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Trail Blazers' Addition of Eric Maynor from Thunder Could Be the Bench Boost Portland Needed

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COMMENTARY | Before we get into the potential positives of the Portland Trail Blazers' move on NBA trade deadline day, let's get something out of the way:

Eric Maynor has a significant knee injury in his history.

Blazers fans shudder any time knee issues come up, because in the Rose City, bad knees and pro basketball players have seemed to be inextricably linked over the years, especially recently.

Don't worry, though; the Blazers won't be trying to rely on Maynor the way they did with Brandon Roy or the way they had hoped to with Greg Oden. The backup point guard out of Virginia Commonwealth tore his ACL in January of 2012, and has seen his minutes decline this season with the emergence of Reggie Jackson.

There's nobody on Portland's bench who will keep Maynor from getting on the court to spell starter Damian Lillard, because Nolan Smith has yet to prove he is a consistently reliable backup option and because the team is reportedly waiving Ronnie Price after Thursday's deal.

That deal is another one of those moves that has to have you believing just a little bit more in Neil Olshey's abilities to turn things around in Portland. The former Los Angeles Clippers GM, in his first season with the Blazers, is sending Oklahoma City the draft rights to Giorgio Printezis, a 27-year-old Greek forward who was drafted in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and whose rights went to Portland in that Raymond Felton deal last year.

In other words, the Blazers aren't sacrificing anything in their future plans to acquire some much-needed depth in the form of the 25-year-old Maynor. The nucleus remains intact, including center J.J. Hickson, who had reportedly been on the trading block but seemed unlikely to be heading anywhere, and the Blazers aren't shelling out any ridiculous cash, with Maynor in the final season of a rookie contract that pays him $2.3 million.

It's a deal that, to many around the NBA, won't be more than a blip on the transaction wire, but to Portland fans, it signifies a legitimate boost off a bench that was as thin and unproductive as any in the league.

Maynor's stats aren't going to impress you much -- he's dipped below 11 minutes per game this season while averaging 2.8 points and 2.0 assists. Last season, he played in just nine games before the ACL injury happened during a game against the Houston Rockets. Even then, playing behind Russell Westbrook, Maynor was getting only 15 minutes a game and averaging 4.2 points and 2.4 assists.

But hey, if coach Terry Stotts can trust Maynor with 15 minutes a game, that'd be something -- none of the Blazers' current reserves are averaging that much, with rookie center Meyers Leonard the closest at 14.6 per game.

Meanwhile, Lillard -- who is putting together a Rookie of the Year-worthy first season -- is logging a tiresome 38.5 minutes per game.

Perhaps Maynor is the guy who can give Lillard a little relief beyond more than just mop-up duty, letting the Blazers protect their investment a little more and stop running him into the ground.

In that way, at least, the addition of Maynor could give Portland a lift in the present and in the future.


Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.

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