Full Court Press

Another solid week of Blazers material.  Good times. Take a long lunch and dig in.  We've got stories about Jeff Pendergraph's childhood, a minute-by-minute account of Brandon Roy's DNP, LaMarcus the disappointment (?), trade talk (painful and otherwise), a thorough look at Steve Blake's pretty epic comeback from pneumonia and a whole lot more.

But first: here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge this weekend.

Magic Game Recap | Magic Media Row Report | Wizards Game Recap | Dave's Midseason Awards #1

And there was the extended length return of The Dontonio Wingcast, where KP2 drops some early player similarity rankings for Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph and Jerryd Bayless.  Great stuff. 

Finally, it was a big weekend around these parts for Shavlik Randolph. First we reported that his time as a Blazer is over for now.  Then he swung by the FanPosts again to answer questions from Blazersedge commenters in a live blog.  That's making the best of an unfortunate situation.  Now all we need is for one of the newspapers to realize that he's not on the team any more.  Any day now.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

Brother Wendell Maxey delivers a nice profile of Jeff Pendergraph's childhood...

Pendergraph was 18 when he met his dad, James, for the first time.  Jeff tried to build a bridge, but their communication waned between James' ongoing excuses and Jeff's mounting disappointment in their relationship. Even though he maintains a moderate connection with James today, Jeff doesn't feel like he's missed out on not having a father around.

"In his mind I guess, Jeff thought he had his mom and that's all he needed. He'll be the first to tell you his dad didn't do anything for him. ‘My mom did it all,'" LaDona said proudly.

"I was very blessed with my children. They are all very well mannered and respectful. He's (Jeff) probably my most mild child. He probably saved all that up and is taking out on everybody he goes up against now," LaDona laughed.

Wendell Maxey also has some backstory on tracking down that story and some more quotes from Pendergraph's mother.

"He knows every chance he gets to step on the court, he's very fortunate and thankful he's able to do that. Because he didn't know. In many ways, he's mature for his age. But one of the things I love most about him, is that he still has that inner kid in him that comes out. He's not afraid to let that show. He loves being goofy and having fun. For me, that makes him that much more of a wonderful young man. He's not afraid to let both sides of his personality show."

Brian T. Smith had a great piece on Steve Blake's return last week.

But Blake was also reflective. His fourth season in black and red has not gone as planned. And Blake, who is set to make $4.9 million during the final year of his contract with Blazers, is fully aware that this season could be his last in Portland.

"I'd like to be here for my whole career," Blake said. "I like living here. I like the coaches, everyone involved with the organization. But right now, it's just focusing on being a better player for right now."

"Right now" is the only place where Blake's mind is at. And each new day is a good one.

The Brandon Roy injury coverage from Jason Quick couldn't be more thorough without being illegal. We've got: Roy is uncertain for Monday's game, Roy is overruled for Monday's game, a behind-the-scenes look at the pregame discussion before Monday's game and Roy hides from his teammates during second half of Monday's game.  One DNP; four stories.  I have never seen that before. The bottom line...

"I'm going to play," Roy said. "Not try. I'm playing Wednesday in Philly."

Jason Quick also put together a great mid-year season summary.

To do that, Pritchard admits he will probably have to make a move before the Feb. 18 trading deadline, most likely netting the Blazers a center or power forward. 

"We're going to be active," Pritchard said. "We are going to look for deals to help the team and to help Nate." 

Pritchard said he is having trouble finding a suitable deal, primarily because teams are hoping to catch the Blazers in a desperate state, thereby allowing teams to poach prime young talent like Bayless or Batum.

Finally, Jason Quick looks at some mid year superlatives...

PLAYER WHO NEEDS TO STEP UP

LaMarcus Aldridge 

He signed a $65 million extension in the summer, and once again set his sights on the All-Star Game, which is in his hometown of Dallas this season. But the 6-foot-11 forward has been rather anonymous. His scoring is down, his rebounding about the same and little has been added to his game. He has been slowed by minor ankle injuries and the adjustment of being forced to play center at times, but through it all, Aldridge has looked more average than All-Star.    

Eddie Johnson of HoopsHype.com agrees, calling LaMarcus Aldridge the #1 disappointment in the league.

He is No. 1 because I think he should be an All-Star every year if he wanted to. He plays the game too soft and seems to back further and further away from the basket the more physical it gets. He has a decent post game and excellent mid-range shot, but does not know how to mix it up. This will be a major problem as we enter the second half of the season. Juwan Howard will not be able to continue to log big-time minutes as the season winds towards the playoffs. Aldridge should be a better field-goal percentage shooter - similar to Amare Stoudemire. But the most surprising stat is he is a terrible shot blocker. The Blazers have lost two centers and now it's time for Aldridge to get tougher and play like he is capable of or they will struggle to make the playoffs.

Oregon Sports Live gets into the mix too...

In this game he played 43 minutes.  He scored nearly at will in the late third quarter, and he rebounded the ball fantastically on the offensive side of the ball.

He had great stats.

But Aldridge wanted no part of the action in the late fourth quarter.

Greg Jayne of the Vancouver Columbian assesses Nate McMillan...

McMillan to this point has effectively avoided moron status, which in itself is an accomplishment for an NBA coach.

But the question remains as to whether he can reach the realm of genius. And the frustration is that, regardless of how it plays out, this season will not provide the answer.

Mike Barrett makes an excellent point regarding Monday's game: the 4th quarter offensive execution was pretty terrible with Roy out.

