Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Point Guard Conundrum

Who's the point guard of the future? Seems like a simple enough question, and I had planned to give a full breakdown of the two obvious candidates, looking at their strengths and weaknesses. What I found was rather astonishing to me, it's really not that close. The problem now is going to be where do they go from here?

The perceptions of the two are that Jarrett Jack is a very solid player, steady, good defender, doesn't make a lot of mistakes, etc. Sergio is the flashy, fan friendly, whiz kid from Spain with more nicknames than Apollo Creed at this point. Here's how they stack up across the board this season:

Definitions: Assist ratio is the percentage of possessions that result in an assist, turnover ratio is the same only with turnovers. True shooting percentage is all shots including free throws, everything else should be self explanatory.

Jack: 45.3% shooting, 29.7% from 3 point range, True shooting percentage 56%, Assist ratio 29%, Turnover ratio 12%, Assists per 40 minutes 6.2. Real numbers he's averaged 5.4 assists to 2.3 turnovers, and 12 points a game. Total PER: 14.78

Sergio: 45.5% shooting, 31.3% from 3 point range, True shooting percentage 53%, Assist ratio 43%, turnover ratio 12%, assist per 40 minutes 11. Real numbers he's averaged 3.4 assists to 0.95 turnovers, and 4 points a game. Total PER: 17.54

Now for the biggest factor, Sergio is 20 years old, Jack is 23. The perception is that Jack is the steadier player and that Sergio can be a bit wild, that seems to be lying eyes more than anything. Their turnover ratios are the same, but Sergio is by far the better distributor of the ball, including a rather mind boggling 43% assist ratio. To put that into perspective, Steve Nash this year is at 39%. The second surprising point when looking at the numbers is the perception is Sergio can't shoot, well, he's already at least as good as Jack.

It's not really close, Sergio is the future of this franchise at the point guard position. He's 3 years younger, a better passer, just as good a shooter, and clearly makes all of his teammates better when he's running the show. The Other Guy on this blog has been saying this to me for months, I've finally opened my eyes.

Now we come to the Conundrum, where do they go from here. Subterfuge Stevie, Pritchard, and even The Other Guy have suggested that Jarrett Jack may become a very valuable trade asset. Jack's still a good young point guard, many teams could use him. Nate's opinion is that Brandon Roy might be best suited to play point, obviously this isn't a full time option but you could definitely trade Jack for something very valuable and have Roy take the backup point guard minutes. I'd still like to keep a guy like Dickau around for some injury protection and some garbage time minutes, but this makes the coming off season very interesting. Suddenly a package of Jack, Outlaw, and a pick looks like a monster trade package that can bring in an impact player or a way to move up to the Kevin Durant territory if a GM would be dumb enough to pass on him.

The important thing to note here is this looks like the hanging curve ball that could put this franchise back into contender status. Add an impact player to this team over the summer, preferably at the small forward position, and you've suddenly got a starting 5 in 07/08 of Sergio, Roy, Player X, Z-bo, and Aldridge. You'd have a sniper off the bench in Martell, a versatile lineup that can run the floor with anyone with two dynamic guards, two low post scoring options, and two defensive stoppers off the bench in Udoka and Joel. I've been saying they needed to get lucky in the draft to become a contender again, they got lucky, like Powerball lucky, with Sergio Rodriguez. Aldridge and Roy were known commodities, then they hit the jackpot. This summer is the time to cash in and go for it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Quick Look At Portland’s Season

19-26, .422, 11th place, 3.5 games out of a playoff spot (admittedly closer than I thought they'd be). It’s not often you look at a team in 11th place in its conference and say that they are exceeding expectations, but I really think this team has done better than most expect.

What about the second half of the season? Making the playoffs is not a reasonable goal for this team; there are 8 awfully tough teams holding down those playoff spots right now and that doesn't even include Golden State whom I believe will make a nice little run in this second half. (In fact, the Golden State / LA Clippers battle for the 8th spot will be one of the season’s best remaining regular season stories). I do think, however, that playing .450 ball for the rest of the season is a solid goal to have; considering they’ve played .422 ball to this point, have played a slightly tougher-than-average schedule to this point, and are improving. 17-20 over these last 37 games would be a .459 winning percentage, and would leave the team with 36 wins on the season, also known as about about 10 more than anyone expected. Incredibly, the Blazers are doing better against the Western Conference (12-14) than they are against the East (7-12)

Can the club get 17 more wins this year? Let’s take a look. The following are what I see as “winnable” games remaining on the schedule.

