Thursday, July 26, 2007


One of the most fascinating, relatively new analysis methods for baseball players is judging players statistically against all players throughout the game's history and coming up with their most similar players. There's a couple of ways to go about it, the Baseball Prospectus runs theirs through a computer system called Pecota, and runs theirs through a system called "similarity scores". Pecota is based on projecting the future and similarity scores is based on what they've actually done so far. Well, as you might imagine, there is some ground breaking work being done on this front in basketball as well. If you'd like to know more about the method behind this madness, there's a link at the end of this that will explain it all. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the current Blazers roster and where their similarity scores lie, note that these are most similar at age and based solely on past performance, not projecting what they will be:

Brandon Roy: Jason Richardson (Ray Allen & Paul Pierce make an appearance on his list)
LaMarcus Aldridge: Michael Doleac (yikes, see disclaimer below)
Travis Outlaw: Michael Doleac (this isn't exactly going as I had planned)
Martell Webster: Marvin Williams
Jarett Jack: Joe Dumars
Joel Przybilla: John Salley (apparently we've entered the Detroit Pistons part of the program)
Steve Blake: Pearl Washington
James Jones: Kenny Walker (of former slam dunk champ fame)
Raef LaFrentz: Herb Williams (no idea)
Sergio Rodriguez: apparently not enough data
Channing Frye: Sharone Wright (and Michael Doleac making an appearance at #2)

Grain of Salt Disclaimer: Each of these contain 10 most similar players, I'm just putting out the #1 guy on the list. For example, LaMarcus also has Al Jefferson, Chaz Villanueva, and Vlade Divac on his. Basically for the younger guys it has a really wide range that could go either way. It would also appear that when they have a wide range they always throw Michael Doleac on there. He's got to be the most comparable player in the league just looking at this small sample size.

Overall, not all that surprising, a lot of young players that could still go either way but there's some real promise there. That's kind of the "firm grasp of the obvious" way to look at it. Then there's the Greg Oden factor. As we all know, he changes everything. The link explaining similarity scores is listed below.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

70% (Updated to 57%)

Stories are starting to come out about the games a certain ref worked under the orders of Uncle Junior Soprano, apparently 70% of the games he refereed hit the over. That's astonishing. He should be indicted for that alone. If you hit 70% of anything gambling wise you're either a cheat or you built a time machine out of a Delorean and already know the outcome and are just losing enough not to get caught. I think point spreads would be a little tougher to fix from a ref's standpoint, but still certainly possible. The over/under would be extremely easy to fix though. It appears blatantly obvious that the 30% of the games they didn't hit the over were games that they weren't wagering on, obviously it's quite a red flag if games you're reffing happen to hit the over 100% of the time.

UPDATE: Appparently the numbers above are not entirely accurate. Here's an excerpt from's Wayne Drehs and his analysis of the subject:

"In the two seasons in which the FBI is investigating Donaghy for allegedly fixing games for gambling purposes, Bell found that NBA teams scored more points than Las Vegas expected (hitting the over) 57 percent of the time when Donaghy was part of the officiating crew. With a league average of 49 to 51 percent, the odds of such an occurrence are 19 to 1."

"When Bell analyzed the numbers from the two seasons before the two in question, he discovered that in games Donaghy officiated NBA teams scored more points than Vegas expected just 44 percent of the time."
"Although the 13 percent difference might not seem that jarring to the casual observer, it's jaw-dropping in the world of sports gambling. Bell said the odds of a 44 percent probability happening 57 percent of the time are about 1 in 1,000. "

I echo The Moderator's thoughts on this as well, I don't think this will destroy the league. Unless there were players and hordes of refs involved and this was the tip of the ice burg, then that might have a lasting effect. Baseball didn't suffer too much overall when the Pete Rose stuff was coming out, but it did when the 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the Series. That really hurt the game and until the Babe started doing his thing in the Bronx, baseball was on the ropes (note: there's obviously a lot more to this, but this is a basketball blog). It would be much worse if they found out the Dallas Mavericks threw the series against the Warriors.

Onto some Blazer related stuff, it would appear the mystery starting small forward for the Blazers is going to be James Jones or Travis Outlaw. I'm somewhat ok with this, Jones is a gunner and Outlaw is a slasher, they should complement each other well in a sort of baseball player platoon split kind of way. I get the feeling that they're just waiting for Fernandez to get over here after this season and then go with the run and gun style with Sergio, Roy, Fernandez, Aldridge, and Oden. Is it too soon to call Sergio and Rudy "The Spanish Armada"?

