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Blazersedge Mailbag: February 12th, 2010

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Here's the latest edition of the Blazersedge Mailbag, full of questions about, and responses to, Blazer issues topicl and eternal.  I asked for 2 questions for this edition of the mailbag and got 200.  At some point I gave up and started answering just about every one I found.  A few I saved for the next edition.  Thanks to everyone who submitted!  Onward...

 

Would Marcus Camby be a good fit here? --LH

Right now any big man who could play the center position would be a good fit here.  Camby can rebound and he'd get the chance to block a lot of shots right now with the Blazers' perimeter defense.  Still, there are enough questions surrounding him to make the proposition impractical.

The biggest question is how do you get him?  He's on a $9.2 million expiring contract.  Your own expiring contracts are Outlaw and Blake, but with Outlaw injured why do the Clippers do that?  You could offer someone off of your lower bench alongside to make it attractive but you're probably going to get as much utility out of a Pendergraph as a third center in future years as you would out of Camby and at a far cheaper price.  (Note that I said as a third center, not that Pendy was as good of a player as Camby.)  How does it make sense for Portland to include him or Cunningham just to salvage this year?  Skipping them you're now up to the Rudys and Jerryds and Martells of the world.  Do you want to move one of them for Camby?

Camby is 35 now.  He's going to be your third-string guy, which is probably a role he can fill, but will he?  He's playing 30+ minutes per game right now.  How will he take the drop in minutes to few or nil?  What will it cost to re-sign him, provided he even will re-sign with this team?  If he's willing to play out the string as an insurance policy and will take $3-4 million a year for a couple years maybe you think about it.  But if he would do that then why wouldn't the Clippers just re-sign him (unless you obviously overpay for him)?  Keep in mind that your insurance policy has a track record of injuries as well.

Camby is certainly gettable if you want to pay enough but I can't imagine the Blazers getting as much utility out of him as he'd cost them.

I am impressed by Dante Cunningham. He seems to have adjusted to being accounted for in other teams scouting reports, plays pretty good defense, can sky for boards and blocks, and plays within himself. Do you think he fits with this team long term?  --F

Yes, I think so...for the same reason I think Nicolas Batum is an excellent long-term fit.  You don't have to give Cunningham the ball in order for him to be effective. If he wants the ball he just goes and gets it.  Those players are like gold to the Blazers.  Add in the fact that he's going to come cheap for a while and you have a solid keeper.  The only caveat, as always, would be his inclusion in a blockbuster trade.  But frankly I'd see Cunningham as a guy we're happy to have fill in after we've traded guys who are ahead of him.  Don't be too quick on the "scouting report" thing though.  He hasn't seen pressure from other teams yet.  But the good thing about guys like him is that they tend to put pressure on other teams more than they get it.  How much did teams game plan for Bruce Bowen in San Antonio?  How much did it work?

Dave, you only get to keep one - Inferno or The Snake?  --NR

This is the beautiful part about guys like Cunningham and Pendergraph.  They're opportunistic, they can play a role, and they'll come cheap for a long time.  Therefore you don't have to choose between them.  They're like fresh vegetables for dieters.  You can eat all you want and not gain roster weight.  So why would you dump one unless he couldn't perform or you needed him to complete a trade?  This is in direct contrast to, say, Martell and Nicolas or Rudy and Jerryd.  All of those guys are going to consider themselves starting material.  Unless you're a magician tweaking the lineup you're eventually going to have to choose between them.  My call would be Batum in the first case and the second would depend on whether you were choosing for offense or defense.  But Dante and Jeff?  Keep ‘em both.

Here's another way to think of the difference.  Guys like Bayless, Fernandez, Webster, Outlaw, even Oden are going to command money whether they perform or not because of their "potential".  If they play well you'll be paying through the nose.  If they play poorly you don't know if they've tapped that potential so you'll still pay, if not quite so much.  Meanwhile they demand minutes to bring a return on your investment so you can only have so many of them before you're just wasting time and money.  Guys like Cunningham and Pendergraph give you value in 5-10 minutes of play as well as 20-30.  They may not have the potential to score 30 in a given game but they change the game with their effort, given night in and night out.  You'll never break the bank paying for them (unless they become obvious superstars, in which case it's worth it) and you'll always get use out of them.  You never regret having that kind of guy on your bench or your payroll. 

