Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blazers Acquire Magloire

It was announced this morning (I actually heard the news from RealGM's Buster Olney-esque email update service, highly recommended for anyone who likes a quick breakdown of links to the day's big news) that the Blazers have agreed to a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, sending Steve Blake, Ha, and Brian Skinner in exchange for Jamaal Magloire.

I like this trade, for several reasons.

The Magoire Trade: 5-Point Analysis

1. I don't feel that anything we gave up was a big loss. None of the three pieces they dealt were major assets for the future. Milwaukee was in a similar situation with Magloire that Portland is currently in with Darius Miles: talented player who had been very good in the past, but had demanded a trade and is coming off a so-so year.

Blake had a very nice season in Portland and was surprisingly effective, but he wasn't a long-term solution and probably had his career year. He's a very careful player who can create a bit for his teammates (4.5 apg) and won't beat you with mistakes. His assist numbers weren't huge, but was 3rd in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio and Portland's anemic offense can probably account for a portion of that. We all know that Portland had (still has, actually) a glut of PG's and Blake will be a decent backup for the rest of his career. No more, no less, and I wish him luck. Skinner is a serviceable big man who can eat up some minutes at the 4 and 5, but having LaFrentz around eliminates the need for him, and he was essentially insurance in the event that Pryzbilla didn't re-sign. And finally, Ha -- do we even need to discuss him? I wrote when Ha made his debut that he might be the worst big man I've ever seen log an NBA minute, and though he's got size, the absolute ceiling for him would be a 10 minutes per game 11th man. I doubt he's still in the league 24 months from now.

2. It clarifies our PG depth. With the combination of Sergio Rodriguez being signed (see my earlier post - "Give me some of that spanish chocolate love" if you'd like to hear my thoughts on him) and Brandon Roy showing he can play backup PG minutes, Portland clearly felt they had a logjam at PG with Jarrett Jack and Dan Dickau also being in the fold. We've pared down the guys who can play PG, and potentially freed up both the starting spot for Jarrett Jack and some backup minutes for either Dickau or Rodriguez.

3. Magloire is a true center, and a decent offensive post-player. He averaged 10 and 10 last season in 30 minutes per game, and is more of a back-to-the-basket player than LaFrentz. This allows the team to play LaMarcus Aldridge at PF, and put Magloire into the game at Center so they still have a low-post scorer and a very good rebounder, allowing Aldridge to work in the mid-range. The team's depth chart in the front court is now a little more clear, and I see it as:

C - Pryzbilla, Magloire
PF - Randolph, LaFrentz, Aldridge

Yes, there will be times when LaFrentz and Randolph play together, but I also think there will be times that Magloire and Randolph play together.

4. The team stuck to their guns about Miles. Portland didn't execute a "trade just to make a trade" regarding Darius Miles, as I've been afraid they would do. Everyone knows that Milwaukee needs some depth at the "3", and you know that they asked for Miles. But we also know that Miles and Outlaw are the only true SF's on Portland's roster, and they simple cannot trade Miles without getting a SF in return. So while I wish they could have found a way to make it work, at least they stuck to their guns.

5. And finally, the roster was cut down. The Blazers were carrying 15 contract players prior to the trade, and now we're down to 13. The last thing this team needs, with all of its young talent and potential, is to be bogged down with convaluted roles that include mediocre veterans. We got rid of two MV's and took a small step toward clarifying some roles.

