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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and have a nice day.