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Posts Tagged ‘Martell Webster’

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When I first started this blog last June, I wasn’t sure how long it would last. But nearly a year and several posts later, the blog has taken on a life of its own thanks to those of you who frequent Beyond The Beat. So now I need your help.

BTB is in the early stages of a major facelift, and has been for the last month behind the scenes. A move away from WordPress – who has been a great blog format to work with – is coming hopefully by late April/early May. More to come on this.

The look will change – layout and advertising. Content will grow and morph as well. And this is where you come in….yeah, you.

My original plan was to use BTB as a one-stop-shop for all my writing, from HOOPSWORLD to the Northwest Examiner and any freelance writing gigs along the way. I also wanted to give a glimpse about covering the NBA in Portland and the league as a whole.

Hopefully I’ve done those aspects justice.

As a highlight, I’ve had some brief feature stories (in memory of Kevin Duckworth), occasional interviews with other beat writers (the latest with Chris Tommason and Aaron Lopez from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News), and plenty of additional very random thoughts on the Blazers (time for Martell Webster to really shut it down?) – and the NBA to boot (some Mexican food from Mo Williams actually sounds good right about now….).

And while I have a sense of how I want to proceed with in content going forward, your feedback is important to this process and is greatly appreciated.

If you are a faithful reader (all five of you) or simply stopping by for a quick blog fix, your comments are what help keep this adventure interesting.

So it’s feedback time.

What have you enjoyed? What has worked? What needs to be scrapped? What would you like more of? Story ideas you’d like to see come to life? Interviews you’d like to see? Other blog/website features you’d benefit from?

Speak up….

And thanks always for reading and writing.

W

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What’s The Rush?

Spurs Trail Blazers Basketball

Rudy Fernandez probably didn’t understand the joke lobbed his way, but Martell Webster tossed the zinger nonetheless. It was last week. Right before Portland faced Dallas. Maybe now Webster will heed his own comedic advice.

Fernandez was wrapping up his brief pregame media session outside the Blazers locker room, fielding questions about his sore right chest and right hip-pointer courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers Trevor Ariza.

Just before the last question, Webster joined the crowd peering over shoulders giving Rudy some gag insight into life on the disabled list.

“Put some ice on it. Lots of ice.”

As Webster smiled and casually walked away, I couldn’t help but think about Webster and his own injury. This was well before Webster’s most recent comments saying the prognosis he’s received about his stress fracture in his left foot lately was merely that – a prediction – and that he’s targeting an April return.

Webster knows all about putting “some ice on it.”

The Blazers have essentially “iced him” like a big game kicker ever since they prematurely rushed him back from injury in Toronto in early December. Basically iced him with a walking boot for five months. Iced him again saying Webster would return around the All-Star break. Iced him yet again when they reportedly shut him down for the season once the NBA trade deadline passed.

Now it’s as if Martell is taking matters into his own hands.

Got talking family matters with Webster’s cousin – Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks – shortly after the Mavericks put the hurt on Portland last week. It was interesting. While Terry knows Martell can help Portland – as I detailed Wednesday over at HOOPSWORLD – he also knows it is best for Webster to get completely healthy and hit it hard this offseason.

Can’t help but feel the same way.

Yes, there is a need for Martell – as Terry explained. Portland knows the role he could fulfill on this roster – as Terry explained. But Portland’s managed to go this far without him and that goes without an explanation.

Will having Webster back mean the difference between the Blazers being a 4th or 8th seed out West? Does a possible Webster return extend Portland past the first round of the playoffs when the time comes?

Yes on the first one. No on the second. So what’s the rush?

Guess I’d much rather prefer Webster continue to sit this one out.

Put some ice on it. Lots of ice.

pic via: daylife

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will1Well, that was fun for Portland while it lasted. The five-game win streak is over after losing to Dallas. So why is closing the book on a win-streak actually a good thing?

That’s easy.

It puts life out West in perspective for the Blazers.

The last thing Portland needs right now is to rattle off 10-straight like the Boston Celtics, then have everyone gunning for them to fall on their faces. Forget that. The Blazers are better off flying under the radar and sneaking up on teams. That’s why they are sitting fourth out West in the first place.

It’s not that Portland has to win every game. Certainly helps, but it isn’t a must. Because right now, the Blazers are sitting right where they want to be while teams around them are beginning to hit the skids.

Tt’s more important to get and stay healthy than it is to win six, seven or eight games in a row. Wins will soon follow.

Steve Blake is preparing to return after Portland’s current road trip – hopefully Martell Webster before too long. New Orleans has lost four-straight and will be without Chris Paul. Utah is banged up missing both Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. The Los Angeles Lakers – while not immediately fazed by the loss of Andrew Bynum – is missing a cog in their machine.