Click through for questions about Brandon Roy's health, Rudy's mental state, playoffs vs. lottery, Lamarcus posting, Jerryd playing point, Oden's extension, players stashed in Europe, "equal value" in trades, and much, much more. 

Is Roy's body built to endure a 10+ season NBA Carreer?  --NR

Body, yes.  Knees???

Do you think 82 games hampers the quality of basketball we see on a night to night basis?  --NR

I don't think it's the number of games alone.  They've been playing 82 since well before my time.  It's the way the game has changed.  Guys run faster and jump higher. Defenses are quicker too.  The beating that 7-footers take in their lower body is rougher than any time in history.  Guys aren't as schooled in fundamentals and some of them don't take care of their bodies well.  Plus the pressure to win is so high that when coaches get a star they tend to ride him to death.  I believe that 82 games of mileage now is far more damaging than it was decades ago.  I'm not sure shortening the season would help though.  You'd have to do it by a significant amount to extend careers and that would never fly.  Besides, all of the injuries we've seen around the league this year have happened in 50 games or less.  How do you compensate for that?

A slim chance at John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins or 4-6 playoff games.  --NR

Playoff games.  This team is past the lottery hoping stage.  Would I take the #1 or #2 pick?  Sure.  But really we don't need another young guy to build around/wait for.

You seen 'Up In The Air' yet?  --NR

Nope, but I've seen just plain "Up".  That was a fun movie.  I know they're animated and all that but does anybody churn out more consistently good, appealing movies than Pixar?  It may not be the best movie you've ever seen but you know you're going to enjoy yourself watching one of their offerings.  I didn't originally watch "Up" but I had teenagers and grandmas alike telling me I needed to see it.  It's hard to find movies that do that nowadays.

You ever owned any underwear with a Blazer logo on it?  --NR

Yup.

This ends the "NR" section.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

There are new rumors that Rudy is unhappy and left the bench last night --T

It wouldn't surprise me.  In fact I mentioned something to that effect in the game recap. Playing 7 minutes isn't good for ego or production.  You also have to remember that Rudy essentially paid to come over here after a strong recruiting trip from the Blazers brass.  With his buyout he can't be making much money.  The whole incentive for him coming was to play in this league, with emphasis on the word play.  Every night he feels underused must seem like needles poking his eyeballs.  He's a guy who's going to see himself as a starter someday...who may see himself as a starter now.  If he's not progressing towards that he's not going to be happy.

On the other hand you also have to look at his performance.  He's averaging 3 fewer minutes per game, sure, but he looks tentative, is passing up shots, his shooting percentages have sunk across the board, and even though it looks like his defense is more controlled and effective this year than last he's still not a shining star in that department.  You could argue that a guy needs minutes to perform his best but you could make that same argument about six guys on this team.  Why would you pick Rudy above any of the others to grant this boon to?  The reality is you have to produce to play.  Sometimes you get to play without producing because the situation favors it.  But for sure you can't complain when your court time is cut if you're not producing. 

 The best way to look at it right now is to consider Rudy and Nate dancing partners.  You're both out there on the floor together.  When one of you messes up, no matter which one it is, both of you look bad together.  Rudy's job is to give everything he can to the dance whether it's short or long.  Nate's job is to put Rudy in situations where he has a chance to succeed.  In reality, though, Nate has several people lined up as potential dance partners so in a practical sense it's more on Rudy to show he belongs out there.  At the end of the day he has to ask himself, "Did I hit my open shots?  Did I defend effectively?  Did I hustle and alter the flow of the game in our team's favor?"  If the answer to any of those questions is "No" then he can't get too upset that Nate is going with someone else.  (This is another point...in actuality you're not just getting mad at Nate, you're getting mad at Nate plus the guy he's putting in ahead of you.  If that other guy is producing you don't have grounds to be cheesed off.)  He just has to be sure he's ready to provide a "Yes" when his turn comes again.

