Full Court Press

The Blazers held some pre-draft workouts today, featuring borderline 2nd round or undrafted players.  Honestly, the only thing "NBA" about most of the players present was their officially-licensed socks. Ohhh. Burnnn. None of the coaching staff or management team was present; 3 reporters and 1 videographer showed up.  

I'll hold off on a recap until after tomorrow's session, which promises to be a little more intriguing with Jeremy Pargo and Jeff Adrien in attendance. 

To the links...

Dwight Jaynes talks transition.

I don't think the Trail Blazers spend much time working on it because, as you pointed out, even when they get fastbreak opportunities, they very often squander them. This has been a constant over the last two or three seasons. They just aren't comfortable on the break. In the days when Adelman coached here, all practices were open to the media and I watched that group work endlessly on breaks, early offense - transition stuff. It was a priority to get up the floor and get easy baskets.

I do not believe Nate McMillan wants to sacrifice the control he has over his team by doing a lot of running, where decisions are made on the fly and turnovers are more possible.

Jason Quick on Sergio Rodriguez.

However, Rodriguez now feels like he has reached an impasse with McMillan.

"He's a really good coach, he's tough, and I learn from him," Rodriguez said. "But I think I'm not his kind of player. He doesn't feel comfortable with me. I mean, I think that's obvious."

As a result, he spoke last week of his time in Portland in the past tense.

"I don't know what will happen, but whatever happens, I want to say thank you to Portland for everything," Rodriguez said. "Their support, even when things come from my agent, telling them to trade me, everybody - everybody, not one exception - was good to me. It's my home in the states, and I will always have a good vision of Portland."

Told that he was speaking as if he was already leaving Portland, Rodriguez said that wasn't his intent, but at the same time, he shrugged his shoulders and smiled uneasily.

Remember that whole "Adios Sergio" fiasco?  Good times.

Wendell Maxey has been tracking the Tom Penn to Minnesota story.

Warren LeGarie - who represents Tom Penn - spoke with HOOPSWOLRD late Friday afternoon, saying the decision is now up to the Wolves on how they would like to proceed in discussions with his client.

"The process is now in their (Minnesota's) hands. At this juncture, any comments that should come out further should come from them. We're in a little bit of a holding pattern," LeGarie said.

Here are my thoughts on Tom Penn posted over at Canis Hoopus.

If you make eye contact with him, it's very, very, very unlikely that he will break the gaze or blink first. That's Tom Penn.

Mike Barrett reflects on the offseason.

During the season we're too busy to think about much of anything, other than what game is next, what time does the plane leave, and what is my room number again?


Then, things come to a screeching halt. And, the funny thing is, even though you're longing so badly for some time for yourself, and time for the family (which we do get in the off-season), you miss the season. I miss the players, the coaches, and I miss my travelling TV and radio partners and production crews. Mostly though? I miss game night.    

Malcolm Gladwell had a must-read piece in the New Yorker (that you've probably already read) about underdogs, specifically referencing youth basketball teams that full court press to overcome a talent disparity.

Kevin Pelton with an interesting reaction to the article.

Where Gladwell errs (probably in no small part for the sake of convenience for his non-basketball readers, just as he simplifies other concepts so people like us can understand them) is in implying in part that pressing is the dominant underdog strategy. By no means is this the case at the highest levels of basketball. Shooting a lot of threes is probably the best and simplest risky strategy, but zone defenses can also qualify and one method we see a fair bit in college hoops but rarely in the NBA (save one notable exception) is slowing the game down to a crawl, because an upset is more likely the fewer possessions in a game.

So why don't we see these strategies more, especially in the NBA? In part, if you talk to head coaches, you find that there is so much that is out of their control that they become borderline obsessed with consistency. From a mathematical perspective, consistency is good for good teams and bad for bad ones, but it's easy to see its allure to the coach. Perhaps more importantly, a coach who plays unconventially puts himself at risk of being blamed and getting fired. This manifests itself in many different ways across sports, but in general fear is a major factor.

FYI, KP2 has a great Nic Batum piece for Oregonlive's You Be The GM coming later this week.

Very interesting article from Frank Rich about the press's suicide watch.

The bad news about the news business has accelerated ever since. Newspaper circulations and revenues are in free fall. Legendary brands from The Los Angeles Times to The Philadelphia Inquirer are teetering. The New York Times Company threatened to close The Boston Globe if its employees didn't make substantial sacrifices in salaries and benefits. Other papers have died. The reporting ranks on network and local news alike are shriveling. You know it's bad when the Senate is moved, as it was last week, to weigh in with hearings on "The Future of Journalism."

Not all is bleak on the Titanic, however. The White House correspondents' bacchanal was on tap for this weekend. And this time no one could accuse the revelers of failing to get down with the Colbert-iTunes-Facebook young folk: hip big-time journalists now stroke their fans with 140-character messages on Twitter. Or did. No sooner did boldface Washington media personalities ostentatiously embrace Twitter than Nielsen reported that more than 60 percent of Twitter users abandon it after a single month.

Greg Jayne says Travis Outlaw is the Blazers' #1 question mark.

But the Outlaw situation is a conundrum. There are questions, and they are difficult ones. On the plus side, Outlaw can be a productive scorer and is a dynamic athlete; he's still young and has shown demonstrable improvement; and he's a good guy to have around. On the minus side, he shot 32 percent from the field during the playoffs and played a major role in the Blazers' first-round demise. . . .    

BustaBucket.com handed out some awards.

Much like Zach Efron in 2008, the young heart-throb Nicolas Batum came on the scene for Portland and never really looked back. He wasn't always a major contributor but it was obvious that this 19-year old was capable of big things. Some of his biggest games included 17 points and a facial on Pau Gasol on January 4th as well as 20 impressive points against New Jersey on March 13th.

Max Handelman on Beyond Bowie.

Who do we think is tougher: Derek Fisher or LaMarcus Aldridge? Derek Fisher or Travis Outlaw? Derek Fisher or, dare I say, Greg Oden?

Do you have additional links? Post them in the comments.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

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