James and Rudy

As was pointed out in the diaries a couple of interesting stories came out yesterday.

First, the non-story:

Yahoo Sports posted an article with the COMPLETELY misleading title: "Blazers G Fernandez to stay in Spain".  (First of all, that should have been "remain in Spain" but we'll let that go.)  Before going any farther, note the byline on the article:  "Victoria, Spain (ticker)".  It's a Spanish story.  One might expect a story from Spain, where the popular and talented Fernandez plays, to have a pro-staying-in-Spain slant.  The one and ONLY salient quote in the piece is:

"Right now I have a contract with DKV Joventut and I'm only thinking about that," Fernandez said on the Spanish league's web site.

Question, folks:  What do you want him to say?  They still have games to play.  You want guys with character coming to this team, right?  Do you want a guy playing for the Blazers who is going to say, "I know we have this playoff series with the Lakers upcoming but I'm really thinking about my free agent contract next year"?  If you asked Kevin Pritchard about Rudy's status he would say the exact same thing.  "He's still under contract to DKV Joventut and both sides have to explore the options from there.  Right now we're concentrating on our season and he has to concentrate on his."

This quote appears to raise a question (emphasis mine):

Fernandez chose to stay with DKV and signed a new contract with the Catalan outfit last July through the 2010-11 season.

Despite the implication those two words "last July" reassure us that this is the same contract and nothing has changed.  He can still be bought out.  Those negotiations will still happen this summer.  Up until that point I wouldn't expect him, his agent, or the Blazers to say anything definitive about it.  There's no more or less chance today that he'll come than there was yesterday.

This is a complete non-issue.  He has NOT decided to stay in Spain.  He has not decided to leave either.  We won't know more than that until this summer.

The much bigger issue right now is this report that James Jones is not just out until the All-Star break, but 3-5 weeks more.

First of all, this puts a serious crimp in our offensive season.  James is SO important to opening up the floor for us.  Martell Webster will have a chance to step up but he's not really hitting his threes lately and the coaching staff seems to be encouraging him to drive more.  Jones doesn't make us great, but he does make us substantially harder to cover, especially in tandem with the four-direction juking capability of Brandon Roy.  The road just got that much harder.

Second you have to wonder if this knee problem is more serious than first indicated.  It was described as a mystery injury of sorts at the beginning of the season.  They better get to the bottom of that mystery before we have to decided whether to give him a contract (and how big of one to offer).  Greg Oden has already had knee problems.  You know Brandon Roy isn't going to escape his whole career getting banged around like that without some issues.  We could really use Jones' shooting but we don't need potential chronic injuries in a relatively low-stress position like designated jump-shooter.  I'm not trying to be cruel to James at all or under-appreciate him.  He has meant a TON to this team.  But we need to know what's going on here.

Either way, it's a real bummer--and a significant dent to our shiny season--that he's out now.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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