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Quick/Patterson Chat Review: December 7th

This is our weekly review of OregonLive's chat with Blazer beat writer Jason Quick and Team President/General Manager Steve Patterson.  It is a general summary of the questions and answers with a few of my thoughts thrown in besides.  The entire chat can be found here.

Jason Quick starts us off...

Q:  Any new news from practice?

A:  Zach has knee tendonitis in his right knee.  It's not related to his surgery.  Nate will be monitoring his minutes and practices.  Half the time Zach doesn't practice anyway to make sure he lasts the season.  He complained about the knee again last night.  Nate says it's just at the monitoring stage.  This is nothing new or different from other NBA players who play large minutes.  It's an indication of wear and tear.  They're sensitive but confident that it has nothing to do with the microfracture surgery.

It's hard to piece out what this really means.  On the one hand it seems to be affecting things...Zach's attitude if nothing else.  On the other hand everybody is saying this is pretty much par for the course for many NBA athletes.  Your guess is as good as mine what the long-term outcome will be.

Q:  Was Zach being held out at the beginning of 4th quarter last night an example of his minutes being limited or was Nate upset with him?

A:  No, Nate uses that as a pattern to rest Zach for the stretch run each game.

Also early in the second quarter usually.

Q:  In your game report today it sounded like Nate was beside himself last night.  What was the mentality today for him and the team?

A:  Nate was irritated and disappointed last night.  The Blazers should have won.  They squandered a great start.  It was an upbeat practice today though.  Nate gave them a light workout.  He's trying to accentuate the positive as much as he can.  He couldn't believe that Zach's last shot against Milwaukee didn't go in.  He was impressed by Zach's passing out of double teams early and the team's defense early on in that game.  It didn't last though.  Nate was upset with Zach's defense and Joel getting mouthy with an official later on.  It would have been an uplifting win and they should have been 2-0.

Nate is probably right to keep things upbeat.  For one thing nobody expected them even to be 1-1 at this point, and if they did expect it they certainly wouldn't have called the win against the Pistons.  For another thing a young team will just plain do that to you.  They'll look like playoff contenders for 12 minutes and then like very flexible spelunkers the next 12.  This is why Nate will need a lot less antacid a couple years from now no matter what happens.

Q:  Have you had any discussions with Juan Dixon lately?

A:  Juan came out during 4th quarter of last night's game and said, "Man I am struggling."  He's upset.  He'll keep shooting though because that's what you have to do.  And Nate has to keep going to him because there are no other options.  He's a streak shooter so he could hit a bunch of shots in a row.  The Blazers haven't had a bona fide shooter since Steve Smith.  Martell is starting to show signs of being that guy and he really needs to develop.  Brandon Roy is not the sharpshooter Martell is.   Before every game I have a discussion with Nate for 15-20 minutes.  Every conversation I find out more about Nate and the team.  Before the Detroit game Nate was quite introspective and thought long and hard about the team and Martell.  He said he's come to the conclusion that Martell has to be the guy and Martell has got to figure that out.  He can't keep switching starters.  I asked him if Raef was going to play he said no because he needed to get minutes for Lamarcus Aldridge.

This is pretty impressive long-term thinking for a coach.  This is one thing that has always delighted me about Nate...he has a good sense of why he's here and what his goals should be, and those don't necessarily include him looking good to the general public.  He cares about this team, about growing it the right way, and about the players he's been given.  Not every coach--not even some of the ones considered the very best--can say that.

The downloaded feed cut off abruptly here.  I don't know if the live streaming chat has more or not, so you might want to give it a listen.  Obviously this is all Zach Randolph's fault (the last straw, really) and is a clear sign that he should be traded.

Steve Patterson joins the chat at this time.

Q:  What are your impressions from the first two games of the trip?

A:  The game against Detroit was the most balanced, and probably the best, game of the year.  They're a quality, veteran playoff team.  We didn't turn the ball over.  We shot well and kept our composure.  Last night against Milwaukee we lost focus and looked fatigued.  We lost a game we should have won but 1-1 is not bad.

That's as good of an assessment as I could give.

Q:  Do you have any update on Brandon Roy's condition?

A:  He's doing well.  He's started elliptical, bike, and pool exercises, plus a little shooting. He'll be looked at again tomorrow and if everything checks out he may increase his activity.  He could be back maybe on the 15th vs. the Clippers.  He's feeling a lot less pain and is anxious to get back.

Not as anxious as we are to have him back, I'll wager.  A lot of the Zach and Martell stuff will clear up as soon as he takes the floor again.

Q:  So you feel good about not going the surgery route?

