Thursday, June 29, 2006

Recap of Quick & Pritchard Chat

Jason Quick and Kevin Pritchard joined Oregonlive's Eric Marentette for a chat today. Following is a breakdown of the key points:.

Jason Quick:
  • McMillan envisions both Aldridge and Roy playing a lot. Brandon is probably more NBA ready than LaMarcus, but sees both playing extensively. McMillan also thought that Aldridge will play both Center and Power Forward, but predominantly PF.
  • Portland's next move is signing Joel Pryzbilla. They recognize they are thin at center.
  • The next move will be to move Darius Miles.
  • Was the Ratliff-LaFrentz exchange done because the team had to do it to get Roy? Quick wasn't sure, but regardless Raef has skills that Portland will be able to use. McMillan envisions LaFrentz playing with Zach Randolph frequently. Quick doesn't see LaFrentz as the starting center, however; he thinks if Portland doesn't sign Pryzbilla that they'll bring in another veteran center.
  • What about the logjam at PG? The team doesn't know if Sergio Rodriguez will be playing for the team this year or if he'll stay in Europe. But likely one of the team's four point guards (Blake, Jack, Dickau, Rodriguez) will be dealt.
  • Will the team's style of play change based on the players they acquired? Well, the players they got are very young and the team itself is still a few years away from being competitive. But the guys they did get are fast, athletic guys who can shoot which will fit into Nate's uptempo style of play.
  • Who drove the deals yesterday and made everything happen? Quick doesn't know for sure, but he thinks it was Kevin Pritchard.

Kevin Pritchard:

  • This draft more than any other draft had players that could go at various ranges throughout the lottery; hence Portland felt they had a great chance to get very good players at various spots.
  • Regarding the Chicago deal: it was very tough to lose Viktor Khryapa. They know for sure that Chicago was entertaining multiple offers, and so was Charlotte, with teams trying to move into their spots to select players that Portland wanted. He is very, very confident that Portland would not have ended up with the players that they got if they hadn't made those moves.
  • As for Sergio Rodriguez, they are in contact with his agent, but can't comment further. They've had him on the radar for two years.
  • Back to Ratliff and LaFrentz: Pritchard says that Theo was injury prone, but as his age at a 2-year contract he'd be 35 at the end. With Raef, he's younger and will be able to produce longer (and will be younger at the end of the deal). They loved his ability to shoot from mid-range which will space the floor and help out Zach Randolph. They felt the paint got really clogged last year, and Raef will help with that.
  • What about the logjam at shooting guard with Martell and Roy both at the 2? Pritchard isn't worried about that; if both guys can play, they'll get minutes. They compliment each other to a T. They loved Roy's ability to affect the game without scoring (making a great pass, a steal, a rebound, etc). He has the ability to get into the paint and make other players better.
  • Joel Freeland: he's a high-risk, high-return player. Has a chance to be very good in 2-3 years.
  • Joel Pryzbilla: The team has made it clear to him that he is a big priority. Pritchard is flying to Milwaukee tomorrow so he can see him at midnight on June 30th (the early moments of the morning of July 1) so he can visit Joel and let him know how special he is to the team.
  • He hinted that the team will be very proactive in this coming offseason; they aren't done with yesterday's moves. They're going to keep on making changes.
  • Once they got four guys that they really wanted (Aldridge, Roy, Rodriguez, Freeland) then the #31 pick became very expendable. They had done a tremendous amount of research regarding what they could get for that pick, (the team ended up turning it into two more second round picks) and they got assets that will be able to be used in future trades.
  • The priority this offseason was that the team needs to be able to score more points. They feel that with Raef and Brandon Roy, they've addressed that for the immediate future, as well as the long-term with Aldridge (as well as Martell and Jarrett Jack).
  • What can he tell us about the Darius Miles situation? Pritchard plans on having him back and the team "will do everything they can to maximize the player that he is".
  • Summer league roster: Ha, Sinanovic, Sean Dockery (PG from Duke), Pickney (player from Nevada), Fred House (an overseas player) were the guys he mentioned. But he hinted that Roy and Aldridge and Freeland would all be there too, although Sergio won't because he's playing on the Spanish national team.
  • Paul Allen: what about his interest in the team? He threw some money around yesterday, etc ... is there a new interest in the team? Pritchard doesn't believe it will affect whether he sells the team or not.

That's what I could gleam through all of the rhetoric. I was a little disappointed that Quick didn't have more of a scoop, but it was great to hear Pritchard be so honest. Lots of interesting stuff there. I'll be posting again tonight with a bit more analysis and thoughts on Portland's huge night yesteday.

Boom Goes The Dynamite

My initial reaction to last night's festivities was that the Blazers got taken by teams that clearly knew who they were after. This is still true, but now that the smoke has cleared a little from the official detonation of franchise, let's see where they are.

They drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Sergio Rodriguez, an irrelevant Englishman, and acquired Raef LaFrenz. They gave up Telfair, Kryhappa, some money, and Theo Ratliff. You know what, that's a pretty good night. How they got them is not the issue, they basically paid cash for Roy and Rodriguez, and Paul Allen still has a lot of cash. On a side note, I'm still baffled by the fact that one team can call up another team and say "we'll give you money for your first round draft pick". I thought you had to actually trade something in sports, I guess not. Anyway, this leaves the Blazers with a roster that has one glaring issue, what to do with Darius Miles. The current rotation looks something like this:

Starting 5: Jack, Roy, Miles, Randolph, Aldridge.
Key Reserves: Blake, Webster, Outlaw, Skinner, LaFrenz.

That team is going to win a lot more than 21 games. They're worlds better defensively, they've got a 2 guard (despite his Husky-ness, I promise I'll get past this eventually) that is very solid in every aspect of the game. Simply put, he's going to be terrific on the Hollinger PER scale. And they've got a legit center that they can run a number of different offenses through. On the low post he can hit the sky hook, and in the high post he can hit the jumper (and he goes glass a lot, another bonus) or you can run a cutting offense around him from that spot. He'll make Randolph a lot better, when did Z-bo break out, when he was playing off Sabas in the high post offense. The bottom line is they got the two most NBA ready players in the draft, and Aldridge is a likely star. Rodriguez I'm holding off on for now, all the web sites love him, calling him Spanish Chocolate. I'm not big on copycat nicknames, so from here on out he is going to be referred to as Spanish Fly. Sounds like an interesting player, we'll see.

Overall, last night they detonated the roster and with the smoke starting to clear a little bit it's apparent that this is now Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan's team. It's also a lot better than it was 24 hours ago. It's still incomplete, no idea what they're going to do with Miles, but the other 4 positions appear to be set for the foreseeable future. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Webster can play the 3 in the NBA. If he can, my doomsday scenario where I didn't think they'd see .500 again until at least 2010 is going to be way, way off. They may not get there next year, but the future finally has a direction. Draft Grade - B+.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

2006 NBA Draft Live Blog.


Moderator: I differ in opinon from the Loch. Of Portland's four trades and four draft picks, I have no problem with anything they've done. The one part you could probably argue is ditching Ratliff's corpse for La Frentz, primarily because La Frentz has one year longer on his deal. However, La Frentz will be more useful in the meantime. The amount of dealing that Portland made tonight is almost comical, but let's let the rest of the offseason play out before coming to a final judgement. I've got jury duty tomorrow so I'll be out of commission, but Lochi will be posting with a deeper analysis of what Portland accomplished, and I'll be doing the same on Friday.

