Full Court Press

Let's take a jaunt through cyberspace before the internet once again turns into a barren wasteland of Blazers content.  

For you tweeters, Anne Peterson, the Blazers' Associated Press writer, is now on twitter.  Follow Anne here. So is Matt Smith from Portland's Fox affiliate.  Follow Matt here.

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First, here are quick links to all of BE's Summer League coverage.

Chad Buchanan Series... Dante Cunningham | Jeff Pendergraph | Jerryd Bayless | General Thoughts

Brief Chat with Monty Williams | Bayless Clears Up Bay-Gate | Cunningham Thoughts for True Hoop

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As Dave linked below, here's a great recap of everything that went down over the last 10 days in Las Vegas by Kevin Arnovitz.

It was great to finally meet the two brilliant minds behind Rip City Project.  Here's Coup on the Bayless trials...

This is not the right situation for Bayless to be "learning" how to play point or "proving" how he can play point. This is a poorly constructed roster with no real center and no playmakers other than Bayless. There's nobody who can do an ounce of the things Brandon Roy can, or draw nearly the same amount of attention that Aldridge or Oden can. It's Bayless and everyone else, and you can see it in his frustrated expressions (not to be confused with his "I'm going to eat you" expressions). Even against the other crummy Summer League teams, the Blazers clearly have not only a lower level of talent, but a lower range of dynamic talents. Couple all that with the fact that Portland's offense has never really been constructed for high assist totals, and I'm willing to throw most of the numbers out the doggie door. I'm much more interested to hear if Bayless gets any time running the point with the USA Select Team and how he does there, and looking ahead how he fares in training camp in Fall.

The question I want to ask is, what exactly do we want from Bayless?

After watching Bayless this week, both on and off the court, I'm not sure anyone can answer that question right now.  Whatever you decide you want from a point guard, you definitely DON'T want him constantly looking over his shoulder for approval from the bench or, worse yet, looking up to the stands for approval from management.  

Unfortunately, that was the situation in Las Vegas this year.  You won't find a bigger believer in Jerryd Bayless than myself but this could turn into a mess.

Speaking of Bayless, there have been a number of interesting conversations over at DwightJaynes.com.

Bayless vs. Lawson...

Sometimes you wonder if the kid isn't a little too cocky for his own good - it could inhibit improvement.

And even though it's summer league, it's not too early to ask the question - who looks more like an NBA point guard right now: Bayless or Ty Lawson?

One final word about Bayless...

People have accused me in the comments of being down on Bayless and that's not the case. I'm just trying to objectively speak about him as this team's point guard of the future. I've thought since last season he just doesn't have that point guard mentality and it's something that's pretty difficult to instill at this point of a player's career.

There is no question in my mind a deal will be made for another point guard before the season opens.

Wendell Maxey on Steve Blake...

I believe Portland will use their veteran's minimum later this summer to bring in a veteran journeyman (Brevin Knight, Kevin Ollie, Jacque Vaughn) to support the starting tandem of Bayless and Steve Blake - with the starting role undetermined.

While Portland went a lowly 1-4 in Vegas, and with Bayless still working the kinks out at the point, Steve Blake has been busy with his offseason regiment back East.

He recently returned from Maryland, where he put in two sessions daily in the morning and afternoons working on his game at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center. Think we all know Blake is a gamer and he's been really pushing himself this offseason, maybe even harder than in summer's past because he has had time off.

Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen on the Blazers' offseason.

 Actually, this is how the Blazers should spend the rest of this offseason: idling. Now that Utah has matched their four-year, $32 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Paul Millsap, the Blazers ought to stop recruiting and wait until next season. They will go into the midseason trading deadline with tons of cap space and newly weakened franchises to exploit. More players will surely be available and the Blazers will have the payroll room as well as the young assets necessary to pull off a blockbuster. I believe they'll look back on this summer and be grateful that Turkoglu turned them down.    

Casey Holdahl with a feature on Dante Cunningham...

"I end up creating space with the defender on me," said Cunningham. "My ability to be able to shoot and raise up over taller defenders and also my quickness around taller defenders gives me an advantage.

"A lot of times it's just facing them up, giving them a jab step. I'm not that much larger than other players, but a lot of times they notice I'm a lot faster than them are so they're kind of leery of me being able to go around them, so they do tend to back up on the jab step and I'm able to raise up and shoot."    

Don't miss Dave's post on what he's looking for from Greg Oden.

Here's Mike Barrett with more on Greg.

Oden is very excited to not only show how far he's come, but likely is wanting to test himself, to see what else he needs to do. Not only is he in better shape physically, but from everything we're hearing, is also in a very good place mentally. It's just part of the process. Of course, when you're the number-one pick in the draft, you normally don't get any slack in the learning-curve process, and Oden certainly didn't give himself any. Now, almost two years removed from microfracture surgery, when most players start to get back to full strength, he appears to be making leaps and bounds in his progress.

Brother Wendell also wrote this feature on David Padgett...

Padgett broke his kneecap in the season opener against Jackson State.

"I remember the play to this day. I probably will forever. At the time I didn't think it was that bad," Padgett said. "When Coach (Rick) Pitino initially told me I'd fractured my kneecap and was probably done for the season, it was like a truck had run over me. It caught me so off guard. That was a pretty devastating blow because it was my last year.

Bust A Bucket.com wrote a brief recap and put together a nice flickr photo album of their weekend in Vegas. One point of clarification in that recap, though: Pendergraph will make the team.

The big sports media story today is the New York Times' look at the next wave of ESPN Local coverage.

In less than three months, ESPN Chicago has become the city's top sports site, attracting about 590,000 unique visitors in June, according to data from comScore, an Internet measurement company. Second place went to The Tribune's online sports section with 455,000 unique visitors.    

A very knowledgeable take on all of this from Dan Shanoff.

What local newspaper sports editors don't get is that their reporting has become commoditized -- everyone gets the game recaps and the box scores. ESPN does a better job of presenting both, plus other kinds of stats, plus a better job of presenting the teams playing your teams.

...
Local newspapers' sports power was already under erosion on other fronts, besides ESPN: SB Nation has put together the best collection of team-based blogs found online, across every sport, in every market, with coverage that -- yes -- complements local news, but also goes a long way to displace it. Its distribution deal with Yahoo -- itself a traffic firehose -- amplified that power exponentially.

Just as soon as I went and praised Orlando's offseason the other day, Kevin Pelton feels the need to raise some questions.

A variety of adjectives have been attached to the Orlando Magic's offseason, but "passive" is not among them. After the Magic reached the NBA Finals, GM Otis Smith could have brought back the same core of players and called it a day. Instead, facing the challenge of free agency and the threat of the other Eastern Conference contenders loading up for another run at the title, Smith and company have acted boldly to tweak the Orlando lineup with an eye to returning to the Finals and winning this time around. Still, the nagging feeling I'm left with is that the Magic's moves don't quite fit together properly.    

Please drop any other links you find in the comments. And, as always, do not overlook the fanshots.

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

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