Catching up on a few other loose ends while I've been traversing the Orient:

  • First of all, two high-quality posts by Lochi while I was out of the country -- including the clear frontrunner for Post Title of the Year: "Get Busy Livin', Or Get Busy Dyin'." Excellent work.
  • Quick note on the potential trade of Zach Randolph: I don't think it will happen for a moment this offseason. Not only did Portland have the league's worst offense last year and they'd be trading their best and most consistent offensive player, but I believe Zach's trade value is a bit low and it will take at least the first half of next season to get it back to where the team can receive adequate value in return. Granted, with Pryzbilla, LaFrentz, Magloire and eventually Aldridge, they've got the depth to be able to make that deal -- I just don't see it happening yet.
  • As for the team's roster as it stands, they've got 13 guys, which means one player will either be on the "inactive" list or sent to the NBDL. I imagine that player will be either Rodriguez or Dickau, with the frontrunner being Rodriguez. He may have more potential than Dickau, but because of his service time, Dickau cannot be sent to the NBDL so the team would have more options with Rodriguez.
  • An update on projected minutes-per-position:

PG: Jack 25, Dickau 15, Roy 8 (DNP: Rodriguez)

SG: Webster 25, Roy 15, Dixon or Outlaw 8

SF: Miles 25, Outlaw 15, Roy or Webster 8

PF: Randolph 28, LaFrentz 15, Aldridge 5

C: Pryzbilla 28, Magloire 15, LaFrentz 5

Update: Jason Quick is also reporting the trade here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Get Busy Livin' or Get Busy Dyin'

Let's go while we're young! Apparently the Blazer front office has decided to take a slight vacation and aren't doing anything right now. As best I can tell, this is what they're currently going with as far as a starting 5:

Jack, Roy, Miles, Randolph, Joel.

Now that's not too terrible, considering the team just won 21 games, I'm open to any bit of improvement here. The overwhelming opinion has been that they are going to trade Miles this season. Nate doesn't like him, and even though Paul Allen supposedly does for some strange reason, it doesn't appear that he's in the plans. The problem would be that only Travis Outlaw would be left on the roster as a SF. Nobody is going to trade you a SF for Miles straight up, that makes very little sense, so that leaves you with making a side move for your starting SF. Everyone loves rumors, rumors are fun, rumors are great, so let me throw a few ideas out there, because clearly our front office needs some help coming up with some plans. First let's get some rules out the way, all of the following work under the current salary cap, that's rule number 1, no crazy trades that aren't possible. Rule #2, the whole goal with dealing Miles (or Randolph) is to either clear salary, so don't take on anything long term, or improve long term. With that, on to some things that make sense, note to the Blazer front office, put down the mojito and pick up the phone.

When in trouble, call the Knicks. You could get Thomas to do just about anything, we know this, so you can actually think of stupid things with him and he'd do it. One idea would be Zach and Miles for Jalen Rose and Channing Frye. This gives the Blazers a quality big man rotation, and a starting 3 with a monster contract that's off the books this year. Champaign all around.

Call the Lakers and see what they want for Lamar Odom. Odom has 2 years remaining on his contract, Zach has 4, a Randolph for Odom trade works under the cap. That gets you your SF, and it cuts 2 years off a moronic contract. This would move you to a starting PF of either LaFrentz or Aldridge, not so good, but then you're free to deal Miles for a serviceable starter there like...

Miles for Troy Murphy. The Warriors seem to be shopping him around, he'd be a nice fit along side players like Jack, Roy, Odom, and Joel.

None of these get you into the playoffs next year, I know this. It's just time for the Blazers front office to get moving. I figured I'd at least throw some things out there, they seem to be too busy doing...well...nobody really knows what they're doing right now.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Miss The Rains Down In Africa

Seriously, who turned on the heat? Did I move to Africa and someone not tell me? I'm not built for this kind of heat, so I may be a little delirious typing this post. I still don't have a title for this little section of rants and opinions, rest assured there will be one by the time camps open. Anyway...

Apparently the package is out there for anyone that would like to take a shot on Darius Miles, the package being Miles and Steve Blake. Hard to believe they aren't finding any takers on that dynamic duo. Might as well throw Ha in there to sweeten the pot.

Freddy Jones is now a Raptor, this makes me sad. Yes, my dream of having Telfair run the fast break with Freddy streaking to the basket for one of those insane dunks has died. I think he's a pretty good fit for the Raps though, a good move for them in an off season of general stupidity (Villanueva for TJ Ford? Come on now, there had to be alcohol involved with that decision).

