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Ex-Spartan Keith Appling looking to nab 'wide open' roster spot in Portland

Former Michigan State Star Keith Appling Hopes To Nab 'Wide Open' Roster Spot In Portland.
Former Michigan State Star Keith Appling Hopes To Nab 'Wide Open' Roster Spot In Portland.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

On Tuesday, former Michigan State star Keith Appling admitted that he had a lot to look forward to in his immediate future.

Former Michigan State player Keith Appling took head coach Tom Izzo's advice and headed to Portland to compete for an open roster spot.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Though he had to sit through a wealth of disappointment and watch as all 60 names in last Thursday's NBA draft went by without seeing his own (including those of his friends and former teammates, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne), Appling was picked up as a free agent by the Portland Trail Blazers to play in their summer league.

Instead of feeling bad for himself, Appling decided that his situation really could be an incredible new opportunity for him. One major reason so? Portland has a glaring opening in the form of a need for a back up for starting point guard Damian Lillard.
“I feel like this is a second opportunity to accomplish my goals,” Appling said on The Drive with Jack on Lansing’s The Game 730 AM.

Appling isn't the only player trying to vie for that open position. Several NBA veterans, including former star C.J. McCollum, will all look to impress the coaches and earn the role, but Appling said he decided to take a shot with Portland because he felt that with his own style of play, he could be the best fit and see some immediate playing time.

“We kind of did a little research and we came to the conclusion that that point guard spot is wide open in Portland,” Appling said. “And I just have to take care of my business on the floor and we’ll see what happens moving forward.”

Appling wasn't alone in his thinking when he signed with Portland. He was also encouraged to make the move by his former head coach in Michigan State's Tom Izzo.

“There aren’t many teams where I think he would have a legitimate chance. I think he has a legitimate chance,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said on Monday. “I talked to their general manager and, I mean, they’re going to give him a shot.”

The big question on everyone's mind, especially on the minds of his new coaches in Portland, is whether or not Appling can bounce back after a wrist injury that hobbled him for most of his final season with the Spartans. Since his final game, Appling has claimed to feel worlds better than he had when he played at MSU.

“After I got hurt, my touch was never the same, so I passed up a lot of shots simply because it was very painful for me to flick my wrist. So when I was out there on the floor I did what I could to help my team continue to win games.

“A lot of people looked at me as being less confident because I passed up some shots, but it was simply because I was in pain and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Now that the injury is no longer an issue, Appling hopes to earn the open roster spot with the attributes that made him a household name as a Spartan in the first place: Confidence and Talent.

You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at

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