Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trail Blazers work out Elijah Johnson

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson waves goodbye to the Bramlage Coliseum crowd after the Jayhawks' 59-55 win over Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson waves goodbye to the Bramlage Coliseum crowd after the Jayhawks' 59-55 win over Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.


Former Kansas University combo guard Elijah Johnson worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday with fellow NBA Draft hopefuls Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), Sherwood Brown (Florida Gulf Coast), Jared Berggren (Wisconsin), Brandon Davies (BYU) and Abdul Gaddy (Washington).

After a session that included live scrimmaging and 1-on-1 drills, Johnson was asked by the Oregonian what he brings to the NBA table.

“I feel I can fit a lot of different teams. I feel I’m versatile,” the 6-foot-4 Las Vegas native said. “Some players do one thing. It’s either they fit or don’t fit.

“I feel I can adjust a little more than the average person.

“I’m trying to show I can guard all the way to 6-6. I’m not going to go away easy,” he added, smiling.

Johnson said he will work out for Washington today then take a break before “going to Houston, Utah, Dallas, a couple more places.”

“I feel I can attack and score the ball, too,” Johnson noted. “I feel I can score the ball at will when I have the opportunity or if that’s my job. I’ve always been able to guard. That’s what we do at Kansas. I feel like I got that from coach (Bill Self).”

Releford in Sacramento: Former KU guard Travis Releford worked out for the Sacramento Kings on Monday with Will Cherry (Montana), Chris Evans (Kent State), Rudy Gobert (France), Aziz N’Diaye (Washington), and Brandon Triche (Syracuse).

“I feel I can come in and be a spark on the defensive end,” Releford told Sacramento News 10 KXTV. “I talked to the coach about that. He said the focus in this year’s draft ... they want a guy to be able to come in and be a lockdown defender. Hopefully they take a good look into me because I feel I can do that.”

The 6-foot-6 Kansas City native added: “At Kansas the past two years I’ve been one of those guys that always guarded the best player on the other team. I take pride in that and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Withey in Denver: Former KU center Jeff Withey worked out for the Denver Nuggets on Monday. He was joined by Tony Mitchell (North Texas), Phil Pressey (Missouri), Colton Iverson (Colorado State), Mike Muscala (Bucknell), Nate Wolters (South Dakota State), Reggie Buckner (Mississippi), Reggie Bullock (North Carolina), Matt Dellavedova (St. Mary’s), C.J. Harris (Wake Forest), Elias Harris (Gonzaga), Ricky Ledo (Providence).


Colby Hebert 9 years, 2 months ago

With the new trend of having a team with 3 all-star caliber/max contract players, surrounded by role players, You do not need the 2 or 3 other guys in the rotation to score. You need affordable lock down defenders. If you can stick to a guy like glue, you can have a role on an NBA team.

Elijah and Releford have got the size to cover those tall SG and most SF, if they can show GM's they can do it they have a shot to make an NBA team

Benz Junque 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ needs to get his passport ready, because he has no future in the NBA. He hasn't shown himself willing enough to put out the consistent effort level necessary to improve his game to be able to keep a roster spot on an NBA team. You cannot have a 3rd string guy that constantly makes stupid mental mistakes. Sorry, love some of what he did for Kansas, but people don't really change when it comes to being mentally lazy.

Benz Junque 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ "has the ability" to do a lot of things. No one has ever questioned his physical abilities. It makes it all the more of a sad waste to see that it is purely Ej's lack of mental focus and effort that has held him back from maximizing his physical abilities and will likely continue to do so.

Craig Carr 9 years, 2 months ago

Not many KU fans question his physical ability however he really doesn't fit well into a "2" in the NBA. Not real good going left or finishing at rim, average defensive player for that position and below average shooter. Just look at T Rob, he doesn't fit into the NBA either. Unfortunate, but EJ will make big money overseas.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ had the misfortune to play for a KU team that needed him in a position that was not his natural position; he was the ultimate team player and did what was asked of him and what was best for the team.
He definitely has the physical tools to play in the NBA; with good coaching and the right team he can have a successful career.

