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Quick Chat Recap: 1/18/07

Here's our weekly recap of Oregonlive's Quick Chat hosted by Casey Holdahl.  As always this is a paraphrase of the questions and responses.  You can listen to the entire chat here.  

Casey scored quite a coup today because the first guest is...Lamarcus (arcus!  arcus! arcus!) Aldridge (aldridge!  aldridge!  aldridge!)

Q:  Your impressions of the game last night? It was your bobblehead night...

A:  I wanted the "W" and I wanted to play good so people would want the bobblehead.  I got about 6 for family and friends.

Speaking of, if any of you get those "two bobblehead" deals and don't know what do to with your extra one, if you wanted to send it to Blazersedge it could be used as prize material.  Let me know if you're amenable.  Still waiting on that Darius Miles bobblehead...

Q:  What did you do to come back from your early-season injury?

A:  I did a lot of pool work early.  I kept my conditioning up.  I was somewhat in shape.  Since I've been back I've played well but it can always be better.  As I get stronger and get to play more I'll keep getting better.

As I recall Nate's first public impression of him was that he was in shape.  Nice, considering our recent history (including this year for some guys).

Q:  How is it playing with different point guards?  Is Sergio's faster play better?  Do you change your style based on who's at the point?

A:  I do.  With Jarrett I'm more passive, stand-still.  With Sergio I'm more active, up and down, moving.  I know he'll move the ball around.

Wow...blunt.  The question now is, does Jarrett play that style because it fits him or because that's what Nate has asked him to do?  Also is the impression of Jarrett not moving the ball around as much totally apt, or is it because Jarrett moves the ball to just one or two people?  OK, who are we kidding...just one?

Q:  Which one do you prefer?

A:  Up and down.  I'm fast for my position.

Absolutely correct.  Right now Lamarcus seems like he'd be good in a halfcourt game but he really could kill you in a running game.

Q:  What does coach stress to you as a rookie?

A:  That there's no pressure,  and to enjoy this year.  Go out, play hard, learn.  Next year is different and there will be higher expectations.  This year just have fun.

That certainly belies part of the public impression of Nate, but it does make sense.  As I've said before, the post game reviews here kind of follow the same philosophy.  I'll jump on a third year guy for stuff that doesn't make me blink coming from a rookie.

Q:  What's the hardest part of NBA life?

A:  Travel.  Getting in late and up early in different towns.  It makes you tired.

Q:  Do the rookies hang together on the road?

A:  We all just sleep on the road.  It's our first time through this and we're tired.

That's funny, especially the way he said it.  It almost had the tone of, " serious?  I'm TIRED, man!"

Q:  Who's the toughest on the rookies in the locker room?

A:  Nobody really because we put the effort in.  They're cool with us.

This is a switch from past years.  I guess Ruben being gone changed the tenor of things.  Martell is probably telling them they're lucky.  But really with much of the team being under 5 years in the league anyway there's not a ton of age or attitude difference between the rookies and "veterans" I'm sure.

Q:  Your thoughts about playing in the rookie-sophomore game?

A:  I thought maybe I would be but I don't know if I'll be invited.  I'd like to play with the other rookies but if I don't I'll keep working hard.

I know it would be cool to be asked and all, but having a weekend off would also be nice.

Q:  What are you going to do in Vegas though?  You're not even 21.

A:  I am 21!  I'm not Martell Webster!  (laughs)

OK...this had a high laugh factor, but it also points out in a shocking way how young Martell Webster really is.  The baby-faced Lamarcus Aldridge is the old man in that relationship.  Everybody needs to back off of Martell a notch.

Q:  Any regrets about leaving Texas since they're doing so well?

A:  No.  I had fun there but there are times to move on for everyone.  I'm happy being here.

Q:  How have you liked living in Portland?

A:  It's been tough.  The sun always shined in Dallas.  It only comes out three times a month in Portland.  This week was my first snowstorm.  It's not too much to handle though.  I put my 4-wheel drive on.

Q:  Where do you hang in Portland?  What do you do off the court?

A:  I just chill at the house and watch TV.  I don't really go out.

And that, my friends, is refreshing to hear.  You know what?  I'd be willing to bet that a whole lot of perfectly normal Blazer fans are homebodies too.  It's refreshing to have somebody normal-ish on the squad for a change.  Casey should have asked him what shows he watched though...

Q:  How did you get such a high release on your shot?

A:  I worked on that shot a lot in college.  My freshman year I had surgery and I worked on my release to make it high.  Now it's just normal to me.

And he'll be grateful for the rest of his life that he put in that work, because that shot is going to make him several million dollars.

Q:  How is Nate different than Rick Barnes?

A:  They're not much different.  They're both tough and believe in hard work.

Q:  Does Maurice Lucas help you?

A:  He gives me pointers on working in the post and dealing with bigger guys.

Step One:  Ask them to move.  Step Two:  Stare really mean and ask them again to move.  Step Three:  Punch their lights out.

Q:  Do you see yourself as a center or power forward?

