Breakfast with the Blazers: Steve Blake returns, this time as coach
BY JASON QUICK, STAFF WRITER
For the fourth time, Steve Blake is home with the Trail Blazers.
The former point guard, who had three tours with the Blazers as a player, has joined the team as a coaching intern this season.
Blake said he will coach only at home practices and will not attend games.
“As a player, I felt like I knew the game well and could do it, but I would only want to have this role that I have,’’ Blake said after the Blazers’ first practice. “As much as I would love to be a full-time coach, I’m just not ready for that commitment, with my kids being so young and having just finished playing.’’
Blake, 37, played for eight teams over 13 NBA seasons, including five seasons with the Blazers. He ranks 6th in franchise history with 492 three-pointers and led the 2005-2006 Blazers team with 76 three-pointers. In 2009, he set a Blazers record with 14 assists in a half against the Clippers.
He was traded three times by the Blazers –in 2006 to Milwaukee for Jamaal Magloire; in 2010 to the Clippers (with Travis Outlaw) for Marcus Camby; and in 2015 (with draft pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) to Brooklyn for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton.
After he was the 38th overall pick by Washington in 2003, where he played for two seasons, he played for Portland, Milwaukee, Denver, the Clippers, the Lakers, Golden State and Detroit.
Through it all, Portland became his home base.
“This is home for me, always has been since I first played here.(in 2005),’’ Blake said. “It’s home. No matter where I’ve gone, I’ve come back. I love the people here, there is some great relationships with friends of our kids, my pastor at church … it’s just home.’’
Blake last played in Australia for the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League, but ended his career last November to be closer to wife Kristen and three boys – Nicholas (11), Jameson (8) and Zachary (7) – in West Linn.
After spending the past nine months being a dad/coach, Blake said he started to get the itch to do something in his spare time. His agent lined up several coaching opportunities around the NBA, but Blake said there was really only one option.
“I was like, nope. If it’s not here it’s nowhere. It’s not happening anywhere else,’’ Blake said with a smile. “I’m staying here.’’
With the Blazers, Blake said his role is to do anything to help, whether that is rebounding for players, offering input in coaches meetings, or getting on the court to go against players.
Damian Lillard, who played with Blake during the 2014-2015 season, said his former teammate is a welcomed addition.
“I think having Steve around is good. He is a guy who, it comes from a different lens than the coaches,’’ Lillard said. “(The coaches are) telling it as kind of enforcers like, ‘you should have been here, you should of did this, this is what we wanted’ andSteve is more about teaching. He wants to see you improve and do better and he is also a vet. He played how many years … and he’s been a starter, played good minutes as a backup, been on winning teams, losing teams, so just having him there is just really helpful for the players.’’
Blake has been part of the staff for the past three weeks and has taken part in coaches meetings and planning sessions for training camp. He said he doesn’t think he will work exclusively with point guards.
“I’m there if they need me; I’m kind of at the disposal of what they want,’’ Blake said. “If they want me to work with point guards I will, if they want me to do other things I will. But it’s not like I will just hone in on point guards. I’m here for the whole experience, whether it’s rebounding for guys or giving opinions.’’
Coach Terry Stotts, who has always stressed and valued input among his assistants, said Blake’s NBA playing experience is invaluable to this staff.
“I’ve always appreciated players’ point of view, so in coaches meetings I will ask him his opinion of something because he has a unique perspective,’’ Stotts said.
Stotts, however, doesn’t have to worry about Blake stealing his job. Blake said his family remains his priority and he has no full-time coaching aspirations.
“I’ve always wanted to be around the game, but I didn’t want a full-time coaching position,’’ Blake said. “I know it’s a bit of a grind, and you are away from home even more than you are as a player. And I really enjoy being home with my family, and that’s my first priority, my wife and kids. As much as I would love to be a full-time coach, I would want to be home for them.’’