@ NO
vs UTA
vs MEM
vs CHA
vs SAC
vs SEA
@ NY
vs MEM
vs UTA
vs SEA

Say Portland goes 9-5 in those 14 games and wins 5 other games that we don’t expect them to. There’s 14 wins. So while 17 may be tough, it’s not unrealistic to expect them to get close to that. We’ll keep an eye on this as the season goes on.

Friday, January 26, 2007

That's R. O. Y.

ESPN had their panel of experts run through their mid-season report today and when it came to the Rookie of the Year vote it was a runaway love fest for our savior, Brandon Roy. The lone black eye would be Marc Stein who seems to think Foye is the leader in the clubhouse right now. Clearly, Mr. Stein needs to be tied to a chair with a lamp cord and given the bag treatment by Jack Bauer just to, you know, get his attention.

Hollinger was especially glowing about our baby Blazers, stating that we have the league's three best rookies in Roy, The Marcus, and Sergio. It's becoming difficult not to agree, thanks for noticing Johnny.


Agent Zero is coming for the Blazers. As most of you know, we here at the Blazers Blog think Gilbert Arenas is fantastic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is he's completely insane. Thankfully, his insanity leads to some hilarious moments like screaming "hibachi!" at the Suns as he was lighting them up for 54 last month. We won't discuss the whipping the Suns put on him and his Bullets earlier this week for payback. Anyway, all this has come about due to Agent Zero being cut from Team USA last summer, vowing to take it out on D'Antoni, Nate, and he's still working on how to get a piece of Coach K.

This from SI.com:
Arenas has promised this season to take out his frustrations about the national team on Krzyzewski's Team USA assistants, Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni and Portland coach Nate McMillan.
Arenas scored 54 points against the Suns last month and has said his next 50-point game will come against the Trail Blazers on Feb. 11, prompting D'Antoni to say: "I can't wait to see what he does against Duke. He's gonna kill Duke."
"He'd like to see what I'm going to do against Duke," Arenas wrote in a posting this week on his nba.com blog. "I thought it was funny because if I have the chance to go back to college, I'll give up one NBA season to play against Duke.
"One college game that's five fouls, right? ... 40-minute game at Duke, they got soft rims I'd probably score 84 or 85. I wouldn't pass the ball. I wouldn't even think about passing it. It would be like a NBA Live or an NBA 2K7 game, you just shoot with one person."

And you wonder why we love Agent Zero.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Live Blogging, Blazers v Wolves

Welcome to a new feature on the Blazers Blog, live blogging of a game. What follows is a beer induced haze throughout a Blazers game and we'll see where it takes us, hopefully a win.


Let's just say there were four pints of Terminator and a Communication Breakdown burger involved. The wife is out of town, beer and burgers ingested, I'm enjoying my state of gluttony, let's move on. I'm now parked in front of the tv with a 6 pack of PBR pounders. I said this was going to be interesting, I shutter to read my fourth quarter comments tomorrow morning. I'll be back after the first quarter.

1st Quarter:

Sometimes I wonder if Brandon Roy is just a rookie and looks this good then how good can he be. I have no idea but holy crap, he's starting to seriously dominate already and he's played about 25 games. He's started hitting those deep jumpers to augment his driving game, I was joking earlier this year when I called him The Savior, he just may be. 10 points, a couple dimes, boards, and a steal already. Apparently giving the big F-U to Foye in the ROY debate.

As for the rest of the 1st in Larry King style, quality air ball from Joel wide open at the free throw line...Mark Blount steals Joel's UIC Moment (unintentional comedy) by going nothing but glass on a free throw line jumper, always better than a straight air ball, but then following it up with a hook shot air ball on the next possession, good times...How come every time I watch Ricky Davis he's fucking awesome, like totally unstoppable, if he just played in games I watched he'd be an All NBA player...Someone tell Aldridge he doesn't need to foul Mark Madsen...Blazers up 1 after 1, I'll be back at halftime...

2nd Quarter

As usual, nobody cools off a hot player quite like Nate. It's like he always cherished that role as a player and he decided to roll it over into his coaching, Roy didn't re-enter the game until about 3 minutes left. Awesome. The Larry King "..." style second quarter notes:

Martell Webster is doing his Bryce Taylor impression. A bench sniper that realized that if you attack the basket it opens things up. Martell looked better in that quarter than he's looked in the first year and a half. No idea how that happened, but I like it...Dixon still sucks, immediately entered the game and launched a 2 from one foot inside the line and clanked it, followed by numerous dribbles into double teams and bad shots. I hate John Dixon...Sergio, seriously, what's not to like. That tear drop he hit a couple of times was great, his court vision was great, his tempo control was great, he may reach man-crush status in the next few months...Marco Jaric looks like he's been drinking beers with me for the last 3 hours, I think he's drunk, Jaric is officially my favorite T-wolf, besides KG's goatee, which might need its own jersey number...we'll see you again after the third quarter.

