A small disclaimer…there will be some rants but I will try not to be unfair or completely bias in my mutterings.(Go Blazers!)
It’s that time of year again when 1/2 of the NBA league takes stock of themselves and checks to see if there is anything left in the tank. The NBA Playoffs began last week. My wife says this is her favorite weekend. I love it too but cannot contain myself long enough to sit for hours upon hours upon hours watching the same guys you’ve seen play over and over during the regular season. I mean, there isn’t anything new these guys can do that they already haven’t done in the regular season right….?
I think for me I look for the people who step up, and that isn’t always the person you come to expect to do so. Or quite frankly sometimes it a whole team. Let’s take the Indiana Pacers – 37/45 – a team who you would think if you were to look at just that stat alone would get dusted off by the mighty Chicago Bulls like so much debris from taking a walk through a freshly mowed lawn. Not so. The Pacers have been tenacious through this entire series and although they are down 0-3 in the series they have been in it every game. Not bad for matching up against the leagues team with the best record, the Chicago Bulls – 62/20.
On a side note my wife loves Charles Barley or Sir Charles on TNT. I have to admit that he has grown on me too. He calls it like he sees it and is surprisingly funny and likable…well surprising to me. To make my point, Charles has mentioned that the Pacers have really good solid players at all their positions but they just don’t have any closers or the one superstar by which teams used to be defined. If there is any justice in this world the Pacers will make their interim coach their permanent head coach and get some additional personnel for next year to make them a little more competitive. I really like them and so far has been one of the more exciting match-ups I have seen so far.
Moving on to the topic of the Blazers. Portland has had some issues over the last couple years to say the least. First Greg Oden’s knee craps out…lots, then Roy’s knees crap out. Aside from all the other player injuries most of which have been knee injuries Portland will have some touch choices to make next year around their personnel.
With both Oden and Brandon fodder for all sorts of speculation I think if neither can get back to 80% of their former selves than we cut our losses and move on. We have some really great players with our current roster that are only going to get better such as Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum and quite possibly Chris Johnson. But you also have some salty veterans that may not be around much longer and will have to be replaced like Andre Miller and Marcus Camby. Both are salty and give Portland much-needed experience that it desperately needs.
It seems like Portland is again facing some uncertainty as to what will get them over the hump and make them truly one of the elite teams. Hard to do when your stars are plagued with injury. However the onus for that lies firmly on the shoulders of the Blazer decision makers having prior knowledge of both Greg and Brandon’s knee issue well before they were signed.
How I see next year is in terms of keepers and everyone else:
L-Train – keep – he is the work horse but needs to be better around the rim taking care of the ball – excellent shooter
Wesley Matthews – keep – he is only in his second year and promises to only get better with time. consistency is what I would like to see improved.
George “Crash” Wallace – keep – tough, high energy.Capable of big scoring nights – needs to sometimes be selfish and “take the goddamn shot already!”
Nicolas Batum – keep – he is great no matter if from the bench or starting – he has length and quickness but hasn’t earned enough respect from the refs to not get called on ticky-tack bullshit fouls often enough to make him a monster defensive threat but is young and already has years of experience. Also is streaky but with years in the league will only get better.
Andre “Dre” Miller – keep/trade/retire – hard to tell which will happen. Personally I like the guy and what he brings in terms of leadership and tenacity. Nice to get another point guard that he can take under his wing and help mature him up before he leaves the game. He is getting old.
Marcus Camby – keep/trade/retire – another salty veteran that has kept Portland defense afloat but is getting old and minutes are down because of age and injuries of his own.
Brandon Roy – 6th Man winner and 3-time all-star – trade/retire – Brandon is a huge money sink and I personally feel you cannot keep a player you pay $80+ Million dollars to come off the bench. Brandon WAS the franchise but his knees and thus his driving ability is gone. Also his ability to defend is gone. He can still shoot the “J” but that is about it. Cut him loose and get some salary cap for another healthy player.
Greg Oden – keep/trade – He is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. I think if he can rehab and get somewhat healthy and play 20 minutes a game he will be a difference maker. I don’t think anyone will take a big risk on him so Portland will pay next to nothing for what might be considered damaged goods in the hopes he has one more go to show he can get and stay healthy.
Rudy Fernandez – keep/trade/go to Spain – it is hard to say with this guy. Personally I love’em. I have only one jersey and it is good ol’ #5. Putting aside my personal feelings he has been useless during the playoffs and somewhat erratic in his play. Always high energy he can make some things happen and breathe life into the team almost like no other player but is massively streaky. He has also said he wants to go back to Spain although has found a friend in Patty Mills so has settle down this year from his early season antics.
Patty Mills – trade – I like the guy but he is streaky and not a pure point guard which is the position he plays. He commits turn-overs and although he can shoot the three almost everyone on Portland can. His talents will find another home next year.
Luke Babbit – trade/d-league – has proven that he cannot play with the big boys with any consistency. To nervous and tentative when on the floor.
Armon Johnson – trade – Portland doesn’t really need another shooting point guard. He has been streaky and aside from moments of good play early in the season has been to the d-league and looks to score when he should look to pass.
Chris Johnson – d-league/keep – I think if this kid could put on some weight so he doesn’t blow away when a strong breeze comes by he might be worth keeping. He is young, fast and can be a role player. Rebound and block shots. He also has pretty good speed for a big. He doesn’t score much but that isn’t his job. He might be worth investing in.
Elliotte Williams has been injured all year with a wait for it….knee injury. Only if his knee has healed 100% and he has proven himself should he be given a spot.
I have prattled on long enough to bore even myself so I am gonna wrap this up. Looking forward to what Cho does with the team next year.
More to come…