Does anyone else get totally fired up when they're driving on the freeway and see the giant Greg Oden jersey on the side of the Rose Garden?

Monday, July 23, 2007

(chirp, chirp)

That sound you don't hear are the crickets chirping away because nothing is going on with the Blazers. At least that we're privvy to. So let's catch up on a few other items around the league.

1. Ime Udoka. Nothing much has changed from Portland's perspective...he appears to be out. Portland doesn't have a roster spot for him and doesn't have much cap room, either. The most that Portland can/would give Ime would be a 2-year, $1.35 million per year deal with a team option for a third. A guy like Udoka doesn't get the chance to "cash in" very often, so he should - and likely will - receive more than $2.7 million in guaranteed money in whatever deal he signs. I'm not buying the three-year, $12 million that his agent is claiming, but I'm sure he'll end up with a $5 - $9 million deal at some point. He's a good guy, and I hope he gets paid. The Spurs and Grizzlies appear to be the most likely destinations right now.

2. Desmond Mason. It appears that he is going to sign a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, thank god. I say "thank god" because this means he won't be available to Portland. In fairness to Kevin Pritchard, he's never hinted that Desmond Mason is on his radar, and given all of KP's statistical analysis I highly doubt he'd be interested anyway. But the last thing the Blazers need is an on-the-downside player who relies on his athleticism and can't shoot.

3. Tim Donaghy. I won't expound any more on the situation than has already been said, other than to make two quick points. First, while we are only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what will be exposed ...I'm just not buying the theory that this will have any sort of major effect on the league's popularity. The game and the league is bigger than all of this, and I suspect that once all is said and done - which , granted, may take awhile - the only real effect this will have is how closely the league monitors its officials. And second, I'm a little annoyed at the lack of depth in some of the coverage. For example, it was revevaled today that "20% of the games Donaghy officiated had the point spread move by two points, due to heavy action on one side of the wager." Fair enough... but how does that compare to other referees? What is the league average? Is that by far the most of any referee, or is it just near the top? We need more information before that number is useful.

Frankly, I find this whole thing more "funny" than "shocking"; it was only a matter of time until this happened. NBA officiating is terrible, and if this fiasco results in better on-court refereeing than perhaps it will all have been for the best.

4. Troy Hudson. Remember him? He's a crappy SG who supposedly plays great defense and shoots the ball well. Portland gave him a huge offer sheet three years ago when he was a restricted free agent - something like 5 years, $32 million - and the Wolves thankfully matched it to retain him. Since then, Hudson has averaged roughly 8 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists per game while shooting 40% FG and 35% 3PT, with PER's of 12.38, 10.74, and 11.1. Well, the TWolves have had enough of that, and they're negotiating a buyout. I don't know what is more stupid -- giving him that offer in the first place, or matching it. But we should all give a big "thanks!" to Kevin McHale for matching that ridiculous deal, and be thankful that it wasn't us who got saddled with Hudson.

And finally, for those who haven't heard, Portland's pre-season schedule has been released:
  • Wed., Oct. 10, 7pm: Blazers vs L.A. Clippers, Rose Garden
  • Fri., Oct. 12, 6pm: Blazers at Denver, Coors Event Center Boulder, Colo.
  • Sun., Oct. 14, 11am: Blazers at Atlanta , Philips Arena
  • Fri., Oct. 19, 7pm: Blazers vs Sacramento, Rose Garden
  • Sun., Oct. 21, 6pm: Blazers at Sacramento, Arco Arena
  • Wed., Oct. 24, 7pm: Blazers vs Seattle, Rose Garden
  • Fri., Oct. 26, 7pm: Blazers vs Denver, Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center
This guy is getting FIRED UP for the season to start. Let's go, Blazers.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

If Anyone Would Know, It's Him

Everyone listen up - Jamaal Magloire says the league has gotten soft!

"This league has changed a whole lot since I've been a rookie and a second-year player. It's gotten soft," proclaimed Magloire,

My question: is he talking about the seats on the end of the bench?

Magloire played about 20 minutes per game last year, averaging 6 rebounds and 3 fouls.  I can see why a guy who's lighting up the NBA like that would have those types of things to say.

The Blake Conundrum

I agree with my co-author in that Blake is far from the type of player who will elevate this team into "contender" status. But is that what Portland needs?

i wrote at the time of the signing that:

"I'm not convinced that Jarrett Jack is a long-term solution at PG for a playoff-caliber team...but I'm also not quite sure what has changed about Steve Blake since the last time he was here. I think that averaging 6 assists per game while being the only pass-first player playing next to a couple of mad gunners like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony isn't that impressive."