3rd Quarter:

Well that sucked. They're down 2 headed to the 4th but they started the quarter with a nice 7-0 run capped by a patented Udoka 3 from the corner, but proceeded to give it all back plus 2.

Udoka looks like a vital piece of a playoff team going forward, the guy that plays good D and hits those dagger 3's in the corner...Kevin Garnett can still dominate anyone in the world when he feels like it, awesome quarter for him...Z-bo tried to keep up with The Big Ticket and didn't do too bad a job of it, he's just not as visually impressive as KG...Joel is starting to have a distinct Flo Hartenstein-ness about him, every game is starting to be in the realm of 15 minutes, 2 points, 1 board, 0 assist, 5 fouls...and finally, I hope Nate is happy, he put the shackles on Brandon Roy, 11 points in the first quarter, zero since. Let's hope Brandon can shake his best defender in the 4th (Nate) and lead us to a victory...

4th Qtr:

We'll keep this short because it's heading to OT...Aldridge, balls of steel...The All Star can promptly go fuck himself, he's crushing my will to live and so is Nate for playing him in big spots. According to Rice it was "interesting" to have him in the game in that spot, I would call it "moronic" but that's just me. Now, we head to OT, let's get a W boys...


Blazers win!!! Hmm, how do I treat this? Do I address the fact that Nate has proven himself to be either a complete idiot or a mad genius by making it as tough as possible on his young team? It has to be one of the two when discussing the whole "Magloire defensive switch" situation for the whole 4th quarter and OT. Every time they had a clock stoppage and brought him in for Aldridge, KG went right to the basket and scored, whenever they couldn't stop the clock Aldridge kept KG in front of him and the Wolves had no option beyond a Ricky Davis 20 footer. I like how Mike Rice kept going with "this is an interesting switch, bringing in Magloire who Garnett has scored on every time down the floor." Yeah, again I go back to my 4th quarter comment where "interesting" should be substituted for "moronic". Still, the Blazers won, thanks to herculean efforts by Brandon Roy, Jarrett Jack, Z-bo, and most surprising, token Lochi whipping boy, Martell Webster. I loved the way he played tonight. Great job Martell.

Thus ends the Live Blog for tonight, coming soon to the Blazers Blog, a look at the potential Point Guard Conundrum, stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Just Thought I'd Pass Along This Little Nugget-

Telfair Mad At Himself For Demotion
22nd January, 2007 - 10:29 am
Boston Herald -

Sebastian Telfair lost his starting job to Delonte West, and Rajon Rondo is eating into the remaining minutes.

“Oh, I’m overly pissed,” Telfair said. “I’m pissed at myself,” he said. “I can’t be pissed at nobody else. Me being on the bench now, I can’t possibly see it having to do with anybody besides myself.”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tier Trauma Volume 4: Time to Own Up

There are some things I'm willing to admit (Minnesota and New York aren't THAT bad), and some things I'm not willing to admit (Utah as a contender). In the meantime, we are roughly halfway through the NBA season, and what have we learned so far?

A lot of things. Phoenix and Dallas appear headed towards another postseason “let’s pull them out and compare” collision … the East is terrible … and most importantly, Portland is better than we thought.

We’ve also learned that it’s time for another Tier Trauma. A refresher on the rankings:
Tier 1: Heavyweights. Teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the whole shebang.

Tier 2: Cruiserweights. Not quite ready to be considered in the league's upper echelon, but close and very talented.

Tier 3: Middleweights. Teams are a few steps away from contention, but have enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

Tier 4: Lightweights. Bad teams who don't have a chance.*

*when we say "don't have a chance", that refers to the championship, not the playoffs. The reason for this caveat is that because the Eastern Conference is so weak, there will inevitably be a lightweight team or two who challenges for a playoff spot.

Without further ado…


Note: a “+” in front of a team notes that they have been promoted a tier, “-“ signifies a demotion.

