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So what has changed?

With recent talks of trading Outlaw, Sergio and Reaf for Miller and filler, I can't help but think back to last year when there was (supposedly) an almost done deal with Sergio, Outlaw and Frye (!) leaving us and we would in return get Devin Harris and change. I look back now and say wow, what I bet KP would do for that chance again. It's so easy to at this point. Then I realize all the differences that have taken place on this team since a year ago. So what has changed?

I'll start with Travis, since at that time he was the deal breaker. Travis Outlaw was on a tear that you would not want to trade for anyone. He was as clutch as Roy was, singlehandedly winning games for us (or at least it felt that way) left and right . If he were able to keep up that pace we would have another all-star on our roster. We were short on players at small forward, and Martell didn't match what Travis did and vice-versa. We had a good thing going that brought us a 13 game winning streak. We also had too many point guards who showed promise. Blake, Serge, Jack, Green, Koppenen and even Roy had the possibility of becoming the point guard that we needed, and each of them had a band wagon. Granted, Harris would have been a huge upgrade to any of them (except Roy, but playing him out of position isn't something I would want to hang my hat on). We were young enough to take a good risk-reward strategy with our guards. It was a toss up, but I was fine with what occoured at that time.

We also find ourselves with possibly the perfect fit at small forward. Batum, I personally think, solves so many problems for us. Him and Martell have the possibilty of being everything we could ask for (looking at things right now) from the 3 spot. Travis is still streaky Travis. We thought we found consistancy from him at that point, but it was just a dream. The one who turned out to be the consistent performer was the one that got away.

Another thing that happened is our guard situation has changed. A lot. Sergio's not happy sitting around and taking his time to develop. He wants to play a lot more than he is (or at least was, I haven't heard many complaints from him lately). I love Sergio, but I am now ready to see him go. I'm still not sold on the idea that he will never be a great point guard, though it seems more and more likely that maybe he can't become that here. I am coming to the realization that Blake and Bayless will become our ideal point guard tandem. And maybe Petteri can get a plane ticket over here to try his hand in the NBA as well. And I will wish Sergio the best and still root for him throughout his career no matter what happens to him. Unless he goes, you know, there. Also, we found out Channing sucks. I still love you Channing, but only after the whistle blows.

Now, as this trade dealine approaches, I can't help but look at our situation now in relation to the past. We are still a young team, and we have a great shot at filling in our roster with the pieces we already have. I really think that Batum, Oden, Aldridge, Bayless and Rudy will become somewhere close to where us homers see them.  I can't tell who is going to be our biggest star of those, and I couldn't really imagine trading any of those 4 right now without getting something out of reach in return. I also think that our defense would be monsterous on all levels with Oden, LMA, Batum and Bayless once everyone gets into their prime. Roy and Rudy could score more points between the two of them than other teams combined. I also can see the value of having Joel and Blake on the team. They are also not likely to be matched in return value, since thier roles seem to fit us like a glove. That leaves a lot to play with. I think our team has more of an identity now and in the future than we could find last year at this point, and therefore we can find the pieces we need to better fill the gaps in as we go since we, in all likelyhood, have our core. Last year we had only a dream of Oden (which so far is looking better than the real thing, but he is still very far from where he is going), no Bayless or Batum, Rudy wasn't here and Blake wasn't a solid 3 point threat. All of those things amount to an enormous difference. 

In looking at this, I also can't help but think of how the fan base and the site have changed. A year and a half ago, there was a lot less pressure on this team. People were thrilled to get to .500 in this conference since we were were such a young team. We still are a young team, but our timeline isn't the same as it used to be. On one hand, I feel like if we made a strong move we could be considered in weak contention for the west this season (with Bynum going down anyone who makes the playoffs has a shot at it). However, I can still see the bigger picture in that we don't want to chisle away at the core of our team that will be in strong title contention for many, many years if all goes well. This puts a lot of people at odds with each other. When it comes down to it we're all Blazers fans, and we all want the best for this team (so seriously, stop with the JBOF stuff). We're all also emotional, and want to win now. There is most likely going to be a trade in the next couple of weeks. Could be good in some eyes, could be a bad idea to others. It will be a change. I do think we could do some things that could put us in contention this season. I think we are going to have to do something pretty soon or we will run out of roster spots. Too much talent, what a problem to have.

I wrote this simply because I was reflecting on the trade deadline last year and wanted to share it. I was so strong on Harris, but I honestly thought they were crazy for wanting Outlaw myself. It all just trips me out looking back. It will be interesting next year at this point to see where we are then.

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