Full Court Press

What's worse: that the Blazer Dancers pose for a picture with Jordan Farmar or that the Blazers.com staff deems it acceptable to put the picture on their official website?  Ridiculous. 

What's even worse (?): Coatesville, Pennsylvania, continuing to claim the name "Rip City" thanks to native son Richard Hamilton. Weak sauce. Look guys, it's on the white throwback jerseys so it's official now.  

In case you missed it on Friday, check out the latest episode of my podcast with Kevin Pelton.

Wendell Maxey looks back at a long-lost name from Blazers history, Ramon Ramos.

Fog filled the air. Rain beat down. Miles outside of Portland on a stretch of Interstate 5 around Wilsonville, Ramos lost control of the Nissan 300ZX he was driving and skidded off the highway. Police reports later detailed how Ramos' car was traveling from 84 to 102 mph when his car hit an ice patch and flew 40 feet through the air at 3:15 am.

The car was said to have rolled over eight times. Ramon was thrown from the vehicle.

"I remember going out and seeing the car the next day and they hadn't towed the car yet. It was in the median," said Dwight Jaynes who was a Blazers' beat writer for the Oregonian at the time.

"Almost immediately we knew his basketball career was over. It was just a question if he was ever going to walk again. Obviously there was a lot of damage done."

Chad Ford with a thorough, early look at the 2010 Free Agent market (insider). He writes this about LMA.

Just two players from the first-round draft class of 2006 -- Roy and Bargnani -- has signed an extension this summer. Teams and eligible 2006 draftees have until Oct. 31 to work out extensions, so I'd expect several more to be added to this list over the course of the next few months. The remaining players who don't get extensions will be restricted free agents in the summer. As we've seen in the past few years, it's very difficult for most restricted free agents to move to a different NBA team. This past summer, not one major restricted free agent has moved to another NBA team (Charlie Villanueva became an unrestricted free agent when the Bucks decided not to retain him).

While there will be more teams with serious cap space next summer, don't expect things to change for restricted free agents.

1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers
With so much commotion going on over the Blazers and Roy's negotiations, Aldridge has been a bit of an afterthought. He's coming off two consecutive stellar seasons and everyone expects him, at some point, to re-up with Portland. Given Greg Oden's early struggles, Aldridge has taken on more importance as the top big man in the Blazers' rotation.

Chad Ford also writes this about Outlaw later in the piece.

8. Travis Outlaw, Blazers
Outlaw has been somewhat a forgotten man in Portland. He's been a solid scorer and shooter for the Blazers the past few seasons. He's still young and athletic, and given all the money the Blazers are going to have to commit to young players like Roy and Aldridge, he probably won't be re-signed by the team.    

Where's Jason Quick been for the last month? Putting together essay-length answers for Rasheed Malek at Slam Online, apparently.

I think this is the season Portland announces its presence as an NBA title contender. I expect them to win the Northwest and advance to the Western Conference Finals. The following year, I think they win the West. The parade is the summer of 2012.

Wow! That sounds great! Fantastic results for a team that "nickels and dimes" its players!

SJ from Rip City Project.com is warming up to the idea of Oden and Miller coming off the bench.

Would that be so bad people? If you ask me, those are two very sick, ill, disgusting 5-man teams right there. We're talking lineups that would make Jay-Z say ‘ewwwww'. Ok, maybe not but you see where I'm going. I personally have no qualms with that starting lineup being trotted out to begin the season. In my mind, that's the unit that got us where we needed to be last year. I'm all for continuity, and one of the advantages of being a team that brings a lot of players back is just that. There's a certain familiarity with that starting five. I'm not saying it's the best five guys we can put on the floor, I'm just saying that they have already gelled.     

Sean Meagher over at Oregonlive has video of Travis Outlaw "working out." 

I guess this is some type of unconventional workout. Two league sources hit me up with raised eyebrows about this video over the weekend.  As in, "What is it, exactly, that he's working on?"  and "Why is he voluntarily putting video of himself struggling to dribble with his left hand on the internet?"

Those (reasonable) questions aside, Outlaw in the gym is a welcome sight.

Brian Smith with some quotes from Larry Miller.

Tony Mejia from ProBasketballNews.com puts together a top 100 list. Brandon at 10, LaMarcus at 39, Andre at 67, Greg at 84.

10. Brandon Roy, Portland - Ron Artest wasn't the only one to notice how good B-Roy has gotten, calling him the toughest player in the league to guard. While that's debatable, there's no denying Roy has turned into a monster, capping his finest season with his first playoff appearance, hanging 26.7 points a game on Ron-Ron and the Rockets. Roy signed a max-dollar extension that will keep him in Portland until at least 2014, and at the rate he's going, Blazers fans can realistically aspire to reach an NBA Finals or two within that time frame.    

Hoopsworld's Bill Ingram with some thoughts on Andre Miller.

Miller's the kind of point guard who can content himself with setting up Roy, Aldridge, and even Oden as long as they have it going, but can then change gears and score the ball when the offense needs him to do that. The Blazers may have flirted with Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, but Miller seems to be exactly what they needed to take things to the next level.    

Wendell Maxey asks if the Blazers are tougher.

Training camp is about five weeks away.

Are the Blazers ready to muscle-up and really punch the clock?

That's a tough call.

Alan Hahn thinks Portland is a possible destination for David Lee

Again, we can only speculate about the potential sign-and-trades at this point. You could guess that the Portland Trail Blazers may be one of the interested parties.

...

The Knicks have made it pretty clear to Portland that any discussion involving Lee would have to start with Rudy Fernandez ($1.1M with team opt in 2010). So far, the Blazers have been reluctant to include Fernandez and, after signing Miller, are more likely to want to involve Steve Blake ($4.9M) and Travis Outlaw ($4M). This works for Lee because it's around the type of salary range he's looking for ($9M) and it works for the Knicks' 2010 plan because both contracts are expiring deals. Plus, while Outlaw gives scoring punch on the wing, Blake would give some needed depth in the backcourt.

But, from what I understand, so far the Knicks are not interested if Fernandez is not in the deal.

Nope!

Sham Sports is back with part 2 of its creative financing in the NBA series.

Furthermore, the Blazers did something fairly rare when they included a maximum 17.5% signing bonus into the contract; put simply, this means that Millsap receives 17.5% ($5.6 million) of the entire value of the contract up front. They did this so that it might deter the Jazz (pressed financially this season) not to match it. But ballsily, they did so. And doing so will work in their favour in the long run; for the next three seasons of his deal, whichever team owns Millsap will have $1.4 million less in obligations to pay him than his listed salary will indicate. If ever they decide to trade him, this will be a welcome reprive for the recipient team.

Not sure how I missed this last week: more Blazers eBay finds from Bustabucket.com. Great Robert Pack gear.

Blazers are #6 in CNNSI's power rankings

The Trail Blazers are young, deep and talented, and last season they took their obligatory first-timer lumps in the playoffs. In other words, they would be contenders this season even without Andre Miller. Still, having a savvy point guard like Miller to orchestrate the offense should help a team that finished 19th in assists last season. In addition, small forward Martell Webster(10.7 points in '07-08) is set to return after missing all but one game last season.

A major newspaper in Arizona, the East Valley Tribune, just declared bankruptcyCompelling reaction from Valley of the Suns (link via TrueHoop).

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

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