Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Pritchard’

Deal Or No Deal?

dealThis blog post isn’t about Darius Miles. I promise. But it is about how wallowing in the Miles mire now is an obstacle Portland must overcome quickly.

That first big hurdle could arrive in the coming weeks with the NBA trade deadline fresh on everyone’s mind. You think the rumors going around the league are bad right now, just wait another 15-25-35 days when it gets real crazy.

As someone who covers the league, I couldn’t but help think about Portland’s position in all of this the past few days – well, at least since Friday.

How hard will it be now for Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to work the phones – knowing what has transpired regarding Darius Miles (that’s the last time you will hear Miles’ name mentioned, I swear) – and not feel that will play a factor into how other front offices respond? He won’t be communicating via e-mail. This much we know.

After talking to a trusted league executive – with the scoop detailed over at HOOPSWORLD titled, “Has Portland Hurt Trade Chances” – I have a better understanding of the bigger picture. And I mentioned this in the piece, but the NBA is so “relationship” and “contact” driven.

All sports is that way. Heck, sportswriting is that way.

In his book Falling Hard, a must-read boxing book by Chris Jones that recounts his rookie year covering the fight game, Jones says it perfectly:

“The meeting represented my first lesson as a would-be reporter: journalism is founded almost exclusively on contacts.”

I buy that. I also believe building “relationships” is the key to any success – business, marriage and even in basketball. And just as any team in the NBA hopes for success, that accomplishment is largely predicated on those “relationships” and your ability to establish common ground with others or your “contacts.”

I’m just not sure how far such rapport goes under Portland’s recent off court circumstances.

pic via:criadvantage

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brownIt was a shady situation. After a year selling used cars in my early twenties, my sales numbers slipped. And in the car biz you are only as good as your last deal. So I was “let go”; fired; given my walking papers. But in the NBA it’s different. Guys get “waived” all the time for countless reasons.

I dove into some of those reasons –without getting too soaked in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) – today over at HOOPSWORLD with “The Way Of The Waive”.

It’s a tricky business pro basketball. That’s true if you are covering it, and even more so if you are actually participating in the business. And let’s not forget it is a business at the end of the day.

Let’s look at this in a Portland Trail Blazers light….total hypothetical situation here.  

Say Shavlik Randolph is waived at some point this season. Sorry Shavlik. You were the first guy that came to mind. For Kevin Pritchard or Nate McMillan to have that talk with Randolph is probably about us fun as going to the dentist. But for Shavlik, it’s almost like getting your wisdom teeth yanked out without any Novocain.

Chances are you’d feel bad for Shavlik. No one wants to see a guy get waived; to see a guy lose his job. That’s one side of the story though. The other has to do with bringing in a guy that essentially helped usher out the 15th man but will actually help your club immediately.

Does it cushion the blow any if Portland were to bring in an available free agent like Robert Horry or P.J. Brown – you know a veteran who can add some swagger or muscle – to help round out the roster?

That’s one of those tricky parts about the NBA.

Just thinking out loud here….

pic via: wordpress blog

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road-warriors1As the final seconds ticket off the clock between Portland and Golden State on Tuesday night, Brandon Roy’s words rang true: “We have to figure out how to play on the road without all that pressure.”

It was a couple days before the Blazers embarked on their now complete five game road trip – a trip that saw them beat Orlando, Miami and Minnesota and fall to New Orleans and the Warriors. Roy leaned against a wall at the practice facility and put it perfectly.

“We have to figure out how to play on the road without all that pressure.”  

The man speaks the truth. Portland is still trying to figure out how to win on the road. Going 3-2 on a mid-November roadie is solid, but 4-1 would have beeen better, particularly on Tuesday night when the Blazers should have beat the Warriors.

But winning on the road isn’t the only unsolved mystery. As I discussed today in a column called “Portland’s Missing ‘Identity’” running on HOOPSWORLD, it’s clear the Blazers are still trying to figure out who they are. Nate McMillan is still toying with rotations. It’s a constant shuffle depending on match-ups. Are they a fastbreak team? Are they a halfcourt team? Is Portland’s lack of “identity” (Kevin Pritchard’s word) simply due to the fact Martell Webster is on the shelf?

Something to think about.

Even still, there are some small victories you can take from the loss at Golden State….

Jerryd Bayless finally sniffed the court. After picking up a quick foul and turning the ball over, Bayless remained active and forced a steal himself. It may have only been a scoreless 3:54, but I’m thinking the confidence boost for the young rookie was timeless. Jerryd needed that playing time if not physically to stay loose and ready, than surely mentally. You don’t want to lose this kid.

Greg Oden got his run on. Playing the Warriors is the perfect remedy to help get Oden in game shape and overcome any issues of conditioning. Even if Portland was outscored 22-9 on fastbreak points, the big fella was hustling. Oden played nearly 30 minutes and finished with 22 points – both career-highs. But the real treat –besides his signature dunks – was watching him run the floor and finish on a break with Travis Outlaw and Brandon Roy. More please.

Let’s continue this “Road Warrior” theme (big up to Hawk and Animal)….

 pic via: wwe.com

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Anytime the Portland Trail Blazers face the New Orleans Hornets, it’s hard not to think about Chris Paul partnering in the same backcourt as Brandon Roy. No need to close your eyes to imagine that dream team. Just look back to the 2005 NBA Draft for a swig of reality juice and what could have been.

Ignore the chewy pulp. That’s just hindsight.

