Full Court Press

A sort-of-strange, revealing paragraph from Mike Barrett in his blog post regarding Tom Penn...

One very important hurdle was cleared this week, and that was keeping the executive team in tact. Assistant GM Tom Penn was offered a position with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and after much consideration, made the decision to stay in Portland. If he had gone I'd be spinning this today, telling you how everyone would be feeling confident he'd be replaced and we'd move forward. But, because this worked out the way it did, I can tell you that everyone is very happy there is no job opening in the Blazer front office.    

His whole post on the Pritchard/Penn dynamic is a must-read.

Hey, have you heard of this guy? His name's Ricky Rubio and he's pretty good. Geoffrey Arnold writes...

Rubio could be the wild card in this year's draft. The Grizzlies (Mike Conley) and Thunder (Russell Westbrook, Earl Watson, Shaun Livingston) have point guards, so those teams could pass on Rubio. That would change the plans of teams drafting after Memphis and Oklahoma City.

"Sitting where he is and how things project out, he could cause a ripple in the draft," Bickerstaff said. "In terms of people moving up and moving back. He could be a big factor."

And for a definitive look at Ricky right now,  the Blogfather knocked it out of the park.

One basketball insider says that when there is a fast break, he just about always knows where the ball is going to go. Unless it's a Rubio break, in which case he sees dunks and layups for teammates that are simply not evident earlier in the play. That's vision.

Also worth noting from those highlights: The Joventut big men running their asses off. They know they'll get the ball, thanks to Rubio. Getting big men out on the break is an important skill.

Sometimes 18-year-old prospects don't have any skills that are truly NBA ready. Not a problem here. He has elite ideas about what to do with the ball.

He also has an elite ability to think through the game when he does not have the ball. Thanks to extraordinary anticipation, he's a persistent threat to pick off the ball on defense ... he's constantly out-thinking savvy opponents, closing angles, cutting off passing lanes, and anticipating what could be coming. He has uncanny ability to strip the ball without fouling.

Surely, you've read Dave's thoughts on the Blazers draft this morning.

Dwight Jaynes weighs in as well.

I believe this is a time when you just don't want to devote roster space to yet one more player who needs developmental time or who might be pressing for playing time. There is enough roster congestion on this team right now. Please, this is a time to simplify, rather than complicate.

Already, there's Jerryd Bayless and Nic Batum out there who need time to develop. Neither is likely to be a starter this season.

Brother Wendell Maxey tries to read the draft tea leaves.

Last year, Pritchard told me via a phone interview that, "getting younger isn't at the top of our list". Weeks later, Nate McMillan would say how acquiring more veteran experience should be the offseason focus. Well, I think we all know how that one turned out with four rookies on the roster, and three of those four (Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum) contributing significantly last season.

Maybe this is the summer where McMillan actually gets that "veteran experience" he hoped to receive last summer.

Maybe.

Wendell Maxey also had a short look at Linas Kleiza that is worth your time.

Front office types rarely admit they let one slip by, but in this case Portland did. Watching the 6'8, 245 pound Kleiza chip in 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench in the Nuggets Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, it's hard not to picture those numbers coming off a bench desperate for muscle and scoring appeal at power forward.

I highly recommend that everyone start reading Clippers blogs on a regular basis until draft day. The chaos created by the combination of getting the #1 pick and having Mike Dunleavy and Donald Sterling in charge is cause for endlessly interesting topics and speculation.

Here's a thorough post from ClipperBlog's Kevin Arnovitz on potentially trading Griffin.

Think of Blake Griffin/#1 pick as the house you own, love, and have every intention of living in until the kids are grown. If asked, "Would you sell the house?" your answer would reflexively be, "No. It's not for sale," which it's not. But what if someone were willing to overpay wildly for it? 

And here's BE buddy Clipper Steve Perrin on the same topic.

