Thursday, May 19, 2005

Portland Picks Up Option on Nash

As most of you have inevitably heard by now, the Blazers exercised their option on John Nash yesterday, bringing him back as the club's GM for another year.

This is very disappointing news. Portland just polished off its worst season in 30 years, and you don't make a change at the top? Granted, Nash walked into a bad situation two seasons ago -- but he's made the situation worse, not better. The Rasheed Wallace trade was a good one at the time, but he messed it up by not getting anything in return for Shareef at this year's trading deadline. Last season, he vastly overpaid both Zach Randolph and Darius Miles, when both would have been restricted free agents this coming offseason and the team could have matched any offer that either player received. And after this year, there's no way that either player would have received close to what Portland gave. He also vastly overpaid Theo Ratliff with his contract extension. I was in favor of extending Theo's deal ... but $48 million for a guy who has a history of injury problems and half-seasons of success? It seemed a bit much at the time.

At the press conference (which you can download the audio for from a link here), both Steve Patterson and John Nash touched on several topics. A few highlights:
  • Nash didn't expect this to happen today, and he's "delighted to have to opportunity" to continue to the "job started in 2003 of cleaning up the roster and reducing the monstrous payroll."
  • A reporter (I believe it was Canzano) asked Nash to grade himself, and he declined. That same reporter asked Patterson to grade Nash, and he also declined. That reporter followed up with a question to Patterson asking what part of Nash's performance did he think warranted bringing Nash back, and Patterson dodged that question as well.
  • Nash stated that his "first order of business is finding a new head coach". Patterson goes on to mention that the team has complied a short list, but wouldn't say or answer any questions regarding who was on it. They did mention that they'd like to have the individual in place prior to the draft at the end of June.
  • Once the team's draft position is firmed up, then they'll start working out possible lottery picks.

Furthermore, Chad Ford from took a question on the Blazers in his chat today:

Matt (san francisco): Chad, the Blazers picked up their option on their GM Steve Nash (ha) yesterday. After horrible moves such as overpaying Randolph, Miles, and Ratliff, and failing to improve the team at the trade deadline, some of us are upset. What's your take? THANKS!

Chad Ford: (12:47 PM ET ) Gotta love the Blazers. Nash had a tough job to do in Portland, but the bottom line was that he actually made things worse. I wouldn't take his re-signing as a good sign either. Who is giving Paul Allen advice these days?

The one positive spin we can all put on this is that the option Portland picked up is only for one year. Coincidently, Kiki Vandeweighe's contract as Denver's GM remains at one year as well. That's too far away to speculate, but one has to wonder, especially considering Patterson's statement that he'd like to involve ex-Blazers in the front office. As for Nash, the team obviously feels he's done something right. I disagree, and I find today's news quite depressing. Between Van Exel's contract, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and what will likely be a top-5 draft pick, Nash has plenty to work with for this offseason to improve the club. He'd better work some magic because after this past season and the lack of improvement at the deadline, I'm not sure that the fans can take another session of passive movement.

update: (11:41 am)

After re-listening to the audio of the press conference, there was something else that Nash said that I wanted to touch on:

"I've gotten some very positive emails about the performance of the younger guys, people have been telling me that they're willing to have some patience and watch some of these young guys perform ... Obviously, some of the veteran players didn't live up to their contracts or perform at the level that they were expected to perform at. As a result, we're not as good of a team as we were maybe when those guys originally got here. But in the two years that I'm here, the one thing I couldn't have predicted when I got here was how much this organization and team would miss players like Pippen and Sabonis. Not just for their play on the floor but for what they
contributed in the way of leadership in the locker room. Now, with a much younger team ... we've got to find some leadership. And it may be that the leader of this team is a 19 year old point guard, but I'd like to get him some veteran help."

Clearly, he's looking to not bring in more youth, but rather provide some stable, veteran leadership. Does that point to the club trading its draft pick? Probably a stretch, but it's interesting to know that Nash is looking for veterans rather than more younger pieces. However, the team appears to have a tremendous amount of confidence in Sebastian Telfair, which is another good sign. It seems he'll have the reins next season.

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