Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thomas Robinson basks in glow of Trail Blazers’ praises

Houston Rockets power forward Thomas Robinson (41) pumps his fist after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 22, 2013, in Houston.

Houston Rockets power forward Thomas Robinson (41) pumps his fist after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 22, 2013, in Houston.


Thomas Robinson admits it was nice to hear words of praise from Portland Trail Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts and general manager Neil Olshey at Robinson’s introductory news conference Thursday in Oregon.

After being traded twice his inaugural season in the NBA, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound former Kansas Jayhawk started to wonder if he had bad breath or something.

“It’s a great feeling to be wanted,” said Robinson, shipped to the Blazers in a June 30 trade with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets had acquired Robinson in a deal with Sacramento in February. Sacramento initially made Robinson the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

“I’ve been in this league a year, and being tossed around can mess with confidence. It can mess with everything, so to hear somebody actually tell me they want me on their team is a great feeling,” Robinson added at the media session.

Robinson, 22, averaged a combined 4.8 points (off 43.0 percent shooting) and 4.5 rebounds in 70 games. A non-starter, he logged 15.1 minutes per contest.

“I think coming into the league, I wanted to prove I deserve to be here, prove I’m a worthy player in the league,” Robinson said. “As far as being moved around twice already, it’s a business. As a rookie, I learned that pretty quick. You can’t take it personal. I’m excited to get a chance with the Portland Trail Blazers. I’m going to make the best of it.”

Robinson will be playing for the Blazers in the Las Vegas summer league, which runs today through July 22.

“I think I still have a lot more upside to my game. I don’t think I even came close to being a finished product,” Robinson said of Year No. 1 in the pros.

Coach Terry Stotts believes Robinson can capably replace forward J.J. Hickson, who has signed with Denver.

“Thomas is a young talent, in some ways similar to J.J. last year in that he’ll be a beast inside,” Stotts said. “He can rebound. He can run the floor. He’s rugged. Watching him practice today, he’s one of the strongest players I’ve been around and adds a dimension to the team that we don’t have. I think that’s going to be something that we’ll be able to utilize throughout the course of a season.”

Noted GM Neil Olshey: “Clearly, Houston had goals where they needed to clear cap room. They very reluctantly acquiesced, and we were able to put together a deal (for pair of future second-round draft picks and the rights to Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic). They accomplished their goals. We were able to get what we think is an absolute steal in Thomas, who, we now basically have the fifth and sixth picks in last year’s draft. We valued both he and Damian (Lillard, No. 6 overall in 2012 draft), and now we’re lucky enough to have both of them.”

Withey speaks: Former KU center Jeff Withey, who was selected by Portland in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft, recently was traded to New Orleans.

“When my name was called (No. 39 overall on June 27), obviously I was very excited and happy,” San Diego native Withey said after a pre-Vegas summer-league practice on Thursday.

“It was a special night. Then the trade, and I came here. I was extremely excited to be a Pelican. I think it’s going to be a really good team. We have a lot of young players. I‘ve played with Jrue (Holiday, who grew up in Los Angeles). I played against Tyreke (Evans, University of Memphis) and Anthony (Davis, Kentucky). I’ve known these guys for a while. I’m just really excited to be part of the program. I can’t wait to get started and live in New Orleans.”

Withey, who as a second-round pick does not yet have a guaranteed contract, said he wants to make an impression at summer league.

“I want to get in the flow of the organization, get down with what they like, learn all the terms,” he said. “I want to play defense. That’s what I’m good at. I want to block shots. Hopefully we can win this thing. That’s the main goal.”

In a new format, the 22-team Vegas summer league will crown a champion for the first time this year. Former KU players Ben McLemore (Sacramento), Elijah Johnson (L.A. Clippers), Travis Releford (Denver) and Josh Selby (L.A. Lakers) also will be playing in the league. For a full summer league schedule, go


Ryan Lee 8 years, 6 months ago

I have a summer league where all I do is get drunk, gamble and make an ass of myself. I'm in 1st place. I average 3 hangovers per five weekdays, 2 lost cell phones and a 6 slaps to the face.

KatnissHawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Or in this case a Friday morn. Good luck you two.

Jack Jones 8 years, 6 months ago

Possible three-peat?? Possible MVP ~ Most Vasted Person!! Sounds like my kind of summer league activity.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Must be a weak league.

