Trail Blazers introduce Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith and Jon Diebler

This afternoon the Portland Trail Blazers introduced the newest members who they acquired during Draft night, Raymond Felton from the Denver Nuggets and rookies Nolan Smith (Duke) and Jon Diebler (Ohio State) at the Boy’s and Girls Club in downtown Portland.

Accompanied by head coach Nate McMillan and current acting GM Chad Buchanan gave each player their jerseys and number. Felton will replace Rudy Fernandez as number 5, Smith will take Jerryd Bayless’s old number 4 and Diebler will wear number 33.

Someone sure looks happy to be holding their Blazers jersey

Felton who spoke to reporters at the news conference talked about his role on the Blazers:

I definitely want something long-term here, I definitely look forward to that situation when the time comes. I have one year left on my deal. That’s all I’m worried about. I’ll worry about this season. I’ll let my agent deal with all the rest of that. I’ll just come out and play basketball and help this team win….I wanted to be in a situation where I can run a team and I wanted to lead my team. I’m still young in my career.” and added: “The fit is great. We’re a very young team, athletic. We can really get up and down the court. We’ve got a great post man who can put the ball in the basket, just in case we have to play some halfcourt basketball. I look forward to everything.”

Buchanan gave details onto how long Portland was interested in Felton by saying:

We’ve been tracking Raymond for quite some time, all the way back to his days at North Carolina. National champion. Had a great start to his career in Charlotte. Showed great improvement each year in Charlotte and had a tremendous year last year — started in New York and was traded to Denver last year. We’ve been big fans of Raymond for quite some time. We’re fortunate to add Raymond to our core moving forward. We feel like he’s a player entering the prime of his career. Matches up a with a lot of the guys on our roster as-is. I think it’s a great opportunity for Raymond as well.”

The Blazer's 21st pick shows off his new jersey and number to the press

As NBA commissioner David Stern stepped onto the podium last Thursday (should mention all the boos he received all night as well) and read that Portland had selected Nolan Smith with the 21st pick, critics and experts shrug their shoulders, scratched their heads or facepalmed themselves. It was in regards on expectations that the Blazers would be picking Morehead State big man Kenneth Faried, someone who the organization drooled over during workouts and even took out to wine and dine him. Instead, Portland pulled the rug from under our feet and selected a backup point guard at Duke who had some playing time last year as Kyrie Irving (Cleveland’s first pick) went down with an ankle injury. Here’s how Buchanan responded to criticism he and the organization took for picking Smith in the first round:

We feel [Nolan is] one of the classiest kids in the draft. Obviously a very tremendous talent as well. [He] has won at every level. Won 40 games at Oak Hill Academy. Won a national championship at Duke. One of the top players in the country this year. Another guy who showed improvement every year — which we’re big on. We like to see guys who get better every year, shows us they are willing to work on their game. Nolan, being a first class kid, he fits our culture as well. Nolan has his family out here with him.

We were big fans of Kenneth. Have been for a couple of years. We felt like we needed a long-term answer at point guard and we needed to address some depth in our frontcourt. If we can address both needs during the draft that’s great. We tried to do that. The price tag to do both is not where we wanted to go. We wanted to keep our core players together. Let’s address the backcourt now and address the frontcourt in free agency. When we looked at who was available in free agency, we felt much better about the candidates in the frontcourt rather than the backcourt.”

Should also be mentioned that Smith is a long time friend of Thunder star Kevin Durant which should add some more spice in the Blazers-Thunder rivalry.

Second round pick Jon Diebler (right) with acting GM Chad Buchanan (left)

Get a good look Rip City cause it sounds to me that poor Diebler won’t face much playing time and will be getting to know the bench seat quite well. Considering having Roy, Matthews, Elliot Williams, Armon Johnson, Smith and Patty Mills ahead in the rotation doesn’t mean an awful lot of meaningful minutes. Mr. Garbage Time perhaps? Here’s what Buchanan had to say about Diebler’s role (if any) on the Blazers:

Being a second round pick, you obviously have some flexibility. Whether you bring him over immediately or if you want to have him play overseas for a season. We’ll sit down with his agent and talk about some options for Jon. But he’s obviously got an NBA skill. Finding the right time to have him on our roster is something that we have to discuss. 

He is one of the better catch-and-shoot guys in this draft. Had a tremendous season and a tremendous career at Ohio State. High character guy, fits our organization, fits what we’re about, comes from a basketball pedigree. His dad was his coach in high school. All-time leading scorer in Ohio high school basketball history. One of the best shooters we felt in this draft. Very happy to get him where we selected him.  Jon is … recently married and he has his wife Kate with him so it’s an exciting time for him.

Hopefully Luke Babbit can give this guy pointers on how to be the best benchwarmer out on the court.

photos and quotes courtesy of