Hope you enjoyed the draft.

#31: Portland - James White

Moderator: I don't know much about this guy. Supposedly he's got crazy hops, he went to Cincy, and can play a little defense. Sounds like someone we traded last offseason, eh?

#30. Portland - Joel Freeland

Lochi: Um...David Stern is about to announce a trade in which the Portland Trailblazers have acquired David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Wayne Roony for cash considerations. Seriously, what the hell are they doing? I'm going to take some time to think about all this bullshit and post something tomorrow that at least has a theory as to what the hell happend tonight.

Moderator: Freeland is a project center whom they can leave in Europe for a couple of years. He may be able to contribute down the road.

#29. New York Knicks - some stiff

Moderator: That was Lochi's was of saying "the knicks selected Mardy Collins, who is a 6-6 PG from Temple. He's another combo guard, isnt a great athlete, doesn't have a position in the NBA, and makes the sixth player of this type that New York has." Another ridiculous pick by the worst GM in sports.

#28. Dallas Mavericks - Maurice Ager

Moderator: An interesting pick, and one that many people predicted. He's a 6-5 shooter who can also play a little D, which will make him quite useful in the Big D.

Lochi: Best part about this pick is he was in the audience and a fringe first rounder.

#27. Phoenix Suns - Sergio Rodriguez

Lochi: Another soccer player as far as I know. Apparently he's a Blazer? What? I have no comment on this until tomorrow but this is very confusing. A 6'3" point guard from Spain? Why?

Moderator: So, I guess Portland made a trade to get this guy. Which means I'm suddenly interested in him. He's a 6-3, 170 lb (?) pass-first point guard, and seems to be a nice pickup. According to Andy Katz, Portland acquired him for "cash". Which means it's the second transaction Portland has made (the first being Foye for Roy) where all they gave the other team was "cash". I'm a bit perplexed by all this. One thing I'm not sure of is whether Rodriguez will be coming over to play now, or if he's staying in Europe for a season or two.

#26. LA Lakers - Jordan Farmar

Moderator: The worst-kept secret, that LA wanted Farmar. If this were almost any other team I'd be saying that this is a value pick. But since it's LA, that means he'll have to play right away and will have to endure Kobe's wrath. Doesn't look bright for him. As an Oregon Duck fan, I"m glad he's out of our way, but it probably would have been better for his career if he'd stuck around another year and been a lottery pick next season.

Lochi: I like this pick too. Farmar doesn't need to shoot to be effective (and UCLA was better when he wasn't). Good, in control point guard. I think this makes the Lakers good enough to lose in the first round of the playoffs next year. Oh...wait.

#25. Cleveland Cavs - Shannon Brown

Lochi: I actually like this pick. They're few and far between right now, but at least this guy could be a nice role player. Streaky shooter but if you get him on a hot night, he can really light it up and that can maybe be the difference in a playoff series for the Cavs. The Cavs are smart, up is down, black is white.

Moderator: Agreed. This is the pick that Memphis should have made. Ideally, the Cavs would let him sit on the bench for a season and play 10-15 minutes a game for 2 years so he can develop a bit and then step into a solid role.

#24. Memphis Grizzlies - Lowry

Moderator: How upset do you think Memphis was when Marcus Williams lasted until #22 and they were thinking "shit, we need a PG, and the guy who most resembles a true pass-first PG and was supposed to be a lottery pick is almost falling to us at #24." But then he didn't. So they settled for this medicore player who I predict will be out of the league by the time the next World Cup starts.

Lochi - Little guy, can't shoot. Wow it's getting ugly.

#23. NJ Nets - Josh Boone

Lochi: Um, can't shoot, soft, nice pick.

Moderator: Well, he's quick and he can block shots, but he has always seemed like a big pussy to me. Basically a homeless man's Marcus Camby. And I"m not talking about the homeless guy who panhandles enough to eat decent meals and sneak decent clothes out of the donation bin ... I'm talking about the dirty-ass mother fucker who just plops down in the middle of the block and acts like an ass to those who do not give.

#22. New Jersey Nets - Marcus Williams

Moderator: Nice pick. Very nice pick. It is a surprise that Williams slipped this far, and New Jersey can let him sit on the bench and develop behind Kidd. Williams is a true PG and a very good passer, and I couldn't think of a better teacher than Kidd.

Lochi: The heir apparent obviously. Decent value at this point. Jason Kidd is going to miss games so at least they have a distributor for the games he's out.

#21. Phoenix Suns (kind of) - Rajon Rondo

Lochi - obviously trading this pick. Sebastian just started drinking heavily.

Moderator: ESPN is saying that this pick is being traded to Boston. Why would Boston want Rondo when they just acquired Telfair? Is it the "throw enough shit against a wall and something will stick" theory? I think Portland went by this theory about 2 years ago. Worked out well for them.

#20. New York Knicks - Renaldo Balkman

Moderator: Uh ... what? Mistake number 4,325 by Isiah Thomas and the New York Knick front office. This dude averaged 9 points per game in the freaking MAC conference. I'm not much for quoting Jay Bilas, but I'll amend that rule in this special circumstance: "I'm stunned. This guy is a second round pick at best. There is not another team who would have taken him in the first round."

Lochi: Ahhhh, Isiah, thanks buddy, that made me laugh. Gotta like Spike going "...sleeper?" Seriously, does this guy play striker for Brazil? They should have just taken Ronaldhino.

#19. Sacramento Kings - Quincy Douby

Lochi: Honestly, I can't even come up with a good joke for this one. Easily the most sold jersey of this rookie class.

Moderator: The doob-meister! Nice player, and with Bonzi Wells' pending free agency, I understand the pick.

#18. Washington Bullets - Alexei Pecherov

Moderator: This is another player whom I am not very familiar with. He's from the Ukraine, and some of you may recall that I name-dropped this guy as someone Portland may consider with the 30 or 31 because he's a big man and he might stay overseas for a year or two. But, um, other than that I really have nothing to add here. The empty beer bottles are starting to pile up if that means anything to you.

Lochi: Fran Fraschilla loves him, he loves all things Euro apparently. Anyone else notice that Fran says everyone is "a year away" or "two years away"? Here's a question for Franny, is there anyone over there that's really worth a damn or are you still just trying to get ESPN to pay for your Euro vacation for a while longer? "Yeah, this guy can kind of shoot, might be able to rebound, probably a year or two away."

#17. Indiana Pacers - Shawne Williams

Lochi: Um, what do the Pacers need a power forward for? Bilas just informed us that he's "long armed". Really? He's 6'9", how short could his arms be if he's not a T-Rex? Thanks Jay.

Moderator: Interesting pick. I actually expected Indiana to go with a PG here, especially with Tinsley looking more and more like he can't be a full time NBA point guard and Marcus Williams still available. I guess they could use some depth in the front court, and it provides a bit of insurance if they want to deal O'Neal. But I'm stretching here with that justification.

