Guard Steve Blake Returning to Blazers

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. – Former Trail Blazer Steve Blake is coming back to Portland, even though in one sense he never left. The free agent point guard who played for the Denver Nuggets last season signed a reported two-year deal with an option.

The Blazers, who confirmed his return late Friday, did not disclose terms.

Blake, a four-year veteran, averaged 8.3 points and 6.6 assists in 49 games with Denver last season.

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It is Blake’s second stint with the Blazers. He played for the team in 2005-06, averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 assists. He still has an offseason home in the area.

Blake told the Rocky Mountain News that he decided to return to Portland because the Nuggets appeared on the verge of finalizing a contract with guard Chucky Atkins.

“That’s OK, if that’s the direction they want to go,” Blake told the newspaper. “I just decided to go back to Portland.”

Calls placed to Blake’s agent Friday were not immediately returned.

Blake made $1.33 million last season and was seeking a starting salary close to the NBA’s $5.35 million midlevel exception.

Blake lives with his family in West Linn, Ore., near Portland, during the offseason, and just bought a new home.

Other teams reportedly interested in Blake included the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Blake, 27, played for the University of Maryland. For his career, he has averaged 6.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 22.5 minutes with the Washington Wizards, Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks and Nuggets.

“Steve embodies the kind of culture we’re building here in Portland,” Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard said. “He’s an intelligent, hardworking, team player with a tremendous grasp as to what it takes to play the point guard position.”

The move makes the Blazers deep at point guard, with Blake, Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez, as well as Brandon Roy, the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, who played the point at times last season.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)