Iverson to Boston, get it over with already, I'm tired of reading about it. That's certainly going to be the smallest backcourt in NBA history, Iverson and Telfair, I wonder if anyone's going to post them up?

Sonics to somewhere in Oklahoma, whatever. I'm sure this will be a much bigger topic down the road, but the Blazers aren't going to Seattle. Everyone remain calm during the subterfuge (hah, take that Stevie) that will come out of the Blazers front office in the next year or two.

Shawn Kemp busted for drugs. I think Bob Whitsitt just tried to sign him to play D-line for the Seahawks after hearing the news.

USA basketball, is it me or is there still a shocking lack of shooting on that team? Don't get me wrong, a lineup of Paul, Wade, LaBron, Carmelo, and Brand looks like it will be awfully fun to watch. But if Gilbert Arenas is your outside shooting threat, odds are you're going to see more 2-3 zones than you would if you played 10 games in a row against Syracuse. If Redd isn't going to be available, and you pretty much got the big F-You from Kobe, don't you think it might have been a decent idea to have Mike Miller hanging around under the premise "if the shit hits the fan, at least we'll have one guy that can launch from downtown." Apparently the backup plan was...well there was no backup plan.

In honor of one of the last great NBA fans, Bill Simmons, picking an EPL team, I'm an Arsenal fan to his Spurs. The fearless Moderator of this board is a communist and cheers for Manchester United. As for the bandwagon factor for the Gunners, I prefer the term frontrunner.

Now, about that air conditioner...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


The Vegas summer league is in the books, everyone is writing articles, calling in to radio shows, and just generally swooning over Brandon Roy. Well, allow me to roll the 7 when everyone has money out there on the numbers on the craps table. Keep this in mind:

18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, all Vegas league selection.

Those were the numbers last year for Travis Outlaw, who had everyone going crazy soon after. There were numerous national articles written about his ensuing 2006 breakout year, including fantasy hoops columns that had him as a quality sleeper. How long did it take him to be waived by the teams that drafted him in the late rounds? 2 weeks? 3? These were Brandon Roy's numbers in the Vegas summer league:

19.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks, all Vegas league selection.

As far as I can tell, this is what we know from the summer leagues around the country. Brandon Roy is a very solid all around player, does everything well. Adam Morrison can get hot and light up the scoreboards. LaMarcus Aldridge is a project because he's not quite strong enough yet but does have a solid skill set on both ends of the floor. The Italian Guy isn't a total stiff, but he's got Token Euro 6th Man written all over him. Wow, those are some real shocking things to find out. In other news, I like alcohol.

The Blazers are going to be better this season, Brandon Roy is the starting 2 guard and could play some point if they need him to. We know this. He's going to be one of the front running candidates for rookie of the year due mostly to playing time and his NBA ready skills. We know this. So settle down people. If you want to see something that will surprise you in Vegas, there are a lot better places for that than the summer league.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

10 Days Later: Draft Analysis & Blazer Depth Chart Update

1. Draft

My counterpart on this site graded the Blazers a B+ for last week's draft, and let me get this out of the way right now: I'm giving them a strong "A". I loved everything they did, and even while the clueless guys on the ESPN broadcast were killing them for their moves I wondered "wait, aren't these guys missing the picture?".

I've said all along that either Aldridge or Morrison would be perfect for this team, and the fact that they ended up with one of them -- PLUS Brandon Roy -- to makes for a great haul. And as documented here, I'm also excited about Sergio Rodriguez. He may not contribute much this season, but watch videos of the kid's skills: they're unreal. Portland has a strong young set of backcourt players for the future in Jack, Rodriguez, Webster, and Roy. With the NBA increasingly becoming a guard-dominated league, what other team has that much potential in their backcourt? I can't think of a single one. And I'll say this once: I don't even have a problem with the Ratliff-LaFrentz exchange. Yes, he's on the hook for one more year of contract, but Ratliff is injury prone, poor on offense (and let's not forget this team was the NBA's lowest scoring team last season), and I just don't trust him like I used to. Raef can shoot, and though he's overpaid he'll be a nice weapon off the bench.