Benz Junque 9 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, OK, it was the POSITION that EJ was asked to play. You guys sure are nice. It doesn't matter WHAT position you are playing or are more able to play. Careless is careless. If it says SG next to your name on the roster and you throw a careless pass it is no less a problem than if it says PG next to your name.

When your coach has been asking you to drive to the rim more for the last FOUR YEARS and you still won't do it, there is a problem that isn't related to what position you are playing. He was asked as a SG to drive more and asked as a PG to drive more and he didn't do it nearly enough to maximize his talents.

He had several stellar games that only managed to prove to me that had he had that mindset on a more regular basis then his team would have most likely enjoyed much more success.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Mentally lazy?

Projection can be a terrible curse. :-)

yovoy 9 years, 2 months ago

JHFT, hit it on the head: EJ had the misfortune of playing out of postion. Over the course of his years here, he did NOTHING, if by that you mean that he was the consummate teammate, a role-player, Mr. March (the last 2 years - his EARLY March this year was pretty good), and he handled himself pretty well with the media, and put our program in a good light. He did that for 4 years, and of course he flubbed that up our last game, but 99% is higher than most of us will ever score in anything.

Releford played out of position for 2 years.

It's nice to see both of them get a shop, and if they can defend and score a little bit, they might earn a spot. I'd agree that EJ will likely have to play in Europe though, and good for him. If you could make more money at a tech company and see a part of the world you'd never been to, you'd jump at the chance. So what if these guys aren't working for Microsoft, Apple, or Google, they're still working a respectable job for pretty good money.

Colby Hebert 9 years, 2 months ago

I agree, but I have a feeling Self makes kids play defense and commit to it better than most other college coaches. If they are 3rd round talent who can defend better than most 2nd round pics, they got a chance. I do not know if I would draft them, but Releford seems like he has the work ethic and the commitment to be an elite defender.

LaFriends 9 years, 2 months ago

Like you, I'd give the nod to Releford over EJ, due to maturity.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

1 of 7.1 billion persons in the world that would play for big money, if they could, vying for 60 or so draft slots.

Insane odds.

Cameron Cederlind 9 years, 2 months ago

Everyone on Earth is practicing with teams?

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Read the words. Don't just look at them. :-)

Honestly, when I take some time off, some board rats take soft pills. :-)

Let me give the nail another stroke for you.

All 7.1 billion (well, let's exclude those that are already independently wealthy plus those that to intellectually challenged to grasp the opportunity, say 7.09 billion ) would gladly try to play no matter where they were, no matter what age they were, if they were informed of the opportunity and thought they had a remote chance of making the kind of money these guys make. You would. I would. Anyone would. So, really, truly, I kid you not...the odds are not in EJ's and Trav's favor, just as they are not in anyone's favor.

Capice? :-)

Jeff Kilgore 9 years, 2 months ago

You called the OSU Presidency yesterday. Gotta hand it to you. Gee whiz!

Kc Ticketguy 9 years, 2 months ago

You neglected the fact that half the world are female and 70% of the world are far to old to play in the nba.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

First cut takes us to 3.5 Billion.

Second cut takes it to 1.05 Billion.

Hey, I guess you are right: 1 in 1.05 Billion is not such bad odds, right? :-)

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 2 months ago

You have to be 1 year out of high school, so your odds just got better.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

And so they go from approaching infinity to slim and slimmer, right? :-)

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ is 6-2 in NBA inches and he is guarding all the way up to 6-6?

Good luck.

Joe Baker 9 years, 2 months ago

Fraid you're right. Two things hurt EJ this past season. His knee was never the same. He lost some bounce and pop. He even got a little lazy this last year. He was no where near his freshman and soph self. He struggled on double teams. The NBA will not double team much, but if he gets a long quick, experienced NBA guard on him, he's going to struggle. I love EJ, but the truth is really hard to grasp for him.

