Blazersedge Mailbag June 16th, 2010

Let's take a break (mostly) from the staffing shuffle and look at some more mailbag questions.  This almost catches me up with my mail!

Personally, i think The blazers sould  try trade up  in the draft  and pick up al farouq aminu. Sure, he's only 19 years old and has some holes in his game lack of a 3 point shot, kind of a tweener , brings alot of the same things to the table as current blazer nic batum etc... On the other hand  he has two things the blazers love in players come draft time. Length and potential along with  freakish athleticism.  Because of his youth and inexperience the blazers could bring him along slowly kind  of like they did with travis outlaw when he was first drafted. Thoughts?    

I like the guy.  The suggestion brings up a ton of philosophical questions though.  Al Farouq Aminu is projected to go quite high, as in single-digit spots.  The Blazers would have to offer a decent package to move up that far.  What would be worth that move?  A guy you love with the holes you mention looks pretty good in the teen picks.  But when you move up that far you expect to get exactly the guy you want for the price.  A tweener forward who has trouble shooting, dribbling, and hanging onto the ball and could take years to develop doesn't fit that bill.  Portland needs players who can contribute now.  They're already trying to develop Fernandez, Bayless, Batum, Cunningham, and in some ways Aldridge. If they do draft a project they don't want him to cost much...kind of like a free roll.  The Wake Forest phenom ain't that.

This is part of the reason I say seen boring draft days may actually be a positive sign somewhere along the line.  Portland may not get the best draft pick possible but they may not need (or want to pay for) the best draft pick possible.  Even if they could move up ultra high that wouldn't mean that they absolutely should.

In any case, the highest credible case I've heard made for a pick is Indiana at #10.  That wouldn't be enough to get Aminu unless he slips.

What do you think about going after Darren Collison?

Again, I like the guy.  He'd be an interesting fit here...maybe the best prospect among that class of "almost starters" we keep talking about.  The problem is that New Orleans knows it.  Just because they have Chris Paul doesn't mean they're willing to trade value without getting equal or better in return.  They're going to ask one of two things:

1.  Give us a hot, young prospect in return.  That Nicolas Batum guy looks pretty good.

2.  You can have him, but take some nasty contracts too.

I'd say no to #1 immediately.  The Blazers would say no to #2.  In my mind that makes the chances of getting Collison remote.  But I was wrong about what the Clippers would take for Marcus Camby, so you never know for sure.  If we'd take Emeka Okafor for some expiring (or shorter-term) contracts you never know...

I saw in the Full Court Press this week that Ira Winderman said, "I do think there is an outside chance the Heat makes a run at Greg Oden, or at least sees what the asking price would be."  Now while I love Oden and think that he has shown flashes of brilliance when he has been on the court the last two seasons, this quote intrigued me, to say the least.  Obviously, if Oden can stay healthy he will be a truly dominant player, but (as much as it hurts me to say this) that is a gigantic if.  Would the Blazersconsider moving Oden this off-season if it meant bring back proven pieces that could make an immediate impact?  Also, none of the Heat players (besides Wade, of course, who, in my opinion, is completely out of the question) really excite me, so are there other teams that could be interested in Oden or would there a potential three-way deal between the Blazers, Heat and another team that could net the Blazers an established player (or several) in return?  Or, is this question just completely stupid because Oden is, and will always be, a cornerstone of our franchise regardless of his on-court production because of the hype that has surrounded him since the Blazers drafted him?    

Miami doesn't have anyone who would make the Blazers think even once about a deal outside of Wade and there aren't any permutations that make that exchange work.  I don't think a third-party move would be in the offing either.  You remember how Woody Allen Groucho Marx said he wouldn't want to be in any club that would allow him as a member?  The rest of the league should take that view about trading for Oden as well.  If the Blazers are willing to deal Greg the potential trading partner should be wary.  It either means they think he'll never be healthy again or they think he can't become a championship player.  Assuming neither of those are true, nobody will offer as much in trade as Greg's potential is worth to Portland.  Even if you think Oden only has a 1 in 5 chance of bringing Portland a title that's still a chance at a title.  It's hard to make a trade that'll bring you that kind of opportunity, as other teams won't trade those players.  When you're talking about a rare seven-footer on top of that the chances become more remote.

