I watched the Blazer Classic Game on The Comcast Sports NW channel. One of many interesting things I observed was the balance of that roster. While we were one of the youngest teams in the league, we paired our youth with some key veterans in Paxson, Thompson and Valentine.
That allowed us to transition in our youth, like Kersey, Drexler, Bowie, without the "All or Nothing" growing pains we are experiencing now.
It also got me thinking about this entire rebuilding process.
By my way of thinking it's been a long road. The first major move of our journey away from the Whittsit era really began with the trade of Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace was our most talented player at the time. There is considerable debate about what we obtained recently for the trade of often troubled PF Zach Randolph, with many people thinking we did not get enough value. However, that isn't what I want to discuss in this diary. I want to discuss what I think was a horrible trade for The Blazers, a trade that I think added years to our rebuilding process, a trade inwhich we shipped off an often troubled, disgruntled but talented PF and did not get "correct" value in return.
I'm talking about Rasheed for Ratliff and SAR.
I say correct value, because at the time, I remember not being too upset about the trade. I thought it was time to move on from Rasheed. I also liked Ratliff, whom I always thought was an excellent center when he was healthy. Plus SAR had the reputation of being an All-Star quality player that had just never been on a good team.
I look back now, with the benefit of hindsight and realize that it was a horrible trade for The Blazers, and The Blazers future. Theo's unforeseeable injury problems aside, we ended up signing him to a huge contract. But I won't even count that, because Theo was playing very well for us when the decision to sign him was made.
It's SAR that hurt us. We brought in a player with almost the identical game of our younger "star" player in Randolph. We were forced to play SAR out of position at SF where he took time away from an at the time healthy Darius Miles. In my opinion it was obvious Randolph and SAR could not co-exist.
Then we more or less, just bided our time with SAR and let him walk without getting any asset for him at all. I know Nash tried to engineer the sign and trade but it all fell through.
During the Patterson/Nash era we transitioned, but we transitioned while losing key veterans, in Rasheed, SAR and Damon and NOT replacing them with other veterans. Instead we got Telfair, Ha and Khryappa. We totally commited to rebuilding through the draft and youth.
If it works, if everything develops at the right time, rebuilding through youth and the draft is not necessarily a bad thing. We will be afforded the luxury of a good/great team with a young core that can compete for a decade or more.
But getting to that place is a long and non-guaranteed journey. I have to speculate, when we traded Rasheed, could we of gotten an established PG? A PG that would be the veteran PG we really need now?
We are still paying with the growing pains of a management that decided to go all or nothing with a youth movement. The Blazers have acted like having a veteran in the starting line-up was Hemlock.
Most of that I believe was by design. We wanted to rebuild from the ground up.
But when I watched that 1985 young Blazer team, and I watched players like Paxson, and Thompson and Valentine, mixed with players like Kersey, Drexler and Bowie, it really illustrated how if you handle a roster carefully, you can bring in youth, remain competitive, and not necessarily have to go through the extreme growing pains The Blazers are now experiencing. Partly by choice and design, but also partly because we started this rebuilding process out, by trading away our biggest veteran asset at the time, for SAR who was a part that The Blazers couldn't really use. A mistake, IMO that is still affecting us today.