Quick Chat Review 11-16

Here's our weekly review of O-Live's "Quick Chat", this week with special guest Steve Patterson.  (Pat Chat?  Hmmmm...)  As always this is more of a paraphrased review than a direct quote recap.  My thoughts are in between.  You can listen to the whole chat  here.

News:  Lamarcus Aldridge will start tomorrow in place of Jamaal Magloire.  Lamarcus is shooting 68% and averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds.  He's active and makes things happen.  Nate says he's still not really ready.  He'll get fouls because he won't have the  respect of the referees.  But what choices are out there?  He's far more polished than Nate thought at the beginning of the year.  Jamaal has been brutal but Nate describes the change as a move to balance out the first and second units.  Both Jamaal and Zach are post players who need touches.  Aldridge can work away from the ball and get back on defense quicker.  Jamaal will be more of a focal point on offense with the second unit.

Lamarcus never seemed that raw or unpolished to me.  Of course he doesn't know all the professional tricks but he seemed pretty confident out there on the court since minute one.  The issue with him was always going to be his bulk, but that's less of an issue now than it would have been in the Karl Malone era.  Nate may prove right about Aldridge ringing up fouls though.  Look for a ton of bumps into his body and pump fakes to try and draw whistles.

Magloire never would have been in the starting role in the first place had Joel not gotten injured so he really shouldn't complain too much.  Since when has that ever stopped anybody though?

News:  Martell continues to have back spasms.  He shot today in practice and will be ready to play tomorrow but he won't start.  Graham will start at shooting guard.

Whatever it takes.  We already have one high draft pick down, why not two?  I don't know what would cure back spasms but if it's a month of bed rest hand that boy a Playstation 3 and a pillow and let's get on with it.  He's next to useless out there right now anyway.  

Q:  Could Aldridge be as good as Duncan in a couple of years?

A:  (laugh)  The sky's the limit.  He only played two years of college ball.  He's a real talent:  6'11" with incredible coordination and agility.  He can do things most big guys can't.  In practice when somebody goes to block his layup he'll make an under-the-rim, double-clutch reverse scoop like a guard.  He'll continue to get better.  He played Kevin Garnett pretty well.  He can be an effective defender.  Maurice Lucas likes the possibility of Przy and Aldridge together on defense.  Throw in Roy, Jack, and Udoka and you've got a great defensive lineup.  Right now there are so many injuries though.  The team is giving effort but they don't have enough bodies.  They need to be at full strength.

(sigh)  Duncan?  I'd more than settle for three-quarters of a `Sheed.  The only things Quick didn't mention explicitly are that he's very quick off his feet when jumping and he has nice, soft hands.

Q:  Is Lucas working with Aldridge on post moves?

A:  Yes, for sure.  He yells instructions to him often during games.

If he could teach him that 15 foot face-up shot too we'd be set.  Oh, and make him really, really mean.  We still don't have any really, really mean guys.  Maybe Sergio someday...

Q:  What's happened to Sergio?  Is Nate letting him loose or is he just getting more experience?  What's the difference?

A:  No Brandon Roy...that's the first thing.  He has a great assist-to-turnover ratio.  He's finding shooters in places where they're best equipped to score.  Juan Dixon has been a big beneficiary.  Nate would like to see that come from Jarrett Jack too.  He needs to expand his passing skills to non-Zach players.  Sergio is surprising Nate.  He's making things happen.  If this keeps up he'll have to be considered as a starter.  The language barrier is still an issue.  NBA teams have to make on-the-fly changes, communicated verbally.  A lineup of Sergio, Aldridge, Roy, Zach, and Joel might be intriguing.

 

This is the second possible lineup mentioned so far and that's a good sign for the team.  One of the problems the last few years was that we had a bunch of single-skill guys who needed the other folks on the court with them to compensate for their weaknesses.  We're starting to get guys who are more well-rounded and thus more versatile and interchangeable.  The lesson:  good defenders can be played with anyone, any time.

Q:  The ball moves faster when Sergio is in.

A:  Yes.  The coaching staff would also like to see him shoot more.  Eventually teams will lay off his shot and guard against the pass.  The NBA scouts the heck out of everything and the league will react.

So far Sergio hasn't hit much.  This will be a major hurdle.  We could live with him missing some shots, though, if he could just hold his own on defense.

Q:  What is Dan Dickau's role now?

