From time to time, Blazer's Edge likes to promote fanposts because they're interesting, insightful, or funny. This one is a bit of everything. And it seems perfect for this weekend, the calm before the draft storm. I expect to see a verdict! -- Tim
Ladies and Gentlemen of Blazersedge!!!
Welcome to the inaugural installment of Blazersedge Court, where a topic is presented and debated in the comments section so that we can achieve SWEET SWEET CLOSURE. I mean, does it bother anyone else when a falsity is perpetuated in perpetuity? Perpetuity people!! Well today we take a step towards justice.
Today's case: THE LEGEND OF THE MISSING MANIMAL
A little background:
Nolan Smith is terrible. Kenneth Faried is good. We had the #21 pick in the 2011 NBA draft. We selected Nolan Smith. Kenneth Faried was drafted 22nd by Denver. Faried was projected to go anywhere in the 15-22 range but skewed more towards 15-20. Nolan was projected as a 2nd rounder (maybe late first, I'm doing this off the top of my head and the bias is heavy at this point). The same offseason we traded Andre Miller for Raymond Felton (disregarding the other pieces). It has been speculated that our selection of Nolan Smith, or more importantly our passing on Kenneth Faried, was part of this deal.
How big has the myth become?
On 1080 the Fan's Buffalo Wild Wings Gamenight with Danforth, Dirt Johnson, and Brandon Sprague, it was presented as FACT that the Faried/Nolan arrangement was part of the Miller/Felton deal.
When challenged on this assertion, vague references to "sources" and "a quote by Faried" were made. When pressed, the sources were flimsy and conjectural at best and the quote entirely misconstrued. In fact, the exact quote that was referenced is from the following SLAM Online story.
I PRESENT TO YOU EXHIBIT: THE ONLY EXHIBIT I NEED
Per the Oregonian: "Faried said the Blazers told him he was their pick. But when the Blazers came up at No. 21, they surprised many by drafting point guard Nolan Smith out of Duke. Faried went next, at No. 22, to Denver. How does Faried feel about the Blazers? ‘I ain’t going to lie to you: I don’t like them,’ Faried said. ‘I think it’s disrespectful what they did, got my hopes up for nothing. Every time we play them, it’s a little extra motivation for me to come out and show them what they missed.’
‘They said if I was there at 21, they would draft me. They said they were hoping I was there,’ Faried said. ‘But when the time came around … I mean, their front office and coaches decided to go the opposite way. I just took it as extra motivation. I remember saying, ‘If they don’t want to draft me, that’s their loss.’
After the draft, Buchanan explained the passing on Faried by saying the Blazers were looking to fill two needs that summer: a long-term solution at point guard and frontcourt depth. He said the team liked Faried, but decided the best plan of attack was to address their frontcourt needs in free agency while solving the point guard future by trading for Raymond Felton and drafting Smith. Later, the team signed free agents Kurt Thomas and Craig Smith to play power forward. Needless to say, it was a monumental lack of judgment. A colossal whiff. In Denver, word is the Nuggets practically fell out of their chairs when the Blazers’ selection of Smith was announced. The Nuggets immediately put in their selection of Faried, bypassing the allotted five minutes to make their selection."
So let's break it down bullet point style:
- Kenneth Faried says the Blazers told him he was going to be their pick:
The implications here are that the Blazers wanted Faried, so it stands to reason that outside factors (the Miller-Felton deal) prevented them from doing so. Were this the only implication of the piece maybe this would be fuzzier.
- We have justification from the Blazers Front Office on how they out-thought the room and themselves to their own detriment:
Hmm...Faried in the draft and a guard in FA or Smith in the draft plus Kurt Thomas and Craig Smith? LET ME THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE. Boneheadedness aside, the Blazers FO felt that this was the most prudent course of action given the options on the table.
We have to ask if this were part of the Miller-Felton deal, why keep it under the table? Why not swap picks? Why not make it known? Why be so painfully dumb?
This one's a biggy...
- WE HAVE REPORTS FROM DENVER OF SHOCK IN THE WAR ROOM!
Not only did the Nuggets' decision makers not use the full allotted time to make a selection, reports are that they PRACTICALLY FELL OUT OF THEIR CHAIRS WHEN THE BLAZERS SELECTED NOLAN SMITH!! Now I ask you fair people, is that the appropriate reaction for a group of people that just swung a deal to land that player? THE PLAYER THEY ARE SHOCKED TO LAND???
I say NAY! NEIGH!!! NO! NEIN! ("Neigh means 'no' in horse, it also means many other things)
So why Nolan Smith?
Well, aside from thinking that they could better address their lack of big man depth in free agency (I KNOW A GUY WHO WAS AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT THAT MAY HAVE MORE IMPACT THAN CRAIG SMITH AND KURT THOMAS YOU GUYS) it is reasonable to ascertain that Nate McMillan's connection to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski via team USA may have influenced the Blazers' confidence in Smith as an NBA prospect and combo guard.
Why do you care so much?
Because just like the Denver FO, I nearly fell out of my dang chair when Faried fell to us. He was the pre-draft consensus based on need and range and BPA and every factor you could imagine. He was the most prolific rebounder in NCAA history. He fit the culture. He brought grit and energy. HE CAN SCRAP NATE!
Watching them bungle the pick and take Nolan (I'm a Duke fan btw) was like a punch to the gut.
Well at least we got Lillard for sucking so bad
Except we got Lillard with the pick we received in the Gerald Wallace trade, so the events are mutually exclusive. There's no reason to think we couldn't have both Faried AND Lillard on this roster right now and under rookie contracts.
But if we had Manimal maybe we keep Crash?
Doubtful. Batum still needed a starter slot to open, Crash was still going downhill fast and played on the road that season like he had never seen a basketball before, the Nets still overvalued the hell out of him. The trade still makes sense even with Faried bolstering the bench.
So there, I got it all out of my system. Now I can just link to this fanpost when someone brings up the myth.
So what say you Blazersedge? Does anyone dare make the case that it was in fact part of the deal? Does any evidence whatsoever even exist in support of that position, outside of our stated desire to draft Faried and the awfulness of Nolan Smith?
Don't let Buchanan off the hook. Don't pervert history and perpetuate an unfounded myth. This was a horrible draft pick, a horrible decision, and was not part of a horrible trade.
Edit: "But Sam, this is hardly two equally presented sides of a case!" That's true, consider this a summary judgment. Or even better, if you disagree, state your case in the comments! Refute me!