But thinking a little more about this, and taking a closer look at the numbers, it's starting to make a little more sense. Blake piloted a pretty good team last year -- the Nuggets went something like 15-7 (Editor's note: it was actually 16-6) to finish the year once everyone got healthy and acclimated to each other, and they gave San Antonio their toughest playoff series of the playoffs. And I keep going back to the fact that with Roy, Aldridge, and Oden, you just need role players to fill the gaps -- and Blake is that type of role player. Plus, since it's a three year deal, he's basically here to help facilitate the transition from "young guys with promise" into "bad ass conteders". We don't need him to take us to the next level; we need him to play well while our studs mature.

Also, his 6 assists/2 turnover averages was in 22 minutes per game, so if he plays 30 , you can probably give him 8 assists per game. Do you know how many players averaged 8 assists per game last year? Five. Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams. And check out Blake's April numbers. He played 30.1 minutes per game and averaged 7.7 assists. In February, he played 35 minutes per game, and averaged 8.4 assists per game. Denver was a better offensive team last year, averaging 105.4 points per game (third in the NBA), than Portland will be this year so we can't expect the same amount of production purely based on the fact that he won't have as many possessions to generate those assists. But given what Portland needs right now, given what we're paying for Blake, and given the flexibility it gives our roster both from a trading perspective and an on-court perspective, I've gone from "optimistic but wondering why" to "fully in favor" of this signing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Steve Blake?

That's the question that's been bugging me for a week or so now. I know he loves living in Portland, and still has his house out in West Linn. Hey, I love Portland too, and I certainly don't mind if anyone else loves my city and wants to live here, but is that really a qualification for being the starting point guard on an emerging power in the NBA? Let's take a look at Steve Blake and see what exactly we have since they just gave him a good chunk of the MLE to be their point guard.

When he was 25 years old he played a full season in Portland, 68 games, 57 starts. He averaged 26 minutes per game, 8.2 points, 4.5 assists to 1.2 turnovers, and was generally a fairly average player on a team that won 21 games. He never annoyed me, but I wasn't exactly blown away.

Most of his perceived value comes from his play in Denver last season, he was traded from the Bucks to the Nuggets early in the year and in the Mile High City he played in 49 games and made 40 starts. He averaged 8.3 points, 6.6 assists to 2.1 turnovers. The spike in both assist and turnover numbers could easily be argued as being a result of dribbling up the floor, passing to Iverson or Carmelo, who then jack up a shot.

According to, his three most similar players are Pearl Washington, Jay Humphries, and Bryce Drew.

So what exactly do we have here? He looks like a fairly steady player, but I certainly don't see an upper tier NBA point guard there. I would certainly wager more on Jarrett Jack at 24 years old becoming an upper tier guy than I would Steve Blake at 27. On a side note, Jack's most similar player is Joe Dumars.

If the long term plan is "just hold it together at the position for a few years and see what you've got with Jack and Sergio, but we need a veteran to stabilize things" then I suppose I'm ok with the signing. It's not long term, it's not a lot of money. If they think he's the starting point guard that will take this team to the next level then they appear to be valuing his intangibles more than his tangibles, which I think is a serious mistake at the point guard position.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Fought The Outlaw - And The Outlaw Won

Jason Quick’s new “partner”, Joe Freeman, is reporting that the Blazers and Travis Outlaw have agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. It’s unclear whether the third year is fully guaranteed or a team option.

I like this signing. Even if last year's progression was his plateau, I think you can get away with paying a 20-minute per game, 10 point, 6 rebound player $4 million per year. That's not a contract that could even come close to crippling the franchise, and with Travis being so young, he still has some room to grow. At this point in his career, we can probably forget about Travis turning into an all-star, but the skills and statistics are there to indicate that he has the ability to turn into a solid role player and perhaps starter. It's another solid move and I think the potential positives of this signing outweigh any potential negatives.

T- T- T- Travis & The Jets

Jason Quick said yesterday that he spoke to Travis Outlaw, and he thinks he'll have a deal inked with Portland soon.  I'm hearing 3 years, $15 million, team option for fourth year at $6 million, but we’ll see what happens.  Regardless, it sounds like Outlaw will be back, which I can’t decide is a good or a bad thing.  More on that later.

I'm still curious to see what the team does with their glut of PG's and young PF's.

PG: Jack, Blake, Rodriguez, Green

PF: Aldridge, Frye, McRoberts, Freeland

Clearly Aldridge and Blake aren't going anywhere, but those are about the only guarantees.  There isn't room for all of those guys.  You'd think Freeland will go back to Europe, but that’s not set in stone.  He'll just ride pine over there anyway because his coaches won't play him.  He’s the best big man on the team, but they don't want to invest anything in him when they know they'll lose him next year.  Since McRoberts and Green already signed guaranteed contracts, they’ll be making the 15-man at the very least.