#16. Chicago Bulls - Rodney Carney

Moderator: Another solid, solid pick. That's three in a row. These guys will be very good role players. Carney is almost like Darius Miles, except he cares about basketball.

Lochi: Supposedly this pick is a trade for the dude I never heard of, Thadeus Thabo Whoever, this is a good pick for the 76ers. If you've got all the other guys collapsing on Iverson the whole time, and you've got sniper Korver, might as well have a guy that can throw down like crazy slashing to the basket.

Lochi draft note: Dan Patrick better watch his back leaving there tonight. Godfather Stern is pissed off. He could get the Big Pussy Treatment if he's not careful.

#15. Los Angeles Hornets of Anaheim - Cedric Simmons

Lochi: Interesting pick. 2 in a row that I like. Athletic, and was initially projected way too high but in the mid-first round you gotta like a guy that can at least provide some explosiveness.

Moderator: Agreed, good pick. Simmons will be a nice banging big man who's a poor man's Zach Randolph. I'll tell you this much: he'll be better than Hilton Armstrong.

#14. Utah Jazz - Ronnie Brewer

Moderator: Great pick. I think he'll look like a steal in a couple of years. Got some great NBA skills, and won't be spectacular but he'll be a nice scorer and a nice player.

Lochi: First pick I liked in a while. Dude can be a serious sniper and has a "plus" NBA skill right now.

Lochi Blazers Thoughts: Foye for Roy, straight up with a C-note. How the hell is this legal?

#13. Philly 76ers - Thabo Sefolosha

Lochi: No fucking idea.

Moderator: I'm with Lochi here. I've seen a few NBA Nation highlight clips of this guy, and read a few Chad Ford columns about him, but that's really all I know. Let's talk about Portland for a minute. If I'm understanding everything correctly, the net from their trades is:

GONE: Telfair, Ratliff, 2008 2nd rounder, #4 pick, Viktor Khryapa, "future considerations"
ACQUIRED: LaMarcus Aldridge, Raef LaFrentz, Brandon Roy

#12. New Orleans Hornets - Hilton Armstrong

Moderator: I'm going to admit something to you, I had never heard of this guy until the NCAA tournament and didn't even think he'd be a first-round pick until about a week ago. So while that may degrade my credit to some of you as to whether or not I know what I'm talking about, I"m going to confide something in you: sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. This is one of the times where I don't. I know that he's a big man, I know he blocked a ton of shots in college, but this pick seems a little bit like a reach to me.

Lochi: We've officially reached "reach status". Could be a nice player, they have Chris Paul and they could use a nice young big man that doesn't need the ball. Could be a Brian Grant type player long term, without the dreads of course.

#11. Orlando Magic - JJ Reddick

Lochi: I'm 3 beers in, want one JJ?

Moderator: First of all, JJ Reddick's voice is much deeper than I anticipated, which is the exact opposite of David Beckham. (My esteemed co-author is a HUGE soccer fan so i figured i'd oblige him by incorporating some sort of soccer reference). Have you ever heard Beckham talk? It's Tyson-esque. As for Reddick, nice pick, will be a good player, will have a long career, can do one thing very well which 90% of the NBA cannot do (shoot the lights out). Can't fault anyone for taking him in the 10+ range.

#10. Seattle Sonics - Mohammed Saer Sene

Moderator: ESPN is reporting that Seattle has made a trade and this pick is for someone else, but they don't know who yet. I assume that's true, because with Robert Swift around (who is surprisingly good for a big slow whitey) they don't need to use a lottery pick on another Center. A bit more on the Portland news: it appears that they've traded Randy Foye for Brandon Roy (hey, wow - that rhymes). Clearly Portland must be giving something other than Foye for Roy, otherwise Minnesota would have just taken Foye themselves. I imagine it's probably the #30 or #31 pick along with Foye. Nice to see though that a second team has simple taken advantage of the Blazers by taking a player they wanted and then charging them to get him.

Lochi: Who the hell is Saer Sene? In other words, the Sonics pass.

Lochi: Blazer thoughts, yikes, they really fucked this thing up. Same principle as before, one guard isn't going to play, only now they've given up more stuff for a guy that everyone knows they wanted. Sweet. Oh, and they just got the less explosive, less talented, less "wow" player of the two, well done dumb asses.


#9. Golden State Warriors - Patrick O'Bryant

Lochi - Now THIS is funny. I would openly like to offer double or nothing to our fearless moderator on his Warriors are a playoff team wager.

Moderator: We knew that someone would pick the Big Irish Stiff (with a name like O'Bryant, how can he not be Irish?) and then we speculated that the Warriors might be just that team. Nice work. As for the Warriors, they are not going to make the playoffs next year, despite with Lochi says. I think they're about 13 months away from blowing the whole thing up again.

#8. Houston Rockets (for the Memphis Grizzlies) - Rudy Gay

Moderator: ESPN is reporting that Houston is making this pick for Memphis, because they are trading it for Shane Battier. Shane Battier? Really? Gay has the chance to be an outstanding player, and I think this is a foolish trade by Houston. Props to Jerry West though.

Lochi: Great move by Jerry West, as usual. I still question building a team around Gasol, but they are a playoff team and just got a potential high impact wing player.

Blazer pick - Soooooo, they're either full of shit and Jarret Jack isn't "untouchable" or they just admitted "well, we're morons, we drafted a high school gunner that's nowhere near ready and we hope he's Wes Person off the bench long term." Has to be one of the two, one of the guys is coming off the bench, Foye, Jack, or Webster, unless you think Webster can play the 3, which he can't. Ugh.

#7. Boston Celtics (for the Blazers) - Randy Foye

Lochi - Um...they traded a point guard, drafted a point guard. I'm officially at a loss for words.

Moderator: FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, BLAZER FRONT OFFICE. What the hell is this? Seriously, what the hell? Alright, I was excited about getting Aldridge, but I officially do not understand what is going on. You trade Telfair because you are apparently high on Jack, but then you draft another point guard. You have the opportunity to draft a player (Rudy Gay) that will allow you to trade Darius Miles freely, but pass it up to get a combo guard. Instead they get a guy who -- while a nice player -- plays the same positions as the two guys they drafted in the first round last year. So overall, the team has traded Telfair, Ratliff, Kryapa, "future considerations" and the #4 pick for LaMarcus Aldridge, Randy Foye, and Raef Lafrentz. Kind of weird. Oh, and by the way, Stephen A Smith can go fuck himself with an NYPD broomstick.

#6. Minnesota Timberwolves - Brandon Roy

Moderator: Excellent pick for Minnesota. Fills a need, and fits both bills of "huge upside" and "can play right away". He'll look good next to Ricky Davis and Kevin Garnett. Now if Minnesota can just get themselves a distributing point guard, they'll be all set. And even better, this means that Rudy Gay falls to Portland. I am happy about this. If you'd have told me 2 months ago that Portland would come away from this draft with LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay, I'd have taken lewd pictures of your girlfriend and posted them on the internet. Good stuff.

Lochi: He's a Husky, I hate him, never thought he was that good in the first place. Great pick for a division rival. (note - let's just say I'm not to be trusted when it comes to evaluating anyone from the U of Washington)

#5. Atlanta Hawks - Sheldon Williams

Lochi: Hilarious. He obviously gives them...honestly, I have no idea what he gives them.