A:  More a power forward.  I do more things on the court that way.  As time goes on I think I'll play more power forward than center.

I'm not sure Blazer management would be thrilled that he was so honest, but the rest of us are.  Let the talk begin!

Q:  How hard is it for you to put in work in practice and not get a lot of minutes?

A:  Every player wants to play but I'm a rookie and I have to wait my turn and keep working hard.

The kid knows where the line is, doesn't he?  He'll throw the point guard under the bus.  He'll throw the star power forward under the bus.  But he ain't touchin' the coach.

Q:  What part of your game are you most looking to improve?

A:  My post defense and getting position there.

That indeed is the key that will unlock about 20 more minutes of playing time per game for him...that and moving his feet a little better when playing face-up defense.

Q:  Who's a tough matchup for you?

A:  Tim Duncan because he's so smart.  I thought I could do better against him but he scored six straight on me.

Q:  Do you try to emulate him?

A:  I try to be like him a watch how he does things like getting position and using the backboard on the shot.  But mostly I try to be myself.

Of all the guys in the league, he reminds me of Timmy D the most.  If he turned out even within shouting distance that would be fantastic.

Q:  The Phoenix Suns are up do you prepare for a team like that?

A:  Getting up and down, being ready to guard anybody with their dribble-handoffs and pick-and-rolls.

Having to guard anyone at any time should favor Lamarcus.  I expect him to get some playing time tomorrow.

Q:  What's something people don't know about you?

A:  I play the piano.

Actually we knew that before Summer League even started.

Q:  Any favorite plays?

A:  1-Up-4.  I set a pick and get a jumpshot.  Nate calls plays for my jumpshot.

And rightfully so.  I look forward to him calling plays for your turn-around post move too.

Q:  Do you still get a little feeling of awe being out there?

A:  I'm really settled in.  I wasn't too much in awe of LeBron last night.  We all play basketball for a living.

He guarded LeBron fairly well too, when he got the chance.

Q:  What's your goal for the rest of the season?

A:  To keep getting better personally.  To keep winning games and building chemistry as a team. we had to have one vanilla answer.  He should have said, "To date Blazer Dancer Ione."

Q:  Some fans want you to get more alley-oops.

A:  Nate does draw them up but other teams defend them...

No outside shooting=opponents packing the middle.  Opponents packing the middle=no alley-oops.  Cue Martell.

Q:  Any sign of the rookie wall yet?

A:  Not yet.  But I know it could be coming soon.  Maybe missing five games helps.

This is the second time he's mentioned that.  Do you think he remembers that he got DNP-CDs?

Q:  Have you been watching Kevin Durant and would you be excited about playing with him?

A:  Yeah.  I watch him and I would like to play with him.  He's a great all-around player.

We'd take that for sure.
Q:  Thanks Lamarcus!

A:  Tell all the fans "Thank You" for their support.

Hey big guy, you just keep doing what you're doing, saying what you're saying, and acting like you're acting and you will have all the support you could ever want from this town forever.  Go out and ask somebody about Clyde Drexler or Buck Williams or even Kevin Duckworth sometime...

Oregonian Beat Writer Jason Quick now joins the chat.

Q:  Lamarcus Aldridge just said he was more of a power forward than a center.  Your impressions of his future?

A:  That doesn't surprise me.  He doesn't have a center-type power game.  He and Zach can co-exist for a couple years but that'll be a topic of conversation.  It looks more and more like this roster is constructed to be a running team (Lamarcus, Sergio, Brandon, Martell, Travis) but they continue to play the halfcourt offense because of Zach.  Nate says that will be a topic of conversation among the staff.  They'll look to see if continuing to focus around Zach is best for this team.  My impression is takes away from the strengths of other players.

I'd say the team was more half of each right now, but the point is well taken.  We're not a cohesive unit yet and that's part of our issue.

Q:  John Canzano and Chad Ford both say the Blazers should trade Zach...

A:  It's easy to say but you have to ask what you could get in return.  As a 23 and 10 guy his value should be high, but it would have to be the right fit for another team.  He's not a great defender or a good passer and he wants a lot of shots.  Only a few teams would see that as a fit.  That makes it hard to talk about trading a player of his value.  I think trade talks are heating up around the Blazers though.  There's a rumor that they're talking to San Antonio trying to get Brent Barry for Joel Przybilla or Jamaal Magloire (the latter of which would involved Eric Williams).  The Spurs say they're not interested in that but would like Travis Outlaw to help compensate for the Mavericks' athleticism.  They've long been interested in Travis and will probably bid for him in the off-season if they can't get him via trade.

Q:  Do the Spurs have anything the Blazers want?

A:  Brent Barry!  He's a shooter who doesn't demand starters' minutes.  They need a role-playing shooter.

Q:  He's 35 though.

