Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Another Blazer Rumor ...

The latest rumor floating around is that Portland is trying to use the #27 pick to move up in the draft. What they'd include with that pick I'm not sure. This is one of the deepest, most talented drafts that I can recall in several years and the thought of Portland landing another top-20 pick is delightful. A few ideas:
  • #13 - Charlotte Bobcats. They're rumored to be wanting out of the #13 pick, think they'd go for a deal involving Ruben Patterson or Darius Miles and the #27?
  • #15 - New Jersey Nets. They're also rumored to be looking to acquire multiple picks. What could Portland add to the #27 to get the #15 from them?
  • #19 - Memphis Grizzlies. Jerry West has been shopping the #19 all over the league. He's got a logjam at SG, but Bonzi Wells is rumored to be on his way out. Might Sergei Monya or Ruben Patterson interest the Grizz?
  • #22 - Denver Nuggets. Denver's got the #20 and #22 picks, and if they can't package them to move up, they'll almost certainly either trade the #22 or use it on a project that they can leave in Europe for a few years. They need a 2-guard, would they be willing to deal the pick for Sergei Monya?

With all of the talent in this draft, Portland certainly won't be the only team looking to acquire more picks. They'll have some competition, but they've certainly got the assets. Here's to hoping Nash can pull off another tricky maneuver.

BlazersBlog Mock Draft

Mock Drafts are pretty silly things ... they make about as much sense as preseason predictions. That said, we can't help ourselves here at BlazersBlog. Following is our prediction for how things go down tonight for the first ten lottery picks.

1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut, PF/C, Utah. They're rumored to be deciding between Bogut and Marv Williams, and they'll go with the bigger need and safer pick -- Bogut.

2. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Williams, SF, North Carolina. Atlanta's put up the facade that they may select a point guard here, but I'm not buying it. Williams has got the biggest upside and they need to swing for the fences.

3. Utah Jazz: Derron Williams, PG, Illinois. This pick will certainly be either Paul or Derron Williams. We're leaning towards Derron as he's a slightly better fit for Jerry Sloan's offense.

4. New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul, PG, Wake Forest. Either Williams or Paul would be a great fit in New Orleans, and they'll be happy to land either player.

5. Charlotte Bobcats: Danny Granger, SF, New Mexico State. This could be where we see our next trade. Charlotte wants a point guard, and they know that they can probably trade down and still get Raymond Felton. It wouldn't surprise me to see Toronto move up two spots to snag Granger.

6. Portland TrailBlazers: Gerald Green, SG, Gulf Shores Academy HS. This is where I expect another trade to go down. The LA Lakers have been rumored to be in love with Green, and Portland really wants Martell Webster, whom they can get later in the draft. The Knicks are also after Channing Frye, and they know that with Granger off the board, Toronto probably grabs Frye at #7. So if they want him, they'll need to move up. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Portland moved back to #8 in a deal with the Knicks or to #10 in a deal with the Lakers. If the Lakers acquire the pick, it's Green. If the Knicks acquire the pick, it's Frye. If Portland keeps the pick, it very well could be Martell Webster.

7. Toronto Raptors: Channing Frye, C, Arizona. Toronto got burned by a crappy center last year and they're rolling the dice on another one this year. Frye will be a decent pro, but my hunch is that because of his girth (or lack thereof) he'll spend more time on the perimeter than he will on the low blocks. Think: a poor-man's Rasheed Wallace. The other option is that Toronto's in heavy trade talks with New Orleans regarding Jamaal Magloire, and may deal the pick ... although it would still be Frye.

8. New York Knicks: Andrew Bynum, C, St Joseph HS. The Knicks need a center of the future (and of the present, if the Kurt Thomas deal goes through). Bynum is a project but everyone (including the Blazers) loves him. The alternative here would be Sean May.

9. Golden State Warriors: Hakim Warrick, PF, Syracuse. Bizarre choice, but this is who the Warriors claim they want. Why they'd need another forward with Dunleavy, Pietrus, Murphy, and Biedrins is beyond me -- perhaps this indicates a Dunleavy trade?

10. LA Lakers: Martell Webster, SG, Seattle Prep HS. If the Lakers are making this pick for themslves, it won't be Webster -- more likely PG Raymond Felton. However, I anticipate they'll find a way to move up, and Webster will be the choice of the team selecting here.