Tier 1 - Heavyweights

Model Heidi Klum initates Mike Tyson's infamous biting of american heavyweight pugilist Evander Holyfield's ear as they pose in the 2000 sports Illustrated swim suit issue


No change here to the teams, just the order. The Suns (who are 27-2 in their last 29 games, as William Simmons so eloquently pointed out earlier this week) keep the top spot, while the Mavs have replaced San Antonio as #2. I know what you’re all thinking regarding the Nuggets … but I still think they’ve got enough talent to be a “sleeper” and am curious to see what AI and ‘Melo can do together. (Melo comes back on Saturday, for anyone who’s interested.) Utah has not been a part of this Tier all season long, something I take pride in, and that’s starting to look like a smart move on my part.

Tier 2 - Cruiserweights


The Bulls and Rockets are teetering on the edge of contention. I still say that Chicago’s occasionally-suspect offense and Tracy McGrady’s creaky back are keeping both from being legitimate “I’m scared of them winning the title” threats. The Pistons may have gotten a little worse by adding Chris Webber (unless that allows them to deal Antonio McDyess for a contributing piece), and we have two new additions to this group: the Warriors and Bullets. You all know that I love the trade Golden State made on Wednesday, and Washington (and please for all of you emailing me, YES I know they changed their name to the Wizards; I simply refuse to acknowledge it) has arguably the best offensive player in the league right now in Gilbert Arenas. I don’t like their chances in the playoffs, but let’s not ignore the fact that they’ve got big wins over Dallas, Denver, Miami, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Orlando, LA Clippers, Chicago, and Utah – just in the last 5 weeks.

Tier 3 - Middleweights


I’m not going to lie to you – it hurts me to give the Knicks this promotion. But the fact is, they’re playing moderately-passable basketball. The fact that they’ve had a few injuries and a few suspensions has actually been good for them, as it’s forced Isaiah to shorten his rotation and give more PT to some of New York’s role players. Nate Robinson and Steve Francis’ absences, two more shoot-first guards on a team that already had a few, has been addition by subtraction for this team. And I suppose I should acknowledge that Minnesota has also been playing some very good hoops as of late. As of press-time, they hold the #7 spot in the playoffs – and though they’ve been doing it primarily against the weaker teams, they are playing well and you can’t argue with results. One last note: last time we did a Tier Trauma, Portland was ½ game out of the playoffs. Now they’re 4.5 games out, and doing the jekyl-and-hyde thing (lost to Boston and New York one week, blow out Cleveland the next) that we have all been expecting from this young team.

(PS - I still say that Timberwolves logo is the dumbest of the three major sports.)

Tier 4 - Lightweights


A gigantic bag of crap is what we have here. You can smell this filth all the way from Canada. Every team on this list really, really sucks and has no reason to believe it’s going to get better any time soon.

The Pursuit of Happyness

The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently the #1 seed in the East, not overly surprising, it's a horrible conference and they're an OK team with an elite superstar. They also got the living piss kicked out of them last night in the Rose Garden by the now 16-24 Blazers. I've been accused at times of being too negative, whether it's my ranting against Nate's crazy playing time decisions, The All Star's general suckage, Subterfuge Stevie's everything, etc. So, I've decided to be positive today, on the heels of a shocking destruction of the Cavs, I give you the things I like about this team and the hope for the future:

Brandon Roy. Yes, I know this is like saying pizza is good. The best part about Brandon is that he appears to still be figuring things out on the floor, deciding when to go to the basket or take jumpers or feed teammates. He's clearly learning the game at this level on the fly, and if you're just learning and you're able to drop 19 points, 10 boards, 6 steals, and 4 assists against LeBron and Co., well you're obviously a pretty special player.

The Marcus Aldridge. After my crusade to get him playing time, Nate has graciously granted him time and he's done nothing but prove it made no sense at all to pile up DNP's for a month. He's fantastic. That high pick and roll with Sergio (more on him in a minute) is borderline unstoppable. He hits that jumper with ease, and I love the little Dream Shake he throws at people on the low block before hitting the turnaround. Even more impressive than his offensive game is his ability to guard the rim. A few of those blocks last night were out of this world, particularly the one in the 4th quarter when Drew Gooden was trying a wide array of pivots and fakes, then he tried to go up and got it deposited in the 3rd row.

Sergio. Look, he can't shoot, he's not even a streaky shooter, he's just a bad shooter. And no I don't want to hear about the 23 point game the other night, he simply isn't going to light up the scoreboard with points for himself. But...my God what a passer. He's lightning quick off the dribble, sees the floor amazingly well, puts the passes on the money all the time, and when you get the ball from Sergio the odds are you're going to be open or right next to the basket for a lay up. He's basically the point guard I thought we were getting with Telfair, who turned out to not have much court vision and just wanted to get to the basket himself. The more you watch Sergio run the half court sets, the more you start envisioning him as the point guard of the future and not the steady Jarrett Jack. You know who else was 19 years old and an all world passer that couldn't really shoot? Jason Kidd.

