Full Court Press

Monty Williams decided to keep the mustache for his big introductory press conference as New Orleans's new head coach.  Good idea or bad idea?  Maybe he's just trying to fit in with his new boss, who appears to have taped a raccoon tail to his upper lip.

Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge recently...

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New Assistant Coaches? | Discuss

Best Blazers Play Ever? | MJ Over Walton? | Batum on Batum | What's The Slogan?

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Click through for some initial reaction to the assistant coaching shakeup, outgoing thoughts on Monty Williams, some draft talk surrounding busts, a couple new takes on the ongoing KP nightmare, some really sad news from Jerryd Bayless, some fun writer-on-writer beef and a whole lot more.


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

Jerryd Bayless blogs about his father's heart attack...(Thanks Mr. Knox in the Fanshots)...

Last Friday my Father suffered a heart attack. When I recieved the news it was like getting shot in the back, punched in the face, and kicked in the ribs all at one time. My cousin, who got the call from my Dad, told me when I got to the hospital that he was already in surgery. I felt helpless and betrayed all at the same time. I felt helpless for the fact that there was absolutley nothing I could do but pray. Most people, including me, are used to being in positions where you can somewhat control the outcome of the situation. Then when you're put in situations where you have no control, it's tough to compensate and adjust. I also felt betrayed because I felt my Dad didn't deserve this. If you have ever been around my Father ,you would know he is one of the most loving men in the world. If he considers you a friend or if you're family, he will be with you through the trenches and back. I just felt that something like this didn't deserve to happen to him.

This past week has put so many things in perspective for me. The long days and nights in the hospital gave me time to sit and reflect on what's really important in life. Although I do love basketball and it's the second love of my life, I would be able to live and function without it because I'm much more than a basketball player. If I had lost my Dad, or anybody else in my family, that night, I can't say the same regarding my ability to live and function. My family is my world. I love them more than life itself.    

Dwight Jaynes wonders who is pulling the strings on the coaching shake-up...

It doesn't sound like a Nate McMillan thing to jettison assistant coaches in bunches. You have to wonder if this isn't coming from up north. Certainly Kevin Pritchard doesn't seem to be in any position to force such changes on the head coach.

Usually, in any sport, when you see the head coach making wholesale changes on his staff it means the head guy is under some serious pressure. And it often means management is looking for not just coaching changes - but changes in the team's style of play.

Which would be nice.

Mike Tokito on Bernie Bickerstaff...

I remember discussing Bickerstaff with McMillan in Denver in 2007 when news broke that Bobcats team president Michael Jordan had informed Bickerstaff that he would not be back as coach the following season. That was the season Charlotte had taken Adam Morrison as the No. 3 pick but struggled through an injury-riddled season (although the Bobcats actually finished a game better than the Blazers at 33-49).

McMillan said that night that he remained close to Bickerstaff and admired the way the his players played.

"His record doesn't speak for that, but getting that team, getting those young guys to compete every night is the first challenge, and that was something he did," McMillan told me then. "It didn't always equal wins, but I think he set a standard for how they were going to play, their style of play."    

Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine has some, uh, interesting names for Nate McMillan to consider as replacement assistants...

BILL WALTON

While Walton has had back issues that have prevented him from being an announcer the past few years, and is unlikely to be able to travel with the team, Portland should bring him on in some role. He was the first face of the franchise and is one of the best players - if not the best - in franchise history. With Oden's career teetering on the edge of bust-status, Walton's presence and guidance for the third-year center could be invaluable. Walton can assume a role with the Blazers thatKareem Abdul-Jabbar has with the Lakers where he focuses solely on developing one player. The Blazers need Oden to become at least semi-productive in the next two years because Marcus Camby can't last forever, and the Blazers are also desperate for him not to be Sam Bowie 2.0. Walton can help prevent that from occurring.

CLYDE DREXLER

Drexler, like Walton, is one of the best players in Blazer history. While his only other coaching experience is coaching his alma mater (University of Houston) to a 19-37 record in two seasons, being an assistant coach is different. He can specialize in helping Brandon Roy develop into a truly top-tier talent, and him and Roy have some strikingly similar qualities: they both love to run and are incredibly athletic, and are also soft-spoken leaders on-and-off the court. As an assistant he could take Roy to the next level, help Jerryd Bayless continue to develop, and help bring the city of Portland a championship that they so badly deserve.

Nathan Begley of Portland Roundball Society sees Nate McMillan spreading his wings and consolidating power...

Now, this is just conjecture, but it seems to me that the addition of Bickerstaff, the addition of someone with a great deal of front office and personnel experience, is exactly the type of addition that a coach might make if he anticipated broadening his role. If Kevin Pritchard really is on his way out, perhaps Nate McMillan envisions stepping into Pritchard's shoes, taking on more of a Greg Popovich style role with more input on personnel decisions. Could this be the real reason behind McMillan's refusal to take a long term contract extension?

Brian T. Smith on Monty Williams fiercely defending his former boss...

"It bothered me when I heard some of the things I heard about Nate," said Williams, 38, who became the youngest head coach in the league when he took the Hornets job on Tuesday. "I've gotten into arguments with people who have had smart comments. And even some of (the Blazers), who have gotten a little out of line when they've had something to say about Nate."

Williams acknowledged that he was just as guilty when he first joined the Blazers, failing to grasp that McMillan's steely demeanor is based out of tough love, not anger.

Mike Barrett on Monty Williams schooling Joel Przybilla...