Portland Trade

The Blazers made a trade today.

Portland gets:
-#6 pick
-#27 pick
-2006 Detroit First Round Pick (that Utah owned from a previous deal)

Utah gets:
-#3 pick.

Utah desperately needed a point guard, and they weren't going to get it at #6 -- at least not one of the top two point guards, Derron Williams or Chris Paul. Obviously, Portland is not interested in a PG because they drafted Sebastian Telfair last season and feel that he could be a star.

On paper, this deal is okay for the Blazers -- they'll be able to acquire Martell Webster with the #6 pick, and perhaps grab another HS or European project later in the draft at #27 (Martinus Andrieskivicious?), as well as grabbing another piece to use next season (the Detroit pick). However, I do feel that Portland made one critical error: they acted too quickly.

Why make this deal now? I don't undestand it. With the uncertainty around Marvin Williams (it's rumored that Atlanta may pass on him at #2), and the chance he could fall to the #3 pick, there's a chance that the teams trying to acquire Portland's #3 pick would up their offers at the last minute. You've now removed that opportunity, and you've given most of the trade leverage to the #4 pick.

Additionally, they didn't acquire anyone to start at Shooting Guard, didn't get rid of any contracts, and didn't add any additional lottery picks. I was hoping that, in exchange for moving down from #3, Portland could at least have acquired two of those items as opposed to one. They've essentially moved down from 3 to 6 for the low low cost of two late-20's picks.

Again: why act so quickly? Why not make a trade later in the day? It's worth noting that team President Steve Patterson did add "we aren't necessarily done making deals today" at the press conference, but I'm officially disappointed. Now, perhaps the team can go out and hire Nate McMillan, and we can change this website to "WarriorsBlog".

Friday, June 24, 2005

Game 7 Recap

A few quick thoughts on game 7:

There's nothing better than game seven in a championship series. It just feels like it's got more weight behind it when the teams have battled to a draw through six previous games ... that's one aspect of the MLB and NBA playoffs that I love. That said, game sevens normally aren't spectacular, jaw-dropping games. Why? I imagine because of the pressure that's put on the players, the amount at stake, etc. That said, last night's game was much better during the second half than it was in the first half.

It took awhile for the Spurs to get going, but once they did, they never looked back. Tim Duncan's third quarter -- you could feel him heating up through the TV -- was the best 12 minutes by any player in any quarter this series. You don't often seen Duncan demand the ball, put his team on his back, and take charge; normally he's the quiet assassin. Thursday night, however, he did just that in the third quarter -- ending up with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block for the period. He single-handedly brought San Antonio back from the dead and reminded us all why he's probably the best all-around player in the NBA today.

The most disappointing thing for Detroit was that nobody stepped up on offense. Their leading scorer, Rip Hamilton, had 15 points and I was surprised to see he was in double-digits looking up the stats online after the game (since ABC doesn't ever, and I mean ever feel the need to provide us with these items). Going into this game, I wrote to a friend that one of Hamilton, Price, or Billups would have to come up huge in the fourth quarter for Detroit to win, and neither did. Those three guys combined shot 13-39 from the field for the game. In the fourth quarter alone, Prince was 0-2, Hamilton 1-4, and Billups 2-3. Three field goals combined from your three best perimeter players? I believe that cost Detroit the game.

Other notes from the game:

  • Anyone notice Rasheed's contribution? The box score doesn't show it, but he played a stinker of a game. Zero rebounds in the first half, and then foul trouble put him on the bench early in the third quarter, when Duncan began heating up. To follow that, he took by far the worst shot of the game. Down six with 2:20 left and 15 seconds on the shot clock, he put up an airball three-point shot that fell straight into Rober Horry's hands. Essentially a turnover, and the subsequent Spurs' hoop advanced the lead.
  • Another huge play late in the fourth: Spurs up four, Duncan posts up on the block, Detroit defense collapses on him and he finds Ginobili with a perfect chest pass for a wide-open three. Unheralded but spectacular play.
  • Tony Parker was terrible last night. The Spur offense looked better all game with Ginobili bringing up the ball and initiating offense, and Parker couldn't find his shot, to the point that he was passing up wide-open three pointers in the fourth quarter.
  • The Spurs made 7 of their 8 free throws down the stretch. Supposedly their biggest weakness, they were rock-solid.
  • 12 toal fast break points in the game between the two teams. Brutal.