Also, don't count out Roy playing a pseudo-3 position.  Not because he will play SF, but because Nate’s talking about going with a faster three-guard lineup next year.  Blake, Jack, Roy, Aldridge, Oden.   That's interesting to think about.  Or how about this, Sergio, Blake, Roy, Aldridge, Oden.  Wow.  It may not be the greatest defensive team in the world, but those guys would streak past everyone not named "The Phoenix Suns".  I’d love to see that lineup in short bursts.

Here is Portland’s full, updated depth chart with the Blake signing, and assuming Outlaw is back:

PG: Blake, Jack, Rodriguez, Green, Kopenen
SG: Roy, Webster, Fernandez
SF: Jones, Outlaw, (Miles)
PF: Aldridge, Frye, McRoberts, Freeland
C: Oden, Pryzbilla, LaFrentz

* =  likely heading back to Europe

I still think there will be another roster change, but I don't see where Portland has room for any of Koponen, Freeland, or Fernandez right now on their roster.  They all have to go back to Europe this year (we already know Fernandez is).  And I don't see where they have room for Ime unless they trade 2-for-1, or 3-for-2.

Portland gets 15 spots; 12 active and 3 inactive or NBDL.  Guys in Europe don’t count towards that.

1. Blake
2. Jack
3. Sergio
4. Roy
5. Webster
6. Jones
7. Outlaw
8. Aldridge
9. Frye
10. McRoberts*
11. Oden
12. Pryzbilla
13. LaFrentz
14. Miles*
15. T. Green*

* = likely inactive or NBDL under this scenario

Unfortunately, Miles has to be counted as one of the 15 unless he signs the medical retirement buyout papers in August — which I’m hearing he may not do, as there’s a chance he could be back playing basketball by December.  Feel free to roll your eyes at that one.  And because Portland signed McRoberts and Green to guaranteed one-year deals, they’re guaranteed roster spots.  So there’s no room for Ime or Freeland unless Portland makes another spot-opening move.

Non-Blazer Related Sports Blog Note

One of the best sites on the internet that I’ve mentioned in the space before is Deadspin ( It’s a sports-satire site that I recommend highly to anyone who will listen. They’re one of the top sports sites on the internet — I believe it is the most trafficked sports blog – and they’ve linked to us a few times, so we feel obliged to pass along any good news. The guy who runs the site, Will Leitch, made a guest appearance on ESPN Radio with Scott Van Pelt last week and the audio clip can be found here:

It’s a great listen. Will is one of those few guys who is still a blogger, he hates ESPN like the rest of us, but his site is so successful that it’s mainstream enough to actually matter so he’s stuck in a bizarre middle-ground. He got in a few nice digs but cracked a few one-liners, and while it’s not like any new ground was broken you have to admire the efforts of both guys on this broadcast. Van Pelt is one of few likeable ESPN personalities and Leitch, while perhaps a better writer than broadcaster, brings up a few interesting points.

Edit: Awful Announcing has a fantastic take on this whole thing. Click the link or paste in this URL address-

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Details on Steve Blake Deal

Here's the deal: 3 years, $12 million.  The third year is a team-option as we suspected.
So by my count, the club still has about $1.35 million of it's MLE to offer to another free agent if they want.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Blazers Sign Steve Blake

Hoopshype, RealGm, and The Rocky Mountain News are all reporting that Steve Blake has signed a three-year contract with the Blazers. The News even has a quote from Blake:
“That's OK, if that's the direction they want to go," Blake said in a brief phone interview. "I just decided to go back to Portland."

No news yet on the dollars, but I imagine it’s in the $5M - $5.3M per year range.

A couple of things about this. One, the Nuggets had agreed last night to sign PG Chucky Atkins to a contract; so it’s quite possible that Portland reached agreement with Blake yesterday and he had notified the Nuggets that he wouldn’t be back. Two, to me this indicates that Jarrett Jack is almost certainly getting traded. And three, if Portland spent its entire MLE on Blake, that means Ime Udoka is almost a certainty to not be brought back.

