Former Duke guard Nolan Smith talked to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian about his past two years in Portland and where the future will take the impending free agent.
After being selected with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft, Smith failed to make an impact as a Trailblazer in two seasons, drawing the ire of the Portland faithful. Smith told Freeman the following about his relationship with the Trailblazer fans:
“I don’t blame them,” Smith said. “I don’t blame them at all. Seeing what [Kenneth Faried, the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA draft] is doing, seeing how he plays when he’s on the court with his team, it’s very easy to say, ‘Damn, we could have had him.’ But they could have had Michael Jordan, as well. It’s part of the draft. They’re mad at Greg Oden, too. So you can just add me to the guys they can be mad at.”
Due to the lockout season in 2011-12, Smith feels he never got his fair shot in Portland, though he did have a full training camp this season and failed to beat out guard Ronnie Price for the backup point guard role.
Despite the ‘Blazers declining his third-year option, Smith expects to have a handful of job offers when he hits the open market. He believes the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder will be his most ardent suitors.
Smith has a Duke connection with the Hawks, whose general manager is former Blue Devil Danny Ferry, and a family tie with the Thunder. Derek Smith, Nolan’s father, played two NBA seasons with now-Thunder coach Scott Brooks and was a groomsman at Brooks’ wedding, where Nolan was the ring-bearer. Brooks is also Smith’s godfather.
Smith averaged just 2.8 points and 0.9 assists this season while playing only 7.2 minutes per game.