A:  Look what you're giving up for him.  Maybe you wouldn't do Travis, but one of the centers...maybe.  The Golden State trade was interesting.  I thought Mike Dunleavy would have been a nice exchange for Magloire.  I think the Blazers were disappointed that the trade went down.  Coach McMillan also liked Ike Diogu and wouldn't have minded Dunleavy either.  He says as far as he knows nothing is being discussed specifically but he expects the Blazers to be in talks around the trading deadline.

Tons of interesting info there.  I'm not sure I would trade a center of any stripe for Brent Barry, even though we coveted him a couple years ago.  What do you do with Dixon then, and is Barry really going to produce more wins than Juan?  You've got to believe being 7-feet will still appeal to somebody, somewhere.

Also interesting fact:  if Indiana doesn't end up trading Dunleavy for Corey Maggette, he and Diogu match up with Zach's salary for trade purposes...

Q:  Let's talk about Joel for a second.  What would be the fan reaction if he got traded after the off-season drama/celebration?

A:  Again it depends on what you get in return.  I think people like Joel and what he stands for but what are the Blazers getting out of him right now?  Is that because Nate isn't using him right or because Joel's not playing well enough to be played?  The Blazers have to get more out of him one way or another.  They aren't getting enough from him for the money and as a starter.

I'll hazard a guess as to what the fans would think.  They'd be kind of sad and puzzled at their hopes and faith in him not panning out, but fans are also notoriously "what have you done for me lately" types, especially in cases where the play has been suspect.  Most would probably accept that it was a good move unless or until Joel started tearing up the league somewhere else.

Q:  Are we back to a point guard log-jam again where styles and pecking order are confused?

A:  No.  Jarrett Jack is the starter and will be back against Phoenix tomorrow.  That's clear cut.  Sergio is pushing a different style though.  He needs the ball in his hands and wants to go up-tempo, which clashes with Zach in both senses.  Sergio is doing some great things, especially for how young he is.  He's special.  Plus it's entertaining, which is the new NBA.  The Blazers are kind of a dinosaur with the plodding, posting, free-throw-drawing offense.  Do they want to go more free-flowing?

Discussion of Zach and Sergio copyright Blazersedge, January 15th, 2007.  I agree that there's still little need right now to consider anybody but Jarrett as the starter.  I also think Jarrett could someday be a great 6th man combo guard though.

Q:  So Nate is open to a more up-tempo offense?

A:  Nate says he likes the up-tempo style.  We haven't had a chance to see that with Portland's personnel though.  Look at the Magloire pick-up...another halfcourt guy.  Brandon Roy says the starters are starting to get envious of the bench unit, wishing they could play like that.  But they're in a halfcourt style.  Again, this will be a topic of conversation between the Blazer executives.

I know Nate wouldn't mind running.  As others have said, remember Seattle's run and shoot offense for years under him?  I bet the starters begin to cut loose soon though.  In fact I bet it gets a little out of hand for them tonight against Phoenix.

Q:  What is Darius' status?

A:  He's rehabbing and is around the team more.  However last week Nate McMillan kicked Darius out of a practice because he was a distraction.  Again this goes back to Darius as a problem.  I don't think anyone's heartbroken that he hasn't been around much.  Nate is concerned about his attitude and influence.  Maybe it's coincidence but the team started a down-spiral when Darius returned.

Q:  There was a rumor about Darius and Brandon Roy getting into it early in the season.

A:  I heard that too but I've never been able to confirm it.  I will tell you this:  Brandon Roy has a lot of respect in that locker room.  Somebody commented that he gets the respect due a five-year veteran already.  He's really well-liked by his teammates.  If there was a rift I have a feeling there would be 12-13 guys behind him.

Half the people in this town have forgotten that Travis Outlaw is still on the team, let alone Darius.  I don't think anybody would mind if he never wore scarlet and black again.  And speaking of...

Q:  Any update on Travis' condition?

A:  It appears he's still at least a week away.  The ankle is still sore and he's not been practicing.

That's tough luck for T.O.  He was having a semi-breakout season but I bet this long layoff interrupts his rhythm.

Q:  What are you seeing from Ime?

A:  He's their best defender.  More and more he's starting to get the officials' respect like Bruce Bowen, which is a goal.  He's not going to be asked to do a lot on offense.  He's been money from the outside despite his recent shooting slump.  He just does the little things at big times.  He's both the surprise and the glue of the team.

I've read some people bagging on Ime lately, which I think is silly.  The only thing wrong with this guy is that he's 6'5" instead of 6'8".  We need him right now.

Q:  Do you hear anything at all about Joel Freeland?

A:  Not really.  He might be here next year.  I haven't asked much about him.

I'll be interested to see if he has progressed at all come next year's Vegas Summer League.

Q:  Your thoughts on the game against the Suns?

A:  Not much chance of a win there.  The Blazers have lost by 23.5 points in their last five games in Phoenix.  The Suns make everybody look bad though.  Maybe there's a chance of controlling the tempo or getting Nash in foul trouble.  They can't run with Phoenix, that's for sure.

Darn skippy.

Decent chat today.  I hope Casey can get other players on from time to time.  They say less but it means more.

--Dave (