In my prime, it was at least 6/7 hangovers. No cell phones back then. Yippee!!

(I honestly don't miss those days.....)

Chris Shaw 8 years, 6 months ago

Jeff Withey sounds like a seasoned veteran with those quotes and comments. Somebody has been practicing their media talk with their agent.

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

If Jeff hangs on as backup because of shot blocking and defense, he is going to have a decade or more to work on three lousy offensive moves. When he develops them, and inevitably will, because he's got the touch at the FT line, he could very well become a Tim Duncan type. Its clear he is a later bloomer type physically. But he has three tough years to survive, while he toughens up newbie pounding he is going to take for blocking the shots of stars. Ostertag wised up about blocking shots after Shaq tagged him in preseason. Let the stars have their baskets. You keep receiving envelopes for 10-12 seasons totalling in the tens of millions. All of your teammates will understand. Its a busines in the L. It is a game of how much money you can suck out of the owners. Period.

Jim Erickson 8 years, 6 months ago

3 teams in a year... He's on pace to top Drew Gooden! Here's to hoping that T-Rob can latch on in Portland.

KGphoto 8 years, 6 months ago

Just bad circumstances. He got snatched up by a team in ownership/location turmoil, and was traded as a part of the Houston/Howard shenanigans.

Each team knows he has talent that can be developed, but each team saw his value better served for their business needs.

Portland sees it otherwise. He’ll be there awhile.

Woody Cragg 8 years, 6 months ago

Played a couple of seasons in a Budweiser softball league when I was a young guy. A minimum of one, 22 gal keg at every game was a real incentive for idiocracy. One of my kids had a few sips once & got sicker than hell when the infield played catch with him. You can bet Mama was pi$$ed. Ah, those were the days...

Steve Gantz 8 years, 6 months ago

A link from my current hometown paper in Baton Rouge: It includes a great picture of him rebounding over his new teammate Anthony Davis.

REHawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the link, wissox. I tuned in late to the Pelicans game today and wondered if Jeff were injured or already traded again.

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

The Pelica (plural of Pelican?) with Jeff and Anthony on the floor are basically going to erase any shots inside. Talk about a formidable pair of shot blockers. Whew!!!!

Jeff this could be the greatest thing that ever happened to you since deciding to stick it out at KU.

Rock Chalk, Jeff Withey!!!!

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

What if it were a time out, the opponent were to have the ball, and the Pelica have a 1 one point lead with 15 seconds to go? Might Jeff and Anthony make it on the floor? :-)

And surely one, or the other guy, will develop a few offensive moves over the next three years together. Wouldn't it be awesome to see them erasing TOGETHER!!!!

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

"Vision of Three Years from Now: the Thomas-Lebron War"

Part 1

Bottom line on Thomas Robinson: if the Blazers want to make Thomas Robinson their enforcer, they are making a huge, huge, HUUUUUUUUGE mistake. Of course he can be an enforcer and a good one, but making Thomas Robinson be an enforcer would be as big of a waste as making Karl Malone play the enforcer during his career would have been.

Enforcers are a dime a dozen at the NBA level. What the Blazers need to do is build a team around Thomas Robinson of 5-6 of the most hard nosed basketball gym rats plus one enforcer type to back Thomas Robinson up; then they need to tell Thomas to go out and start hurting people on offense and vacuuming the boards on defense. By hurting people, I mean they need to put Thomas in new positions every trip down the floor and tell him to muscle and bruise his opponent all the way to the rim and then cram down his throat at the iron. Thomas needs to use his awesome upper body to throw forearm shivers and throat smashes until he breaks down who ever is guarding him.

There is no one, and I repeat no one that is as strong as Thomas is in the upper body that can also keep up with him on the move--not even Lebron.

What the Blazers need to do is build a team of bruising, banging, take no quarter, ask no quarter hard noses that will cheap shot like John Stockton used to anytime, anywhere, anyplace, against anyone, so that once Thomas applies the hurt muscle, any team that retaliates on him experiences massive retaliation.

This is the team it will take to beat the Heat and Riley.

And there will be blood when the Heat and such a team finally meet.

No one can beat the heat without being as strong as Lebron.

No one can be as strong as Lebron, and exercise that strength against Lebron, without a team of prison bodies and cheap shotters more ferocious that the Heat's supporting cast.

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

Part 2

Lebron is the greatest basketball player on the planet. He is an unfair advantage. Period.