As good as Andre Miller was in the second half (where he scored 20 of his 22 points), not having the option of going to Brandon down the stretch was glaring in this contest. Miller's 22 were matched by LaMarcus Aldridge's 22 and 15 rebounds, but they were unable to gain any momentum late in the game.

Coup from Rip City Project noticed that the Wizards gave the Blazers a little taste of their own defensive medicine.

The Wiz really did play some fantastic D in places. They threw some zone into the early mix, which the Blazers busted with ball movement, but once they got used to Miller's unconventional-ness, Portland was often down to needing bailout shots. In the last two minutes, the Blazers had a possession where Miller, Bayless and Aldridge each touched the ball at least twice, none of them gaining more than a couple feet of space or penetration. That possession resulted in Portland's three best playmakers doing nothing, and Miller launching a 27-footer from the top of the key. With the jumpers from their 35-point third quarter not there and the Wizards working the paint, the chances of winning dwindled with each passing minutes of the final period.

Sophia Brugato on BustaBucket praises everything about Martell Webster.

Outside the numbers, Martell is bursting with confidence and he just seems to get it. Perhaps his great play has boosted his self-assurance; maybe he is becoming more mature. Whatever the cause may be, he is now carrying himself as if he has always been an important contributor. On the court he seems less spastic; he is maintaining his characteristic high energy level and channeling that energy in a controlled way, rather than running around jacking up shots like a kid who ran out of Ritalin. Webster has been playing focused, diligent, in-tune and patient, something the Blazers regularly need from him.    

Blazerguy.com also looks at Martell Webster's recent success and what it means going forward.

To the extent there is a silver-lining in the Blazers' injury woes, this is surely it.  Had Nic Batum, Travis Outlaw, and Rudy Fernandez remained healthy this season, Webster would have really struggled to find playing time.  As the only legitimate small forward on the active roster for most of the season (and one of only two wings for much of it), Webster has been forced to play big minutes and has managed to work off the rust from sitting out all of last season.  It took him a while, but he's now looking much more confident and comfortable out there, and he's showing real potential to become an elite "D and 3" wing player, the kind of guy all contending teams lust after.

Amar Panchmatia on Bleacher Report.com thinks it's high time the Blazers stop loving their own players and start making a deal for Chris Bosh. Link via Blaze of Love.

If the Blazers were serious about acquiring Bosh, the best power forward in the game, they could easily do so without giving up two-time All-Star Brandon Roy. Pairing Roy with Bosh, who are both 25, would create one of the league's most devastating one-two combos. Considering Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are much older than both, it would be safe to say that Roy and Bosh "got next."

In fact, they can get Bosh without giving up a single All-Star player. A move that sends LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, and Travis Outlaw's expiring contract to Toronto for Bosh works under the league's collective bargaining agreement and would significantly alter both franchises.

Chad Ford in his chat today...

Would jamison for andre miller work or what do you see the wiz doing with him or caron butler?

Chard Ford: Probably works for Portland. But I don't think it works for Wizards. If they move Jamison or Butler they're going to want expiring contracts and young players. It will be a total rebuild (which makes their trade of the No. 5 pick to Minn last summer so painful in retrospect).

Kevin Pelton did himself the favor of scouting Jefferson High's Terrence Jones, who dominated a Seattle-area tournament this weekend

Jones' versatility extends to his shooting, as he demonstrates a smooth, natural lefty stroke and was willing to attempt a couple of threes from NBA range. Jones' shooting ability is especially valuable at the free throw line, where he will make opponents pay for fouling them more than most big men.

At the defensive end of the floor, Jones tormented Federal Way with his length, blocking shots (eight in all) both in the paint and on the perimeter against offensive players clearly not used to working against such a skilled shot blocker. One play in particular stood out when Jones gave probably five feet of ground to his man. My natural instinct was to think Jones needed to come out more, but he ended up blocking the shot anyway.

The biggest concern I saw about Jones was his lack of energy. This wasn't all bad, as his controlled pace of play helps him avoid mistakes, but he will certainly not be able to maintain some of the shortcuts he took defensively and on the glass at the next level. In particular, his next coach will want to make getting back defensively in transition a focus for Jones. His decision-making also waned down the stretch in the midst of a Federal Way comeback, when he forced several passes that became turnovers.

Good (not surprising) news: The Oregonian's Amanda Miles reports T. Jones will be in this year's Nike Hoop Summit.

Quick Hits

  • Dwight Jaynes questions whether Blazers management is willing to make a painful trade.
  • Kevin Pritchard was a guest on ESPN's NBA Today podcast.  He didn't reveal anything that new or surprising but he did address the notion that he loves his players too much. His answer was pretty well scripted and might not be what many want to hear.
  • Nobody, I repeat NOBODY, scours the internet for weird Blazer toys as vigorously as Ezra Ace Caraeff.
  • Seth Johnston at BustaBucket delves into the "Fire Nate contingency."
  • BustaBucket is also selling t shirts. Sheed says for an extra $6.99 handling fee he'll shoot it out of a bazooka at you instead of mailing it.
  • HowToWatchSports.com asks a great question: How much do you pay Greg Oden in the future? Here's some FanShot discussion on the topic started by axel360 here.
  • Kevin Durant starts on John Hollinger's all star team.
  • This is from last week but I think I missed it: Brandon Roy talks fitness in great detail with NBA.com.

Power Rankings

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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