Full Court Press

Stop the presses. Tom Haberstroh of Hoop Data just blew up the internet. Here's the coolest and prettiest new tool to hit the NBA blogosphere in ... ever.  Make sure you have Internet Explorer 9 to get it to work. So sweet.

Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge this weekend...

B. Roy's Presser | Lakers Recap | Lakers Media Row Report | Outlaw Drill Diagram

Scroll down for Dave's great look at the start of the new CBA negotiations.

Click through for a few trade rumors, a nice look from California at Andre Miller's 52 points, reaction to the Lakers game, national takes on the start of the CBA discussions, some early draft talk (had to happen...) and much more.

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

David Aldridge says the Blazers are interested in Caron Butler...

(Don't discount Portland, either. While much has been made of the Blazers' pursuit of Washington center Brendan Haywood, the Blazers have just as much, if not more, interest in Butler, and are willing to put $3 milliion in cash toward a deal -- which certainly interests the Wizards. But Portland's refusal to put any of its young players other than Martell Webster in any potential deal puts it on the outside looking in. As has been reported, the Wizards want either Nicholas Batum -- no chance -- or Rudy Fernandez -- not likely, as he is a favorite of many inside the Blazers' braintrust. The Lakers would also love to repatriate Butler with Kobe Bryant, who would love to have him. But L.A. doesn't have the expiring contract/young player assets necessary to get seriously involved.)

Further down the piece, Aldridge interviews Patty Mills...

You played with Sundiata Gaines in Idaho. When he hit that shot against Cleveland, were you at all surprised?

You know what's interesting, my last (NBA D-League) game was actually his last game before he got sent up as well. He had the exact same shot against Reno in Reno. And he missed it. And I got the rebound and put it back on the buzzer to win. And then he got sent up and made that same shot (in Utah). I would have saved it for the league as well.

Chris SheridanBlazers chasing Kurt Thomas?

ESPN.com has learned that Thomas, the 37-year old backup center/forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, has emerged as a fallback trade option for the few playoff-bound teams (including Portland, Dallas and Cleveland) open to the idea of taking on additional salary. 

"I have heard Portland," Thomas acknowledged in the visiting locker room after the Milwakee Bucks defeated the New York Knicks 114-107 Friday night at Madison Square Garden. "It's always a good feeling when you're hearing teams are interested in you."     

Marc Stein on Andre Miller...

Yet it had to be asked last Saturday after Miller's eruption in Dallas: Does a 52-point game make Miller even less available ... or more desirable?

"I don't know," Miller said. "It's one night. It's still a business. Whatever happens, happens."

...

The ongoing skepticism about Miller's co-existing with Brandon Roy, since both need to see so much of the ball to be effective, has been temporarily hushed while Roy is sidelined by a hamstring injury. Yet Miller admits that he does "glance on the Internet" on occasion to read the latest chatter, expecting to hear his name tossed around until the deadline passes because he's a vet who knows how the league works.

"I hear more [trade speculation] from friends, but if I'm on the computer, why not?" Miller said. "You can try, but you can't shut it out [totally]. I take it in stride."

Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee tracks down Andre Miller's NoCal roots...

When news of Andre Miller's 52-point outing at Dallas on Jan. 30 spread, the reaction among those who know the Portland guard best was almost universal. And local basketball guru Guss Armstead, it's safe to say, could have been the spokesman of that elated bunch.

"It definitely surprised me, because his whole game has always been an attack game but more of a facilitator, getting other guys involved," said Armstead, who has welcomed Miller into his high-level summertime scrimmages and watched him closely for years. "To see him get 50 (points)? I think a lot of people were really surprised. I think everybody was pretty surprised that Andre Miller scored 50 points. I can't honestly say I saw that coming."

Here's Brian T. Smith's latest Blazer page.

It all comes down to growth. Aldridge has stepped up big time with Roy on the bench. And the No. 2 overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft is beginning to utilize his size, strength and quickness to form a potent combination that demands respect on the perimeter while punishing opposing defenders on the low block. Aldridge averaged 22 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and shot 50.7 percent (35 of 69) from the field during a four-game run. But the biggest number was 40 - Aldridge's average minutes per game for the shorthanded Blazers.    

Dwight Jaynes sees stat-padding from Jerryd Bayless...

For me, the worst thing in the waning moments of Trail Blazers losses lately has been Jerryd Bayless's relentless pursuit of his own points.

You've seen it. Both teams are just playing the game out and that's when he lowers his head, quits looking for teammates and just tries to steamroll to the basket to get his own points. No thought of looking for a teammate - just a seemingly selfish dash to grab cheap points.

It comes off a little cheesy.

Wendell Maxey on Steve Blake...

That's where Steve Blake comes into play.

Right now, the veteran point guard - who is coming off a career year yet has struggled at times this season to find his groove with Andre Miller running the show - probably finds himself wondering if his future truly remains in Portland. Many are wondering the same, especially knowing Blake is one of the more expendable players on the roster.

Blake owns a $4 million expiring contact. That's enough to make some GM's around the league salivate over the next 10 days.

Wendell Maxey lets us know the Portland Sentinel will stop publishing in March.

March will be the last issue for the monthly newspaper serving North and Northeast Portland. The ad revenue just isn't there, and while the paper will explore non-profit avenues to transform into an online news service covering all of Portland, at this time that dream is simply that - a dream.    

