We're heading into the last stretch of the season with the Portland Trail Blazersplaying some of their basketball in the past year. Portland was 10-2 in the month of March, their best month of the season (7-8 in the month of January, their only losing month of the season by the way). The defense has been improving steadily over the last few weeks. The only thing more impressive than Portland's improved defensive rotation in the last 5 games has been their ball rotation. Roy is playing at 100% for the first time in months. Nic is playing like a defensive machine, successfully guarding the likes of CP3, Dirk Nivitzki and Kevin Durant in the last week. Dre has emerged as a leader and a go to man late in games and Marcus Cambyhas slipped into the center position nicely has affected more shots than TiH has taken at Dre in the past 6 months.
All of this in time for the playoffs. Which makes this post about as far from timely as possible.
I've spent the past months dwelling on the injuries Portland has had a the center position this year. Watching Greg injure his good knee after improving almost every game since his previous injury early in the year, tore my heart right out. I've been waiting for the Fourth Coming of G.O. like a pet dropped off in a parking lot. Right about the time I accepted the loss of G.O. and decided we could carry on with a very similar yet improved version of the '07-'08 roster, we all witnessed the Vanilla Gorilla rupture his patella tendon. The only thing worse than having to watch Joel pound his fists against the court in anger as he and all of Portland knew he was done for the season, was hearing he had suffered the exact same injury in his shower shortly there after. I guarantee you Pryz destroyed that tub. I can't even imagine how mad he was when that happened.
Tragedies to all at BE and in Rip City. Absolute tragedies.
Unwilling to throw in the towel on the season or even let off the throttle much, Nate and the rest of the team plodded on through their only losing month of the season that was sprinkled with the return of Rudy and Nic and tainted with Roy's re-aggravated injury. It became obvious that even though Juwan could still play some amazing ball at his age, he couldn't continue to play at that level for the remainder of the season. Then KP and the Blazer's organization made the decision to cut ties (at least temporarily) with Steve Blake and Travis Outlawto bring in veteran center Marcus Camby. It's been a wild ride this season. Ups and downs, well mostly downs, but here we are coming out this season's recession and seemingly heading into the boom. At least we hope.
Since signing Camby the Blazer's defense has been improving to the point of solid. Composure, veteran savvy and experience are displayed at the 5 on most nights and now that we have a e center for the first time in months, LMA has returned to his status as one of the best spread 4's in the league. It's funny how a guy's game improves when he stops playing out of position. The line up with Batum, Camby and LMA has looked dominant on D and on the boards, and Miller (who is signed up through the next two season) seems to have a good connection with Marcus from their days in Denver. The more I see Camby in a Blazers uniform, the more I want him back next year.
At 36 years of age, Marcus still plays like a solid defender and rebounder and has shown he still has some offensive game. With his skill set and coveted size and experience you wouldn't think he would settle for the MLE but maybe if he like it enough in Portland he would consider signing for another year or two in Portland. I know Roy returned to health about the same time Marcus rolled into town, but I believe that Portland's improved defense and improved record are more a by product of the presence of Marcus Camby. I think it has become clear that if Portland has any chance of advancing in the playoffs it will have to involve MC.
This season we saw how quickly depth at a position can turn into a thin spot on the roster. Joel won't be back at the begining of next season and no one knows how his serious injuries will affect his rebounding and shotblocking abilities.
A lot of people have put the "injury prone" tag on G.0. and he has given little evidence to refute the possibility. In fact, he showed us some pictures a few months back that may have revealed the source of his bad knees. I have to say though, he did put to bed all those rumors that he has "weak bones".
Like I said, I know it isn't the timeliest of posts but I've been wondering how the rest of the BE community would fill our depth chart at center next season. Do you do all you can to resign Camby and then deal with the potential log jam at center? Do you thank Marcus for his help and effort as you let him walk? Can we afford to only carry two centers on this team with the injuries we've had?