The only way to beat a team with Lebron on it in a best of seven is to muscle Lebron to the rim all the time--to punish Lebron, like he has never been punished before.

There is only one other player on the planet with the kind of strength and athleticism and lion's heart to get into such a war with Lebron and that player is Thomas Robinson.

Lebron is way too good for Thomas, if they play it even up. Lebron is way too good for everyone that way.

But Lebron is NOT too good for a whole team of bad boys come to beat Lebron's teammates to a bloody pulp, if any of them try to stop a head butting war between Lebron and Thomas Robinson in the paint.

Thomas Robinson is three seasons of hard work and big minutes away from being ready to have a head butting war with Lebron.

Three seasons from now, Lebron will have had a lot of wear and tear on his body. He will be an OLD 31, because he will have been taking a beating in the NBA since he was 19. And make no mistake, Lebron has been taking a serious beating. For all of Lebron's greatness, and he is easily one of the greatest of all time, he has been using his 6-8 height and his 250 pound muscle to bang opponents into submission alot of the time.

Thomas Robinson stands 6-10 and weighs 237 pounds at the age of 22. Thomas is already way more powerfully built from the waste up than Lebron, plus two inches taller. In three years Thomas will be entering his peak at 25 years old and he will probably way 245-250 pounds.

Let me put it this way: if the Blazers build a team so fierce others fear to retaliate on Thomas Robinson, Thomas Robinson will be Lebron James worst nightmare in three years.

Lebron will finally discover what it has been like for other players to that have to guard him, when he decides to start applying the muscle.

And Lebron will be two inches shorter. And over 7 games, with no help, no protection, no buffer between himself and Thomas Robinson coming at him relentlessly, as Thomas Robinson was born to do, it will not be pretty for Lebron. Lebron will score more points than Thomas, but Lebron will never run wild for 30 points in a game in a seven game series against such a hypothetical Blazer team. And without Lebron running wild a couple games, "the Heat can be beat."

The only question is: do Stotts and Olshey understand the kind of team they have to put around Thomas to make this happen?

Or are they going to waste Thomas Robinson as just another enforcer?

Steve Gantz 8 years, 6 months ago

"Thomas Robinson stands 6-10 and weighs 237 pounds at the age of 22. Thomas is already way more powerfully built from the WASTE up than Lebron, plus two inches taller. In three years Thomas will be entering his peak at 25 years old and he will probably WAY 245-250 pounds."

Jaybate, disappointed in you. Two glaring typos in one paragraph!

I think you're wrong too about TRob being stronger from the WAIST up. Don't know how we'd prove it, but Lebron is an amazing physical specimen.

jaybate 8 years, 6 months ago

I am a victim of my phone dictation software and my own laziness in not double checking. I dictated that in the car, if I recall correctly.

You are so right to chastise me for the spelling errors.

But about Thomas' upper body strength, take a look at little Lebron. All the weight and muscle he has on Thomas is gut down. Thomas holds a clear advantage through the shoulders and biceps. Forearms are about equal. Lebron seems to have bigger hands. From the gut down is where Lebron has an edge in musculature. But that will change over the next three years. And remember, Thomas has two inches on Lebron. Lots more frame to hang lots more pounds if that were what it would take.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 6 months ago

To be honest I spend little time analyzing the bodies of these guys unless they're exceptionally big or skinny. I knew you were going to blame the software for your glaring errors!

Preston Dwiggins 8 years, 6 months ago

“I think I still have a lot more upside to my game. I don’t think I even came close to being a finished product,” Robinson said of Year No. 1 in the pros.

This is why these kids need to stay in school and get polished. I hope our current Jayhawks are reading this. Get polished and stick in the NBA my friends. I'm sure you don't have bad breath TRob, but you just aren't polished yet. Hard work and TRob will do just fine.

REHawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Thomas' time in Texas was a waste, and the Kings' ownership and top muscle were just too stupid and unfocused to comprehend what they had in TRob. Gotta hope that Portland can weave him into a dream format, something other than just meat and muscle. Riley, Popovich, Sloan, perhaps Self could build a perennial NBA contender around the likes of Thomas Robinson. I view him as a mainstay of a program, a player who might elevate to stronger franchise heights than a migratory Drew Gooden (who, nonetheless, has banked multi- millions while shifting sites on the annual professional trade trail).

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