Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Portland's Roster & The Michael Finley Sweepstakes

Nothing new out of Blazerland over the past couple of days, other than statements from the front office that the roster, as its set now, is likely the roster that the team will go into opening day with. Despite having only one power forward on the roster. Personally, I don't buy it -- I imagine they'll make an October deal to bring one in -- ideally, unloading one of the small forwards.

But, I digress. Many of you likely noticed that Brian Grant, a long time blazer fan-favorite, was amnesty'd by the LA Lakers. I received more than a couple emails from hopeful fans thinking that he'd be a great fit here: he's willing to sign a small deal (his agent has made it known that he'd be fine with a one-year, $1.1 million veteran's minimum contract), plays the only position we have a true need at right now, and would provide some much-needed veteran presence in the locker room. Yet, rumors have him all set to sign with Phoenix. So why didn't Portland sign him? It sounds like Grant had some issues with Portland's team. Observe:
“Would I like to come back to Portland? Yes. My home is here. We love it here. From my heart and my family, we want to be here. But it’s not going to happen under the current circumstances. I just had one request. Bring in another veteran or two, guys with experience who could be a locker-room presence but would also help make the team more competitive. (The Blazers) are very, very young, and everybody knows they’re going to struggle next season. They let (Nick) Van Exel, (Damon) Stoudamire and (Shareef) Abdur-Rahim go, and got nothing in return.“At this stage in my career, I can’t go through three years of a rebuilding program.”

Very interesting. It sounds like he's not necessarily excluding non-championship-caliber teams, but he doesn't want to play grandpa for a bunch of high school kids and be the only guy doing so. I'm a little suprirsed to read that coming from Grant, but I guess when you've got 20 teams coming after you, one can afford to be a little picky.

Mike Finley

I've always like Michael Finley ... seems like a classy guy, played hard, stuck with a terrible franchise and was their main building block in getting them to be one of the league's most successful franchises over the past five years. Yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks amnesty'd him as expected, and he's now a free agent. Mark Stein over at ESPN.com has a nice breakdown of the teams likely to sign him here, and it appears that Miami is the front runner. Yes, the same Miami who currently has on its roster Shaquille O'Neal, Dwayne Wade, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem, and James Posey. That's a lot of players who need starter-type minutes, and a lot of players who expect to take 10-20 shots a night. If Miami does indeed sign Finley, might they run into the same issues that Portland ran into in the late 90's/early 2000's, with "too much talent" on a team and not enough basketballs to go around? Especially with volatile personalities like Jason Williams and Antoine Walker? I love Miami's team and think they're the favorite to win the East next season regardless of whether they sign Finley, but chemistry, playing time, and number of shot issues could certainly pop up on them next year.

Random side note ... did you know that Finley played for Stan Van Gundy at Wisconsin?

As for the other teams vying for his services, it apparently includes Phoenix, San Antonio, Detroit, and Denver. Finley and Steve Nash are very close friends, and San Antonio probably provides the best opportunity to win a championship, so watch those two situations closely as well.

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