Robin Lopez vows to help the Portland Trail Blazers with something the team missed last season: defensive stops.
The 7-foot-center acquired by the Blazers in a three-team trade with New Orleans and Sacramento was introduced to his new team on Thursday.
The Blazers lacked a real center last season, instead using forward J.J. Hickson up front with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. As a result, Portland never had a big shot-blocking presence on the defensive end.
Hickson, a free agent, signed this week with the Denver Nuggets. In the trade that brought Lopez to Portland, guard Tyreke Evans went to the Pelicans and guard Greivis Vasquez was sent to the Kings. Portland also acquired guard Terrel Harris from the Pelicans in the trade, and gave up the draft rights to Jeff Withey, future second-round draft picks and cash.
Lopez averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.56 blocked shots in 82 starts last season with the Pelicans.
''J.J. did a terrific job but we were one of the worst ...