Moderator: I would understand this pick ... if Atlanta was selecting at #12. It's a reach. He's essentially a poor-man's Elton Brand, which makes him Corliss Williamson. By my count, this is now two picks in the top 5 (along with #1) where I believe the GM's should be faulted a bit for not being able to trade down and pick up another asset. Now Minnesota is up next, and let's hope they go with Randy Foye, leaving Portland it's choice of Gay or Roy. Either way, the Blazers will have access to at least one of them, which is a good thing.

#4. Portland Trailblazes (for Chicago Bulls) - Tyrus Thomas

Moderator: Thomas is one of my least favorite players in the draft; exactly the type of player that i would never draft if i were an NBA GM. He only played real well for a portion of one season, he's kind of a head case, didn't get along with his coach, and showed a bit of attitude in the interviews. I guess he's a prospect, and more power to the Bulls. One other quick thought regarding the Portland deal: I'm fine with them dealing Khryapa. He's a backup SF, and with Travis Outlaw on board, we already have a backup SF.

Lochi: Although I'm not as down on him as my co-conspirator, I'm pretty happy Thomas isn't a Blazer. Canzano saying that he spoke to the kid and "there's nothing between his ears", that was the capper for me. He's like a less creative Matrix Marion.

#3. Charlotte Bobcats - Adam Morrison

Lochi - This makes me sad.

Moderator: Emeka Okafor, Ray Felton, Sean May, Gerald Wallace, Adam Morrison. That's a nice little nucleus that Charlotte is putting together. I'm sad that Portland didn't get Morrison, but if they end up with Roy or Rudy Gay with the #7 pick, I'll be happy with the overall haul. Nice pick for Charlotte, and I'm surprised that MJ made this selection.


#2. Chicago Bulls (for Portland TrailBlazers) - Lamarcus Aldridge

Moderator: Lochi is right, ESPN is reporting that Chicago has traded the #2 pick to Portland for the #4 pick, Viktor Khryapa, and "future considerations". They have selected Aldridge for Portland. I'm happy, because the Blazers are getting a fantastic prospect. Interesting though, because it definitely shows that the team had Aldridge ranked higher than Morrison. Could this be a prelude to a Z-bo trade? Clearly now, Portland will be looking at a wing player (doubtful that Roy will still be available at #7) with their next pick.
Lochi: I'm cautiously optimistic about this move. They get a center, and as I've stated before I'm a sucker for a sky hook. It means Joel is gone, but I do like Aldridge as a player. I'm upset about Morrison, but so be it. I'm not going to go on a kill-crazy rampage at the Rose Garden over this move. Gotta think Gay or Roy are their next targets.

#1. Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani

Moderator: Just as we suspected, Bargnani goes #1, as told to us by David Stern (aka "King of Personality"). In case the shot of the Toronto draft room (which looked like a bunch of guys who had just woken up from a long nap) didn't confirm it for you, it's official. Overall I can say this: it's a ballsy pick. Aldridge would have been a little safer. I wouldn't have taken Bargnani first, but you have to admire them for sticking to their guns. I'm a little confused as to where Bargnani fits in with Bosh and Villanueva, but hey, he's clearly got some amazing skills for a big man.

Lochi: Look, I'm Italian, that's the least Italian looking Italian guy I've ever seen. He looks a lot more like a guy playing for the U of Utah than an Italian. He also can barely dunk, shoots set shots from the outside, and is tall. They just drafted the Euro Sam Perkins first overall. Congrats.


Lochi: Celtics trade update, the Blazers threw in an 08 second rounder for no apparent reason. Wow, this night is starting off just swell.

Lochi: Apparently all hell broke loose in the last few hours. The Blazers aren't getting Adam Morrison, which is a disaster. They traded for Raef Lafrenz (shaking head). They're just basically hoping that Aldridge somehow falls to them. The FAN is reporting that the Bulls are fielding offers from all over the place (including a whopper for Kevin Garnett), and Aldridge has been told he's either going to be a Chicago Bull or a Portland Trailblazer. Kind of makes you dizzy. The draft starts in about a half hour, all updates and posts will be in this space from both of us, just refresh your browser to see our banter, rage, etc. The Toronto Raptors are on the clock, and yes, I've already started drinking...

Moderator: That makes two of us. Let's get this baby started. Hooray miller lite!

Moderator: Last-minute rumors:
1. The sonics are using the #10 pick and trying to either move into the top-7 or down to the 15-20 range.
2. Memphis is trying to trade into the top-10.
3. Houston is trying to either move from #8 into the top-6, or trade the pick for a veteran player.
4. It's looking more and more like Aldridge is going to Chicago at #2, and Morrison is going to Charlotte at #3, which is pretty much the worst possible scenario that could happen.
5. Stephen A Smith is quite possibly the worst, most annoying commentator on television. Seriously. He gives Tim McCarver a run for my money as "person i'd pay to most to just go away".

Telfair Has Been Traded (UPDATE)

ESPN is reporting that Portland has traded Sebastian Telfair to Boston for the #7 pick. Portland is also receiving Dan Dickau and possibly one more player, but that part is unclear.

The deal was finalized after the 11:00 EST deadline, so Boston will technically will be on the clock with that pick but will select for Portland.

I am both excited and disappointed at the same time. Excited that Portland acquired the #7 pick and got a bit of clarity regarding their PG situation, but disappointed that we won't get to see what Telfair does. As I wrote yesterday in a guest-piece for CelticsPride, I think he showed enough potential where I'd like to see what he could do with another season, even if he was inconsistent and looked for his shot too much. That said, I do believe that Portland received tremendous value for him, and am surprised he fetched that high a pick.

We'll have a new mock draft up soon to reflect this.

Update (3:23 pm PST): It appears that the deal also includes Portland receiving Raef LaFrentz and getting rid of Theo Ratliff.

This makes the deal Telfair and Ratliff for the #7, Dickau, and LaFrentz.

WHY ON EARTH would Portland want Raef LaFrentz? I'm still thinking about this deal and getting ready for the draft, but you can be assured there will be some thoughts posted later.

Updated Mock Draft

As your faithful moderator, I provide you with the second version of my lottery mock draft. Revised from yesterday. A couple of changes based on new information.

1. TOR - Bargnani. This still looks like the pick. I don't believe they'll move down.
2. CHI - Aldridge. I believe the Bulls take him here; he's much safer than Thomas.
3. CHA - Gay. From what I've been able to dig up on the net, MJ appears to be leaning towards him.
4. POR - Morrison. I believe Portland is hoping Aldridge goes in the top 3 so they don't have to pick between the two.
5. ATL - Sheldon Williams. Another foolish pick by the second-worst GM in sports.
6. MIN - Roy. No brainer if he falls. Ricky Davis can play the 3, Roy the 2, and they'll both compliment KG.
7. BOS - Foye. They need a PG and he would be a great fit. Think they'll trade this pick to Portland?
8. HOU - T. Thomas. One of Thomas or Gay will fall to Houston at #8, and I believe it will be Thomas.
9. GSW - O'Bryant. They worked him out yesterday and if they keep the pick, it's the Big Irish Stiff.
10. SEA - Brewer. I don't buy this "Seattle needs a big man" talk; they'll take a guy who can defend and will learn to score.
11. ORL - M. Williams. They'd love to get Foye, but if he's off the board then Marus Williams is their pick.
12. NO/OKL - Simmons. They need a big man and Simmons' skills will fit in nicely.
13. PHI - Shawne Williams. They are supposedly debating between Simmons and Williams. May trade the pick.
14. UTA - Sene. They need a center, and though he's a project he has the chance to be quite effective.

