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November 9th Quick Chat Review

Our weekly review of Oregonian beat writer Jason Quick's podcast, available here.

Q:  What are the top stories of the week?

A:  Darius Miles is finally going to have surgery, Nate will be out Friday because of a death in the family, Brandon Roy will practice tomorrow but it doesn't sound good for Friday.

It's kind of funny how we're conditioned to think.  The real top stories of the week are that we beat the Timberwolves and the freakin' Lakers (along with the Roy thing...and it's not like the other stories weren't important).  But we automatically jump to off-the-court stuff in our minds.  It's like we say, "OK, I saw the on-the-floor product, but tell me what's really going on with the Blazers!

Q:  What are the details of Darius' surgery?

A:  He'll have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday.  He's pretty much out indefinitely.  It's the same knee as before.  There's loose cartilage.  They're going to look at it and there's a possibility that microfracture surgery could be performed if it's bad enough.  He could be out 6-10 weeks or it could be for the entire year.  If he's out more than 41 games every the team collects 80% of his salary from insurance for every game past the 41st.  His full salary still counts against the cap though.

Wouldn't that be a little scary as a professional athlete, going into surgery not knowing whether it was a relatively benign scope or a procedure that could change your entire career?  I assume he agrees to either before it starts though.  The financial relief is better for the team's bottom line but won't affect the on-court stuff too much.

Q:  If it's microfracture surgery what does future hold for Darius?

A:  Some people have had careers ruined, some have come back but been hobbled, others have come back and been people fine.  I don't have confidence in Darius to rehab or come back from that kind of thing though.  He hasn't shown the love for the game, passion, or work ethic.  This could be the end of his career if he's not willing to do the work.  It all depends on Darius though.  Maybe seeing this young, upstart team will spark something in him.  At least now we have a diagnosis and clear steps of action.

We mentioned something similar here last week.  I hope we're selling Miles a little short though.  This could also be somewhat of a turn-around in his attitude.  Everything so far has come rather easily to him, it seems.  If he does decide to work through this maybe the dedication required will change him around.

Q:  The Brandon Roy injury is scaring a lot of people.  Will an orthotic soothe the pain?

A:  He's getting a cortizone shot to ease the pain.  He has no trouble walking, but running and jumping hurts.  It doesn't sound like a quick healing thing.  The Blazers have said they want to err on the side of caution.  To me that should be doubly true in Roy's case, even if he has to miss 10 games.  He's so special you have to be careful with him and not get greedy.  Make sure he's 100% before you play him.

Q:  Is that the sense you get from the Blazers, that they're taking the long-term view?

A:  Yes, but it's tough because they have to take the player's word for how bad it is.  Brandon might want to play when he shouldn't.  The team has to discern and weigh the evidence.  He's a franchise guy.  They can't ruin him.

Amen, brother.  I suspect all of Blazer Nation echoes that sentiment.

Q:  Updates on Lamarcus Aldridge?

A:  He is going to play next week.  He practiced today.  I'm excited about him.  He looks good.  He's fluid, coordinated, and has a few moves.  He will help this team.  I haven't ever seen him before.  He has a turn-around move, an outside shot, he's fluid and coordinated.  I hope people notice that.  This should add intrigue to next week's road trip.  Nate just wants to get a few more practices under his belt before he puts him in.

Evidently Jason Quick has been slacking in his Blazersedge reading.  If he had kept up to date he would have seen the words "smooth" and "fluid" appearing prominently in both our Summer League review (back at Blazer Thoughts) and our season preview on Lamarcus Aldridge.

Q:  Is he in game shape?

A:  Yes, he kept himself in shape.  Nate is impressed.  He's a really hard worker.

This is good, good, good news.  If Nate is impressed with a guy's work ethic it must be excellent.  That kind of thing is contagious and the team seems to already have the flu.  He'll fit right in.

Q:  Will Joel Przybilla be ready to go soon?

A:  He probably won't make the road trip.  He's not doing well in affected area.  There's still swelling and discoloration.

On behalf of all the men in the audience...  :::wince!:::

Q:  Is Raef out indefinitely?

A:  10 days to 2 weeks.

It's really too bad for Raef that his injury was timed this way.  He probably would have been used a bit in Magloire's and Outlaw's spots.  With the effect Martell has spreading the floor with the threat of his shooting you'd like to see a little bit of what Raef can do.  (And don't think the threat of jumpers from all the guards hasn't contributed to the success of our post players either.)

Q:  Zach Randolph playing out of his head.  Have you seen a difference in his off-court/practice mentality?

A:  To a degree.  The whole team has a new approach to practice...more businesslike, focused.  They had the best NBA practice I've ever seen in Oakland last week.  They display energy, they talk, it's good basketball.  This was rare last year, a constant problem.  Nate rarely yells this year.  Last year practices were a series of constant tirades.  Zach has been part of the changing culture.  He leads them in practice.

If Zach isn't the NBA player of the week something is wrong.  He's putting up ridiculous stats.  His conditioning is better.  His commitment to going in the post is stronger.  Last year all those jumpers were frustrating to everyone who watched him.  This year he's an unstoppable force inside.  Even the ugly shots go in.  The Blazers will keep going to that.  Nobody can guard him 1-on-1.  He continues to develop his passing out of the double team.  Nate wants him to pass sooner yet, but he's getting there.  He's had an enormous start to the season.  One key is that Zach is using his right hand more.  Credit Bill Bayno, who worked with him over the summer.  Using both hands makes him so much more dangerous.  People can't sit on left hand so much.