Kevin Durant...oh, sorry, I must have dozed off there for a minute.

Clearly, there is a future here and a foundation in place. Those 3 guys might be the 3 that lead them back to glory. I like Jack, I like Z-bo, but it's hard not to watch Roy, Aldridge, and Sergio and not think that we're onto something really special. And now, I return you to your regularly scheduled bitterness from me after they lose their next game.

I'd also like to point out that the spell checker didn't catch the Y in "happyness" in the title, the Fresh Prince would be very unhappy about this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Warrior-Pacers Trade

Many of you who read this site regularly know that I have a small, inexplicable affinity for both the Warriors and the Pacers. Well as luck may have it, those two teams struck a blockbuster deal today, swapping eight players. Here's the goods, followed by a brief analysis.
To Golden State: Al Harrington, Crazy Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Josh Powell
To Indiana: Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu, Keith McCloud
What a bizarre, bizarre trade. Here is how each team has changed.

I like this trade from the Warriors' perspective. Even if you ignore the fact that they saved a HUGE amount of money (about $80 million over the life of all of these deals), Golden State gets rid of an underachieving player whom the fans had begun to detest (Dunleavy was getting booed at home on a regular basis), upgrade their athleticism at the four, and adds a backup shooting guard. Their starting lineup has gotten more athletic, with Harrington replacing Murphy as the team's starting power forward, and Stephen Jackson replacing Pietrus, who moves to the bench. This is a bettr fit for the style of basketball that Don Nelson likes to play. As for the bench, Pietrus goes from an average starter to an above-average 7th man, and Jasekivicious upgrades the backup 2. Add those two guys to Monta Ellis (currently breaking out this season despite nobody outside the bay area noticing) and Adonal Foyle, and you've got yourself some very good depth.

Another benefit of this deal, and what may turn out to be the biggest for Golden State, is that Harrington can also play the center much more effectively than Murphy could. So when Don Nelson wants to go small, he can bench Andres Biedrins, move Harrington to the 5, move Pietrus to the 4, and slot in Jackson to the starting small forward spot. Keep an eye on 82 games.com's lineup rankings, as this could turn out to be the Warriors' most effective lineup.

As for the Pacers, the benefits aren't quite as clear. On top of taking on a huge amount of salary, they've downgraded in talent from Harrington to Murphy, downgraded in heart and defense in Jackson to Dunleavy, but also gotten rid of another tie to the Detroit brawl (Jackson) and added a very nice young piece (Diogu) for the future. Add Diogu and Dunleavy to Tinsley, Danny Granger, and Marquis Daniels, and they've got four interesting pieces moving forward. A big part of this trade, and possibly the end result of how it's judged, will be how much more production Rick Carlisle can get out of Dunleavy's versatility. Indiana has taken on two contracts that many thought would be tough to move.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Agent Zero

Gilbert Arenas is just sick. That is all.

Rumor has it that The Other Guy has a very long diatribe planned for this week, potentially a two parter. We'll see, and I'll hold off on my crazy rants about Aldridge, The All Star, Dixon, etc. in the meantime. Some other random news and notes for a snowy Tuesday:

Sergio with 23 and 10? Why did he have to do that on the first night of the "24" premier?

Dixon did play fantastic over the weekend in a win over the Kings, I'm a fair guy, he played great, doesn't mean he's a great player.

The Ducks...we're still not going to talk about it that much...trying not to jinx it...like not talking to your pitcher in the middle of a no hitter...nothing to see here...move along...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Brain Fart

Nate has officially lost his mind. A great little transcript of Jason Quick asking him a whole host of questions regarding Aldridge, The All Star, Juan Dixon, and Subterfuge Stevie possibly telling him who he has to play:


This is the type of vague response that kills me, the whole "I'm the coach and I make the decisions, and I guess I'll leave it at that." Clearly that's a problem then, because if you're the coach and you are playing who you think are the best players, then playing The All Star and Dixon the minutes you are means you're a freaking moron.

