined. All I can do is control what I can control. That's play basketball. Let the front office and my agent handle that part of it. ... It's still to be determined. You never know what happens in the offseason with different trades and things like that. Right now I'm just sitting back, getting ready for the summer and let the cookies crumble where they may."

Want to return? "I definitely want to come back. This is the best season of my career. I think I've thrived in this system and playing under coach Stotts. Why not come back?"

Jason Quick of The Oregonian reported in April that Blazers GM Neil Olshey saw the starting center position as one that needed to be improved.

"For us to make a jump next season, J.J. can't be our starting center,'' Olshey said, referencing the Blazers' 47.4 points allowed in the paint per game, an NBA high. "I'm not saying he can't be part of the roster. But we need to find a starting-caliber center who protects the rim and gets defensive rebounds at a high rate and that has a presence. And we have to do a better job at defending the paint. So you have to ask: Is it likely there is enough minutes to commit the kind of dollars J.J. will command, when clearly there are other positions that need to be upgraded? Probably not.''

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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