Houston is always a team with an injury waiting to happen.

Tis the season.

Forget the streak.

It’s too early for Portland to peak.

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The Latest: Hard too not think about the upcoming trade deadline these days. And what better way to get a debate going then talk about some players who should be on a general manager’s shortlist…..or at least a topic of converstation between a few front offices.

Check out “10 Players GM’s Should Call About” over at HOOPSWORLD too see who made the cut.

pic via: photobucket

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Bulls Trail Blazers BasketballChange is a good thing. And on Sunday afternoon in Toronto the Portland Trail Blazers will begin to dabble in some minor alterations. Not only is Martell Webster suiting-up for the first time this season, but his return to action also creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of the roster.

I addressed this recently at HOOPSWORLD but failed to include someone in the “Webster returns” equation: Ike Diogu.

Diogu has barely sniffed the floor this season. Actually, I think you and I have played more minutes than Ike so far this year. Yet with Webster getting reacclimated with minutes here and there– briefly now and logically a lot later – perhaps this is the time for a change in whom – along with Travis Outlaw – helps back up LaMarcus Aldridge. Maybe it’s time to get Diogu in the fold before long?

Think about it.

Portland has missed a rugged bruising forward since the days of Brian Grant. Channing Frye isn’t going to provide that presence anytime soon, and since it appears he’ll have his minutes cut the most with Webster back, why not see what Diogu can give you with more than mop-up minutes?

I can hear Nate McMillan now: it depends on the match-up. Well, why not create a mismatch? Let the other coach adjust. At 6-9 and 250 pounds, all Ike would be expected to do is rebound and bang – you know, add a little toughness down low; an attribute many surely agree would be a welcomed change and shouldn’t be only expected of Joel Przybilla.

Change is a good thing.

Update: Apparently Nate has other plans….Diogu was placed on the inactive list to make room for Martell.

pic via: nbanoise

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Jazz Trail Blazers BasketballMartell Webster will be back before too long, and with him returns a number of questions. But one trumps the rest:

Who gets the minutes at small forward?

I got into this a little bit today at HOOPSWORLD touching on the changes Portland will go through once Martell is ready to play – which doesn’t seem too far away from the sound of it. Basically there are four factors involving how the Blazers will adjust to Webster’s return….

The Nicolas Batum Factor: This kid can play and we’ve all seen how his game has changed from summer league to now during the regular season. I’ll be the first to admit, Batum didn’t show me much in Las Vegas. But these last sixteen games (and counting), Batum is easily the “feel good story” of the Blazers season thus far and I am constantly in awe at what he can do on both ends of the floor. I’ll spare you the highlight reel discussion about his ability to get into the paint, play defense, run the floor, shoot the three and simply scrap for a loose ball. It doesn’t matter how Nate McMillan does it. He just has to find time for this kid to play. Will that mean continuing to start?  

The Channing Frye Factor: No one is going to confuse Channing with having a power game in the paint. Even at 6-11, that’s not his style. Never has been. Hitting a fifteen foot jumper each time out is. He plays the pick-and-pop perfectly and it’s no wonder assistant coach Monty Williams told me Frye is one of the best shooting big men in the game today. Channing’s extending that range to include the deep three and it came to life against Miami on Wednesday (2-3). Yes, Frye’s rebounding and pure aggressiveness needs to improve, but it’s hard to complain when he’s hitting that outside shot. He’ll simply have to learn to produce the same (or more) with less time.

The Travis Outlaw Factor: Outlaw isn’t a starter and that’s not a bad thing. He is at home in the second unit, and while the small forward spot has his name written all over it, watching him play the four should be an adventure. That appears McMillan’s plan. Listed at 6-9 and a generous 207 lbs., Travis isn’t going to muscle anyone around and his defense is suspect. But with his length and energy, he’ll give guys fits. We saw it last year in some cases – against Denver’s Kenyon Martin comes to mind – and we will see how revisiting Travis at power forward works out. The minutes will be there.

The Nate McMillan Factor: Nate’s going to play the match-up game in juggling Webster, Batum, Outlaw and Frye. Without naming names, he’s already said as much. He’s done that so far this year with rotating Batum and Outlaw out for each other – although Travis has received more run than Nicolas. Just like anything else this season though – adjusting to life without Martell and even Greg Oden for six games for example – McMillan’s planning to work with what he has. Right now, he has a whole lot of guys he could plug in at various spots at any given time and that will only increase once Webster gets back. Not a bad problem for any coach to have.

pic via: daylife

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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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79600120MC027_2008_NBA_All_Shoulda-coulda-woulda.

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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