Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Catching Up on Several Blazer Items

Happy Anniversary!

You are probably saying to yourself, "what are you talking about?". Well, today is the one-week anniversary of Derek Anderson's ostracization from Portland's roster. He's been dead to me for a long time, and I know that I'm celebrating this past week as a watershed week; an epiphany; a movement away from past bad times and towards future good times; a "team-changing deciscion" if you will.

My apologies for the length between posts ... a tough week of work and a long weekend vacation combined to steal all my BlazersBlog time.

Not a whole lot of news out of the Blazers over the past week, but we do have several items to talk about. Without further ado ...

Derek Anderson

Good riddance. In case my post last week and the first two paragraphs above don't make clear what my thoughts on the team getting rid of DA are, let me spell it out: the man can't play basketball any more. As soon as the amnesty clause was made public, I wrote that he'd likely be the victim, and I couldn't be happeir that he's off the roster. He was a decent swing man for a couple of years with the Clippers and Spurs, but he's a terrible player now, and I personally hope that these rumors about the Lakers being interested in them are true. Some thoughts from long time BlazersBlog reader and correspondent Lochi on DA's "career" as a Blazer:
He played one year in San Antonio after being rescued from the purgatory that is Clipper-ville where he was actually a pretty darn good player. For the Spurs, DA averaged 15.5 points per game, played in all 82 games, shot 41.6% from the floor and 39.9% from beyond the arc. That is solid. Then he got his big deal with the Blazers, oh happy day. He’s been pretty much a steaming pile ever since and his only major contribution would be that he’s been able to get hurt and not play, hence not hurting the team with his tremendous brick laying. He’s played in 70, 76, 51, and 47 games in 4 years. Shot 40.4%, 42.7 % (actually pretty decent in 02/03), and then the amazing nose dive to 37.6% and 38.9% the last 2 years. Beyond the arc is where it gets really frightening, 37.3%, 35.0%, 30.5% (holy hell), and 38.4%. On the bright side, he did manage to take almost 1,000 three pointers in those 4 years while he was trying to injure people in the front row with the carom off the rim. I think for every black eye he caused he got a bonus in his contract or something.

That's ugly, folks. How appropriate is it that DA was the first player amnesty'd and that Portland was the first team to use it? Great stuff. Clearly, Travis Outlaw's play in the summer league has convinced management that he can play significant minutes at the "2", and you can make an argument that this development was what allowed Portland to waive DA. Thank you, Travis.

Nick Van Exel

I was disappointed to see that Portland wasn't able to get anything for NVE's contract. As most of you know, his contract is voidable this season (meaning you can waive him without penalty), and any team who wanted $12 million in salary cap relief could have easily traded for him, waived him, and immediately saved that money off of their cap. Portland's roster already has too many players on it, so I'll grant John Nash that there wasn't much he could get back -- but you'd think he could find some way to bring something back in return. We've got a glutton of small forwards, couldn't NVE's contract and one of those guys have brought something significant back in return?

The Shareef Deal

Honestly, this whole thing cracks me up. One day, Shareef is saying "I want to be a New Jersey Net, this is the best place for me, and I will sign there even if it is for the mid-level exception." Then Portland and New Jersey reach a trade agreement, Shareef gets more money, he flunks his physical and then says he doesn't want to be there after all. However, New Jersey still might accept him anyways, and he might still end up there anyways. It's been quality entertainment. As for the first-round pick that Portland will get from New Jersey, I suppose it would be a nice trade asset, but we have enough young guys and I'm really quite ambivalent about whether or not we get that pick. Not sure why. I wish Shareef luck in New Jersey if he does end up there (which I suspect he will).

Blazer Roster

Going by the position traditionally played, the squad currently looks like this:

PG: Telfair, Dixon, Jack
SG: Outlaw, Dixon, Webster, Monia
SF: Miles, Patterson, Outlaw, Khryapa
PF: Randolph, Ratliff
C: Pryzbilla, Ratliff, Ha

There are a couple of things that jump out:
  1. I'm convinced that Outlaw is the starting "2" right now.
  2. We have too many small forwards.
  3. We need a backup PF.
  4. Jack, Monia, Webster and Khryapa are going to get a lot of "DNP-Coach's Decision"'s.

You may also notice that that's fourteen players. It's a bizarre mix right now. My thinking is that Ratliff can get as many as 30 minutes per game backing up the PF and C spots, Dixon can get the same in the SG and PG spots, Patterson will be the third guy off the bench, and those three plus the starting five will likely get the bulk of the minutes. I'd love it if Portland sent Khryapa, Monia and Ha to the NBA Developmental League where they could get some real on-court minutes and we could start to figure out what we have in these guys.

And Finally, a Non-Blazer Note

Allow me to digress from basketball for a moment and get a bit sentimental about another sport -- baseball. My all-time favorite baseball player and childhood hero (he shared the duties with Terry Porter and Clyde the Glide), Ryne Sandberg, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame two weekends ago and he gave a fantastic induction speech. Known as one of baseball's more conservative guy, I don't think he gave a controversial quote during his entire career. You can read the whole thing here, but I'd like to give a few particular portions some BlazersBlog love (I'm sure that Ryne-o can sleep at night now). Enjoy ...

"As I look behind me here, wow, at the greatest players in the history of the game, I am in awe. I know that if I had ever allowed myself to think this was possible, if I had ever taken one day in pro ball for granted, I’m sure I would not be here today. This will come as a shock I know, but I am almost speechless."

"The reason I am here, they tell me, is that I played the game a certain way, that I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. I don’t know about that, but I do know this: I had too much respect for the game to play it any other way, and if there was there was a single reason I am here today, it is because of one word, respect. I love to play baseball. I’m a baseball player. I’ve always been a baseball player. I’m still a baseball player. That’s who I am."

"Everything I am today, everything I have today, everything I will ever be is because of the game of baseball, not the game you see on TV or in movies, baseball, the one we all know, the one we played with whiffle ball bats pretending to be Yaz or Fisk or Rose, in dirt fields and in allies. We all know that game. The game fit me because it was right. It was all about doing things right. If you played the game the right way, played the game for the team, good things would happen. That’s what I loved most about the game, how a ground out to second with a man on second and nobody out was a great thing. Respect."

"The fourth major league game I ever saw in person, I was in uniform. Yes, I was in awe. I was in awe every time I walked on to the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your teammates or your
organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. Make a great play,
act like you’ve done it before, get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases, hit a home run, put your head down, drop the bat, run round the bases, because the name on the front is a lot more important than the name on the back. That’s respect."

"People like Harry Caray and Don Zimmer used to compare me, they used to compare me to Jackie Robinson. Can you think of a better tribute than that? But Harry, who was a huge supporter of mine, used to say how nice it is that a guy who can hit 40 homers or steal 50 bases drive in a hundred runs is the best bunter on the team. Nice? That was my job. When did it become okay for someone to hit home runs and forget how to play the rest of the game? A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect. If this validates anything, it’s that learning how to bunt and hit and run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light at the dug out camera."

"I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today. I hope others in the future will know this feeling for the same reason: Respect for the game of baseball. When we all played it, it was mandatory. It’s something I hope we will one day see again. Thank you, and go Cubs."

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