Brian T. Smith on Jay Jensen.

McMillan said Jensen is irreplaceable. Spot on with his observations. Heartfelt and caring in his approach. But also tough and unbending as steel when he has to make a call.

"He and I talk more than anybody," McMillan said. "Because he's letting me know where the players are. How they feel. Who can go, who can't. Our travel plans, he arranges all of that."

Travel plans.... culturally-themed airport song and dance routines when greeting free agents... all of that.

Jason Quick on the Lakers game loss...

Bad news has found the Trail Blazers so frequently this season that coach Nate McMillan admitted before Saturday's game that he has not been sleeping. 

Literally, not sleeping. 

"One of these days, I'm just going to fall out," McMillan said. "Like just be walking and collapse."     

Maybe that help explains McMillan's snippiness Saturday (bottom of game notes).

Kerry Eggers finds KP doing what no Blazer thought to do: stand up to Lamar Odom.

 If you stayed to the end of Saturday's Trail Blazers-Lakers game, you might have seen an exchange of words between Portland General Manager Kevin Pritchard and the Lakers' Lamar Odom.

"It was a private discussion between myself and Lamar," was all Pritchard would say.

But the Blazer executive clearly objected to Odom's dunk attempt that bounced off the rim with 19 seconds left and the Lakers ahead 99-82.

Just take your L and move on.

Joe Freeman with Phil Jackson's reaction to Saturday's win, the first for LA in Portland in 5 years...

How nice is it not having to come back to Portland and answer questions about the losing streak?

"Well, you just have to do that as a coach. That's why you get paid these big bucks just to answer those nasty questions that you have to answer."    

SJ from Rip City Project on the Lakers loss...

I liked that lineup in the second quarter with Batum/Cunningham/Miller/Rudy. Things just feel so much smoother with Batum back in the lineup. We can run out more, the defense looks better. Dante Cunningham kind of showed me he has some glimpses of veteran Antonio McDyess with that mid-range jumper. I felt he gave some big minutes in the second, with energy on defense, his ability to run and that mid-range jumper can only get better. I was really impressed by him tonight.    

Andrew R. Tonry on the Lakers loss.

When the Blazers succeed as of late, it's usually because a player or two finds a hot hand that inspires the rest of the team to lay out. But against the Lakers Saturday night that leader never appeared. And while credit must go to the opposing defense, tonight's failure was more than systematic. On too many possessions the Blazers looked aimless on offensive. No one seemed to want to be The Man. But with at least two more games before Brandon Roy returns, the Blazers need someone with ego enough to try.    

Sophia Brugato on the Lakers loss.

By the time the fourth quarter began, the Rose Garden faithful began to file out, as the Lakers had a double digit lead. Everything McMillan tried did not work, no shots went down, Steve Blake's threes resembled those which he took at the beginning of the season and the defense lacked effort and heart. The Blazers fell apart on every level, playing like a team adrift without its leader.

Ian Thomsen takes up a topic I looked at last season and which never gets old: B. Roy's love of the moment...

"I walk out there thinking they know I'm going to shoot it, I know I'm going to shoot it," said All-Star guard Brandon Roy, the Trail Blazers' last-second game-changer. "And for a basketball player, that's like the best feeling. For a competitor, you're saying, 'This is great.' "

...

Roy found out during his second season in the closing seconds of regulation at Sacramento on a play designed for Zach Randolph.

"Zach popped and they denied him, so I popped and I think Juan Dixon or Jarrett Jack hit me -- and Zach couldn't get open so I went," Roy said. It was a 15-foot fallaway overJohn Salmons at the buzzer to force overtime in an eventual Portland win. "Ever since then, coach was like, 'I've got two guys -- I can go to Zach, I can go to Brandon.' I thought it made our team better. Even Zach started to have confidence in me. I felt like, 'Hey, I want this responsibility.' "

Adrian Wojnarowski on the new CBA negotiations...

Players Association executive director Billy Hunter is preparing for the fight of his life, with the agents armed to advance to Defcon 1 with him.

"I have so much respect for David Stern, and I know he wants to create the most competitive environment possible for the fans, but the current system is broken," agent Mark Bartelstein said. "The luxury-tax concept is anti-competitive. We've created a system where in the midst of trying to sell tickets in the summer, we have teams admitting to their fans, ‘We're not trying to win this year. ...We're waiting for 2010 or some year beyond.'

"We need to start from scratch and develop a system in which everything is designed about creating the most competitive environment possible so that we drive revenue."

Marc Spears on the role that CAA, a major media power broker, will play this summer...

James, Wade and Bosh, of course, are the names on the tongues of every NBA executive these days. All three will be free agents this summer, the headliners of what promises to be the deepest and most heralded free-agent class in league history. That all three are represented by the same agency only adds to the drama and intrigue. It stands to reason that CAA - an agency which wasn't doing much sports business as recently as five years ago - will now have some influence on how the NBA's power structure shifts for the future.

"When you have those type of players," New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn said, "that's power in itself."

John Canzano goes deep...

The Blazers are waiting for their big men, knowing neither is coming back until next season. But they're not doing it by sulking and cruising, rather by trying to outwork other teams and play the right way. 

There's something special about that.     

Quick Hits

Power Rankings

Drop anything I missed in the comments. And, please, frequent the FanShots.

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

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