I won’t get into how awful our basketball team is right now. This weekend's losses speak for themselves. Let’s just stick with these quickies:
- In the last three losses our starting backcourt has taken 83 shots. Yes, that’s right, 83. They’ve made 27 of those shots for a shooting percentage of 32%. That’s not the way I was taught to build a basketball team.
- Nick Van Exel has made four out of his last 30 shots. Yet Mo has given him 121 minutes of playing time over the past three games. I don’t understand it either.
- Six of the team's next seven games are against playoff teams (Indiana twice, LA Lakers, Minnesota, Detroit, and Phoenix, with Atlanta being the non-playoff opponent). That ought to officially polish off the season.
What the hell is going on here? The only possible bright spot that can be gleamed from this catastrophe is that Damon is averaging 24 points-per-game over the past few weeks; perhaps that will increase his trade value. I know it’s a stretch, but it’s about all we’ve got. I guess the only reason to remain calm about this whoe thing is that we haven’t reached the trade deadline yet. Between Damon and Shareef, the team should be able to land a very significant asset in return. If we wake up on February 25th (the deadline is midnight EST on the 24th) and there hasn’t been any roster changes, then we all as Blazer fans deserve the right to peel our own skin off of our bodies. I’m willing to let upper management have at least that much slack … I do understand the philosophy of waiting to see what the best offers come in at.
Let’s take a look at next year’s projected lineup, starters listed first:
PG: Telfair, veteran backup
SG: Player X, Sergei Monia
SF: Miles, Patterson, Khryapa
PF: Randolph, Outlaw, Ratliff
C: Pryzbilla, Ratliff
This is making a couple of assumptions; mainly that the team signs a veteran backup PG to split time with Telfair, and that they make a trade for a shooting guard (player X).
Who might they be able to land? One name that has been floated around is Boston’s Paul Pierce. It’s worth nothing that Chad Ford from ESPN.com is saying that Boston has decided to hang on to Pierce, but given that source, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it.
I have never really like Pierce's game. And if you have to take Raef LaFrenz’s contract to get him, as is the rumor … ugh. For a 2-guard, he dominates theball more than he should, and shoots too many threes. I believe he’s under 30% for the year. I'd rather have a guy like Mike Miller from Memphis. Unfortunately, looking at Memphis' depth chart, they don't really need a PF because they already have Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift. What they do need is a center. What about Theo Ratliff? Would you trade Ratliff for Mike Miller plus any fillers? Assuming the team can re-sign Joel Pryzbilla, I’d make that deal. I’ve never been a fan of throwing out and speculating on wild trade rumors that are unsubstantiated, but I think it’s worth our time to talk about some of the shooting guards around the league who might be available. Other names I’ve heard bantered about:
- Wally Szerbiak, Minnesota Timberwolves. Following their coaching change (can we now add Flip Saunders to our list of possible candidates to coach Portland next year?), Minnesota is looking to shake up their personnel. We know they offered Wally for Shareef over the summer, and Portland passed. Abdur-Rahim is just the type of guy Minnesota is looking to add … think the Blazers might like to revisit that deal?
- Michael Finley, Dallas Mavericks. Rumors have had Dallas shopping him around all year. A very solid player, but his skills have declined a bit over the past few years; not to mention that he’s got over $50 million left on his contract and it’s very hard to see Portland taking that on.
- Mikeal Pietrus, Golden State Warriors. Not as big of a name as the other two guys, but a very underrated player. You may not know much about him, here’s the ESPN.com link to his profile. Golden State is a bit overloaded with all of their swingmen, and with Michael Dunleavy playing like an all-star for the past two weeks, they may be willing to move Pietrus. Fanning the fire more on this deal … Golden State is looking for a big man. That’s one thing that Portland has plenty of.
- Ronald Murray, Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics have bigger issues on their mind – like figuring out what to do with Ray Allen – but Murray is a guy who is a free agent this summer and is having trouble getting off their bench, so they've got motivation to make a deal. Seattle knows they'll need a little more front-court depth come playoff time. Murray is a bit undersized for a “2” but has shown an explosive scoring and shooting ability in the past, and would be a nice piece for Portland to add. Since he's a free-agent, I'm not sure he'd be a long-term solution ... but he's good, he's available, and he's a helluva lot better than Derek Anderson.
- Jiri Welsch, Boston Celtics. Welsch is another guy who’s shown a very nice ability to shoot the ball in the past (43% FG this year, 36% from 3pt). He doesn’t make much money, so a trade for him wouldn’t cost Portland a lot. If Boston doesn’t trade Pierce, they’ll likely make one or two smaller moves, and Welsch will definitely be a part of that.
Personally, I think Portland is much more likely to land a guy like Peitrus or Welsch than they are to do what we all want them to do – trade some serious assets for a guy like Mike Miller. What do you think? Email me your ideas and we’ll post the more interesting and feasible ones here.
Editor's note: I've received a few emails asking why Mike Dunleavy wasn't mentioned. Let me get something straight: I would be thrilled if Portland brought in Mikey D. Unfortunately (and the only reason I've noticed this is because I live in San Francisco), Dunleavyhas played like an all-star for the past two weeks. 20+pts, 8 rebs, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals-type boxscores ... basically doing what we thought he would eventually do in the pros. All year, the Warriors have been debating whether to trade Dunleavy or Pietrus and it looks like it's going to be Pietrus, hence him being mentioned.
As a side note, it's really too bad that chris mullin had the worst offseason of any team in the NBA last summer, because with Jason Richardson, Dunleavy, and Troy Murphy, you really could have anice nucleus for a team that could step into a western conferenceplayoffs once teams like LA and Sacramento and Seattle finally start crapping the bed. Too bad they screwed themselves over by giving ridiculous contracts to Adonal Foyle and Derek Fisher while not re-signing Eric Dampier. Typical Warrior maneuver.