There you have it. This may change pending new information, so stay tuned.

As for Portland's pick, to me they have two options: Morrison or Aldridge. I'd be very excited to get either one of those guys. I know that if the team selects Aldridge with Morrison still on the board, there will be some mutiny in Portland.

Think about it for a moment: what's easier to find, a dominant post-up player or a scoring wing player? And with Nate's love of defense, how well would Morrison fit in? I'm not saying I prefer Aldridge -- the opposite is true, I hope they select Morrison -- but I'm only pointing out that you could see how the argument could be made.

And don't forget, we'll be live-blogging the draft this evening. Check back here starting at 4:30. We'll simply create one post that will go pick-by-pick, so all you'll need to do is refresh after each pick.


If Morrison is available at the 4 and they pick someone else, there are going to be some...issues. Remember that scene in "The Usual Suspects" when Kaizer Soze snaps? See you all in a few hours...

Also, just want you to know that I, Lochi, love the huskies. Love them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Telfair Rumor & Live Blogging The Draft Tomorrow

In case any of you haven't heard by now, the Blazers are rumored to be in trade talks with the Boston Celtics. Portland would send Sebastian Telfair to Boston in exchange for the #7 pick and Dan Dickau. Chad Ford is reporting that Portland has concerns about Dickau's health, and have requested to see his medical reports. If they look good, then the deal may go down.

I have mixed feelings about this trade. To me, when a high school player -- especially a point guard -- goes straight to the NBA, his first two seasons are essentially a free pass. The third season is where you truly start to evaluate this player and where significant improvement should be seen. Telfair has been fairly inconsistent over the past two seasons, as should be expected. Overall he's been much more of a scorer and much less of a passing guard than I expected. That said, he's shown enough skill -- there is no doubting his quickness, ability to get to the rim, and his value in transition -- where I would like to see what he can do for another year. However, getting a top-10 pick in return for him seems to be tremendous value and I doubt Portland will ever have the opportunity to trade him for that high of a pick again.

What I question is, why get the extra pick? If the club drafts Morrison at #4 (or higher) and they would use the #7 to draft a big man, then sure -- makes sense. But say Morrison is not available and they draft a big man at #4 -- Aldridge or Bargnani, for example. Then what would they do with #7? Draft a wing man? There isn't a player that makes sense at that spot, as it's very unlikely that either Rudy Gay or Brandon Roy slips that far.

So it's a bit of a head-scratcher. But we'll find out tomorrow.

Oh -- and don't forget, we'll be live-blogging the draft tomorrow afternoon. Check back to this site around 4pm and you'll see our draft post. The way we'll do this is we'll start a draft post and continue to update it with every pick. So all you'll have to do is hit "refresh". E-mail us with any questions.


Monday, June 26, 2006

BlazersBlog Official Mock Draft: v1.0

My uncle used to say "everyone's got an opinion". Well he's right, and we here at BlazersBlog have our own opinion regarding the NBA draft. So, myself (the mysterious man known to you only as "Moderator") and my new co-conspirator Lochi got together and discussed our mock drafts.

We threw around a couple of ideas on how to attack this, and here's the way we approached it. For each pick, we both provide our prediction, followed by a brief explanation. We assumed a couple of things:

-No trades. Obviously this won't be the case, but until a trade is formally announced there's no way to know exactly how things will go down. This won't prevent us from speculating about trades, but we aren't assuming any.
-Lottery only. As much as we feel like covering all 30 first round picks, we felt it would be better to cover only the lottery picks as well as Portland's #30 and #31 picks. So that's all you'll see.

Let the games begin!

#1. Toronto Raptors

Moderator: Andrea Bargnani. I expect Toronto to end up with Bargnani, one way or the other. Whether they select him at #1 or trade down with Charlotte or Portland, Bargnani is their man.

Lochi: Bargnani. In honor of the Azzurri moving on to the quarterfinals, the Raptors take the Italian, thinking it's soccer and not basketball. Plus it means he's not a Trailblazer.

#2. Chicago Bulls

Lochi: Tyrus Thomas. Seems like the guy they want, even though they're not sure. This to me seems like the most likely traded pick.

Moderator: LaMarcus Aldridge. Thomas is too much of a question mark, and with his well-rounded offensive game Aldridge is the perfect interior complement to Tyson Chandler.

#3. Charlotte Bobcats

Moderator: Brandon Roy. With MJ now running the show, I believe this changes the pick completely. Bernie Bickerstaff was in love with Rudy Gay, but MJ will go more for a guy who can contribute a little sooner and who is a bit more of a "gamer". Roy or Morrison would be the pick here, and since I hope Portland ends up with Morrison, I'll go with Roy for now.

Lochi: Brother of former Avalanche goalie Patrick, he's the pick here. For no other reason than this is the way it has to go down for my sanity...

#4. Portland TrailBlazers

Lochi: Adam Morrison. I think Morrison's a Blazer one way or another. He has to be, it's too perfect for it not to work out this way. Rest assured, if he's not a Blazer wednesday night you're going to hear a profanity laced tirade in this space.

Moderator: Adam Morrison. This is partially because I hope they'll make this pick. Morrison is clearly the best fit. Whether Portland gets him here, or moves up to #2 or #1 to get him, I believe (hope) that he'll end up in a Blazer uni one way or the other.

#5. Atlanta Hawks

Moderator: Shelden Williams. Rumor has it that Atlanta is going to end up with Shelden Williams, one way or another. They may select him here, or they may trade down to #8 and grab him there -- but either way, Williams is a Hawk.

Lochi: Sheldon Williams. Why? Because they're the Hawks, and there is no known cure.

#6. Minnesota Timberwolves

Lochi: LaMarcus Aldridge. This is a steal for them. A division rival adding a shot blocking center with a great offensive post game to put around Garnett worries me. A lot.

Moderator: Tyrus Thomas is the pick here. Minnesota is lucky that he slipped this far, and they won't hesitate to snag him. One of Thomas or Gay will slip, and whichever it is will be Minnesota's man.

#7. Boston Celtics

Moderator: Rajon Rondo. Clearly one of the most difficult teams to project. Rumors have them trading down into the teens to get Rondo or Randy Foye. Rondo has been a beast in his workouts, and I believe Boston wants him bad but isn't telling anyone. I think someone will trade up into this spot so they can grab Rudy Gay, and Boston will move back further where they can still get Rondo.

Lochi: Marcus Williams. For some reason, people think Williams is falling and everyone's in love with Foye. Simply put, Williams is a better player. C's need a point. He'll help them be a fringe playoff team next year.

#8. Houston Rockets

Lochi: Rudy Gay. They want Roy, everyone knows this, but if they can't figure out a deal then Gay's a nice consolation prize. Basically a young Bonzi in training, will drop 40 on you one night, 4 the next.