Terry Porter?

With Milwaukee firing Terry Porter, naturally there's been speculation that he could be a candidate for Portland's coaching job.

I have mixed feelings about this, personally. Porter's always been a more soft-spoken guy, but as a player he was fantastic. Few people remember that he averaged 18 and 8 for about five years, made a few all-star teams, and used a lot of smart and heady play to make up for a lack in physical skills.

Is he a good NBA coach, though? His two years in Milwaukee were a mixed bag. The first year, it was a huge surprise to see Milwaukee sneak into the playoffs, and despite a first-round exit was considered a success. The second year I think was considered a disappointment, though injuries played a significant role and I'm not sure that Milwaukee team had a ton of talent to begin with.

Here's an email I sent to a friend yesterday on the topic:
Let me tell you something about Terry Porter: he is my ALL TIME favorite blazer. he was my favorite player growing up and probably my favorite NBA player of all time. You're talking to a guy who used to sport "Porterland" tshirts in elementary school. But I have mixed feelings about him as Blazer coach. I know it's a slam dunk PR wise, but as much as he was a fantastic point guard who was great at knocking down jumpers and 3's and leading the offense , I just am not sure about hiring Terry. I guess I haven't really seen anyting that spectacular in Milwaukee. Not thatI've seen anything bad, I just don't really know the guy as a coach. I know he's very humble and very nice, and was a very good x's and o's player ... but I'm just not sure about that right now.

What do you think?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Blazer Trade Rumor

I'm sure that most of you by now have gotten wind of the latest trade rumor involving the Blazers. There are three of them floaing around right now, and as always we're happy to discuss all three.

1. Portland - Utah Trade

Portland would send the #3 pick, Ruben Patterson, and the rights to Sergei Monya to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the #6 pick, the #27 pick, Gordan Giricek and Kirk Snyder. There are a few different versions of this deal floating around, some without Giricek and the #27 pick, some without Patterson. But this seems to be the most prevalent.

It's a bizarre deal, because you'd think that Portland would be moving down in the draft to #6 to select a shooting guard such as Martell Webster or Gerald Green. But in this deal, Portland would receive both a solid if unspectacular guy who can step in and be an upgrade over DA at shooting guard in Giricek and what would likely be percieved as a potential shooting guard of the future in Kirk Snyder (ironically, the guy I wanted them to take with the first pick last year).

Looking at these two players a little closer: Giricek is listed first on Utah's depth chart at SG. His demensions are 6-5, 210lbs, 28 years old. Last season he averaged 8.8 pts, 1.7 ast, 2.2 rebs in 20 mpg last year (which looks bad, but consider that we're talking about 20 minutes per game. If you double that to 40 mpg, he's at 17.6 pts, 3.4 asts,4.4 rebs... not horrible.) Shooting: 45% FG, 81% FT, 37% 3pt. Allof those are right at his career avgs. He's averaged 10.8 points in 25 mpg in his career. He is entering the second year of a four-year, $16 million contract. So he's a serviceable two guard that would be a step up from DA while we waited for a younger guy (Martell Webster or Gerald Green?) to develop. As for Snyder, he's a 6-6 225 lb shooting guard. Last year, his rookie year, he was pretty crappy, shooting 37% fg, 66% ft, 35% 3pt. In 13 mpg, heaveraged 5 pts, 1.8 rebs and .5 asts. I know that his rookie year was considered largely a disappointment; I also know that he had considerable trouble getting out of Jerry Sloan's doghouse, and played better towards the end of the season.

Honestly .. I'm hoping for a little more than two unspectacular players out of the #3 pick, and though I wouldn't be terribly upset, would be very curious to see what the club does with that #6 pick after acquiring two new shooting guards. I believe that Portland and Utah make good trading partners in this situation but have a hard time believing that this deal would go down as-is.

