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Should CJ Elleby Return for the Trail Blazers?

The second-year guard got plenty of minutes this season. What did he show?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers’ 2021-22 season has come to an end. The summer ahead will hold plenty of decisions for the club. They put 27 difference players on the court during the regular season. Not all are still with the team, but enough are that there’s no way the Blazers could retain them all...if they even wanted to. A 27-55 record would argue against a high retention rate, but asterisks abound despite the dismal performance.

Into this question-filled swamp stride Dave Deckard and Dia Miller with their annual review of Portland’s roster. They talk about each player, then decide whether they would keep or yeet (toss) the player in the coming year. Performance, fit, age, salary, and team priorities/direction are all open for discussion.

Today we look at the guard who registered the fourth most minutes played of the Blazers remaining on the roster: CJ Elleby. The second-year import from Washington State averaged 20.2 minutes per game in 58 appearances, scoring 5.8 points with 3.9 rebounds. Is that enough of an upward trajectory to keep him around?

Dave: I’m holding back on this one. What do you think of Mr. Elleby and the prospect of him remaining with the team?

Dia: What I think of Elleby and what we should do could be too different questions. Although I’ve enjoyed watching him have some successful, energetic moments this season, overall I’m gonna have to go with yeet (maybe dismiss would be a better word. Let go of? Who even uses this word??), I feel like the Blazers are going to have to move on from some players? And Elleby is one that I think can go without leaving a big gaping hole.

Dave: I think maybe the word was invented for times like this. I respect CJ Elleby as a professional basketball player. He’s better at that sport than I, or 99.9% of us, could dream to be. But the measure isn’t against us, it’s against other people who also aspire to that position. I have to think that the Blazers will have better options.

It got to the point that I began to expect fairly routine plays to go wrong when Elleby was at the hub. It seemed like at least once or twice a game, something would disintegrate in obvious fashion. That doesn’t seem like much, but even 50% of two plays is two more points per game. The Blazers could use those points. And the not-turnovers. And the defensive potential. Elleby could probably play somewhere, but it’s not in the upper part of an NBA rotation at this point.

Dia: It has been fun watching these young guys fight It out during this time with most of the veteran role players out. Guys have really proven themselves and fought for a regular roster spot. But I actually think in some ways that worked against CJ in this case because It showed his shortcomings and made them more obvious than they maybe would have been next to guys like Damian Lillard and Norman Powell and CJ McCollum. When you’re the young guy playing next to them, people expect less than perfection. But when you’re the guy That’s been with the team playing next to G League call ups and two ways, you should look solid, and hold your own.

Dave: That’s a solid point! Still, I’m struggling to find something I think Elleby does really, really well. 39% from the field, 29% from the arc, a 1.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He rebounds well for a guard. Or at least he did this year, when the Blazers had nobody big in the frontcourt to rebound. I just don’t see him going onward. He feels more like an alternate-league project to me.

What about all of you? Can you make a case to keep Elleby even if Dave and Dia both stand in the Camp of Yeet? Register your comments below!

Our story so far...

Anfernee Simons: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep

Jusuf Nurkic: Dave—Keep, Dia—Keep

Ben McLemore: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Keep

CJ Elleby: Dave—Yeet, Dia—Yeet