PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Norman Powell was settling into his brand new home in Portland on Friday. The day before his couches had been delivered, along with the computer for his gaming set-up and almost a year after being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers from the Toronto Raptors, he was finally feeling settled in Rip City.
And then his phone rang.
“I didn’t think I was going to be traded,” Powell told KOIN 6 News Sunday. “When you’re looking at the team you’re looking at you know, how the NBA is and what teams are building towards you understand what they’re trying to do, no one is off-limits.”
Still, when the Blazers traded Powell and forward Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round draft pick, the Blazers guard was caught off-guard.
“I didn’t want to be traded in a sense,” Powell said after scoring 28 points in his Clippers debut. “I wanted to stick with the team and fight and builds and I think what Chauncey [Billups] represents and what he’s building out there is really good.”
All indications were, the Blazers were in on Powell for the long haul, signing him to a five-year, $90 million contract in the summer of 2021. Rip City, without a doubt, embraced Powell and his brand of “Understand the Grind” almost immediately, even chanting his name during a playoff game against the Denver Nuggets just months after he joined the team.
“Chanting my name in the arena during the playoffs it really meant a lot to me,” Powell recalled. “I feel like those are things reserved for guys who have been through it and have been a part of that team for a long time, Dame [Lillard], CJ [McCollum]. The love and support I got from Day 1 really hit home for me.”
But now, Powell is actually home, or at least much closer to it.
Born and raised just a few hours south of the current home of the Clippers, in San Diego, and having played college at UCLA, Los Angeles is as ideal a spot in relation to ‘home’ as possible for Powell.
“My mom has not stopped smiling,” said Powell, who had about a dozen family and friends in the stands Sunday night to watch his Clippers debut against the Milwaukee Bucks. “She didn’t believe it when I told her. The family is super excited and happy about it, being able to come to more games, it’s such a quick trip. And then me being able to go down there on off days, I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
And as much as he was loving learning under Billups, his new head coach, Tyronn Lue, is a mentor of Billups. And on the court, the Clippers have the pieces to contend for a title long-term, especially once Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return from injury.
“I think we have something really good here and I’m just excited to come in and help anyway I can.”