2. Portland - Charlotte

Bernie Bickerstaff, Charlotte's coach/GM, has acknowledged that Portland has made an offer of sending the #3 pick to Charlotte in exchange for the #5 and #13 pick and that the deal remains on the table, but continues to maintain that he's not interested. My feelings are that may change come draft day, once we find out exactly which of the Marvin Williams/Andrew Bogut/Chris Paul triumverate is available with that #3 pick. But it sounds like he's looking for Portland to include a veteran along with that #3 pick, which it doesn't sound like Portland is wililng to do. Keep an eye on this situation, as it seems to be the most likely of trade partners at this point.

3. Portland - LA

Yes, you read that correctly. I should caveat this paragraphy by mentioning that I haven't heard any legitimate rumors that Portland and the Lakers are talking trade, only speculation that they may be.

The speculated deal is the #3 pick and Ruben Patterson for Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins and the #10 pick. Personally, I don't believe that LA would want Ruben Patterson. Phil Jackson has already had him in LA and he wasn't (and never will be) a good fit for the triangle offense. From Portland's perspective, it's an interesting deal in that you'd get a good backup PG in Atkins, a wingman who can man the SG post while the #10 pick (would Webster still be available?) develops. Meanwhile, LA gets to draft either Gerald Green -- whom they're rumored to be enamored with -- or their PG of the future, either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. So you can understand why folks are speculating about the deal, though again I don't believe that the Lakers would have much interest in Ruben Patterson.

That's what we're hearing ... with Portland essentially holding the card to the draft's best PG, they've got several suitors for the pick. Information will be provided as it pours in. Also, be on the lookout for our first Mock Draft to be released this week.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Blazer Coaching Update

Jason Quick is reporting that the Blazers have settled on their coaching decision.

They want to hire Marc Iavaroni -- but only after they talk to Nate McMillan. I'll pause here to let you bang your head on your desk for a minute.

(Done yet?)

You must be joking. Nate McMillan? I'd say it's safe to describe Mo Cheeks as a "poor man's Nate McMillan". Cheeks would be graded about a D- on the X's and O's, and a B on player relationships. McMillan is a C and B+. Do we really want something in the same mold as what doesn't work? I find this type of thing very frustrating. You've got a chance to snag one of the hotter assistant coaches in the league, who has tremendous experience (he's been an assistant under D'Antoni, Pat Riley, and Mike Fratello, and played for Pete Newell), is known for developing guys at the same position as your best player, and you're holding off on it because you want to talk to a guy who's had one good season in four years. McMillan "wasn't the team's X and O's guy", and you can't even speak with him for another two weeks. Additionally, Iavaroni gets the indignation of knowing he's the third choice. Argh. I can't decide if I should be happy that they're interested in Iavaroni or furious because Nate McMillan is the roadblock.

True Hoop's Henry Abbott has a good take on the situation:
I'm sorry the Blazers have to go through this creepily unprofessional hiring ritual. Now the system is set up to make it clear to everyone that, should Marc Iavaroni become their head coach, we all know he was the second choice. They're starting him out damaged in the eyes of players and fans.
What do you think? I'm curious to hear from the readers on this one. I spent a few years in Seattle while McMillan was coach there, and wasn't impressed with much outside of his warddrobe. In any event, let me know some of your thoughts and I'll post the good responses on the site.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Martell Webster

Word is coming in that he wowed the Portland brass at his workout on Thursday, shooting the rock lights-out and drubbing Rashad McCants. Did you know that he's 6-7, 235 by the way? A quote from John Nash:
“What we learned today is that Martell Webster is capable of defending (shooting guards) at a very high level. (His) defense was very good and his ability to dribble the ball against pressure — he can dribble the ball low to the floor — was very impressive. He certainly is under consideration at three (selection).”

Under consideration at the 3? That sounds like posturing to me. I'm sure Webster is a great player, but you don't have to take him at the three. Nash is just trying to keep everyone guessing, especially Gerald Green. The team knows that they can't take Webster at the three, so my suspicion is that they're trying to convince Green to work out with other players in order to get a comparison. Nonetheless, it's encouraging to hear he looked that good.

NBA Finals

We haven't spoken much about the NBA Finals on this site since they started. Overall, a fairly boring series -- not because of the low-scoring defensive style, but because we haven't yet had a close game. The Spurs have took the first two by 15 and 21 points, while Detroit ran away with game three by 17. We haven't had a game yet where both teams played great basketball and that's the most dissapointing of all. You have to give the Spurs some credit, though, they've jumped out to 2-0 leads in three consecutive series'.