Although we can't really evaluate this at face value until we know the contract numbers, I have mixed feelings on this deal. First of all, I'm not convinced that Jarrett Jack is a long-term solution at PG for a playoff-caliber team...but I'm also not quite sure what has changed about Steve Blake since the last time he was here. I think that averaging 6 assists per game while being the only pass-first player playing next to a couple of mad gunners like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony isn't that impressive. Also, it is surprising that Portland would give Blake a three-year deal since the club seems to be positioning itself to be massively under the salary cap in two years. Finally, a big part of this as well is that we need to find out if there's a subsequent trade involving Jarrett Jack being sent out for a SF. That will be another factor by which to judge this signing...if Jack nets us a good SF, then this has to be considered a win. Knowing KP, I'd be shocked if there wasn't another deal in place because as of right now we have four point guards signed to guaranteed contracts next season: Blake, Jack, Rodriguez, and Taurean Green.

Updated Blazer Depth Chart:

PG: Blake, Jack, Rodriguez, Green
SG: Roy, Webster
SF: Jones, (Outlaw?)
PF: Aldridge, Frye, McRoberts
C: Oden, Pryzbilla, LaFrentz

Inactive list: Miles
Europe: Freeland, Koppenen, Fernandez

Other non-Blazer items floating around the net:
  • The "Mike Bibby to Cavs" trade talks are back on, with Drew Gooden as the main return-piece.
  • Morris Petersen has agreed to a four-year deal with the New Orleans Hornets.
  • Uncle Cliffy, Cliff Robinson, has been released by the Nets.
  • Eddy Curry is supposedly annoyed that the Knicks acquired Z-bo.
  • Derek Fisher has signed a three-year deal with the Lakers.
UPDATE: Jason Quick is reporting that Portland's agreement with Blake is a two-year deal, with a team option for a third. Shows you how much Blake wanted to play here if he was willing to agree to that.

Ime Gets Offer From Spurs

Mike Barrett is reporting that the Spurs have offered Ime Uodka a 3-year, $9 million deal.

This is a real tough call for Portland. From what I have been able to gather based on KP’s statements and Jason Quick’s reporting, Blazer management was hoping to land Ime to a 2-year deal at about $2 million per. A smart bid by the Spurs, and it will be interesting to see what Portland does. Given the team’s desire to re-sign Travis Outlaw, and given the uncertain status of his situation along with James Jones’ presence, I’m afraid we may be saying goodbye to Ime over the weekend. Despite his 3-point shooting and intangibles, I'm not sure that Ime is worth a three-year contract, and my sense is that Blazer management probably feels the same way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bobcats Re-Sign Gerald Wallace

It looks like the Charlotte Bobcats are going to re-sign Gerald Wallace to a 6-year, $57 million deal. That’s a nice signing for Charlotte; they get their young, talented leading scorer back and don’t have to break the bank to do it. I think most of us thought Wallace would get a deal in the $10-$12 million per range, so 6 and 57 isn’t too shabby.

The reason I bring this up is that things are relatively quiet on the Blazer front today, and I’ve been thinking for a while that I like what Charlotte is doing with their team. They’ve got a nice young PG in Ray Felton, acquired Jason Richardson to play the “2”, have Wallace at the “3”, and Emeka Okafor on the front line. Throw in Adam Morrison and Sean May off the bench, and that’s a darn good nucleus right there. Combine all that with a new coach - Marc Iavaroni, whom I was pushing hard for Portland to hire two years ago - and I might even go so far as to say that Charlotte may be a playoff-caliber team in the East. I expect them to fight for a playoff spots this season and they might just be a legitimate center (sorry, Primoz Brezec and Jake Voshkul) and a few years’ experience away from being a legitimate force in the East.

Quick Speaks

A few notes from Jason Quick’s blog post today:

Pritchard said he was pleased with the Francis buyout, which is believed to be around $30 million. The Blazers negotiated a 50 percent offset in the deal, meaning the team will get 50 percent cap relief from whatever Francis earns in the next two years... Pritchard also said that Portland fans will be pleased with the Jones addition, noting that the 26-year old has the personality to be a locker room leader. I asked Pritchard if he expects Jones to be the starting small forward this season, and he hesitated, saying he wasn't sure if he was done making moves. It confirms a suspicion I've had ever since the draft was done: Pritchard still has one big move left....Also, Pritchard reiterated on Wednesday that the team will sign free agent Travis Outlaw. The only sticking point is how much they will pay him. Outlaw is a restricted free agent, meaning the Blazers can match any offer given to Outlaw, so the hold up is waiting to see how much other teams will offer him.

All of this are items we have suspected here, but it’s good to see a legitimate source put them in print.  Very interesting.  So Jason agrees with us that there’s another big move coming, the team is planning on bringing Outlaw back, and they’re excited about Rudy Fernandez.  Good stuff.