One thing that is going under-recognized is that Zach is putting more effort into his defensive and rebounding positioning this year, especially in the wins.  He's standing still a lot less than he did last year.  He's not a great defender but when he at least holds his own man and grabs some boards it really helps.  Again you can credit the guards for taking some of the pressure off with their own defense.  They make it easier on him.

>>Kevin Cosgrove comes in to predict Blazers make the playoffs.  And says goodbye, since he's leaving.<<

Awwww...If we have to lose the British accent guy, can Casey at least fake an Indian accent or something?

Q:  What's happening with Sergio?  Will he get a look or be a bench warmer?

A:  He's a D-League guy.  That hasn't started yet, so he's still with the team.  Nate has said he won't get much time.  The only chance of him playing is if Roy's injury is chronic.  Dickau isn't getting many minutes now because of Roy's play and Sergio is behind Dickau.

Pretty benign, but also shows the danger in believing some of the pre-season hype.  Again, this guy didn't start for his own teams in lesser leagues.  He may be good someday but you may expect he'll need a LOT of work.

Q:  Is Webster's back at 100%?  He seems tentative.  

A:  Martell's back is no longer an issue.  His defense is.  Until he starts playing better defense he won't see extended minutes.  There's not much wrong with his offense.  He's 19 and will have ebbs and flows.  He has a great stroke, he can get to the rim.  Other than the need to make more of his free throws his offense is fine.  He could still be a great one.  There's no concern for him, mostly encouragement.

Other than noticing his lack of foot movement on defense, I've not seen too much from Martell this year that I've been disappointed with.  Maybe he could rebound a little harder and keep his head in the game a little more, but the guy is still, what, 19?  He needs another year in the oven.  And as I said above, I'm plenty pleased with his outside shooting keeping the floor spread.  As long as he keeps his chin up, doesn't get disillusioned, and continues working hard he'll be fine.  The fact that he doesn't need to be our savior and can come along at a reduced pace with appropriate minutes is actually encouraging.

Q:  Is Jarrett Jack improving?

A:  I hope people notice that he is racking up a ton of steals.  His turnovers are a concern.  They've got to be cut down.  He's picking up his dribble too often and too early not knowing what he's going to do with it.  He needs more confidence in his ball-handling.  His numbers are pretty good.  He's only a second year player.  Part of Zach's success can be attributed to Jarrett because unlike Telfair he's good at making entry passes into the post.  The Blazers run the two-man game with him and Zach a lot.

The silver linings to Jarrett's turnovers are two:  they're errors of commission, not omission and they're the carry/travel take-it-out-of-bounds kind and not the toss it/lose it here's-your-fast-break kind.  These will be fixed relatively soon and will only do moderate damage in the meantime.

Again, when Quick says, "I hope people notice he's racking up a ton of steals" he obviously has been delinquent in his Blazersedge reading.  Must be all the road travel.

He made a very good call on the post entry passing.  I hadn't really noticed that as much. I guess it's one of those things you take for granted when it goes right.  But it didn't go right much of last year and you sure noticed it then!   I like the two-man game when the passer cuts after the first or second pass.  It dies on the vine when everybody stands still though.

Q:  Ime isn't putting up huge numbers but he's getting a lot of rebounds, especially offensive rebounds.

A:  He's smart, heady, and always in the right place.  He's guarded Lamar Odom (11pts)  Trenton Hassell (5 pts), and Jason Richardson (8 pts).  He plays defense.  He's not a highlight reel guy.  He just does all the right things.  He's a clutch defender.

I could not have said it better myself.  I love Ime's game even when he doesn't score.  His rebounding is very good too.

Q:  Will Stephen Graham catch on?

A:  I think this kid can play.  He has a great body.  He's fearless attacking the rim.  His gutsy 3-pointer against the Lakers sealed the game.  He had a bad game against Clippers though.  He was trying to do too much.  Nate wanted him to play more within himself.  He responded against the Lakers.

I'll admit that so far I've been wrong on this one.  I still don't know if he lasts for the season but he's had a few very good games.  If he got really active on defense he just might carve a niche on this team, at least until Martell rounds into defensive shape.

By the way, the Rose Garden is rocking like it was 3-4 years ago.  There's a buzz in the place.  The team deserves it.  They're an overachieving, hard trying, character kind of bunch and they're giving people hope.  It's everything this town has asked for.  Here we see how good Nate McMillan is.  Despite the optimism, the team is overmatched in talent every game.  And now they're overmatched in numbers too because of injury.  But they've been in every game and won a few.  That speaks well of Nate.

Good assessment of the team.  I imagine I'll find a way to attend one or two games at the Rose Garden this season, even though I have to travel to do it.  I hope that spirit and energy are still present then.

Q:  Looking forward to anything in Friday's game?

A:  I'm looking forward to the point guard matchup:  Chris Paul vs. Jarrett Jack.  They layed against each other in ACC.  Jack dominated Paul in college big time.  In four head-to-head games Paul went 1 for 6, 1 for 6, 2 for 11, and 4 for 11 while Jack scored 23, 23, 21, and 7.  They've become best friends and their families hang out together, so it's an interesting story.

That indeed will be the matchup of the evening.  I did not know Jack used up Paul like that in college.  It'll be interesting to see how they stack up in the pro game.  I like both of their games very much.

--Dave (