Moderator: Cedric Simmons. Gay seems like a good choice (and this could be another spot where a team moves up to get him), but Houston already has its small forward for the next five years in T-Mac and I think they'll jump at a chance to get a guy with Simmons' athleticism and defensive skills.

#9. Golden State Warroirs

Moderator: Rudy Gay. As much as they want a big, if he falls this far the Warriors will consider themselves very lucky and will jump right on it. Despite their glut of wing players already. This selection is the final piece in place that leads to a Mike Dunleavy trade.

Lochi: Rodney Carney. Since I know nothing about him, it seems like a good time to point out that the co-author of this blog still owes yours truly a shot and a beer for his statement "The Warriors are a playoff team this year" back in November.

#10. Seattle SuperSonics

Lochi: Cedric Simmons. People seem to love his athletic ability, which means he has no real skills except he's tall and can dunk. Seems like a good fit for the Sonics in that it will help them finish below Portland next year.

Moderator: Ronnie Brewer. Another tough call. People assume they want a big man, but with Robert Swift, Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison all appearing to have bright futures, I'm not quite sure why. They need some wing depth behind Rashard Lewis, so I'll go with The Brewmeister.

#11. Orlando Magic

Moderator: Randy Foye. Orlando needs another guard to pair with Jameer Nelson, and Foye has the skills. Brewer would also be a great fit here if he slips to them.

Lochi: I'll go Foye as well here. This could be a great pick for them, exciting combo guard to play with that team.

#12. New Orleans / Oklahoma City Hornets

Lochi: Patrick O'Bryant. Anytime you can get a young Jerome James you have to jump on that.

Moderator: Patrick O'Bryant as well. Some foolish team is going to select this big Irish stiff (in fact, I hereby nominate that as his new nickname: "BIS") WAY too high, and Byron Scott and the Hornets are the prime suspect to fall right into that trap.

#13. Philadelphia 76ers

Moderator: Marcus Williams. They need a point guard in the worst way, and he'll be a great fit alongside AI. He's quick and he can shoot. Dark horse candidate for ROY if he can win that starting spot (which shouldn't be too hard considering that Kevin Ollie and someone named "Louis Williams" will be his main competition).

Lochi: Jordan Farmar. Same idea, need a point and he's a perfect compliment to Iverson, doesn't need a lot of shots and a pretty steady player. They got to the finals with Eric Snow at the point, Farmar reminds me a lot of him.

#14. Utah Jazz

Lochi: JJ Reddick. Unlikeable, flopper, annoying to watch, and will knock down nail in the coffin 3's for the next 10-12 years in the league. Seems like a perfect fit for the Utah Jazz as a franchise.

Moderator: Rodney Carney. The Jazz need a scoring wing-man first and foremost, and Reddick's drinking problem (hey, we aren't all perfect) and bad back will scare them away. Carney can play right away, he can shoot, and is athletic. He'll be considered a steal at this spot in a couple of years.

Portland's Two Late Picks

Lochi: Portland is not going to be using these 2 picks, but in the interest of the current draft set up, I'll play along. There are 3 players I like here, any 1 of them would be good. First, I like Kevin Pittsnogle here. Big guy, can shoot the lights out, and down in this range you're looking for guys that can help out. He's going to be a serviceable player in the league, not an all star, probably not a starter, but a guy you can use. Second: Denham Brown. This guy is nails. If they somehow end up not getting Morrison, they need this guy. Not afraid to take, and bury, the big shot. Third: Leon Powe. Injury problems aside, he's going to be a quality rebounder scorer off the bench.

Moderator: I agree that they won't be using both picks. However, in the event they do, I'd like to see one of them used on a guy like Pittsnoggle, Leon Powe, or even Josh Boone. Frontcourt depth and a bit of a project. The second pick in this scenario would likely be used on a foreign player that they can stash in Europe for a couple of seasons. Possible candidates: Olexey Pechirov, Joel Freeland, Yotam Halperin.

There you have it! We'll be updating this mock draft with updated lists (and less detail) on Wednesday, no later than 1pm. Don't forget to tune in to the draft on Wednesday at 4.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Where I Stand

It seems appropriate for me to give you all a base to know where I stand on the Blazers franchise, the players involved, upper management, etc. This will probably evolve into a monthly feature, although I haven't come up with a title yet because "Ramblings" is just way past it's prime. So, here's where I stand:

Paul Allen. Ahhh, what could have been. I have no real hard feelings, he gave it a shot, got some brutal advise (more on this in a minute), and now it's time to eject.

Steve Patterson. I'm not sure where to start with this guy, convinced the owner that not having the arena was a good idea, wouldn't let the GM be the GM (allegedly), started a feud with just about every person in the media, used words like "subterfuge", and is so unlikable that he makes people say things like "Bob Whitsitt, wow, I guess he wasn't such a bad guy after all". It wouldn't really surprise me to see this on Tuesday night, "with the fourth pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, the Portland Trailblazers select Matt Haryasz, Stanford University" and they pan to Patterson sitting there and he gives the finger to the camera. Jackass.

Z-bo. Still on his side, barely. When he's going 22 & 12 and having zero plays ran for him he's a force. When he's taking 20 shots, 18 of them from 15 feet out or further, not so much.

Miles. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out buddy.

Telfair, Jack, Blake. Is this really a question? I know everyone likes the underdog overachiever, but come on, it's Telfair and Jack at the point.

Webster. Otherwise known as Daniel Simpson Day, he has no grade point average, all courses incomplete. Looks like a he could be a deadly sniper down the road.

Joel. Wish they'd find a way to keep him. Seriously doubt that it will happen.

"Draft The Stache". Aside from the dudes showing up at workouts with fake mustaches, not a fan. However, if people are fired up about the franchise for the first time in a while, so be it.

Ha. John Nash should have been fired 18 months ago when he actually said, straight faced I might add, "Ha could be the best player in this draft." Um...yeah. That being said, there's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's Ha wielding a wooden stick in anger and yelling "I'll sue" at some other stiff big man.

The new owner. Whomever it may be, welcome, you have a loyal fan base, you've got some pieces to work with, we know it's going to take a while, but just give us some hope for a better tomorrow. One more thing, figure out a way to get Freddy Jones in a Blazer uniform next season and you'd buy yourself an awful lot of breathing room with me in this blog.