James Jones / Rudy Fernandez Deal Complete is reporting that the James Jones & Rudy Fernandez deal is complete.

All that’s said is that Phoenix has traded Jones and the draft rights to Fernandez to Portland for “cash considerations”. I believe this deal also includes the trade exception that Portland received in the Knicks deal.

And for those of you still confused as to how everything went down, here is the chain of events.

1. Portland sends Randolph, Dickau, and Fred Jones to NY for Francis, Frye and a trade exception.
2. Portland uses the trade exception to take James Jones off of Phoenix's hands, but also purchases the #24 pick for their troubles.

So essentially, we've traded Zbo, Fred Jones, and Dickau for Frye, James Jones, Rudy Fernandez and a bunch of cap space in two years.

I still think we could have done more with Zbo, but it's not a terrible place to have ended up. I also still believe there will be another deal this offseason to further address the small forward position.

Blazers' Roster

Now that Steve Francis is officially gone, we can update the Blazer roster.

PG: Jack, Rodriguez, Green (Koponen: staying in europe)
SG: Roy, Webster (Fernandez: staying in europe)
SF: Jones (Miles: inactive list)
PF: Aldridge, Frye, McRoberts, Freeland
C: Oden, Pryzbilla, LaFrentz

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Removing the Europe and Inactive guys, that comes to 13 players. If you assume they’re going to add one more small forward (outlaw, a free agent, whomever), that makes 14 players.

Which says to me that clearly there isn’t room on the team for all of Taurean Green, Joel Freeland, and Josh McRoberts. For this reason alone I think the Blazers will encourage Freeland to head back to Europe for one more year, and probably give the last roster spot to either McRoberts or Green, with the odd man out going to the NBDL. Or if Freeland stays stateside, perhaps two go to the NBDL. Talent-wise, I’d lean towards keeping McRoberts over Green, but as you can see we have a lot more big men than we do guards, so I wouldn’t assume quite yet that will be the case. Of course this could all change pending any trades, but as of today, that’s where we stand.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Steve Francis: Dead And Gone is reporting that Steve Francis' buyout is complete and final. 
The Blazers will be paying approximately $30 of the $34 million remaining on Francis' deal.  I don't think this is much of a surprise as none of us really expected Francis to ever play a single game in a Blazer uniform.  I'm not clear yet on whether this saves $4 million on next year's cap or not, but we'll keep you updated.
Congratulations, Clippers -- enjoy.

Clarifying Something: Signing Outlaw vs the MLE

Just to clarify something for all of you out there...I’ve seen some confusion on a few of the Blazers messageboards regarding whether it will require Portland using the mid-level-exception to re-sign Travis Outlaw.

The answer is simple: no. The Blazers drafted Travis, and he has played for them for four years, so they own his “bird rights” which means they can match any offer that he receives and it does not affect their mid-level exception. It would affect their total salary and hence would have luxury tax implications, but they can match any contract and they would still have their full MLE to use even though they would be over the cap.

The team who offered Travis the contract would either have to 1. have cap room, or 2. use some or all of their own MLE to present him with a contract offer.

Ime Udoka, on the other hand, does affect the MLE. So if they re-sign him, whatever his annual contract amount is would get deducted from the MLE available.

Hope that clarifies things.

Oden To Chill

Greg Oden's rather dubious debut in the Vegas Summer League is officially over. He apparently has tonsils the size of golf balls and he needs to have them out ASAP. He'll be back in Portland resting for the next week or two. By all accounts, this is a good thing, his non-stop tour had started to wear on him and the Blazers obviously need him ready to go this fall. I'd be surprised if he isn't with Team USA in some capacity when they start their camp next week though.

On a side note, since we all love gambling, the night before the Draft the Blazers were 80-1 to win the NBA Title this year. The day after the draft they are 30-1.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Regarding the Ime Uodka situation: Jason Quick is reporting that Udoka’s agent claims to have a three-year, $12 million offer on the table.

He’s also reporting that Kevin Pritchard is saying this is much more money that Portland is willing to pay Ime. This comes as a big relief for me, for two reasons.