As for game 4, I think it's another must-win for Detroit. You let the Spurs get up 3-1 and it's over. You know Tim Duncan will be looking for blood -- he's a notorious come-backer, meaning he has fantastic games following stinkers (and game 3 was a stinker). And for those of us who pay attention to this type of thing, the Pistons are actually favored by three points tonight.

Highlights from the game ...

  • Mike Tirico's ensemble: bright blue blazer, pink shirt, pink and purple tie. Wow.
  • To say that Magic Johnson struggles with the english language would be an insult to those who struggle with the english language. Ahmad Rashad mentions that the home teams are 3-0 in the series, Magic chimes in with the following: "Well, you know, it's been comfortable at both homes. But now it's time for the role players to step up after the stars be stars." (?)
  • On a positive note, they finished the interview this way: Ahmad: "Magic, you will always be my man." Magic (screaming): "And you know you my man!" Glad we could be there for that.
  • Duncan's first four touches on offense: sinks a turnaround, turns the ball over, turns the ball over, missed a jumper. So much for my prediction.
  • At 8:05 left in the second quarter it was 34-17 Detroit, and they never looked back. Just a brutal game for the Spurs.

I still say the Spurs win in six. Why? No way they play three stinkers in a row, and coming home for game 6 ought to be a lift. The Pistons have made an impressive run in these middle two games, though, and you have to give them credit for climbing back into the series.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nash Feeling a little Sensy Today

John Nash was on the defensive today.

First, regarding the rumors about John Lucas. Folks over at the Blazers' front office are vehemently denying that John Lucas was ever interviewed, or even a candidate for the job. The man to report this rumor (and admittedly, the only one to report it) was Jason Quick, who isn't known to make things up. BlazersBlog correspondent Lochi chimes in:

"Funny how they are now in full on denial after the news broke and roughly 100% of the people that heard it thought that it was a stupid choice. I don't want to say that Patterson and Nash have no clue what they doing, but Patterson and Nash have no clue what they are doing."
So make your own conclusion on that one.

The next item that Nash has got his panties in a bunch about is the whole Gerald Green/solo workout fiasco. Green's agent, Andrew Vye, remains insistent that Green only work out for Portland by himself, and not against other players. Nash isn't interested in seeing him work out by himself ... he wants to guage him against Rashad McCants and Martell Webster (arguably the second and third rated shooting guards in the draft). Will Portland call their bluff and not evaluate him or will they relent and work him out individually? A few quotes from the key players:

"I think he is a very high-level offensive player, I would like to be able to feel equally good about his ability to defend." -John Nash

"Everybody who has been paying attention over the last six to eight months knows Gerald can play and has superstar qualities. We have all figured out who can play basketball at this point. A 50-minute workout against middle-to-late first-round picks is not going to tell you anything about whether Gerald Green is going to be a superstar." " -Andrew Vye.

"I find it odd that John told me the only three players that he would use the third pick on were Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Gerald Green -- he told me that. And from a positional standpoint, he needed a two-guard, and all things being equal, he would use the pick on Gerald Green. But it strikes me as odd that none of those three players are coming in to work out for the Blazers." -Andrew Vye

"... it would be foolish of me if I did (that). Because the whole purpose of this process is to determine who the best player at three is. We are bringing in Martell and McCants for consideration at three . . . and in a perfect world, we would have (Green) go against Martell Webster because they are the two best high school players and it would have been a relatively fair test for both." -John Nash

"(Teams) four through 10 don't have any problem with the format I have set, no problem at all. It seems the Blazers are the only ones that have a problem. That being said, Gerald, myself, and Gerald's family -- we are all very much interested in playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Gerald has talked about it a lot, about the makeup of the team and how he would fit in. I want to be clear in that I have an open-door policy with the Blazers, and I really like John and respect him as a GM. I have kept several dates open for revisits, and I will keep one of the dates open if (the Blazers) want to bring him in." -Andrew Vye
I'm inclined to agree with John Nash in this argument, and it's tough to read Vye's quotes without seeing the slimy side of being an agent show through. Clearly he wants the luxury of Green getting drafted by Portland but without the component of having to work out with other players for them. I hope the Blazers stick to their guns and tell Vye that if he wants Green to be considered, Green will have to work out with other players. But who knows? Clearly, Vye feels like Green has nothing to gain by working out against players who, in theory, are rated lower than he is. It's not an uncommon practice for agents to take that positions, but it's more difficult with High School players. Hopefully the two sides will reach some sort of middle ground. It'll be an interesting storyline to watch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Four Things I've Learned Today