There are so many things Monty did during his time as a Blazer assistant that could be mentioned, but there's one thing that sticks out in my mind above all the rest. Four seasons ago he saw Joel Przybilla shoot 37% at the free throw line and decided he had seen enough. During the late part of the summer of 2007, Monty spent countless hours with Joel, rebuilding his foul shot, and his mental approach to free throws.

Przybilla had been a career 44% free-throw shooter before his work with Monty. He, like so many NBA big men, had struggled mightily from the stripe. To my knowledge, no one has been turned around as dramatically as Joel. Following the 06-07 season, when he shot 37% at the line, Williams somehow discovered a key. More impressively, he changed Joel's confidence at the line, along with his mechanics. Most importantly, he got Joel to buy in to what he was selling. That's always been Monty's greatest strength- communication, and building relationships.

The season after he shot 37%, Przybilla shot 68% at the line in 07-08. That's a crazy turnaround for an NBA center. Or, for anyone. And, he's maintained this level, shooting 66% two years ago, and 66% last season. Think coaching doesn't make a difference in the NBA?

Brian T. Smith issues a war cry for KP...

Do not give in. Do not give up.

If the Blazers are going to fire you, make them.

Do not resign. Do not sign anything. Do not walk away.

If you truly are gone - if the most damaging parts of the anonymous source-based, rumor-laced national reports predicting your imminent demise and destruction are true - then make them smoke you out.

SJ from Rip City Project on KP...

I have no idea how the Blazers could have botched this so bad. It smells like how the Bulls treated Vinny Del Negro without the story of Larry Miller and KP almost coming to blows. It's amazing how far this franchise has come...remember when the fans were for firing the GM and now the majority of them are fighting to keep him around. Let me get this out of the way, the whole thing does not make any sense to me. With all of the boneheaded GMs running around the NBA, why run off someone who is doing their job correctly? What's the justification for letting him go? Too many saavy moves? I'm not saying KP is perfect, but it's hard to argue that he has not done a phenomenal job building this team.

The worst part about all of it is how it has played out publicly. The melodrama has just been insane, about a gajillion times better than the final season of the Hills.

Coup from Rip CIty Project on LaMarcus Aldridge...

You can have your Rudy's, Jerryd's, Oden's and Martell's. For my money, LaMarcus Aldridge is the most polarizing Blazer, if only because there really is no consensus on the consistent power forward. Everyone seems to want something new and different from Aldridge, few seem satisfied with what he is right now, but fewer still can argue that he shouldn't be on the floor as much as possible.    

Tom Ziller wrote this draft limerick for the Blazers...

22. Portland Trail Blazers: Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

Previously: Kevin Seraphin

Limerick time (with bonus Emoticon)!

The Blazers? They would typically stash
a Euro, to save spots and some cash.
But the future's unmapped --
The G.M.: 
he's Pritchslapped!
Instead fans hope for a Paulie Smash.
:-(

Chad Ford ran down some "bust" characteristics last week.  You can guess what topped his list...

We are all still scratching our heads over the Blazers' confounding decision to take Bowie over Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft. But a close look at history tells us that GMs didn't learn their lesson from that mistake.

Big men have a huge advantage in the NBA draft. There are very few players 7 feet tall or taller who can actually play. Find one like Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal or Dwight Howard and he can dramatically turn around your franchise. But the litany of big man busts dramatically exceeds the big men that changed a team's fortunes for the better.

For every Shaq or even every Brook Lopez there are two or three guys like Michael Olowokandi, Shawn Bradley or Kwame Brown. Why?

"If you're going to make a mistake, make a big one," one NBA GM said. "I can almost always justify to my owner when I draft a big guy and it didn't pan out that it was worth the risk. But when you pass on a guy like Andrew Bynum and then he blows up, that can get you fired."    

Paul George makes Ryen Russillo's Top 10 most likely busts list...

George has been getting a lot of buzz, projecting as a 6-9 shooting guard. But against poor competition, George was invisible during stretches this season. He's inconsistent with his decision making. In transition he is impressive, but in the half court he takes a lot of bad shots and gets into trouble with some questionable drives. If a team takes him in the lottery, it will be passing on better players.

Poor Man's Commish on Golden State of Mind breaks down Portland's roster in a draft preview...

I'm not sure if I can call Fernandez a shooting guard and Webster a small forward, but that's how they're listed. Webster was draining threes on the Warriors when I covered that game back in January at the Rose Garden. In my book, that's a pretty capable shooting guard out there whose ceiling seems to be that of Jason Richardson.

Staying on the small forward tip, I continue to have my doubts about Batum until he can gain some more muscle mass. To me, a small forward doesn't necessarily think "shoot first" when he's near the arc, he can hit a midrange jumper, but most important, he can crash both ends on the boards and have enough strength to occasionally play the 4 if you are going small.

That being said, I think Portland is thin at small forward and maybe even power forward. HoopsHype has Cunningham, Pendergraph, and Mills with no salary data (someone help me out here) for 2010-11, so I'm assuming they can be dropped if they find better talent. And I think there is better talent in the Draft.

Sam Smith's dream world: LeBron for Oden.

How about this if you are the Cavs and going to lose James: You have Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson and Mo Williams. Maybe you get a package that includes Ohio State's Odom, the overall No. 1 pick a few years back whom every franchise was chasing, Rudy Fernandez and Nicholas Batum as part of a sign-and-trade. Then maybe you can acquire underachieving Mike Conley, Oden's buddy, from Memphis. I know Oden has been hurt a lot, but all accounts are he's recovering and last season Portland insiders were saying he was the best player on the team before going out. It could go a long way to making the Cavs whole, exciting and maybe just as competitive with potentially a great young center. And maybe Oden responds better back in Ohio with less pressure, though following LeBron won't be easy.

Quick Hits

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

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

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