A:  None of the doctors were voting for that.  Immobilization was the best approach.  Surgery didn't make sense with this kind of injury.

Let's hope that's right.

Q:  Jason Quick said Zach has knee tendonitis.  How nervous are you about that?

A:  We aren't nervous.  You always want to be cognizant of any pain but lots of guys in sports play with tendonitis.  We hope it doesn't get worse.  He's playing like an all-star.  It's a long season and pain happens.

That sounds almost like, "Buck up, Zach."  Let's hope that all there is to it.

Q:   Let's talk about you for a while.  (Editor's note:  Casey puts the moves on?)  How has your workload increased now that you hold two positions?

A:  Working in this league is a 24/7 job no matter what position you're in.  I spend more time at practice facility and on the phone with other GMs than I might have otherwise.  We have daily challenges but we're getting good response from the changes we've made.

LOL...the first thing I thought of when I heard him say this was that blogging about his team is becoming a 24/7 job too...

Q:  What is your most difficult duty as GM or Team President?

A:  We've made roster and culture changes.  Player attitudes have improved.  We've changed from paying older guys on the downside to going with younger guys.  We have to get that message out to the community.  It's a new day.  All of these are ongoing efforts.

I liked what he said about paying younger players with upside.  That doesn't change the fact that he didn't answer the question.  But then again perhaps Casey should know better than to ask...

Q:  What's your working relationship with Kevin Pritchard?  How are your positions different?

A:  Every ball club organizes differently.  Kevin will spend more time on the road evaluating draft talent, I'll spend more time at home dealing with other league GMs.  We both spend time working with coaching staff, players, and agents.  We've been a good team and have had a lot of success.  Other clubs are interested in our talent.  We're moving in the right direction.

Whatever you think of Patterson (and people seem to feel differently) you've got to give him that.  So far, at least, it's exactly as he said it is.

Q:  Describe your relationship with Paul Allen.  Also give us some insight as to how he feels about the team right now.  He's not traveling with the team as much...

A:  Traveling with the NFL is different than the NBA.  There's one game a week and it's generally on a Sunday.  With 82 games across the U.S. the NBA is a much tougher travel schedule.  Paul runs a lot of other businesses too.  We communicate daily by telephone or e-mail.  He watches all the games.  He's as interested and dedicated as he's ever been.  He wants to put a winning franchise out there.

That has the ring of truth to it.  The one thing I hope is that he's still dedicated to putting a winning franchise out there in Portland.

Q:  When you're watching a road game what mentality do you take?  Do you watch like a fan?  For business?  Are you together with other team officials?

A:  I generally watch it alone and from a business perspective.  I watch for distribution of minutes, how our young talents are faring, matchups, schemes, and how well we're grasping and executing team concepts.  I don't watch it lightly.  It's focused.

I can only imagine, as even doing this blog I find myself watching games a lot differently.  Of course he has a lot more influence and importance but then he also has more insight and experience.  I will publicly state right now that I would give half of my typing fingers to have a chance to sit down and watch just one game with Mr. Patterson or Mr. Pritchard just to see how their mind works, what they watch for, and what they see.  Again, whatever your opinion of these guys they are obviously very skilled at their jobs.  Sometimes when exercising our God-given right as fans to backseat drive we lose sight of that.  Two hours with them would be an education unparalleled anywhere else.

Q:  Jarrett Jack had his best game as a Blazer last night.  Do you feel validated in trading away the other point guards this summer?

A:  Last night was the first time in 10 years a guard has gone 30-10 for the Blazers.  Kenny Anderson did it back in '96.  We thought Jarrett would develop.  He should be in the rookie-sophomore game at All-Star weekend this year.  We had to give up talent to get talent.  We're ecstatic with Brandon but it cost Telfair to get him.  We liked Blake as a good, solid backup PG but we wanted another big man.  We feel comfortable with Jarrett, with Dickau as a solid guy on and off the court, and with Sergio who is leading the league in assists per 48 minutes and is among the top rookies in assists.

Neat fact about the 30-10 thing.  And speaking of the rookie-sophomore game, why doesn't the league save itself some trouble and just make it the Blazer Kids vs. everyone else's?  Sergio, Jarrett, Brandon, Martell, and Lamarcus vs. the League would be an interesting matchup.  I guess we'd really need one more big guy though.

Once AGAIN the chat download cut off here right in the middle of a question.  Obviously there's more somewhere.  Just as obviously this is all due to Nate's ridiculous substitution patterns and he should be severely chastised.  Check out the streaming feed to see if there's more.

--Dave (