Trail Blazers small forward Maurice Harkless is frustrated with his role and he’s starting to speak out about it. Though Harkless is a regular in Portland’s starting lineup, his touches and stat line fall far below those of his compatriots. Jason Quick of NBCSports Northwest detailed the situation in an article published just after Portland’s 101-81 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
“I’m just out there, and that’s frustrating,’’ Harkless said. “I’m just out there playing defense, which is cool … running back and forth. Out there running track.’’
Part of Harkless’ frustration appears to stem from the offensive end, where Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic eat up most of the possessions. Quick quotes Harkless:
“We gotta figure out ways … not only me, but ways to get other people going,’’ Harkless said. “Every game it’s the same thing … we play through three people.’’
Quick adds that Harkless is not one to put himself above the team, as evidenced by this quote following Portland’s victory against the Orlando Magic last week.
“I’m not going to try and go over the coaches head, or something like that, or complain. I feel like we are playing pretty solid right now, so I just have to do what I can do to help us win. When the shots come, I have to knock them down, and that’s it. I just have to make the most of it.’’
Harkless does have a point. He’s 5th on the team in minutes played per game, 4th in total minutes played this season, yet his Usage Rate, a measure of possessions used while the player is on the floor, languishes in 12th place out of 14 total players. On the other hand, Harkless wore out his welcome in Orlando under similar circumstances, with dwindling playing time and significance on a patchy roster leading to frustration and, ultimately, being traded to Portland for a second-round pick that was top-55 protected.
There’s far more from Moe in Quick’s story, and there’s small chance that this is the last we’ll hear of it. Give the article a read, then let us know whether you’re buying what Harkless is selling or not.