The Portland Trail Blazers have no intention of letting Pat Connaughton, their incoming rookie out of Notre Dame, try to become the next two-sport athlete on their dime, despite the Baltimore Orioles having serious interest in him playing for them.
Despite Connaughton feeling the need to spread his talents among a number of sports and his dream of participating in more than just one, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey doesn’t think it’s going to happen, not under his watch.
That’s not happening. The conversation we had with Pat prior to all of this was you’re an NBA player now. Being an NBA player is not a part-time job. The time when Pat would be going to play baseball is a time when you’re working on your game and getting better. You see how valuable July is. During the development phase, when you’re a second-round pick in the NBA and you have a ways to go to have a translatable skill-set in our league, you need Summer League, you need Grg’s camp (run by Bucks assistant Tim Grgurich), you need to spend the offseason in the gym. You can’t do that on a part-time basis. If he gets into a second contract down the road and that is something he wants to pursue, then that can be a discussion point.
Connaughton was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB draft, including an agreement for a $428,000 signing bonus. He even played 14.2 innings for Class-A Aberdeen IronBirds last summer, striking out 10 and displaying a 96-mph fastball. But he returned to Notre Dame and had a great senior season. Basketball was always the first choice for him.
Connaughton averaged 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Fighting Irish while shooting 42.3% from beyond the arc as he helped them make the Elite Eight and almost knock off Kentucky in a close game. He shot 43.8% from beyond the arc for the Blazers during five days of Summer League action. He’s just a second round pick but after what the Blazers lost this summer in free agency, he’s going to have a bigger role than expected.