As Portland fans eagerly await the start of training camp next week, NBA.com’s Ian Thomsen takes an in-depth look at Luis Montero as he fights to remain a Blazer.
With the Blazers roster presently sitting at 18 - now including Tim Quarterman, Grant Jerrett, and Greg Stiemsma - the Dominican Republic native is no certainty to rejoin the team for a second year.
Thomsen starts the piece with an anecdote about Montero calling Damian Lillard on a Terry Stotts-instituted day off because he had no other way of getting to the practice facility.
Lillard, who had just played four games in five nights, obliged, driving Montero to the gym before taking him out to lunch and buying him two suits.
“It's a little like the guy working on the building grounds of Google calling the CEO, going, hey, my car broke down. Can you drive me to work today? Sure. Of course. Why wouldn't he?,” says Neil Olshey.
We learn a little more about the 23-year-old’s childhood thanks to insight provided by acquaintance Pedro Pablo Perez, who witnessed the young Blazer growing up in Santo Domingo – baseball heartland.
“From the age of 8 to 11 he was fighting on the street every day with the other kids. Then he grew up a little bit. After school he was on the basketball court until almost midnight every day. He was always playing basketball,” Perez says.
“Montero was a playground legend in a country with little such tradition.”
Thomsen then discusses obstacles faced after his arrival in the US, including the closure of the basketball program at Westchester Community College, going undrafted and his deal with the Blazers leading into the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League.
Finally, Thomsen looks at Montero’s first year in the NBA and the 42 minutes he spent on the court. Behind the scenes he was able to financially support his family while adding 36 pounds to his wiry frame.
Dominican Republic team assistant coach Ron Sanchez adds that he believes Montero has the ability to play basketball for a long time but is not necessarily a certainty to remain in the NBA. According to Thomsen:
“If the Blazers realize during training camp that they can no longer afford to develop Montero, then perhaps another NBA team will be interested. Surely there will be suitors from the leagues of Europe.”
Montero finished the 2015-16 season playing in 12 contests with an average of 3.5 minutes, 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 0.1 assists per game.