Not much concrete info flowing around Blazerland today, just a few tidbits and rumors. Getting right to the chase, here's what we've gathered in terms of current Blazer updates:

1. John Lucas Was Portland's Top Coaching Choice

And he turned the job down, pulling out of consideration for "personal reasons". What the hell is going on here. There are two things wrong with this scenario ... 1. Portland's top choice being a former retread coach who, despite being a really good guy (he works as a drug counselor in Atlanta), hasn't done much to merit another head-coaching stint. 2. That he turned it down. I'm upset that Portland would invest so much interest in a second-tier candidate, but I don't even know where to start with the fact that he pulled out. This distresses me on multiple levels.

2. There Are Three Remaining Candidates Left

And I'd guess the three left are Dwayne Casey, Marc Iavaroni and Nate McMillan. Why the obsession with Seattle's coaching staff? Casey would be a fantastic candidate, but everyone I've spoken with expects him to be offered the Minnesota job this week. Which leaves Iavaroni and McMillan. Iavaroni we've covered here before ... he's a bright young NBA mind, comes from a successful background and has done a wonderful job with Amare Stoudemire ... but Nate McMillan? Why, lord, do you bait our foolish GM with such silly lures? McMillan "wasn't known as Seattle's X's and O's guy", he was more of a player's coach who built his reputation on relationships. The guy was ready to get fired prior to this season. He's another Mo Cheeks!! Haven't we tried this before?

3. Gerald Green Probably Isn't Coming to Portland

After Portland requested that he come work out, his agent's reply was "only if there aren't any other players around". Which essentially means that all the team would get to do is watch him run around and shoot jumpers. And they're supposed to drop a top-ten pick on this guy based on that? After seeing tape of his high school games? No thanks. Proven college players can get away with that request much more than High School guys. Unsurprisingly, the team's response was "then don't bother coming". In some additional good news, it's becoming nearly a lock that Andrew Bogut and Marv Williams are getting drafted 1-2, meaning it's increasingly likely that Portland's best opportunity is trading its pick to a team interested in Chris Paul.

4. Phil Jackson is Returning to the Lakers

Yawn. They're still a crappy team.

Around the League
  • Chad Ford's latest draft has Marvin Williams getting drafted #1, with Andrew Bogut going #2. This got me thinking: any chane that Bogut slides further than that? With Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Danny Granger and now Fran Vasquez (an impressive spanish power forward) impressing clubs at an alarming rate, it's not out of the realm of possibilities to see Bogut slide down into the 4-7 range. I can tell you that if I were an NBA GM, he'd be about 11th on my list. Nonetheless, pay attention to June 19th -- that's the day Williams brings his act to Milwaukee for a private workout and likely unseeds Bogut at the top.
  • Dwayne Casey will be a great hire for the T-wolves. Casey's worked with Gary Payton extensively which will help him in reigning in Sam Cassell, and any hire that Minnesota makes will have KG's blessing. I still don't understand the firing of Saunders, but they're doing a nice job replacing him if Casey is indeed the choice.
  • Rumors have Charlotte willing to trade the #5 and #13 pick for the #2 pick, but not for the #3 pick. What's the difference? Chris Paul is the end result either way. With Williams likely going #1 and the Bobcats already having Emeka Okafor, they sure aren't taking Bogut.
  • I really hope the Knicks waste a first round pick on Channing Frye. He'll be an undersized center in the NBA, and will drive an already atrocious train-wreck of a team even farther down.
  • Rashad McCants seems to be the toughest guy to figure out in terms of this draft. Each team that works him out acknowledges he's a top-ten talent player, but his checkered past has caused him to fall out of the lottery. Whoever does grab him will get tremendous value on their pick. Would it shock anyone if the Pacers, Nuggets or Grizzlies snatched him up between 17 and 20? All have sharp GM's known for shrewd moves such as that.
  • It's rumored that Phil Jackson has requested specific personnel changes prior to agreeing to become the new Lakers coach. The team as constructed now is mediocre at best; you can bet that Jackson is pushing for the club to deal for some size. Chris Mihm was better than expected last year, but you aren't winning much with him as your starting center. Might they dangle Lamar Odom? It makes the most sense.
  • Finally, a Blazer note. If Portland does end up trading down into the 5-10 range, I'd love to see them pick up Danny Granger. He's a Shawn Marion clone, and would be a perfect addition to a starting lineup of Telfair, Randolph, and Pryzbilla in two years. Granted it doesn't solve their shooting guard problems, but it makes Darius Miles expendable, which is starting to look like a good thing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chad Ford Spouting Paul Pierce Rumors