I can't wait for the draft, this is the best time of year. Anyway, I think there are 2 or 3 PG's that the Blazers might be interested in (and two of them remind me a little of Coach Mcmillian).  What do you think of M. Torrance, Dominique Jones, and Armon Johnson?

LOL.  Good call on the "Find the Next Nate" thing.  Of the three I think Mikhail Torrance intrigues me most.  Ambidextrous, 6'5", can shoot a little, second-rounder...I can live with that.  Armon Johnson can't shoot from distance plus he's an iso player who has trouble defending.  Portland needs to strain all of those qualities out of the system.  Dominique Jones is more of a shooting guard but he's 6'4" and also has trouble shooting.  I don't like tweener backcourt prospects much.  He might be a first-rounder too, which means guaranteed contract.

I suggest having Greg come off the bench for the whole season regardless of how well he plays.  This way if/when that injury comes,  the players and fans don't get as deflated.  Also, his absence wouldn't mess with the starting line-up.  But here's the key: explain to Greg, his job for the 2010-2011 season is to win the 6th man of the year award.  Battling against 2nd string centers?  Hardly worrying about foul trouble?  AND getting some NBA hardware?  Sounds like a great plan for all!  But most importantly, this would get his confidence up while protecting the franchise from another meltdown we probably couldn't handle.  What are your thoughts?    

That won't be the plan coming out of the gate for a couple of reasons.  Starting positions and minutes are (at least in theory) earned instead of assigned.  If Oden is the best player, or at least the best fit, out there he should start.  If not he shouldn't.  Trying to mess with that order can fracture the team, especially since you're telling guys at other positions that earning spots is in their hands.  Second, the Blazers desperately need Greg to me more of a star and impact player, not less.  Plus Oden would be fielding questions at every road stop.  "Why are you not starting?  Do you consider that a disappointment since you were the #1 overall pick?"  Having it fall out that way naturally would be one thing.  But if it were pre-determined what is he going to say?  "This is what coach told me to do.  I don't know why I'm doing it.  Ask him."  That gets ugly fast.  Having said all of that, should Greg end up coming off the bench (during the early part of the season especially) I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world for the exact reason you mentioned.  Well, except the deflation thing.  I don't think the players get all that deflated.  It's hard when someone goes down but it's still their job and someone else has to step up.  You can't plan for failure or you're going to experience it.  You have to go into this season ready to squeeze everything possible out of Greg and let the chips fall where they may.  His play will tell you how much you can rely on him or not.

As for a future PG do you see my man Jerryd Bayless having the chance to run the offense in the near future? or do you think because he scores a lot of the time that Nate will just have him backup the SG spot behind Brandon and maybe look to add a future PG, thanks.

Jerryd's supporters and detractors both need the same quality:  patience.  Bayless got more opportunities this year than he did his rookie season.  I anticipate those opportunities will at least continue, if not increase, next season.  The only way that will change is if somebody outplays him for his position.  If by "having the chance to run the offense" you mean "starting" that's not in the cards as long as Andre Miller remains with the team next year.  That's not because Jerryd scores but because Miller is the superior NBA player right now and does more unconsciously as a point guard than Bayless has learned to do period.  But right now Jerryd is the clear backup point guard and should have the chance to increase those minutes along with a few at SG.  His time on the floor depends on the same things it always has:  play in the flow, make your open shots, learn to be selectively aggressive, defend.  Again, Jerryd showed improvement in at least three of those four areas last year.  If he continues that you don't have to worry about him.  Just don't expect the moon when we're barely clearing the atmosphere.

I read Blazersedge every day, but this is my first contact. I am very happy for Monty--I think it's wonderful that Nate's crew gets this kind of attention. But it raises a question: why Monty, and why not Dean? The write-up on Monty in the press releases paints a thin picture--his claim to fame is that he helped to develop Outlaw and Batum, which is great, but that seems light to the untrained eye. I mean, Thibodeau is not only a lead assistant, but is known to be responsible for Boston's defensive scheme, right? So what is the buzz around Monty that gets him not only a look (over Dean), but a job?  

