FanPost

Joel Freeland's season is over - next step?

Joel Freeland's Unicaja Malaga team had a season uncannily like Portland's. It started with such promise: they led the league after the first few games and Freeland was MVP of the first month:

But then it all went to hell. They won just enough games to get to the round of 16 in the Euroleague, then lost EVERY GAME, and then the losing carried over into the ACB (Spanish League). They plummeted down the standings to the bottom half, and Freeland lost both his lead in the ACB rankings and his starting position. They fired their coach, got a brief bump (like Portland winning their first game under Kanales) then continued to lose. Ironically, they just hit a run of good form, with Freeland playing well and the team winning games against higher ranked oponents, but it was not enough. They finished 9th in the standings, just out of the playoffs. This was disastrous for one of the big-spending teams who should not only be in the playoffs, but in the top half.

BUT: this could be good news for Portland. It seemed clear to me that Freeland was being misused. They had some gunners on that team and all-too-often he was being frozen out. Could this be the bump he needs to come over, finally? The other possibility is that he moves to a bigger, better club. Barcelona made a run at him last season but he stayed with Unicaja. Would they try again? Would he say yes? The downside to that is that they have a trio of fixtures in the frontcourt in Erazem Lorbek, Fran Vazquez and Boniface Ndong, and it might permanently trash his chances of playing in the NBA if he was stuck behind them. Buchanan has said of Freeland and Claver (whose team has played well and is in the playoffs) that “We haven’t ruled out having both of them come over”. I wonder whether the status of JJ Hickson will affect Freeland's decision? A lot depends on whether Freeland will play C. I don't think he's really cut out for it, as he's smaller than Aldridge. If not, he and Hickson would be competing for minutes.

Next thing for Freeland is the London Olympics. Looks like his teammate, Luol Deng, will be available sooner than he might've thought.

(Unrelated note: Rudy Fernandez was in the crowd to watch Real Madrid play this weekend. NOT to watch the Denver Nuggets...)

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