2. Depth Chart

Now that we know Rodriguez and Pryzbilla will both be on the team next year, let's take a look at what I perceive as the team's depth chart:

PG - Blake, Jack, Dickau, Rodriguez
SG - Roy, Webster, Dixon
SF - Miles, Outlaw
PF - Randolph, LaFrentz, Aldridge
C - Pryzbilla, Skinner, Ha

A couple of notes:

1. I expect Roy to get some playing time at PG. Nate is on record as saying he'll get "some" time there, and with him playing the point in summer league that only reinforces this.
2. Yes, I do think Roy is the team's starting 2-guard, and Dixon is the third-stringer. Last season, Dixon was essentially the starter by default, and we don't really need him to fill that role any more. Between Roy and Webster, Portland should be able to get 35 or so minutes at the 2 and Dixon can fill in the gaps.
3. I expect Webster to get some playing time at SF. He's got the size, but he doesn't have the defense. None the less, if he's lighting it up and on the court with Roy and Blake or Rodriguez, it will be an interesting experiment.
4. I expect Aldridge and LaFrentz to both play a little C alongside Randolph. Especially LaFrentz. His mid-range shooting ability will help Zach's game on offense, and between C and PF I wouldn't be surprised to see LaFrentz to get 20-25 mpg.

3. Minutes Projection By Position

So where does that leave us? We all know that Portland is trying to deal Miles at all costs, and truthfully I do not expect him to be on the roster by the time the season starts in late October. However, the only thing Portland has done with the passing of Morrison is that they've painted themselves into a bit of a corner. If they do trade Miles, then clearly they'll need to acquire a veteran SF who can play starter's minutes. Because as of now, Outlaw is the only other SF on the roster, and he's shown that he's clearly not yet ready for it. So for now we'll do a by-position minutes projection including Miles, but I think you could easily substitute whomever they trade for in Miles' spot should a deal like that go down. Following is how I see the minutes shaking down for the first 10-20 games of the season:

Blake - 20
Jack - 20
Rodriguez, Dickau, or Roy - 8

Clearly the team will not be carrying four point guards, especially if we think Roy can play a bit here. I don't believe Dickau and Blake will both be on the roster at the beginning of the season. I expect one to get moved in either a Miles or Randolph trade, and they might even stash Rodriguez in the NBDL if Roy looks like he can play. But I do expect Blake and Jack to split the bulk of the minutes.

Roy - 20
Webster - 20
Dixon or Outlaw - 8

This projection is based largely on two questions: 1. Can Roy start right away? I believe yes. And 2., Can Webster really play 20 minutes per night? Again, I believe yes. This projection is based largely on the improvement that Webster showed during the last few weeks of the season, once Nate really started letting the kids loose. I truly do believe that Juan Dixon is the odd man out here, especially if Nate decides to give Outlaw another shot at SG minutes.

Miles - 25
Outlaw - 15
Roy or Webster - 8

Honestly, this is by far the toughest position to project. Assume for a moment that Miles or whomever they bring in to replace him gets the requisite 25 minutes per game. Is Outlaw even ready to play 15 per game as a backup? To me, that's a huge question mark. I expect Nate to experiment quite a bit with Webster or Roy playing the "3", especially when Portland is utilizing a zone defense where you can hide a guy like Webster's defense a little more. We may see a three-guard lineup quite a bit this season. My personal thoughts are that I'd like to see our young guys get the bulk of their minutes at the positions where they have the brightest future, so I would like to see Portland add a little depth. If Chicago does end up releasing Khryapa after all, he might be a nice direction for Portland to look to add said depth.