So I'm reading that Chad Ford claims that Portland and Boston have discussed a deal that would send Nick Van Exel and the #3 pick to Boston for Paul Pierce.

I don't believe this rumor to be true for a heartbeat, but I"ll indulge it for a moment.

I've never been a big fan of Paul Pierce. He dribbles too much, dominates the ball, and shoots too many threes. Not to mention that he doesn't play a lick of defense. Pierce has always seemed to play more like a 3 to me than a 2, but Ford seems to think that Pierce would play the 2 in Portland's lineup, which he would. If that were true, the team would look like this:

PG - Telfair, backup to be signed
SG - Pierce, Anderson, Monya
SF - Miles, Outlaw, Patterson, Krapper
PF - Randolph, (backup they draft in 2nd round?), Ratliff
C - Pryzbilla, Ratliff, Ha

That's a playoff team all the way. I guess I'd be excited about Pierce, I just dont' see the point in acquiring him. They'd be a playoff team but not a championship team. He's on the downside of his career and makes huge money. But, a friend pointed out today that he's very impressive "when he tries", which means there's Vince Carter potential with this deal. I suppose he'd be the best 2-guard we've had since Clyde the Glide. I just don't see that deal going down.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

#3 Pick: What's happening?

Wow ... lots of rumors flying around about Portland's #3 draft choice. Nash told Kerry Eggers in today's Tribune that there is a "strong possibility" that he'll trade the pick. Let's tackle them one-at-a-time:

Rumor #1: Marvin Williams.

It's widely thought that Portland has its eye on Marvin Williams, and it's also widely thought that Andrew Bogut and Williams will be going 1-2 or 2-1 in the draft, so he won't be available. My opinion is, Bogut is garbage and Williams and Chris Paul are clearly the best two players in the draft. With Portland already locked into its point guard of the future, that leaves Williams as the only viable pick for this team with the #3. Hence, don't be surprised to see if Portland waits until draft day to see if Williams is available, and if he's not, for them to deal the pick and trade down.

Rumor #2: High-School Phenom

Gerald Green and Martell Webster, both swingmen (although Green is projected as more of a "3" while Webster is more of a pure shooter), have established themselves as the class of this year's high-school entries. Portland is working out both players next week. Webster is projected as a mid- to late-lottery pick (8-15 range) and would be a bit of a stretch at the #3. Green is projected as a 5-10 pick, and though not as big of a leap, would probably be early at the #3 -- especially with so many teams interested in Paul. There's an outside chance Portland could select Green, but I don't expect Portland to select either of these two with the #3 pick; it's more likely he'd become the team's top choices if the club trades down.

Rumor #3: Trade with Toronto

There are two "versions" of this reported trade: In the first, Portland gives Toronto the #3 pick in exchange for the #7 and #16 picks in the draft. In the second, Portland gives Toronto the #3 pick and Darius Miles for Morris Peterson, the #7, and the #16 pick. Both of these deals are attractive to Portland because, assuming that Marvin Williams does indeed get selected in the top-two, it makes more sense for Portland to move down, select Green or Webster (in this case likely Webster) and collect more assets. As for moving Darius Miles, while it's true we'd all like to see how he performs under a different coach, getting out of his contract is a plus and Peterson can fill in at either the 2 or the 3 for the next few seasons while Portland's younger guys develop. As for the #16 pick, this would be a fantastic place for the team to grab a guy like Hakim Warrick (whom they worked out on Monday and were very impressed with) as yet another piece to build around.