Euro league is where he will ultimately land. He needs to speak with Langford. It's not a bad opp.

Jeff Kilgore 9 years, 2 months ago

By "not bad" you mean he'll be able to make millions before he's 30? I'd say.

Jack Jones 9 years, 2 months ago

If EJ believes he can guard up to 6-6 ~ he either will be able, or he won't. Athletic ability + attitude and belief often equals success. Good luck EJ, Travis,Jeff and Kevin....and Ben.

wrwlumpy 9 years, 2 months ago

Hudy tweeted this. Everyone is there for summer school except Andrew.

kellerman411 9 years, 2 months ago

I do think that most GMs will be pleasantly surprised with how athletic EJ is. He didn't always get to show that here at KU but at 6-2, he is a guy you can throw lobs to and he will go get them.

I also think they may be a little surprised with Releford's perimeter shooting stroke. He doesn't elevate near like Ben but he'll keep defenders in the NBA honest. Leave him open and he'll bury it.

Greg Lux 9 years, 2 months ago

In my memory of EJ's years at KU, he was never able to guard. He could never stop a guard driving to the basket. EJ is a good guard offensively but defensively he is to slow on his first step to stay in front of an NBA guard. But I wish him all the best and hope he improves enough to make an NBA team.

Rock Chalk

jhox 9 years, 2 months ago

I like Releford's chances. He's long and an elite defender who has a knack for sliding through screens (best KU player at that since Hinrich, and you can see how valuable Hinrich is to the Bulls defensively), and he can knock down shots when left open. He also can slash. But it's his defense that gives him a great chance of making a roster. There are not a lot of guys with the ability to defend like that. I'll be shocked if he doesn't make an NBA roster.

EJ has NBA athleticism but I dont believe his shooting is consistent enough, and he doesn't make a lot of use of his athleticism offensively, he's reluctant to penetrate and when he does, he tends to be a leaner. He is not a great ball handler. It will be an up hill battle for him. I hope he proves me wrong. He's likely to be playing overseas.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 2 months ago

I've watched a lot of basketball, but when did they start playing defense in the NBA?

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago


Part 1

Listen to your slayr. :-)

Don't just look at his words. Read and understand them.

NBA players not guarding is a persistent wive's tale.

Any NBA play off quality team playing play-off grade intensity would almost certainly hold the best D1 offensive team under 30 points total in a game. If they really set their minds to it, they could probably hold them to under 20 points.

The NBA is another world of defensive basketball. There are different constraints that define how defense is played. The constraints are:

1) Athleticism is so off the charts in the NBA that no one can lock another team's star down without massive help; this changes the way on ball and off ball defense is played by every player (read Slayr's post, don't just look at the words).

2) People criticize NBA defense based on the pros need to conserve energy in an 80 game regular season and during any part of the probably 20 or so games in the play-offs and this is short sighted, because these guys turn the defense on and off as needed (note: during the regular season they are never supposed to make a game boring by completely shutting another team off--they are in the entertainment business--not just the basketball business).

3) Every man on an NBA floor after 3 seasons realizes his career goal is to milk his talent for as long as possible, and that means conserving energy and wear and tear and avoiding injury, unless a big win hangs in the balance (note: pros are trying to bank earnings for a life time and seek to play for as long as possible, so winning one for the Gipper at any cost doesn't cut it, except in a very serious play off series).

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Part 2

4) The players awesome athleticism in the NBA shrink the floor to ridiculously small dimensions, so it would be patently bad strategy to guard the way D1 players do (note: college defenses use the base line as a 6th defender; NBA defenders use every line on the floor like a defender).

5) NBA skill levels are so phenomenally high that the statistical heuristics of when and where to guard and what trade offs to make regarding types of shots to allow or deny are largely different from D1 (note: IMHO about the only similarity between NBA and D1 ball is getting to be the intensity and frequency of the fouling; otherwise skill levels and levels of athleticism just make the the NBA as different from D1, as D1 is from, say, junior highschool ball.)

