Full Court Press

Couldn't be more excited to start this week.  Even if there's been a slower-than-usual ramp up to the draft this year, the NBA landscape will shift significantly on Thursday.  Can't wait.

I discussed the draft, this year's one-and-done crop, trade possibilities, Kevin Pritchard, replacing Kevin Pritchard, John Wall and more on The MSP this morning. Listen here. Segment starts at the 5 minute mark.

The Blazers final pre-draft workout this morning: Armon Johnson (Nevada), Mac Koshwal (DePaul); Chris Kramer (Purdue), Art Parakhouski (Radford) and Nik Raivio (Portland) will be in attendance. Check back this afternoon for the draft prospect board. 

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

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Blazers Extend Scouts | Summer League Roster | Tough To Move Up | B. Roy Radio Interview | Monty's Staff Search

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Also, the Blazers Mock Draft Table was updated over the weekend.

Click through for all sorts of fun reads: LeBron to Portland underwhelms, Greg Oden as cautionary tale for DeMarcus Cousins, Oden rehab updates, a to-and-fro regarding Kevin Pritchard's replacements, another look at how Blazers use Synergy Sports, some lessons from the NBA Finals, a self-examination from a Laker Hater, KP2 wins a silver medal and a bunch of really solid draft links. Good times.  

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

Tyson Alger: The "LeBron to Portland" rally was underwhelming...

The rain did not deter more than a dozen Trail Blazers fans from gathering outside the Rose Garden on Sunday evening in hopes of luring LeBron James to Portland. 
...

"It's a little bit lower than expected," Chitsazan said. "We scheduled it long enough in advance that we didn't realize it was Father's Day."  

Which is welcome news for Ezra Caraeff at the Portland Mercurywho hated the idea...

Clearly the Blazers have real problems and lack the salary cap room it takes to sign the most expensive athlete on the planet, but don't let logic or reason stand in the way-LET'S HOLD A RALLY TO GET LEBRON TO PORTLAND!!!!

Now armed with a permit, this myopic group of well-meaning, but absolutely pathetic, Blazers fans will now embarrass Portland just like similar desperate acts-thisthisthis,this, and especially this-have shamed other cities.

Henry Abbott on DeMarcus Cousins with some thoughts on Greg Oden...

When I interviewed Greg Oden a few weeks ago, I asked him who his NBA mentor was. Player, coach ... anybody he turns to for guidance in the way the NBA works on and off the court. The Blazers have spent all kinds of money keeping gifted staffers around Oden. Assistant coach Bill Bayno spent all of last summer in the Midwest to be with Oden. Even now Oden's with the trainer and strength people every day. And we all love the idea that Marcus Camby or an agent or somebody would take Oden under his wing and show him the ropes. 

But Oden said there was nobody. He could not name one person in his life that he really thought of as a day-to-day NBA mentor. That may be no crisis. But it's hard to think one could get from point A to point B in an NBA career as fast as possible without some guidance that you take to heart. And I suspect Oden's situation is typical.     

Kerry Eggers asks Blazers strength coach Bobby Medina about Greg Oden...

"He is walking on the treadmill and lifting," Medina says of the 7-foot center. "We're trying to keep his body weight down. I'd say he's in the 280s right now. That's great."

Oden will begin to run in July, and the hope is he will gradually ramp up his activity so he can begin playing basketball in September and be fully ready for the start of training camp in October.

"Greg's in a really good frame of mind," Medina says. "He's more focused than I've ever seen him. He wants to take care of his body, wants to do the right thing, to put himself in good situations.

Marc Spears on Greg Oden...

"I'm 100 percent confident that there will be no setbacks and I will be ready to play ball. Mentally, it's still tough, especially as the summer goes on and I'm watching the Finals. But I'm not down on myself or doubting myself. I'm going to have a good summer and be back."

Prodded by his agent, Oden recently met with a nutritionist in Los Angeles to improve his diet. He also has tried to improve his mental outlook after playing in just 82 of a possible 246 games in his first three seasons because of injuries.

"I'm being open-minded to a lot more things," said Oden, who is eligible for a contract extension this summer. "I've got to stop being stubborn. There are a lot of things I've tried and I keep getting injured."

John Canzano writes that after the Blazers fire Kevin Pritchard they might as well just fold the franchise...

Still, it's not Pritchard I feel sorry for today. Rather, it's the Blazers. Because I left that conversation with Pritchard, one in which he talked so honestly about his impending doom, understanding that the Blazers are going to have a deep and troubling problem once they cut him loose. 

It's this: Nobody of quality is going to take the job.     

Dwight Jaynes reacts...

I've got news for you... it's a good young roster, an owner willing to spend money to win and a job that will pay big bucks. There will be people out there - good people - who would take the job.

...

Look, I'm not a fan of a management style where people are left to hang without a clue about their future. But at the same time, when they continue to get paid and they're earning several hundred thousand dollars a year for it, I make it a practice not to pity them.

And I certainly think it's possible to find a replacement for just about anyone with this franchise - other than the owner. THAT would worry me much more than finding another general manager.

Kerry Eggers sees some buck-passing between Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan...

I found it interesting that, when I asked Pritchard about a timetable for hiring new assistant coaches, he said, "You'll have to ask Nate."

What, a general manager isn't in on an important matter such as that?

When I asked McMillan, he said he'd like to have new coaches in place by early July, before he departs for his role as an assistant coach with the U.S. team that will compete in the World Champions late this summer.

Is it up to McMillan to decide the number of assistants that can be hired?

"Not really," he said. "It depends on what Kevin and Mr. Allen say I can bring on board."

Joe Freeman explores what role film analysis and Synergy Sports play in Portland...

"I like to watch a lot of film -- film doesn't lie," McMillan said. "You can blame things on coaches and you can blame things on teammates and you can blame things on whatever. But that film doesn't lie about what you look like out on that floor. So it's an opportunity to study yourself as well as your opponents and your team and get a feel for how you can help and be better out on the floor. Because that film is showing exactly what you're doing, exactly what teams are doing to you and exactly what you need to do to improve."

Brian T. Smith asks a few agents about the draft workout process...

"When you look at Portland's roster, if you're a wing player, they've got four or five wings. If you're a big guy, they've got three centers," said agent Bill Duffy, who represents Blazers center Joel Przybilla. "You have to be a student analyzing the composition of the roster, before you allow your guy to go in there. Because a lot of times teams say, ‘We're going to draft the best player.' Well, for us, that best player might be the third guy on your depth chart when he gets to your team."

SJ from Rip City Project says draft a center...

Drafting a center is a different equation, one that makes much more sense. Drafting a big man would make sense, to groom him for when Marcus Camby hangs his backward high fives up. With the future of Joel Przybilla up in the air, going in that direction seems smart.    

Coup from Rip City Project hopes that LaMarcus Aldridge was watching Pau Gasol's NBA Finals performance.

But the difference last night was Pau Gasol, and you hope LaMarcus Aldridge was watching. The relentless work on the glass, the following up of ugly, weak-looking misses with ugly, strong-looking makes. The fights Gasol made just to get position, and then to earn his way into the paint. Those are things Aldridge needs to do, and can do, just as Gasol folded two years ago and improved, mentally, after it.

Nathan Begley at Portland Roundball Society says the lesson from the Finals was rebounding...

The takeaway from last night's festivities for Blazer fans is that dominant rebounding can cover a multitude of sins. Should Portland's bigs get healthy, a rotation of Greg Oden, Marcus Camby, and (possibly) Joel Przybilla has the glass cleaning skills to hang with the toughest of foes. Personally, I like the idea of only giving the ball to the other team after a made basket.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles TimesSteve Blake, Laker?

The Lakers probably won't bring back Mbenga, Morrison and Powell, the NBA executive said.

The Lakers will look at free-agent point guards Steve Blake, Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, the executive added.    

Seth Johnston at BustaBucket.com explores Laker Hating...

Our Laker hate has to be built on envy. No other explanation makes sense. Not the rivalry one. Not the Lakers fans suck one. Not even the "Lakers are arrogant jerk whiners" one. This team is so arrogant that they bust their collective [expletive] to defeat the competition and win titles? They're jerks? Every team has jerks and "good guys," even your beloved Portland Trailblazers. If you hate teams based on your disapproving judgments of their character I assume you hate the Blazers forever for the Jailblazers era. And every NBA team whines constantly. Every single one.

Some of my criticisms of Laker hate are rooted in my own insecurities. If I went along with the concept, which is built on envy, then I admit to being jealous of the Lakers. My jealously is an admission that they are a better team and franchise than the one I devote so much of my time to. The more enthusiastic the envy, the greater the disparity. My pride can't allow this type of admission.

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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