The Portland Trail Blazers are participating in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Pat Connaughton is set to start at shooting guard. Connaughton is fully aware that he needs to play well in Las Vegas to convince management to keep him on the roster. Whether he stays with the Blazers or has to look around the league for other opportunities, Connaughton prefers to keep playing basketball.
"I'd love to be here, I'd love to play here, I'd love to have an impact and help the team win," Connaughton told The Oregonian. "But at the same time, I still want to make sure I'm in a position where I get an opportunity for the foreseeable future in the NBA. I think the big thing for me is to take advantage of the opportunity, whether it's in Portland, whether it's somewhere else, to make sure I really see this thing through before I think about doing anything else."
Connaughton's Major League Baseball rights are owned by the Baltimore Orioles after the American League team selected him in the fourth-round of the 2014 first-year player draft. The Orioles rate Connaughton highly and have allowed him to keep the $428,000 signing bonus.
Connaughton's status with the Blazers is uncertain as his salary for the 2017-18 NBA season becomes fully guaranteed on July 15, if he's not waived by the deadline. With the Blazers expected to pay a high luxury tax bill in 2018, the team could waive Connaughton and run with just a 14-man roster for most of the upcoming season to reduce the amount they will owe the NBA.
Connaughton, the No. 41 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, made 39 appearances in 2016-17 and averaged 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds.
-- Nick Silva