At the time, Portland owned the third-overall selection. Then President Steve Patterson and then General Manager John Nash opted to move down in the draft. They traded the pick to the Utah Jazz for the sixth and 27th overall picks and a 2006 conditional first-round pick.

We know how this one played-out: Deron Williams to Utah, Paul to New Orleans, Raymond Felton to Charlotte and Martell Webster to Portland.

Was it the right move?

There are two camps here. One camp believes without that Jazz-Blazers trade, Portland wouldn’t have been able to obtain Brandon Roy with the sixth pick in 2006. Give Kevin Pritchard more credit than that. Something tells me he would have got his man regardless.

The other camp knows Patterson and Nash missed the boat. Their faith was in Sebastian Telfair. Remember, Sabby was the point guard of the future for the Blazers at that time. Now Portland is still searching for their point guard of the future and Paul is busy being the best point guard in the league.

He went from Rookie of the Year in 2006 to an All-Star, first-team All-NBA and first team All-Defense last season. He led the Hornets to one of the best records in the NBA last year (56-26). He pushed New Orleans into the second-round of the playoffs. He finished second in MVP honors. He won a Gold medal this past summer.

No offense Martell….or Deron (it’s Deron!)….or Raymond…. but that resume isn’t too darn shabby. Anyone want to call for a draft do-over?

Now picture Paul alongside a smooth shooting guard, a foreign import at small forward, an underappreciated power forward and young talented center and tell me how sick that would be.

Wait a minute – that’s the New Orleans Hornets starting five.

Never mind.

Guess the only time Roy and Paul will be on the same team for the next 10-15 years will be at NBA all-star games representing the West.

And it goes a little something like this….


pic via: daylife

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Trail Blazers Heat BasketballNate McMillan likes his veterans. Kevin Pritchard likes his veterans. Steve Blake is likeable. So is Joel Pryzbilla. But does that mean Portland wouldn’t love benefiting from another veteran on the roster?

The thought crossed my mind while I was writing a “Free Agents For Hire” piece for HOOPSWORLD that is running today. And while the list of free agents – veterans of course – may not exactly fit Portland’s culture (although guys like Antonio McDyess, Lindsey Hunter and P.J. Brown are as solid as they come), I can’t help but think about a phrase McMillan tended to repeat at the end of last season.

He said then the Blazers could use more experience. At least that was his stance heading into the offseason.

All Portland did during the summer was get younger.

I’m not saying James Jones (now with Miami and on the shelf with a jacked-up wrist) was the end-all-be-all. He had to go to turn the job over to guys like Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw. But you have to agree Jones had a knack for corner three-pointers, providing on-court leadership in limited time and being light-hearted in the locker room.

Jones is just an example. He’s what you’d want in a veteran.

The trouble is where do you put another player? Minor details. Let’s answer the first question before we move on to the nitty-gritty….does Portland need another veteran?

 pic via: oregonlive

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sergio_rodriguez080305_esAs much as Nate McMillan probably wants to move on from the entire Sergio Rodriguez trade talk saga, chances are this one isn’t going anywhere and will play itself out like a reality TV show.

Might as well dub this one “Survivor”. We already know who is in jeopardy of getting voted off the island.

After five years of covering the league – three of those in New York where drama is always at a premium – I learned to appreciate where both Nate and Sergio are coming from today after Rodriguez’s agent (Jose Ortiz) demanded a trade. It’s a delicate situation. McMillan prefers Sergio to come to him if he is unhappy about his role on the team. Sergio is clearly unhappy about his role and playing time, but is hesitant to approach McMillan on the matter.

It sounds like – and I say that because I only talked to McMillan about the matter from the practice facility – the time was never right for Sergio to talk about his frustrations with Nate. He couldn’t do it the first couple games. Nate was busy dealing with a gimpy Greg Oden. He couldn’t do it on the road in Phoenix or Utah. Portland was too busy losing. But if that was the case – if Sergio was really wrestling with when and how to talk to McMillan about his role and playing time – then that’s on Sergio for not saying anything.

It’s on him still. Nate told the team today to come and talk to him if they are unhappy, not the press. Something tells me Sergio isn’t knocking down his door.

But I feel for Sergio. He’s in a tough spot.

It can’t be easy being the fourth point guard option behind (in no particular order) Steve Blake, Brandon Roy and now Rudy Fernandez. It’s like last year all over again. And the year before that. But let’s think about it: are things really going to change for Rodriguez by bailing to another team?

Besides maybe picking up a little extra playing time (maybe), is he a starter in this league? If his agent  really believes he’s not a half court point guard, what’s going to happen when/if Sergio ever gets into the playoffs where games are grinded out in half court sets? Will he be any happier watching from the bench then? If there is any beef between Sergio and McMillan, isn’t that a matter to keep in house and not to be broadcasted by an agent?

There may not be any right or wrong answers here.

Here’s one more to ponder: with General Manager Kevin Pritchard a guru at making moves in June during the NBA Draft, don’t you think he has the fortitude to make a trade happen during the regular season with a player whose interests are coming before the teams?

That question might be a little easier to answer.


For those arriving late, here are a few links to help you along the path to the “Sergio Saga”….

Jason Fleming from HOOPSWORLD recapped the original story out of Spain where Jose Ortiz launched the trade demand….

The Oregonian’s Jason Quick spoke with Kevin Pritchard who said Sergio is going nowhere….

Nate McMillan on his “open door policy” and how he discussed the matter today with the team at practice….

And finally, Benjamin Golliver over at BlazersEdge.com transcribed like a madman to bring us Sergio’s thoughts….

pic via: marca.com

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