Now, I like Nate, but I'm starting to become concerned about his coaching, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I don't think he plays his best players, I don't think he has much of a substitution pattern at all, never adjusts during games, and so on. The biggest problem is that he just completely implodes in general logic situations. A perfect example would be his new three guard rotation of Jack, Roy, and Dixon. I'm all for more Brandon Roy, all Roy all the time, that's great. Benching Sergio because he doesn't play very good defense and playing Dixon more is just ridiculous though. Dixon is awful on defense, Quick, to his credit, addresses this in his report. Dixon is also a mad gunner who thinks he gets bonus points for degree of difficulty on his shots. At least Sergio makes the team better on offense, Dixon makes it worse on BOTH ends of the floor. Nate's brain farts in logic are what are starting to give me doubts about his ability to lead this team into the future.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Brandon, Meet Bruce

It's all part of the learning process, our savior got his first real look at a world class defensive force last night and it didn't go so well for Brandon, 3 of 12 from the floor, 10 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, and 2 turnovers. Brandon appears to be very bright and has a great understanding of the game, this will only make him better.

The Marcus Aldridge, 17 points (6 of 8 from the floor) and 6 boards in just 24 minutes. Hey Nate, why exactly was he on the bench for a month? I forget. Joel and The All Star combined for 32 minutes, 8 points, 6 rebounds. It's not easy to bench an emerging star center in the NBA, but Nate did. Part of me doesn't even want them to get Greg Oden because Nate will bench him for all of December next year after he had something like a 19 point, 15 rebound, 8 blocked shot performance.

The Spurs are just way better than Portland, wins and losses really aren't terribly relevant and I certainly don't expect the Blazers to beat the Spurs on the road. The two most important things about last night were Brandon learning from playing against someone like Bowen and Nate learning that his best center should be playing basketball and not sitting on his ass.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Around The League

It’s been awhile since we cast our Lord-Of-The-Rings-like gigantic eye around the landscape that is the NBA. Time to get caught up on some non-Blazer stuff.

Rumored Three-Way Involving Portland
… and it has nothing to do with Zach Randolph and a stripper! Thank you, thank you, be here all week. Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that the Hawks, Wizards and Blazers are in the midst of a three-way deal. What it boils down to for Portland is that they’d give away Jamaal Magloire, and receive Lorenzen Wright (a really crappy backup center), Salim Stoudemire (don’t we already have him, he’s named “Juan Dixon”?), and Esteban Batista (I have no idea who this player is and after looking him up still don’t know much).

As you can probably already tell, I’m not a huge fan of this trade. Yes, Jamaal Magloire sucks, but I think we can do better than Salim Stoudemire for him. Of course, the fact that it’s already been leaked to the media means that it’s not going to happen, so we’re probably wasting our time talking about it anyway. Besides, as Casey over at Oregonlive points out, Portland would have to cut someone from its roster were this trade to go down, and that doesn’t make any sense.

Vince Carter: On the Trade Block?
The Nets are terrible this year. They’re five games under .500 in a horrid conference; they’ve lost their center for the season, and they’ve got three near-max contracts on their roster – one of which can’t stay healthy, one of which’s knees are so creaky you can hear them from the Brooklyn bridge and is accusing his wife of mistreating his children, and the other one is incredibly talented but has no heart. Ouch. Of the three, the most moveable is easily Vince Carter’s. Not only is he an immensely talented player – even if he does have a gigantic, sloppy pulsing labia and uses tampons every day – he has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season which most expect him to exercise, allowing him to both sign with a club he’d like to play for and get a longer-term deal. Let’s take a look at a quote from Nets GM Rod Thorn (the currently leader for “best porn name in the NBA”):
"What normally transpires between Jan. 15 and the trading deadline is that a lot of teams figure out, 'We're not what we thought we were, but this year, it's taken teams longer because everybody in the Eastern Conference - and I'm even including Philadelphia - has a chance, particularly in our division."
Nice of him to include Philly in that discussion, eh? I would “strongly disagree" with that, by the way, but that’s another story for another paragraph. In this quote, he’s sort of giving himself a way out without actually owning up to the fact that the Nets need to do a minor rebuild. And what I'm getting to in all of this is that I would not be surprised to see Vinsanity moved prior the trading deadline.

Corey Maggette: On the Trade Block
Note that I didn’t include a question mark after this one. There’s no doubt that the Clippers are trying to deal the immensely talented young wing player, and let me add that if San Antonio gets him for 75 cents on the dollar, I’m going to kill someone. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy for some reason doesn’t like Maggette’s skills and can’t fine enough playing time or shots for him. Given that the Clippers have struggled following their hot start, why won’t Dunleavy experiment with starting Maggette? He’s a good defender, good rebounder, and his point-per-shot is #1 on the team, and PER #2 on the team (behind only Elton Brand).