The dead give away about how awesomely good the pros are at every aspect of the game is that such a teeny percentage of D1 players make it into the pros, and an even teenier percentage have ten year careers.

Frankly, the pros are so good that most of us cannot even fathom what they are doing and how they are doing it. I can usually dissect a college game in real time and anticipate what good college coaches will do in most situations. So: can lots of others. But when I and others watch a pro game, the opportunity set of feasible attacks from each player are an order of magnitude greater, and so outside of those situations late in the game, when Spoelstra just gives it Lebron, what happens is amazingly hard to follow and anticipate.

And people that say all they do in the NBA is pound it in and kick it out really don't flipping get it.

Next, fouling in the NBA and D1 are completely different arts. The NBA has always had a not just a two-tiered standard of fouling for stars and non stars, but it has long had a two tiered system for times of the game when fouling was called and not. D1 is only in the nascent stage of forming their analogous standards. The NBA has always had to allow more contact to keep the stars in the game, but also to give defensive players at least some chance of staying any where near the offensive players. Offensive players always have an advantage (the element of suprise) over defensive players, unless fouling is permitted to diminish that edge. From early on, the NBA permitted more fouling to make sure their superstars could stay on the floor without fouling out. But it was done to keep the lesser players from fouling out, too. If contact weren't permitted in the NBA, both sides would shortly foul out, or neither side would play defense to keep from fouling out.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Part 3

Next, the NBA is played as a business by NBA players, rather than as a game the way it still is in D1. By this I mean there are professional codes of conduct the same as there are in law and medicine and accounting. It is okay to let up when it doesn't matter in the NBA. It is okay to discipline a rookie that doesn't know enough not to threaten another man's meal ticket yet. You are supposed to win. But you are not supposed to take away the other man's career. These are men with homes, cars, investment portfolios, endorsement contracts, wives, mistresses, children, and so on. If a fellow professional breaks the professional code of conduct, then god forbid what will befall him eventually, unless he is very, very lucky and very, very vicious, or quits very soon. Dennis Rodman could flourish in the L as the NBA equivalent of a Rodeo Clown, because Rodman never, ever, crossed the line into threatening a fellow professional's career. Goading and even humiliation are not the same as career threat. Certain pros may not have liked getting the business from Rodman, but all veterans understood what he was doing. He was increasing the TV market that drove all their salaries. He had proven himself and taken his lumps. At the end, his rodeo clown phase was designed to maximize his earnings for his retirement. Every professional knows he has to do that one way, or another. You can't work forever. And every professional gets a secret charge out of a fellow professional finding a clever way to mock the superficial conventions of his own long as it does not threaten his own career. Its a business and a business without any fun is such a drag. Few professionals have the brilliance and daring to be either Dennis Rodman in basketball, or Gerry Spense in the law. All of this paragraph is a way of saying that the occassional, situational driven lack of commitment to excellence by the NBA players, is exactly what you find in other professions. Professionals in any field learn over time to bring exactly what is needed to a situation and not more, or less, to get the job done. Getting it done is all that matters. If the professional has enough talent and the right circumstance to set professional records, then the job becomes about setting professional records. But not when not.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Part 4

I am most definitely among the choir that thinks most NBA GMs and owners are dimwits. I think that because so many of them demonstrate their incompetance and an inability to get better, despite a system designed to help the worst get better by giving them the highest draft choices. But owners and GMs are managerial types and managerial types often do not behave as professionals, because of politics and compensation packages shaping (er, misshaping) managerial behavior in our economy. NBA players are much more akin to lawyers, doctors, accountants and architect/designers among white collar professionals, and plumbers, carpenters, and electricians among the blue collar trades. A professional can produce skillfully and on demand in a way tailored to fit the need of the situation. Not too much. Not too little. Just the right amount. In just the right amount of time.