Rumor #4: Trade with Charlotte

In this deal, Portland would send the #3 pick to Charlotte in exchange for the #5 and #12 picks. It's doubtful that Charlotte would agree to this trade without receiving a player as part of the deal ... and Bobcats GM Bernie Bickerstaff said as much, claiming he'd like a young veteran in return. The Bobcats have enough cap room to take Darius Miles, and if Portland received both picks in return, you have to think they'd jump on that deal. The team could select both its SG (Green, Webster, Rashad McCants) and SF (Danny Granger, Warrick) of the future.

Rumor #5: Package Van Exel and the #3 pick for a veteran

Nash has repeatedly said that he imagines that a team looking for cap relief would find the #3 pick and Nick Van Exel's expiring contract both very attractive. For Portland to deal the #3 pick for a veteran, they'd have to get a top-flight player in return, likely at shooting guard. Might a team like Seattle, who is struggling to reach agreement with Ray Allen, have interest in a deal like this? Or a team like Phoenix, with restricted free agent Joe Johnson? I doubt Johnson is worth the #3, but if Portland can land a player like Allen or Michael Redd, they'd have to consider it.

With John Nash speaking so openly about trading the pick, that's got to be the favorite at this point. The Toronto trade seems to make a little more logistical sense than the Charlotte trade, although either would be great for Portland.

It's goign to be a very interesting three weeks until the draft, and we'll keep you updated as news progresses.

Blazers Coaching Update

My apologies on the lenght between posts ... work and travel have eaten up all of my time.

In a non-Blazer related note, I spent some time at Wrigley Field last week and had front-row seats next to the opposing dugout. Email me if you'd like a link to some pictures we took.

Anyhow, back to some Blazer news. The search for a coach is heating up, and it seems that the folks who aren't candidates are getting more press than the guys who are candidates. Nash was on Jim Rome last week and said he "hoped" to have a coach in place by the next two weeks (read: before the draft), and with the club being so tight-lipped about the process it's been tough to say if that will happen.

Rumors have had Portland offering the job to Flip Saunders, but he turned it down for several reported reasons, the foremost being that he wouldn't have had GM title and control. And Nash is now claiming that Saunders is out of the mix completely, which makes you think that he has in fact turned the job down. Additionally, Kerry Eggers wrote in today's paper that Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, Jim O'Brien, and Eric Musselman (one of this bogger's faves) are all not being considered. So who is? Here's what we're hearing.
  1. Marc Iavaroni. Currently the top assistant with the Phoenix Suns, and credited with molding Amare Stoudemire into what he is today. Portland may have some competition from Detroit for Iavaroni's services if (when) Larry Brown leaves the team. He doesn't have any NBA head-coaching experience, but is well-regarded around the league and woudl be a solid hire -- especially considering that Portland's offense will run primairly through its PG and PF, much like Phoenix's.
  2. Dwayne Casey. Currently the top assistant with Seattle. Casey is credited as being the team's X-and-O guy, while Nate McMillan is the motivation guy. This would be a fantastic hire for Portland, although rumors have the Sonics wanting to offer their job to Casey if they don't reach a contract agreement with McMillan -- so watch those negotiations closely. Casey has ties to Portland and is known for a high-pressure defensive scheme and an up-tempo offensive scheme.
  3. Paul Silas. I'm confused by this candidate. Silas is essentially more in the mold of a Maurice Cheeks, where his relationship management is probably his strength moreso than in-game coaching. We've tried that once and it didn't work, why try again? Nonetheless, Silas will have the respect of the players, which I don't think Cheeks had.

I'd be excited with either of the first two candidates listed. Portland isn't winning a championship next season, so taking a younger coach who might be more willing to mold his style of play to the personnel on Portland's young, developing team, is an exciting probability.

Who is your preference? Email me here and I'll post the better reader responses on the site.

Update: Tuesday, 3:02 pm.

It appears that Scott Skiles hasn't been able to reach an agreement with the Bulls on a contract extension, and he and his agent are ending talks. Chicago has an option to pick up one more year on his deal ... if they aren't willing to commit long-term, do they want a lame-duck coach around? If Portland truly is looking for a teacher and a disciplinarian who focuses on defense, Skiles certainly fits that mold, and would undoubtedly get added to this list.