And of course, since this is after all Blazersblog, and since Portland needs a young small forward, here are two trades that work under the salary cap between LA and Portland which would bring in Maggette:
  1. Maggette for Jamaal Magloire and a first-round pick. The Clips get an expiring deal, a backup big man for this season, and a first round pick.
  2. Maggette and Zeljko Rebraca (a crappy backup center) for Juan Dixon, Jamaal Magloire, and Travis Outlaw. The Clippers get an expiring deal, upgrade their backup center, and a young cheap small forward with crazy physical skills. Portland gets an expiring deal (Rebraca) along with a potential SF of the future, and doesn’t lose any draft picks.
Oh, in case you need another laugh, the Clippers signed Luke Jackson as “insurance” in case Maggette gets dealt. Nice.

Theo Ratliff: Done For the Year
(Just had to include this note for comedic purposes. If “Telfair and Ratliff for Roy and LaFrentz” isn’t the greatest Blazer trade of the last six years, I don’t know what is.)

Other quick hits:
-Luke Ridnour has been the second-best player on a crappy team this year. His reward? Getting sent to the bench in a “lineup overhaul”. I didn’t know that removing playing time from your best players was a good way to help an ailing team.

-Speaking of the Sonics, they currently stand 1.5 games behind Portland in the “race for last place” in the northwest division. If Bob Hill remains their coach, I don’t expect that to change

– But I will say this: With Ridnour, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Chris Wilcox in the starting lineup, and quality backups like Earl Watson and Nick Collison coming off the bench, that team should have a much better record.

-Charlie Villanueva is likely going to have shoulder surgery and will be done for the season. Maybe Bryan Colangelo knew what he was doing after all when he sent collison to the Bucks for TJ Ford?

-I'm late on this, but if you haven’t seen Gil Arena’s 40-foot game-winner where he turns around before the shot goes in, it’s incredible. Look up "Arenas game winner" on YouTube and it'll be the first link.

We'll be back this week with another game preview, an interview with a surprise guest, and other rantings and ravings. Have a good week everyone.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Firm Grasp of the Obvious

Ordinarily this is where you'd hear me complain about another loss, but I feel a great sense of relief this morning. Nate finally decided "hey, maybe I should play our best center more than 28 minutes in 6 games". The Marcus saw his most action of the season last night and responded with 14 points, 6 boards, and 2 blocks in 32 minutes of action. He hit that mid range jumper, he altered shots on the interior even when he didn't get credited with a block, and he just generally looked like the guy we thought we were drafting. I still for the life of me can't explain the infatuation with The All Star, he's still terrible, another 24 mostly sucky minutes last night. All he can do is rebound, which wouldn't be bad if he knew that instead of trying a wide array of sky hooks that carom off the rim with extreme force.

The Marcus also got into the act in their win on Saturday in Sacramento, logging 22 minutes but not filling up the stat sheet like last night. It's no real surprise to anyone who's seen him play that the best the team has looked in weeks has been in the two games he's played the most. Brandon Roy also appears to be finding his groove again. I'm optimistic going forward if they'd just stick to playing the guys that are the long term plan at least 20 a night. On a side note, Martell has looked a bit better of late, I think it helps him to be on the floor with Jack, Roy, Aldridge, and Z-bo. He gets left alone a lot more and as much as I bag on him, he can knock down an open jumper.

In other basketball news, of course everyone knows that my beloved Ducks took down the #1 team in the country over the weekend. I was very proud of the way they played, even if they tried to blow it late in the game with some horrible clock management and even worse shot selection. Overall I thought they were terrific. I'm a bit surprised they attacked off the dribble instead of just launching away from the outside and hoping they got hot, but it was a welcome sight. I also can't say enough about Maarty, how that guy can be the only rebounder on the floor with 4 guards and only interior defender of any kind, and still manage to be as good as he is, well, he's making The Leap this year, that's all I can say. The Pac 10 is so freaking loaded that it will be hard for them to win more than 10 or 11 conference games, but that should get them in the Big Dance, especially with a rather large trophy on the wall now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Aldridge Situation

The Blazers did something that I'm pretty sure no other team in the NBA will do this year. They completed The Grand Slam, losing at home to the Raptors, 76ers, Celtics, and Knicks in the span of two weeks. I'm not completely ready to call for a vote of no confidence in Nate, but when you've been thoroughly outcoached twice in one week by Doc and Zeke, well, you're starting to look more and more like Mo Mo The Clown with each passing game. Botched 2 for 1's at the end of quarters, horrific substitution patterns, failure to either adjust to what the other team is doing or making them adjust to your personnel, and the crime of all crimes so far this year, The Aldridge Situation.