I have empathy for Rudy and his situation but that doesn't change the fact that the best way to address the situation, hands down, is to start hitting your shots and playing your butt off.

Would you rather have Nate McMillan walk before trading away our players? --F

This question is unanswerable as it is because it's almost certainly going to become necessary to trade some of our players no matter who the coach is.  I don't think the roster is settled as it is and I'm not sure a workable rotation can be reached with the exact players we've got.  I think a couple roster adjustments would help more than changing the coach in the short term.  But if we can't get Roy and LaMarcus and Oden to play together with at least a couple other supporting cast guys producing well in a regular rotation that wins games maybe it's time to let someone else have a crack at it.  That would be the next step after the moves.

Is Jerryd Bayless the long-term solution at PG for this team?  --NR 

By "long-term solution" I'm assuming you mean as a starter.  I don't foresee Bayless becoming a typical point guard in this league.  I'm not sure his shot will ever come nor his ability to pass and see outside of the drive develop.  This will make it hard for him to start on a team that's doesn't have him as a strong hub of the offense.    I see him becoming a typical point guard playing next to Roy as even less of a possibility.

However I can see the Blazers with Roy and Batum not needing a typical point guard.  I think both Rudy and Jerryd would be candidates to start alongside that duo for different reasons:  Rudy for shooting and maybe occasional passing and Bayless for defense and some scoring.  Basically the idea would be three guys who can fill that elusive-but-coveted role of rebounding, taking it all the way down the court themselves, and making a play.  You'd see less of the Blazers rebounding and then searching for a point guard standing along the sideline to pass it to.  If he can defend point guards and hit his shot a little Jerryd could be a player for us long-term.

I do think, here or elsewhere, Jerryd will eventually get the chance to go all-out on his own terms.  I think he will have at least intermittent scary-good games under those circumstances.  The key to him being anybody's "solution" is turning intermittent into consistent.  He's not ready/able to do that yet but he's getting closer.

Continuing on a previous question wondering whether Jerryd Bayless is the long-term solution at PG for this team coupled with the fact that Roy probably has about 4-5 All-Star years left in him, is it wise to package someone like Bayless and maybe Rudy and others for a legit top tier or near top tier player?  --N

Yes, but it has less to do with Roy's All-Star years (I think he has more than that if his knees hold up) as the fact that packaging a couple of talented-yet-iffy guys for a high-tier player would improve this team period.  See also the answer above regarding the difference between Pendergraph/Cunningham and Bayless/Fernandez/Outlaw/etc.

Do you think Aldridge's production will ever exceed his contract?  --J

That's impossible to answer as there's no set production-per-dollar amount that everyone agrees on.  By what are we to measure production?  In my mind value comes in wins.  If the Blazers win a lot with Aldridge on the floor then he's worth it no matter what we're paying.  If the Blazers lose consistently then 22 and 9 from him wouldn't justify the dollars.  So far the Blazers have won with him more than they've lost so I'd say he was worth retaining.  Also I don't think you'd have trouble finding takers for him on the market even at his new cost (cap rules aside).

Could LMA be a post player in a different offensive system, as opposed to a jump shooter in this one?  --FB 

Why doesn't LaMarcus Aldridge ever roll after setting a pick?  Pros, cons, reasons? I think it's a simple thing to change that would have a disproportionately large effect.  --AP

Part of the lack of posting is systemic, as you have identified.  How do you get production out of your power forward without getting in the way of Roy's drive and Oden's low block "moves"?   That little extended jumper is a reasonable solution.  He's got it, he's good at it, that's how the team has used him.

However I think even they might posit that it's been taken to the extreme a little, especially now with Roy and Oden out and the middle begging to be taken.  The guy has post moves only a mother could love.  Brrring!  What's that?  Mama Aldridge on Line 2?  OK, I'll take it.  Yes, m'am.  I understand, m'am.  You didn't raise your son like that.  Strong in the paint.  Gotcha.  Yes, you're right, he still is a cutie pie.  Have a good day, m'am.  Anyway, as I was saying, his post fundamentals are pretty bad from the prep to the catch to the dribble to the shot.  He's not going to post in anybody's system until he cleans that up.

