It 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.
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?
Nate 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?