The Blazers have lost 6 out of their last 7 to the worst teams in the league and their best center has played a grand total of 28 minutes in those 7 games, 18 of those minutes coming in two blow out losses. Last night he actually got in for 9 minutes in the fourth quarter and quickly put up a 3 for 5 night, 6 points and a blocked shot. On the road trip that I had thought turned the season around, he played 15-20 minutes in every game, notched his first double double in a win at the Pistons, and just generally looked like the stud they thought they were drafting. Then, regrettably, Joel got healthy and Aldridge was sent to the pine and the center position was left to Joel and The All Star.

Aldridge is very good young center, he looks a lot like Sheed actually with that high release on the jumper that doesn't even draw iron as it goes through. He also has a great turnaround post shot, passes well from the high post, and is already just as good a help defender as Joel is, much better than The All Star. Aldridge is also the future of the team in the post, and of course he's getting no experience watching the Blazers fumble around and screw up another game down low.

The problem lies in the acquisition of The All Star in the first place. It's like Subterfuge Stevie is sitting up on his Ivory Tower and forcing Nate to play his All Star Center that he acquired in the off season. There is a theory that he's being "showcased" for a trade, but if it were me I'd bury him on the end of the bench and not let anyone see him play and realize that he's dogshit. In those same 6 losses in 7 games to the arm pit of the league, he's played 147 minutes (21 a game). He's one of the key reasons they stink right now. Unlike Aldridge he does nothing for you on the offensive end of the floor, isn't the greatest help defender, and the only thing he does reasonably well is rebound, something this team doesn't have a problem with in the first place.

If I told you there were two players, one a rookie that was the second overall pick in the draft and the other a washed up backup big man making 8 mil a year, and they were both averaging 6 points, 5 boards, and a block per game, which one would you play more? Nate would play the old shitty guy. Thanks for that.

This isn't all that different in the grand scheme of things for me, I've been watching a number of my teams do stupid things like this. I'm used to rooting for injuries, so the next time there's a scramble on the floor and Joel or The All Star go diving after it, if you find yourself secretly hoping someone comes barreling into an ankle or a knee and you feel like a bad person, don't sweat it. In the end, you just want what's best for your team. If the coach won't play the best center on the team because he's got two crappier guys he likes, something desperate has to happen. Maybe Ron Artest will freak out and put The All Star in a Figure 4 Leg Lock or something on Saturday night and all will be right again.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Nate Debacle

I keep telling myself he has a plan, and that he knows what he's doing with this young team, but I'm growing a bit weary. That was a complete debacle last night in every way a coach can possibly screw up a game. Nobody can cool off a hot player quite like Nate and he was at his absolute apex of sitting hot players last night. Observe...

Joel Przybilla finally has started playing like the guy we've seen the last two years. In the first 6 minutes of the game he had 6 points, 3 boards, and a block. He then sat for basically the remainder of the first half even though he wasn't in foul trouble. 16 total minutes for the game, while The All Star played 28. Yes, I know The All Star played decently last night. Playing Joel for 16 minutes when he's playing well is inexcusable.

Brandon Roy was dynamite in the 3rd quarter. He was the entire team on offense in one of Zach's rare off nights. Roy was hitting jumpers, finger rolls, breaking down the D and causing double and triple teams on the outside and then dishing for lay ups. He even hit his temperature check shot, a fading 20 footer with 2 guys on him at the end of the 3rd. What does that get him? The bench of course for the first 7.5 minutes of the 4th quarter. I'm sure he was well rested and ready when they were down 81-72 with 4.5 to play and he was put back in.

Speaking of that horrific 4th quarter, 70-67 to start the quarter, Martell hits a 3 to tie it a few seconds in, and then they proceed to get blown out the next 7 minutes, why, because they had a lineup of Jack (playing poorly all night), Webster (sucks), Dixon (has he ever passed?), Outlaw (struggling with his shot), and The All Star (3rd best center on the team). That lineup was complete crap in the second quarter, has been crap for weeks as the Blazers implode in every second quarter with that bunch on the floor, and now they're playing the majority of fourth quarters too? I seriously think Nate is tanking games.

13-19 and in the last two weeks they've lost to Philly, Toronto, and Boston at home. I didn't see the Philly or Toronto games, but the Boston game last night was just brutal coaching. Oh, and one last thing about Nate, LaMarcus Aldridge - DNP Coach's Decision. Thanks, thanks a lot.