A lot of people looking at NBA players and wanting them to play at the edge of their envelopes the way D1 players are pushed to do, are kind of wishing NBA players were more like European master craftsmen. The European mastercraftsman tradition held to a much higher standard. Everything one did was supposed to be of the best quality possible, given the resources deployed. Professionalism long ago eclipsed the master craftsman tradition. No doubt, there are a few NBA players that approach their game like master craftsmen, as there are a few such in the professions and trades, also. But by and large our economy and society abides by the professional code, which holds that one must be able to perform excellently on demand, but one only need to do enough in any situation to get the job done. This is what NBA players, great as they are, are often doing, when people complain about them.


Redlandsjhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

Jay, excellent excellent post. I've never heard the NBA described like that but it makes perfect sense. It actually makes me able to appreciate it better now that I understand it a little better. Your analogy of the European Mastercrafstman is spot on. I imagine Daimler-Benz hand making every car up until about 1972, and I compare it to the Henry Ford business model. Standardization of parts was a big catalyst in the industrial revolution. The NBA exemplifies efficiency of scale. Thanks again.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Thx. Great to hear from you, as always.

kellerman411 9 years, 2 months ago

What does everyone think about how Mario is playing? What about the Morris twins? If you're not aware the Morris twins are averaging around 20 minutes per game with a line of around 8 points with a few rebounds to go with it. They have really turned into nice players. Self's reputation for developing pros is improving. Ben is key, he needs to develop into a solid starter. Wiggins won't hurt either when he comes out although Self likely won't get as much credit for that one because of the sheer amount of talent Wiggins has.

kellerman411 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow, last 5 games Markieff has averaged 30 mins and 13.4 points and 7 rebounds. You really can't ask much more than that on 30 mins. Very impressive.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Go, Kieff, go!!!

I've always felt that Kieff had the best trade off in skills and physical abilities to make it in the paint in the L, of any of our recent bigs. He can do what Robert Horry could do and Horry to me has always been one of the models of how to play a role at the 4 in the L for a long time. Kieff can pot the triceratop, guard, muscle a bit, and run the floor. He's a perfect compliment for any dominant 5. If Jeff could learn to shoot the trey, and put on another 20 pounds, then he would be an even better 4, because he can block and alter a lot more and could be a great compliment to a super brawny 5, or 4.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 2 months ago

Mario has had a couple of really good games and been solid the rest of them. Hard to play PG when you have two ball hogs in James and particularly Wade trying to do your job. He needs to be more assertive and slash to the basket more for easy layups, otherwise Norris Cole will take more minutes. Hard to shine when you are surrounded by super stars. Have you noticed that in Miami, when the 3 super star or Allen score, the announcer goes out of his way to hype it up; when other players score, he barely raises his voice, I am sure this is by design.

Tim Orel 9 years, 2 months ago

I listened to some of the game last night during the early, critical stages and for one stretch Mario was the entire Heat team - scoring, breaking up a 3 on Mario break, very much a part of their ultimate win.. Very proud of him.

Andrew Horigan 9 years, 2 months ago

"I’ve always been able to guard. That’s what we do at Kansas. I feel like I got that from coach (Bill Self)"

Love the quote EJ. Good Luck!

theend 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ? Well....good luck to you, kid. You were ok.....but I kind of think of you as a girlfriend I just sort of liked.......and I'm content you have moved on and someone else gets to deal with you.

Sorry folks......but you can say all the good stuff about this kid you want......and I would agree with probably 90% of it. But he blew that game vs Michigan. Absolutely.....100% blew it. You can spin it any way you want......but that game was on EJ.

I honestly like him.....and wish him well. And I guess I should just get over it. It's done.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, he was baaaaaad that day, but as Scarlet Ohara said, "Tomorrow is another day."

And it is.

If all the great players quit, when they were horrible in a big situation, we would have almost no great players to remember.

