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Jury's out on Maynor; Leonard deserves a real look; Collier rates more court time with OSU

A few observations as another sporting weekend approaches ...

• The newest Trail Blazer, point guard Eric Maynor, was taken by Utah with the 20th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. In his first month in the league, Maynor had 13 points and 11 assists in a game against Philadelphia — becoming the first Jazz rookie to have a double-double in his first career start since Andrei Kirilenko in 2001 — and also scored 24 points in a game against Cleveland. Those wound up being his only two starts for the Jazz.

But 26 games into his rookie year, Maynor was traded to Oklahoma City along with the contract of Matt Harpring (who was effectively retired) for the draft rights to Peter “Who He?” Fehse.

“Trading Eric was a difficult decision,” Utah general manager Kevin O’Connor said at the time. “But, along with Matt’s contract, it greatly helps reduce our luxury tax responsibility. With Deron (Williams) and a proven backup in Ronnie Price, we feel that we have depth at that position.”

It’s unusual for a team to give up on a first-round choice so quickly. The Jazz basically gave him away to avoid paying luxury tax. It’s also instructive to know they felt more highly about Price than Maynor.

The 6-3, 175-pound Maynor wound up serving as Russell Westbrook's backup for the rest of 2009-10 and most of 2010-11 before ACL knee surgery cost him most of the 2011-12 campaign. With Reggie Jackson as Westbrook's backup, Maynor mostly sat the bench with the Thunder this season.

Maynor's career shooting numbers have dropped each season, from .418 from the field as a rookie to .402 in 2010-11 to .359 in 2011-12 to .313 this season. He should fit well with the rest of the Blazer reserves, who besides Meyers Leonard (.541) and Joel Freeland (.405 after a 1-for-24 start), are all shooting below 37 percent.

Where Maynor may be able to help is in distributing and taking care of the ball. His career average is one assist every five minutes (Damian Lillard's this season is one per six minutes). Maynor's assist-to-turnover ratio is about 3-1. With the necessary minutes, that would put him eighth on the NBA list this season.

Maynor's contract — $2,338,721 — expires after this season, so this is costing the Blazers roughly $800,000. Not bad.

And since the Blazers gave up virtually nothing -- the draft rights to "Gorgeous" Georgios Printezis and a $2.4-million trade exception -- it's worth a try.

But before we call Maynor a "reliable backup point guard" and refer to Portland general manager Neil Olshey as a "smart shopper," let's see how it works with Maynor the rest of the season.

• Regardless of Portland's standings in the playoff picture, Leonard needs to play more.

The 7-1 rookie out of Illinois has looked lost at times and clearly has frustrated coach Terry Stotts for a variety of reasons. There is no denying that Leonard — who turns 21 on Wednesday — has been a foul magnet, an affliction that sometimes happens to young post men.

Still, I'd argue Leonard is the best backup center — better than either Freeland or veteran Jared Jeffries — and holds much more potential than any of the possible replacements for J.J. Hickson.

Over the past month, Leonard has played double-figure minutes only twice, in blowout losses to Houston and New Orleans. He ought to be playing 15 to 18 minutes a game, both to spell Hickson and to develop skills that one day may pay dividends for the Blazers.

I'll say this about Leonard. He runs the court about as well as any young big man I've seen. He has a decent touch from short range and is a terrific foul shooter (.848 on 39 for 46). Those are skills the Blazers can use right now, not just in the future.

• At Oregon State, Craig Robinson's substitution patterns have confounded me.

The Beavers' best post presence, 6-8 junior Devon Collier, comes off the bench (ostensibly to provide offense from an underserved sub club) and is the team's No. 2 scorer at 12.9 points per game despite averaging only 25 minutes.

In Thursday's 82-72 loss to Stanford, Collier and Joe Burton were doing extensive damage inside en route to a 35-34 halftime lead. Collier didn't enter the game again until 12 minutes remained; by that time, the Beavers were swimming upstream, and Collier hardly saw the ball the rest of the way. He was scoreless in the second half and wound up playing 19 total minutes.

To give the Beavers the best opportunity to win, Collier needs to play 30 to 35 minutes a game. That might mean sitting freshman Jarmal Reid, who was scoreless in his 12 minutes and committed a pair of late senseless fouls that contributed to the Cardinal victory.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers