Blazer Chatter: Does Sloan's Departure Make a Difference to Portland?

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With yesterday's news about Jerry Sloan's abrupt departure from the Jazz fresh in our minds, we should chat for a little bit.  Does this minor Western earthquake affect the Blazers at all?  If so, how?

Utah is currently second in the Northwest Division with a record of 31-23.  The Blazers sit fourth at 28-24.  Denver is nestled right behind the Jazz at 30-23.  The Jazz have lost their coach.  The Nuggets may lose their star player.  How wide open is the door for Portland to move up?

I have a couple thoughts.  I believe that in the long run, which may include April and May, Sloan's absence will hurt the Jazz.  They've run so long on discipline that has been Sloan's alone.  Tyrone Corbin may be a great coach but the transition alone will be a major shift.  That can't be good as you're setting sights on the playoffs.  On the other hand, any change can only be considered incremental when Oklahoma City is out ahead of the rest of the division and shows no signs of falling apart.  There's a fairly bright line between the top four teams in the West and everybody else.  Utah was already on Portland's side of the line.  Still, there's some hope in drawing the relatively inexperienced Thunder.  As has been true the last couple of years you'll barely be able to slip a business card between the bulk of the seeds in the West.  Anything that tips the balance even slightly could be important.

What say you?  Should Blazer fans greet this news with joy or is it a shrug-worthy event from the selfish Portland perspective?  Weigh in below.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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