Quick Note About Larry Brown

We all know that Brown has been canned by the Knicks; no need to re-has that. I did receive this today from RealGM's newsletter:

The Knicks reportedly are not planning on paying Larry Brown the more than $40 million remaining on his contract. Citing a clause in Brown's contract that requires him to follow club policy, the Knicks will seek arbitration with David Stern. They believe he acted beyond the perameters of his coaching position in attempting to make trades and also violated media policy by talking to reporters outside the presence of a team public relations person.
I am not one bit surprised to read this. On one hand, the argument could be "why did they hire him, and then fire him when he did exactly what everyone knew he'd do?". However, if he did indeed go behind the team's back, and if they wrote language into his contract saying that he couldn't do that, then it would appear that the team has a case. I'm happy to see this, for two reasons: 1. I have never liked Brown, he seems like a real ass. 2. I'm glad to see someone standing up to his bullshit tactics.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rip City Hello

Hello to all out there in the Blazers blog-sphere. As co-conspirator to this blog, I suppose I might as well give my quick thoughts on the upcoming NBA Draft as it pertains to our own disfunctional Portland Trailblazers. There are really only 4 possible ways they can can go with this pick, and we'll save the discussion about the following picks until later (anyone who thinks they're actually going to be selecting 30th and 31st in this draft is kidding themselves). Anyway, the 4 choices as I see them:

#1 - Adam Morrison. This is obvious, he's the guy. Whether they throw the dice and hope he falls to #4 is anyone's guess, but if there's even the slightest possibility that someone will take him in the 1-3 spots, they'll move up. Frankly, I'm not sure why we're talking about this. He's the scorer they desperately need, he's the new face of the franchise, everyone already loves him and he's not even officially on the team yet, we might as well start calling him "The Savior" right now. If they somehow don't get him, there will be hell to pay, now onto the other 3 choices.

#2 - LaMarcus Aldridge. I would not consider hurling myself off the Steel Bridge if they landed Aldridge. They need a center, he's a good post player on both ends, and they're most likely not going to keep Joel. He could help on D while Z-bo lets a guy go by him in the post, and he'd help Z-bo on the offensive end because they can actually run an offense through him in the post, decent passer, good post moves, and I'm a sucker for a sky hook.

#3 - Brandon Roy. Let's get this out of the way early, if a bolt of lightning struck the University of Washington, there would be a party at my house and all readers of this blog would be invited. Now, I don't mind Roy as a player as much as the co-blog author does, not drafting an elite player on the board because of who you have is the reason Chris Paul is not a Blazer right now. Somehow I think a backcourt of Telfair and Paul would have been a nice problem to have. However, I can see the Atlanta Hawk theory, and he's a Husky, so that's that. I vote a soft "no" on this guy.

#4 - The Italian Guy. Holy God no. Please do not let them draft a big, soft, Euro stiff. Yes I know Dirk is European, but how many other European players would you bet the franchise on? I can't think of any, and remember Manu's from Argentina, which is most definitely not in Europe. If they draft The Italian Guy they better hire some extra security down at 1 Center Court, I may have to take matters into my own hands.

So that's it, my thoughts on the possible Blazer picks. Welcome to the Blog, I'll try not to piss that many people off with my banter (lie).


I know it's been a while, so I figured I'd post a few of the email questions I have received since returning from the dark recesses of non-Blazerdom.

So, where have you been for the last six months?
-Philly Cheese, Portland

I don't think enough of you really care that much about my personal life so I'll spare you the details. Long story short: very busy, and very frustrated with the Blazers. We all have lots going on; it's tough to find time to write about a team you have no respect for. That's starting the change a little. Firing John Nash -- while purely superficial on management's part -- was a start. Let's call that "Part 1". Getting the ownership situation resolved will be Part 2, and hiring a real GM will be Part 3. So I guess my returning to the blog would be Part 1.5 ... right in between Nash's firing and the ownership resolution.

Why are we supposed to believe that you won't blog for a year and then bail again, like last time?
-(Also Philly Cheese in Portland)

Fair question. I've now got a partner who is co-authoring this blog with me. You'll be hearing from him within the next few days. Between the two of us, we should be able to scratch out enough time and energy to keep you, and us, entertained and up to date on the goings-on of the Blazers.

Which of Portland's three point guards do you think they should keep?
-Mike, Tigard

Sebastian Telfair and Jarrett Jack. I firmly believe this. Steve Blake is a nice guard, he'd be a decent second-string guy for most teams. I hate to say it because Blake played so well at times last year, but he's probably hindering the growth of Telfair and Jack (soon to possibly be "Jack and Telfair") at this point. Honestly, what does another year of Steve Blake get us? 35 wins instead of 32? I'd rather see Telfair and Jack both get 20+ minutes per night so we can really see what kind of players these guys are.

Who do you expect will be on the board when Portland makes their draft pick? By the way, I hate bloggers who only post sporadically. Thanks for that.
-Brian, SoCal

First of all, I expet at least one trade involving the top-4 picks. Whether that's Portland moving up or another team moving in, there will be some movement. I will say this: my personal preference for Portland's draft goes like yay -- 1. Morrison, 2. Aldridge, 3. Bargnani. I don't think Brandon Roy would be a good fit because we've already got our 2-guard of the future in Webster. Drafting Roy would put us dangerously close to the Atlanta Hawk patented "draft the same position in the top 10 every year" method, and you can see how it's worked out for them. I don't think Tyrus Thomas would be a good fit because we don't need another project and he seems to have a poor attitude. I'm not a big Rudy Gay fan either; he seems to be bursting with talent but lacking the drive to use it properly, and last I checked we already had a starting small forward with that same problem. We'll get into more details once my new partner and I unleash our official Draft Preview in the coming week or so, but there's a rough idea for you.

Who did you REALLY think would win the nba championship? I bet you picked the Mavs, and don't lie about it.
-Terry, Portland

Yes, I picked the Mavs. And to make things worse, I picked them to win in six games. I think they are a fun team to watch and I love the way they play. I also think Mark Cuban -- while probably a tool in real life -- is absolutely terriffic for the NBA, and I'm jealous of Maverick fans that they get to have an owner like that. I wish he'd buy the Oakland A's and move them to Portland. But you know what? If you could give me the choice of either team's roster, I'd take Dallas in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, if they played the series all over again and started next week with game 1, I'd STILL pick the Mavs. I do believe they are a better, deeper team than Miami and I consider Miami's championship to be slightly flukey.

Heard any good jokes lately?

Yes I have.

What past successful NBA team would you most compare the Heat to? Bill Simmons says the 1980's Showtime Lakers, but I'm not buying it. If anything, the Heat are built like the Spurs only the dyslexic version. They rely more on the penetrating guard than the dominant low post guy, but still it's a center that you have to double no matter what and a drive to the rim 2 guard that are the keys to the teams, along with a number of really average role players that all bring at least one skill to the table.
-Mark, Portland

I was thinking the early/mid-90's Seattle Sonics. One superb guard that runs the entire offense, one dominant big man, and a few decent role players around them. Although Shawn "Fat Man"Kemp in his heyday was more of an above the rim player than a plodding down-low big man like Shaq, he was still a DARN good post-up player. A lot of people forget this.

Got any decent news for us upon your return? Any scoops or updates that we haven't heard yet?
-Matt, San Francisco

I do not, but I do have a good read for you. DraftExpress' Paul Gearan has a fantastic article up here entitled "Predicting NBA Draft Sucess And Failure through Historical Trends". He measures the five-year success rates of different on-court positions, different pick numbers, etc, and it's quite fascinating. I won't give everything away, but here's a sample: players chosen in the top 7 picks have a 70% success rate of becoming either a solid starter or a star player in their first five years. Picks 8-15 drop to 43%, and anything in the second half of the first round is under 25%. Just something for you to chew on while you think about the value of Portland's two late picks. But give the article a read, that's just the tip of the iceberg and you'll enjoy it.


Thoughts On Nate McMillan

I know that I was semi-disappointed when they hired him; I was hoping for Marc Iavaroni from Phoenix to get the job.