A:  Not much.  He's a good guy but he hasn't played well.  Nate has lost confidence in him.  He hasn't taken advantage of the opportunity with Roy out.  He probably won't see the court for a while.

There are always going to be players like that on a team and the odd man out usually rotates several times during the course of a season.  It's good that we can determine these things on results this year and not be forced to play certain players because they're the only ones with specific skills (or because of other players' behavior problems).  Being a little deeper is a good thing.

Q:  What do you see in the Boston game?  Is this a big deal to Sebastian Telfair?

A:  The highlight certainly is Sebastian playing against old team.  Telfair is being polite and rather short in his interviews.  He's downplaying the rematch.  He says he's happy for Travis Outlaw and keeps in contact with his former backcourt mates.  He feels it's a better situation for him in Boston.  He's allowed to be more open, free-wheeling.  He felt a little handcuffed in Portland.  Nate says it was a choice between Portland being Zach's halfcourt team or Sebastian's open court team.  The decision was made.

This is nothing that hasn't been said before but it does bring up an interesting wrinkle as things develop this year.  Outlaw is probably best in the open court.  Aldridge may be too.  Sergio would shine even brighter if he could run a little.  As players improve, will there have to be more such decisions?  Is the new Zach able to get up and down more?  (He's quicker moving laterally and spinning but he's often slow down the court still.)

Q:  Is there an update on Brandon Roy?

A:  I haven't heard anything on the road.  We'll find out more on Sunday.

I wonder if his sock collection has expanded any?  Have you folks been shopping and sending?  Hmmmm?  Thanksgiving shopping weekend is coming up...

Jason Quick says goodbye and Steve Patterson joins Casey.  You could hear their backs arch and the hisses fly as the guests passed each other in the hallways but Casey covered it with a dial tone sound and sprayed them with a water bottle to separate them.

Q:  This season has been a mixed bag so far.  Can you tell us one thing you're satisfied with and one thing (besides injuries) that's been dissatisfying?

A:  That coverage on Blazersedge has been amazing.  We really appreciate all the work that fan bloggers put into giving the people a chance to talk about the team.

HAHAHAHAHA!  You knew that was a big, fat lie the moment you read it, didn't you?

A:  The best thing has been the play of Zach Randolph on virtually all-star level, especially his 31 and 10 games.  The slow starts have been the most frustrating.

Q:  Any particular reasons you can see for the slow starts?

A:  Much of it is having eight new ballplayers gelling together.  Plus with the injuries our  lineup keeps juggling around.  We're just not in sync when game starts.  Other clubs are more established.  Also right now our defense feeds off our offense instead of the other way around.  We're the third youngest team in the league too.

The gelling aspect makes some sense, but that's probably more of a game-long thing than a first quarter deal.  Injuries make some sense too.  The defense feeding off the offense is typical of young teams.  This begs the question, though:  Why can't we SCORE in the first quarter either?  To me the youth is as big of an issue as any.  That and we're just not good enough yet to match these decent teams when they're focused on shutting us down.

Q:  How is Darius Miles?  Will he play as a Blazer again?

A:  He had microfracture surgery on his right knee.  His return isn't scheduled until next season.  He had deteriorated cartilage.  He'll be non-weight bearing for the next two months and will begin rehab after that.  He worked hard this summer and wanted to be back.  He did everything asked of him and prescribed to him.  He just got a swollen knee and couldn't go.

Q:  Are you confident he'll be back then?

A:  It depends on the results of the surgery.  Some are very successful (Zach Randolph, JasonKidd).  Some are in the middle (Chris Webber).  Some have been career-ending (Allan Houston).  We'll have to see.

Diplomatic, but what else did you expect him to be?  Also I like it when our execs give properly bland answers in the right situations.

Q:  How closely are you monitoring Joel Freeland?  Will he be here next year?

A:  We have people watching him and working with him.  He's 19.  He needs to gain strength.  We're pleased with how he's played against peers.  He hasn't played against senior veterans yet.  We're very pleased with all four of our draft picks.  We're excited.

I saw Freeland play in Vegas and while there were some parts of his game that got him noticed, he's nowhere near being at Aldridge's level of play yet and Lamarcus is considered pretty inexperienced.  If Freeland made it here next year I'd be impressed.  (Not surprised, per se, but impressed that he improved that much.)  If he contributed significantly here next season I'd be shocked.