The Clippers were in fact quite non-committal on draft night, with Andy Roeser playing coy about the pick for the media gathered on the post-draft conference call. Mike Dunleavy Sr. did tell Lisa Dillman of the LA Times that it was 'Definitely Griffin' that night. But on the whole, the logic that the decisiveness was an act, a 'kneejerk reaction' to counter perceptions of how they traditionally behave, is some pretty tortured logic, which doesn't even have it's facts straight. It was the next day, at Neil Olshey's press conference, when they put on the 'decisive act' (if you want to believe it's an act).

So, are they 'keeping all their options open'? Well, I have a question. What exactly would closing off options look like at this point? And why would they do it? They can't actually draft Griffin until, you know, the draft. And until they've drafted him, I suppose their options are open, aren't they?

But contrary to popular belief, the Clippers are not stupid.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com did a two part interview with Jonny Flynn, a point guard that Seth Davis told us in an interview might be on the Blazers' radar. 

Flynn believes he's ready to step in as a starter.  Hmm.  In any case, he has a pretty impressive personality, don't you think?

Here's Chad Ford's look at Flynn.

Aaron Brooks, meet your biggest fan. He is Jonny Flynn, a diminutive point guard from Syracuse who thinks Brooks may have opened the door for the return of little guys to the NBA.

"I was watching Brooks shred through defenses in the playoffs and I was cheering 'Do it for the little guys!'" Flynn says with a huge grin. "He's proving what I've been trying to say for years. The size of your heart is what matters. When you have a big heart, you can play with the best of them."

SJ from Rip City Project has the scoop on another potential point guard draft pick: Nick Calathes is going to Greece.

I had heard some vague whispers from a couple Blazer fans about wanting to draft Calathes. I was lukewarm to it at best. Don't get me wrong, I like Calathes' game (6′5, can shoot, can penetrate, make plays, finish) but at the end of the day he has the same issues as Blake does on the other end of the court. Plus, I'm against drafting a PG unless it's a home run and I'm not sure Calathes is a home run right about now.

Robert Littalone of the funniest people on twitter, sparked a firestorm last night by writing on Black Sports Online about J.R. Smith's antics and whether there were gang-related implications.

But I care because while you are living in the lap of luxury there is a young black male with a tattoo who is going to looked at differently even though he is college educated.

I care because tomorrow I will have explain your actions to hundreds of people who already think the NBA if full of "thugs".

I care because somewhere there is a sixteen year kid who looks up to you that may flash an "upside down 3" on a basketball court and get shot for it.

That is why you should care. Stop thinking about yourself. Stop trying to be so cool. Stop trying to act like the gangster when you are definitely not.

Scott from Ridiculous Upside has a nice review of Lance Allred's book. I think he might have sold me on it.

The 353rd iteration of the Nate Robinson to Portland rumor courtesy of Tommy Dee at The Knicks Blog.

But at this point, another source close to Blazers tells me, there is no interest from the Portland's end. Portland desperately wants to add a veteran lead guard, which will allow superstar Brandon Roy, and Nate's childhood buddy, to play the two. They feel it is his natural position.

I'm also hearing that Roy hasn't gone out of his way to endorse Robinson. 

Andy Dworkin of the Oregonian with more on Brian Grant.

For years, Grant pursued quiet charity work, focusing especially on children's health. He started a foundation to help seriously ill children and has helped Oregon kids in many ways, from organizing bone marrow drives to hand-delivering food to families with sick children staying at Ronald McDonald Houses. Only Grant hadn't been the patient, until now.

"The fact that it happened to me, with this platform I've been given, means I'm supposed to get out there," Grant says.

Max Handelman of Beyond Bowie takes up the Birdman question...

The likelihood of the Blazers acquiring Chris Andersen is close to nil.
So, I pose the question: if it's not The Birdman, who are the realistic players the Blazers could target in Free Agency or via trade that would offer some of the same attributes of a Birdman?    

As always, drop any other links you find in the comments.

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

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