That said, I think McMillan has done an admirable job in Portland. Last year was essentially a throwaway season in terms of wins and losses; Nate's primary goals revolved around other things. I seem to get the sense lately that Blazer fans are quite happy with Nate as coach and with the job he's doing.

Assuming for a moment that Portland's worst-in-the-NBA-record is out the window. What were we hoping to accomplish last season? Here's a quick list off the top of my head, followed by a quick evaluation of how Nate did, in the four non-wins-and-losses aspects of the team.
  • Change the culture of the team away from individual performances and towards team accomplishments.

Tough to say whether or not Nate accomplished this goal. I suppose you could say that he did; but we've heard from a few of the players that this was not always the case (Joel Pryzbilla and Martell Webster have both expressed frustration about this very topic). Granted, this is the NBA we're talking about, and it's definitely a me-first league. He's got the ball started in this direction, which is good enough for now. Grade: B.

  • Establish an attitude that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.

This can be looked at two ways: 1. How many incidents has the team had, and 2. How were those incidents dealt with? I'd give him a B+ for #1 and a C- for #2. Overall, Portland's season was relatively incident-free, but for the few incidents that did pop up I wouldn't exactly say that McMillan dealt with them with an iron fist. I do think it's been an improvement, but I do not think that a culture that the team will absolutely not accept bad behavior has been established. Grade: C.

  • Get the team to increase it's defensive effort.

This may not be reflected in the statistics, as Portland's points allowed per posession were near the bottom of the league, but when you look at the team's roster I do think that Nate got throgh to some of these guys. Even if last year's defense was porous at best, it seems to be clear that if you can't play D, you can't play for Nate. This could be part of the problem as to why we weren't able to learn more about the younger players. Grade: B+.

  • Find out what we have with our young players.

Honestly, this was my only "true" complaint with Nate this season. Do you feel like you really know any more about Travis Outlaw than you did last October? What about Sebastian Telfair? Viktor Khryapa? Sergei Monia, prior to his trade? In my eyes, one of Nate's biggest goals this past season was to find out exactly what we had in some of these young guys, and I do not think he accomplished this. Martell Webster is the only one of the group whom I think I have a "feel" for what he could be as a player, but the others he missed on. Grade: D.

Overall, Nate has done a decent job, but it's a slow process. There's a tremendous amount of cultural and on-court change that needs to happen with this team. I'd like to have seen more progress, but it appears that things may be headed in the right direction.


Why "Draft The Stache" Is Lame

Alright, here's my problem with this ridiculous "Draft The Stache" campaign that we've all been hearing so much about: it's futile.

First of all, what's the goal of this? To convince the team to publicly acknowledge that they want Morrison? Great idea! That way we could lose all of the trade leverage that we might have; or possibly even prompt another team who wants Morrison to move up past Portland.

Secondly, why would the team allow its fans to decide whom it should select with a franchise-altering draft pick? I hate to break it to you folks, but none of us earn our living judging NBA talent, and "campaigns" such as this are foolish.

Thirdly, drafting a college player solely because of his facial hair is not only ludicrous, it's foolish. I find this campaign neither funny nor insightful, I don't understand the point of it, and I wish it would stop. It's making Blazer fans look slightly moronic.


Back ... With A Vengeance

Folks, we apologize for the temporary shut-down for a few months there. It's good to be back. And now that the workload is divided between a few of us, you can expect that we're here to stay.

Now, let's get a couple of things out of the way regarding the Blazers that happened while I was gone:

1. The team completely imploded last season, and we should all be embarassed that it's fallen this far.

Here's the bottom line: Steve Patterson, John Nash, and Paul Allen should be ashamed of themselves.

All three are equally at fault for Portland's careening sprial into ineptitude. John Nash took the fall as the axe-man; and although I've had my complaints with him, we'll never really know how much decision-making power he had.

2. We will not be able to get any sort of clarity regarding the team's direction until the ownership situation is resolved.

This is the saddest part of all, really. The team has the #4 draft pick, a few key free agents, several marketable assets that need to be traded, and the coming offseason is a monster one in terms of defining the team's direction. Yet, because we don't have a true GM, we don't know exactly how much of Portland's roster can/will change. And because our owner is selling the team, we can't get a GM. Essentially, Paul Allen is holding the team hostage at this point and I'm quite upset about it. My guess is that we won't have ownership clarification until late summer / early fall, and we won't have GM clarification until next fall or early winter. It's sad, it's depressing, and I'm not sure what we've got to do to get through it. I supposed we can hope for an offseason of sound, flexibility-maintaining decision making and get a real GM (Kiki, are you listening?) in here to shake things up.

2. It appears that Jarrett Jack and Martell Webster are the only untouchable players on the team right now.

Seems bizarre to me and for one reason: Sebastian Telfair. I'm not sure if it has something to do with John Nash being the primary instigator for Portland selecting him, and hence his main supporter is gone. Or if Nate simply doesn't like the way he plays, or if the team simply sees Jack as its primary asset of the future at the point. Assuming both players remain with the team into next year, I think we'll learn a lot in the first 20 games regarding who Nate really sees as the team's PG of the future. I know that my blogging partner feels differently, but I still see Telfair's ceiling as a little higher than Jack's. Yes, it's looking more and more like he won't hit that ceiling, and yes, we're all excited to see what Jarrett Jack can do with a healthy ankle. But I still say that Telfair has some skills that very few players in the NBA posess, and this upcoming third season is truly his make-or-break year as far as his future with Portland.

3. I think it's fair to say that Darius Miles is as good as gone.

Every source possible claims that the team's #1 priority is to trade Darius Miles, and the front office has even hinted that this may be the case. Granted it wouldn't be the first time that a player returned the following season when we all were "sure" he'd be dealt -- but I imagine Portland will be breaking camp in early October without "Frequent Flier" Miles.

4. Nobody has any idea what Portland will be able to do with the #4 draft pick.

We would all love to see them draft Adam Morrison (yes, I am firmly in the Adam Morrison camp, although you will not see any further "draft the stache" references from this author. But that is another column for another day.) But I am starting to have doubts as to whether he will be available at #4. There is an outside chance that he will be, and it would be a coup for the Blazers if he were. I don't expect them to say this publicly, but I do truly believe he's at the top of their list, with Brandon Roy a close second. The team can't afford to draft another project (a category in which Andrea Bargnani and Tyrus Thomas would both be classified) as we've already got several of those on the team. They need a contributor, and Morrison, Roy, or even LaMarcus Aldridge would certainly fit that bill. If the team comes away with Adam Morrison -- even if they have to surrender another asset on top of the #4 pick to get him -- I think we should all be quite happy.

Clearly, we've got a lot more to talk about with this team but I had to get those four things off of my chest. As soon as my partner-in-crime co-author is all set up, we'll be doing a proper introduction. For now enjoy the postings, please email any thoughts to, and have a nice day.



Hello ladies and gentelemen. After a 5 1/2 month leave of absense, BlazersBlog is back. I've found a partner to share the blog-writing duties, and between the two of use we expect to be posting a few times per week.

We'll be sending out announcement emails once the first few posts are up. Thank you for your support, and we'll be back and firing away quite soon.