Q:  A lot of people wanted Adam Morrison in the draft.  What did you see in Lamarcus Aldridge that made you take him?

A:  Adam Morrison will be a great scorer and have a very good pro career.  He was one of four top guys we were focused on.  We wanted two of them.  Aldridge and Bargnani were the big guys, Roy and Morrison the small.  Lamarcus is a great defensive player.  He switches out on picks, has quick feet, can score on the baseline, has a baseline turn-around shot, is a quick offensive rebounder and a shot blocker.  He will grow into a very, very, very good pro player.  Everybody wants big guys and they tend to slide up in the draft.  We got a big who's talented and a great person.  We probably could have gotten one top player in Morrison by standing pat but we wanted two.  You can never have too many bigs.

See?  The math is simple.  Morrison got one "very", Aldridge got three.  There ya go.  With the team in need at many positions, it did make some sense to go big-small.  It doesn't hurt that they project both Aldridge and Roy to play multiple positions.

Q:  What's your opinion on the Magloire trade so far?  He seems to be having a rough time.

OK folks, it's time for a new feature on the Quick Chat recap:  "Guess the Response!"  I'm going to print three possible responses and you guess which one is the correct one.  

Is it...

A:  "How DARE you ask me that, Casey?  You know that was my baby!  I have a good mind to bust through that plexiglass and ram that headset microphone of yours down your scrawny, Duck-loving throat!"

Or...

B:  "Funny you asked.  You see, Isiah and I were sitting around downing a few scotch and sodas, except by "soda" we meant "gin", and we started making bets about who could make the most no-account trade of the off-season.  He was talking all big because of his past history and I wanted to take him down a peg, so we shook on it.  The only rules were that nothing that happened during draft day would count (Raef and Dickau were too big of an advantage) and Adonal Foyle could not be involved in any way...

Or...

C:   The trade has been fine for us.  Steve Blake and Brian Skinner are not playing a lot for Milwaukee. Jamaal needs to get comfortable with his new teammates.  He's a former all-star and hopefully he will continue to improve his play while he's here and get back to all-star form.

You make the call.  Text your vote to 667-6766-892-8143.6

Q:  So you'd still make that trade today?

A:  Yeah, I would.  He's a great guy in the community.  Who would have played in the middle last week if he wasn't here?  Any time you can get starting 7-footer for a backup point guard (I like Blake and Skinner, but still...) you make that deal.

I'm going to write more about Jamaal in the near future so I'll reserve comment except for two things:

--Being a "great guy in the community" isn't that valuable when half of the community wouldn't know any Blazer from Adam and the half that does pay attention to how the team is doing would probably throw tomatoes at Jamaal on sight.

--It doesn't come across in the reprint, of course, but there was a slight but obvious change in inflection when Mr. Patterson said, "while he's here".  Of course you can't be sure, but were we playing poker I would strongly suspect that was a tell.

Q:  Any comments on the rumored Golden State trade?

A:  I don't comment on trades.  99.99% of the time trade rumors are wrong.

True enough.

Q:  Zach Randolph is having  great season, largely because he's getting to the foul line.  Do you guys lobby the league at all to look at players and get them foul calls?

A:  We're in constant contact with the league on business, officiating, and players.  The big issue for Zach is that he's playing down in the paint which is attributable to his recovery from surgery.  Also the league is calling games tighter this year.

Also I think the team's reputation as a whole has improved and we're keeping our mouths shut when the whistles blow.

Q:  You have one year left on your contract.  Are you feeling any pressure?

At this point there was the sound of plexiglass breaking and the feed went dead.  Rumor has it that Casey is now in line to receive one of Joel's swollen testicles as a replacement for his originals, which are now cupped in Portlandia's outstretched hands.

A:  I don't talk about my contract.  I haven't changed except for spending a little more time on the player personnel side.  We're rebuilding, moving contracts, getting cap flexibility, and trying to stock the team with players who have talent and character.  The community is responding.  New season ticket sales are up dramatically.  Our league-wide reputation is up dramatically.  We're continuing on the road we started 3 years ago and it's starting to bear some fruit.

OK...no arguments there.  He handled a delicate question pretty well.  The only thing I'd say is that when you offer $199 season tickets your sales are going to go up.  The real test will be whether people renew at a higher price if and when that comes.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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