Dean Demopolous has a good basketball mind and is a good teacher but most people feel that Monty is a five-tool coach:  X's and O's, player development, good communicator, confidence, and ability to bring people together.  That's not to say Dean couldn't, but Monty had the chance to show those clearly and stepped up.  Add in that Monty is a hell of a nice guy and well-respected by everyone who knows him and you can see why he got a job.

What do you think of the coaching shake-up?

I think Ben covered it really well.  I will only add a couple things.  First I want to affirm the role of Monty Williams in all of this.  He was a central hub on the staff, connecting most of the players and coaches.  While he was the glue, everyone fit.  When he left some re-examination was natural.  The instability at General Manager might also factor in here.  Second, Nate McMillan is facing what amounts to a must-win season this year.  If the team does not make it past the first round of the playoffs he's likely to be called to task if not outright fired.  Were I in that situation I would feel completely justified making any changes I felt necessary.  If you're going to fire me you're going to fire me on my own terms, having taken exactly the shot I wanted.  The Blazers lose X's and O's in this exchange.  Right now that responsibility rests on Nate.  Perhaps that's where it should be, as a reckoning will come one way or the other.  This much turnover is surprising but then again it might be the shake-up the team needs.  As Casey and I mentioned in the last podcast, many of these players have heard the same voices their entire careers.  A fresh perspective or two might be in order.  That said, I liked Coach Demopolous and I respected what little I saw of Coach Prunty so I'm sad to see them go.

My question is about sports journalism in today's age, framed around what happened or is happening with KP.  Why is it that no one in the industry has been able to "break" the story on what really happened?  To throw out my $0.02, I think journalism has changed radically, with much good but more worse.  There's more play in reporting the swirl than getting the goods, and most news mediums encourage this.  Where are the investigators with groomed sources and a passion for the truth.  Present are the days of "ireporters" with their low res snapshots of history without context.  I have to believe someone in the NBA outside the Blazers immediate control knows what happened if, properly cultivated, would leak the story.  Someone just needs to go get it.    

It's a complex question.  First off, I agree that the media leans far too much on controversy than substance nowadays.  We drink in the reaction to the story more than the story itself, perhaps an inevitable by-product of judging success by papers sold or hits registered.  Society as a whole has become more dramatic that it once was (witness the popularity of Reality TV!) and the media has followed that trend.

However the issue in cases like this isn't just societal, it's practical.  Multiple people have views on what's going on.  All of them have some authority.  Question #1:  Which of them do you believe?  Question #2:  Which of them can you get to go on record?  The first question is tricky because much of what goes on happens behind closed doors via interpersonal relationships.  What kind of story could we get on the argument you and your wife had last night?  We might be able to get your perspective and hers but each is biased towards a certain view.  Then you have the next door neighbor who overheard the argument, each of your parents, your kids, the dog.  All of them bring truth but none of them have THE truth.  In the end the truth comes out more in the facts of what happened rather than the reasons why, which we sometimes never know.  The second question is even trickier.  Your mom may know exactly what's going on between you and your wife and she may even whisper it to me over properly cultivated tea but she's going to balk big-time when I ask her to put her name behind it in public, precisely because you're going to read it.  This has become so prevalent that most sports media outlets will go ahead and run with "an unnamed source says" or "an Eastern Conference GM told us".  That's one thing when you're talking about trade rumors, but when you're talking about relationships, lives, careers, and he-said/she-said things that have multiple points of view at some point you are doing a disservice printing material that nobody will stand behind.  It stops being news and starts being gossip...that same kind of drama we just lamented.  To me, anyway, there's something demeaning about treating KP like Snookie and Paul Allen like "The Situation" (or whatever the heck the names are).  You lose something there.  We do follow up on what other sources say, trying to make sure the accurate (or at least well-analyzed) story is out there even if we wouldn't have printed that material originally ourselves.  But as far as throwing out whispered asides or rumors, in a situation like this unless someone will go on record we generally won't run with it.

Thanks for all the questions!  You can submit yours to blazersub@yahoo.com.  Please include "Mailbag" somewhere in the subject line to make it easy for me!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com) 

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