Randolph - 28
LaFrentz - 10
Aldridge - 10

Ten minutes per game for both LaFrentz and Aldridge at PF seems a little light to you, doesn't it? Nate is on record as saying he thinks Aldridge will play more PF than C. But I really don't see where he'd be able to take minutes from, especially for the first 25% of the season. Zach is the team's best player right now and you have to get him his 30 minutes. Raef LaFrentz has a skill that few others on this team posess (the ability to shoot consistently) so you have to get him 20 minutes per game between PF and C. And Nate's also on record as saying that he sees LaFrentz and Randolph playing together "quite a bit", which would lead one to think that LaFrent'z primariy position on this team will be backup C.

Pryzbilla - 28
LaFrentz - 12
Skinner or Aldridge - 5

I wouldn't be surprised to see most of those backup minutes go to LaFrentz due to reasons mentioned above; perhaps even all of them. We've currently got Raef pegged for 22 minutes per game between the two positions, which seems about right to me. Once Aldridge shows that he can play consistently and not take too much off the table then it's fair to expect LaFrent'z minutes to shift to center as Aldridge picks up more PF minutes.

That's what we're looking at right now. We'll be updating these projections a couple of times throughout the offseason as we learn more about the team or additional moves are made. Email any thoughts you have here, and stay tuned for an analysis of the brief flurry of trades we've had in the NBA later this week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Give Me Some Of That Tasty Spanish Chocolate Love

I am slowly becoming a massive fan of Sergio Rodriguez ... aka Spanish Chocolate. The guy flat out has ridiculous handle, so much so that I'm nearly willing to declear Sebastian Telfair a "poor man's Sergio Rodriguez." Sounds ridiculous? Click here to see a YouTube compliation of some of his highlights (thanks to Eric at OregonLive's site for providing this link). Remember, this is the Euro league that he's playing against, but also remember that most NBA scouts claim that the Euro leagues are as tough if not tougher than NCAA Division 1 basketball. You'll be amazed at his quicks, handle, and ability to break down mutliple players at once and either find the open man or create the open shot. I'm telling you: this kid will be good. Maybe not this year, but soon after. I just hope he can find some PT behind Blake and Jack.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Plan A: Complete

It's been said that the Blazers first priority this off season was signing Joel Pryzbilla. It would appear that they have accomplished that goal. 5 years, 32 million. At first that seems like a whole lot for a role player big man, but it's just the 32 mil that throws people off. That's only a little over 6 million per on average, which is very movable if he goes into the tank. It's also a small price to pay for a slightly above average center in the NBA. A look at Joel inside the numbers:

In the 04/05 season Joel averaged 10.5 points per 40 minutes and 12.7 rebounds/40 and accumulated a PER of 15.32 (15 is average). He followed that up in the 05/06 season by averaging 9.9 p/40 and 11.2 r/40, and a PER of 15.57. He's also a quality shot blocker and on ball defender for a big man. More importantly to people in Rip City, it appears anyway, is that he brings intangibles to the team. This is when you typically hear rubbish like he's "a warrior" or that he "does the little things" or a bunch of other cool sounding phrases that usually are code for "he sucks but we like him". In Joel's case, he's a solid center in the NBA and for a team like our Trailblazers, knowing that you have an above average player at one position on the floor locked up for the next 5 years can't be anything but a positive move.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ben Wallace Signs With Bulls

Chad Ford is reporting that Ben Wallace has agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.

What does this have to do with the Blazers? Plenty. Chicago had been considered Portland's main competition for Joel Pryzbilla's services; but that was predicated upon Wallace going back to the Pistons. Now that Chicago has signed Wallace, they won't be pursuing Pryzbilla. Because Pryzbilla's decision will come down to a combination of contract offer and team quality, the Bulls were really the only of the under-the-cap teams who were clearly head and shoulders above Portland in team quality. So this signing is actually a good thing for the Blazers as it likely means that whomever they will be competiting for will either A. be a very bad team (one that likely does not have the quality of youngsters that Portland does), or B. be offering the exact same contract offer as Portland -- essentially the mid-level deal.