One, it appears that Portland is all set up to both give Roy and Aldridge large contract extensions and make a big free agency play in two seasons. So I’d be surprised if they gave Udoka a contract larger than two years. Two, there was a bit of concern on my part that Portland would overpay for Udoka – who, let’s admit it, is a 10th-man at best on a good team – because of his local ties and “feel good” story. But Pritchard saying three years at $4M per is too much makes me feel a little better about this. My sense is that Portland would be more than happy to bring Ime back at say — 2 years and $5 million total. Maybe two years and $7 million. But three and twelve? I doubt that’s happening. And if you’re Ime, I don’t think you’re willing to give Portland much of a home-town discount. This is your one shot at a big-money deal and I don’t think you give any of that leverage away.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Crazy Summer

The Summer League just keeps getting stranger and stranger as the years go on:

  • Greg Oden fouled out of his first game...with 10 fouls.
  • Asian Darko would have joined him, but after picking up 6 in the first quarter and 7 by halftime they didn't play him anymore.
  • According to Jason Quick, none of the stats are relevant because they half ass it, and that's being nice.
  • Martell Webster sucks (ok, not everything is strange down there)

Yes, I realize this sounds like rationalizing Oden's debacle of a debut. He certainly looked tired from the beginning and reached for everything and they were fairly legit fouls in every case. But keep in mind this is a league where Travis Outlaw has looked like one of the breakout stars in the league.

Some things I did like, obviously Aldridge is a great player. He could easily be the best player on the team this year. His game is exactly what I like in a PF, runs the floor, hits mid range jumpers when they're there but also can hit little hooks and cuts to the basket when the other guy is double teamed. Oden getting doubled and hitting a cutting Aldridge for a dunk is going to be a regular occurrence this year. I also thought Taurean Green looked like the best guard they had, certainly better than Sergio, who looked about as uninterested as Oden.

Overall, yeah, that was pretty much rubbish.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Steve Francis - An Optimistic View

Felt obliged to pass along this view of Steve Francis for your disposal:

Now THAT was a jersey

Spicing Things Up Around Here

As you noticed, we’re spicing things up a little bit around here. This being a blog about the Blazers, we figured that perhaps we should – you know – have some Blazers colors and all. So that’s nice. Only took us three years to figure that one out.

We’ve also added a few graphics and a video reel along the righthand side. Those video clips should be switching out pretty frequently, so enjoy them. When you click on a video, it should start playing right here in the post area. I have only figured out how to have partial control over which clips are shown, so apologies if some of them are painful Blazer highlights.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the new “features”.


D-League News

Kind of funny to read that as a headline, huh?

Regardless, Portland’s D-League team will be somewhat of a story this year given the deep roster.  Players like Joel Freeland, Taurean Green, Josh McRoberts and Petteri Koponen will all be candidates to play in the D-League this year.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the Idaho Stampede.

Portland will share Idaho with the Seattle Supersonics.  Meaning that Freeland and Green will be running the court with players like Big Baby Davis, Carl Landry, Randy Livingston and Andre Brown.  

Go Stampede.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oden The Rookie

Greg Oden isn't going to average 30 points, 20 boards, and 10 blocks a game as a rookie, but what is he going to do? Here's a look at the dominant big men of the last 30 years in the NBA and what they did when they entered the league.

Tim Duncan: 21.1 points, 11.9 reb, 2.5 blocks
Shaq: 23.4 points, 13.9 reb, 3.5 blocks
The Dream: 20.6 points, 11.9 reb, 2.7 blocks
Patrick Ewing: 20.0 points, 9.0 reb, 2.1 blocks
David Robinson: 24.3 points, 12.0 reb, 3.9 blocks
Moses Malone: 18.8 points, 14.6 reb, 1.5 blocks
Lew Alcindor: 28.8 points, 14.5 reb, no block data available
Bill Walton: 12.8 points, 12.7 reb, 2.7 blocks

Now, obviously Oden is similar in style to some, completely different in other cases, but at least this is somewhat of a guide to what we can expect. The game's also gone through changes in defense, tempo, officiating, etc. For the most part the scoring is on an upswing but certainly nowhere near some of those players rookie seasons. Therefore, the official Lochi prediction for Greg Oden's numbers this year in Rip City are as follows:

18.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.7 blocks. Basically I think his offensive game is a tad less polished than most, but I think his defensive game and rebounding is as good as anyone when they entered the league.

Today's Fun Fact

Last season, the Knicks averaged 77 field goal attempts per game.  Zach Randolph, Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Jamaal Crawford are all players who need 18+ shots per game.  Quentin Richardson, David Lee, and Nate Robinson are players who need 10+ shots per game.

That’s 102 shots already, just from 7 players...someone’s got to give.  

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rashard Lewis: Coming Clean

Let me come clean to about something I think about Rashard Lewis:

He’s not a max player.

Even if Portland could have acquired him in a sign-and-trade, I wouldn’t have been in support of it if the contract was a max deal or close to it. Lewis is a tall, athletic shooter, and that’s about where his skills end. He does not play much defense. He does not rebound. He is not a leader and doesn’t make those around him better. He’ll give you 20 points per game...and that’s about it. Which is fine — you need guys like that to fill it up. But a max deal? Has he ever been the best player on his own team? Probably not, and he won’t be with Orlando, either.