To paraphrase MJ, one of the biggest money players of all time, I had to miss 6 out of 10 to make 4. And I had to miss some huge ones in order to make some huge ones.

For EJ, its all a matter of whether he can recover the hops and pops he lost.

We don't really know how good he could be because of the injuries.

But all signs are that he could be exceptional.

But he is about to find out just how lonely life can get.

Nothing is more lonely than trying to come back, when most persons doubt you can.

theend 9 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate.....I agree with you. I wish him well. It's just that in all honesty.......there is a part of me that is still sitting on my sofa......staring in disbelief at my TV as I watch a dominant KU team lose a 14 point lead in less than 5 minutes. It's still tough to take and I'm still in shock. But the other part of me has moved on and can't wait until next year.

Jabez Harlan 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ is not a great player. Not even close. He is sorta good. Besides, how many players have stooped so low as to punch another player in the balls and then not own up to it?

Unforgivable? IDK. Maybe in time I will let it go, but as for now it's still pretty fresh.

Bryce Landon 9 years, 2 months ago

He didn't punch the scUM player in the package. The scUM player flopped to make EJ's move look worse than it was. Still, EJ had his head up his @$$ in the one game we absolutely could not afford for him to do so, and he single-handedly pissed away a game everyone else in a KU uniform had played well enough to win.

Bryce Landon 9 years, 2 months ago

He was bad all season, the Iowa State game notwithstanding. He knew he was going to have to be ready to be PG, since Naadir Tharpe still wasn't ready to move into a starting role. And yet he couldn't consistently direct the team at all. He set the tone for that horrific loss to the Horny Toads and had his head up his @$$ in the one game we needed all five starters to bring their A-games. He single-handedly cost us that game against scUM.

Sam Constance 9 years, 2 months ago

I was about to say I was pleasantly surprised that there weren't any sour grapes on this thread. Guess I should have posted about 22 minutes ago.

theend 9 years, 2 months ago

Sour? A little......sure. But it's really more just not being able to get over the shock and disappointment. But what choice do I have? None. Time to move on. I guess I needed one last venting.

Jabez Harlan 9 years, 2 months ago

Yes. Sour.

Bruised grapes. Bruised from being punched.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Now that Self has landed X, Selby and Andrew, and skimming cream is no longer a novelty, I am now eagerly awaiting Coach Self pursuing players with some truly audacious monikers.

I am envious of Georgia for having had Kentavious Calder-Pope.

KU desperately needs some players with redundant names, like Bak Bak of Cal and Majok Majok of Ball State.

Come on, Coach Self, the Legacy needs a refill on exotic names.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 2 months ago

Eh...we've got the "color" them going with T. Black, Br. Greene & A. White.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

OMG! I forgot the color thing!!!! Yes, that will tide me through this season. :-)

9 years, 2 months ago

I always liked God Shammgod of Providence fame :-)

kellerman411 9 years, 2 months ago

Hey Naadir Tharpe is exotic.. kind of...

Jack Wilson 9 years, 2 months ago

Michael Dixon to Memphis ...

I wonder if the staff has any word on Anrio Adams, and his potential landing spots? I wasn't able to find anything online that was recent.

jaybate 9 years, 2 months ago

Hmmmm. Let me see if I have this straight.

Josh Pastner was reputedly glad to shed Tarik Black, who wanted to play more minutes, and worked his butt off to graduate early so as to find some place that would let him play more, then added a guy that left MU under the cloud of two accusations of sexual assault that never reached the level of criminal charges in a state that leads the nation in meth labs.

Is that about it?

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 2 months ago

He is spending his time on Facebook talking about "gettin dat money" and other silly things. He sure does have his crowd egging him on as the next Jordan.

Bryce Landon 9 years, 2 months ago

Can't see EJ doing anything other than riding the bench in the NBDL.

KansasComet 9 years, 2 months ago

EJ was and still is one of my favorite Jayhawks!!

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