The Portland Trail Blazers conducted Thursday’s practice as usual in preparation for Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, but although their minds were focused, their hearts were heavy. This time, Tim Frazier was not among them, nor will he be from here on out.
The Blazers waived Frazier this morning in order to make room for the soon-to-be waived Anderson Varejao; part of GM Neil Olshey’s highly productive trade deadline maneuvering. Perhaps of little consequence to the team’s on-court synergy, Frazier’s departure was an emotional blow to the players he left behind.
"I think everybody knows what it is between me and Tim." said team leader Damian Lillard. "He’s a good friend of mine. Over the last six months I’ve pretty much been with him every day. It’s unfortunate and nobody here wanted to see him go."
Basketball is a business, though, and that’s just how it goes sometimes. Lillard plans to remain in touch with Frazier as the team moves forward without him. The team has a job to do, and he understands that Olshey does as well.
"Like I said yesterday, Neil has a job to do, and sometimes the thing they have to do is unfortunate. It’s an unfortunate situation. Something that none of us wanted to see happen, but you got to roll with what goes on."
Also dispirited by Frazier's absence was Gerald Henderson, who himself had been the subject of much deadline discussion.
"Tim’s a great guy, man. He became a good friend of mine while here. Hard worker and just really fit into our group, so it’s sad to see him go. I just wish him the best for whatever comes next for him."
Until the Blazers acquired Brian Roberts from the Miami Heat to replace Frazier, there had been a possibility of bringing him back. Frazier had averaged just 1.5 points and 1.2 assists per game this season, but demonstrated his value at times when Lillard and CJ McCollum were hurt.
Head Coach Terry Stotts spoke highly of him.
"He was a really good chemistry guy for us. He was a terrific teammate." Stotts said. "I think everyone here is going to miss him and certainly appreciated what he was able to give us—not just this year, but coming in last year as well."
It is unclear where Frazier goes from here. His family is in Houston, his home is in Portland, and his fate is on waivers. A team must sign him for the remainder of his contract within 48 hours or he will become an unrestricted free agent. An undersized player with limited production at a league-wide loaded position isn't exactly in demand.
The Philadelphia 76ers, who waived Frazier last season to make room for Thomas Robinson, would theoretically be interested as they have been in the past, but now possess three point guards and have no need for him. He may be facing a return to the NBA D-League, where he earned Rookie of the Year and MVP honors last Spring.
This will be another test for the seemingly constant castoff, but for the Blazers, it’s just business. Everyone involved would have liked to hold onto Frazier. As Neil Olshey explains, it just made more sense to let him go.
"There’s no way to do a deal without a roster spot. Tim was a casualty. He’s been great for us, he’s great in the locker room, he’s close with our guys, and we had told him, ‘Look, if we didn’t have an opportunity to add another player at your position, that we would look at bringing you back if you clear waivers.’ I can’t speak to that right now, but, at the time, he was the most viable candidate to be waived to create the roster spot for Varejao."
The Blazers are expected to buy out Varejao, leaving them with a minor cap hit and a future first round pick after relieving the Cavaliers of Varejao’s contract and relieving themselves of Frazier’s. That kind of return value is almost unheard of. Although bittersweet, the Blazers made the right move.
We invite you to help send 2000 underprivileged kids to see the Blazers play the Sacramento Kings on March 28th. Your ticket donations make this possible. You can donate through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.