Eeesh. I wouldn’t give him a max deal if I were an NBA owner or GM. And it’s not like Orlando is one player away from a championship; even in the LEastern Conference. Heck, signing Rashard also means they can’t sign Darko now, which is a moderate loss for a mid-level team.

He’s a talented played and a good scorer, but it’s a somewhat questionable move.

Of course, because we're all about equal time and opportunity here at BlazersBlog, I present with you a sort-of opposing view courtesy of John Hollinger at

"...adding Lewis and renouncing Milicic is a clear upgrade. While Milicic's potential is notable, few would ponder a Milicic-for-Lewis trade for long before pulling the trigger."

That's why the deal ends up being a winner from Orlando's end. This team still has plenty of work to do to separate itself from the East's huddled masses, but between the hiring of Stan Van Gundy and the impending signing of Lewis, nobody has had a better start to their offseason than the Magic."

Today's Fun Fact

Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry combined to average 0.7 blocked shots per game last year.

Trades and Odds

In case anyone was wondering how the Blazers could just acquire James Jones from the Suns for nothing, it comes back to the Randolph trade. According to Canzano on his blog over on the Oregonian's site, Assistant GM Tom Penn fleeced Isiah out of a $3 million trade exception in the deal. The original deal was to be Webster and Randolph for Frye and Francis, but by trading three people for two, they acquired the $3 million trade exception. Let's just say that I had no idea this rule existed in the CBA, pretty sure the Knicks didn't, but luckily our guy did. The Blazers then used that trade exception to acquire James Jones for nothing.

There's been rampant speculation about who the starting SF is going to be when the Blazers open the season, so in the spirit of the Las Vegas Summer League, here are the odds for who that may be. First some ground rules, when oddsmaking you have to realize that people that are currently on the roster have a better chance than someone who's currently employed by another franchise. The Blazers have stated that unless someone does something crazy, they will likely match any offer to Outlaw, but Udoka is potentially going to be the odd man out. Anyway, the odds, based on rumors from around the league:

Starting Small Forward on Opening Night:
Travis Outlaw: 3-1
Jimmy Jones: 5-1
Ime Udoka: 7-1
Corey Maggette: 10-1
Shane Battier: 10-1
Gerald Wallace: 15-1
Marvin Williams: 15-1
The Matrix: 20-1
Mo Peterson: 25-1
Q Richardson: 25-1
Des Mason: 30-1
The Field: 10-1

Monday, July 02, 2007

Updated Blazer Depth Chart

Blazers' Depth Chart, including all players that they control rights to or may retain:

PG: Steve Francis, Jarrett Jack, Sergio Rodriguez, Taurean Green, Petteri Koponen
SG: Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Rudy Fernandez
SF: James Jones, Travis Outlaw, Ime Udoka, Darius Miles
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Josh McRoberts
C: Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla, Raef LaFrentz, Joel Freeland

That's 18 players, and you can only have 15 between your active and non-active roster.  But ...

-Koponen, Freeland, and Fernandez probably stay in Europe for another year so that's down to 15
-They probably only keep one of Udoka/Outlaw, so that's down to 14
-Taurean Green probably goes to the NBDL, down to 13

We all know that Francis is gone, whether that's via trade or release; although we don't know which it will be so we still count him as one active roster spot for right now.  If I had to guess, they buy out Francis (rumor is that there was already a deal with NY in place to buy him out and Portland is going to honor it), and trade either LaFrentz or Pryzbilla along with a pick or Fernandez’s rights or something like that for the starting SF we all want.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Things I'm Hearing

A few rumors floating around...
1. The SF that Portland has acquired in the deal that can't be announced yet may be Shane Battier.  I don't have a clear picture of what would be going out yet.
2. Another name I've heard for the potential small forward is Boris Diaw. 
3. Kevin Pritchard was on Sports Business Radio over the weekend, and he let it out that the player Portland has agreed to acquire is an "acclaimed" one.  Take that for what you will. 
4. I also have it on good authority that Portland contacted Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats today to feel him out.
5. Steve Francis' agent was in Portland on Saturday to meet with Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn.
6. Joel Pryzbilla's "Base Year Contract" status expired on Sunday, so it's a very strong possibility that he could/would be a part of any deal, which also may cause some of the delay.

A Cheesy Video Of Rudy Fernandez Highlights

Courtesy of the Oregonlive Blazers Forum...