I'm also beginning to suspect (read: I'm pretty sure) that part of the issue with the post play and the roll instead of slip/pop after setting a pick is that LaMarcus just doesn't like contact.  That's something you're either born with or not.  I don't think he's ever going to become the guy that dives down the middle, catches in traffic, and finishes while getting mugged.  NBA players will kill you in there and LaMarcus doesn't like dealing with that.

Whatever happened to Ha?  --M

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha_Seung-Jin

What are your thoughts about Oden's upcoming extension?  --B

They'll argue back and forth with his agent about how much he's worth but they'll keep him.  If that takes a big offer they'll do it.  But KP has been pretty good at getting value out of his continuing contracts.  I think they'll come to a deal without too much fuss.  In the face of the injuries his market value isn't near max-level.

Predict the WCF in 3 years.  --FT

The Blazers make it.  The other team just surrenders to the inevitable.

What can the Blazers do to improve their team defense? It seems like too many teams are getting an excessive number of shots in the lane against the Blazers.  --RC

Simple:  Get Oden and/or Przybilla back.  They were doing pretty well in the paint before the centers went down.  It took a while but eventually people figured out it might be a good idea to get the ball inside against a team whose center is Juwan Howard.

Does the CBA make it impossible for Freeland or the Finn to come over next year?  --SO

Nothing is impossible.  It's just a matter of how badly you want it.  I don't see the Blazers wanting either so badly that they overreach.  I doubt we'll see them.  If one does come over it'll be Freeland.  Petteri is on a long-term contract with his team.

If we win a playoff series, will you say that the injuries actually were a good thing?

No.

Will Rudy ever live up to more than a flashier, more loveable version of James Jones? --IL

Jones had better defensive fundamentals than Rudy does, but Jones was also a veteran when we saw him.  I think Rudy can play faux-point someday where Jones couldn't.   Rudy can finish better than Jones and get off his shot quickly and in tight circumstances.  If Rudy can develop any kind of move off the dribble he'd be set.  So I think chances are good that he'll eventually be better than JJ was.

Do you fear for chemistry if trout gets traded?  --BL

I fear more for chemistry if we have multiple young guys piled up at multiple positions.  As long as everybody is playing a reasonable amount chemistry has a chance to be good.  Even if every player on the team ranks amongst the nicest guys in the universe they're not going to be happy if they're underplayed.  In that sense losing Travis (or a player like Travis) may help chemistry in the long run.  Travis is pretty popular though, so I imagine it would change the social dynamic of the team some.  But this isn't a tea party, it's the NBA.

Are we going to finally have our starters established by the end of the season?  --M

No.  At minimum we'll be short a center.  Also you have the Martell/Nic mash-up.  I imagine we'll have people who start regularly by then, yes, but being truly "established" probably won't happen until next year.

What is the single biggest change you would make, if you could? If you were the GM or coach or Mike Rice, etc. It could be a trade, game strategy, whatever. Realistic, of course. No trading Mills and "filler" for Lebron.  --DM

I'd get Oden and Pryzbilla back, for one.  That'll go a long way toward curing what ails this team.  Seriously, there's not that far to go.  If you want to talk a LaMarcus plus a couple talented guys for Bosh trade I could go there, but that's not very realistic. 

In our last loss to the L*kers, we saw an offensive scheme that utilized all the players on the floor. Why do the Blazers continue to use a one-on-one scheme when there is such a talented roster. We will never go deep into the playoffs with B-Roy trying to beat the other team one on one.  --TT

Since he's been here Nate McMillan has been a percentage coach on both ends of the floor.  On defense the strategy has been allowing no fast breaks and keeping the opponent out of the middle in the halfcourt offense.  It's basic, unexciting, it creates few turnovers, but night-in and night-out it's the percentage play.   On offense he plays matchups.  Again, often unappealing, sometimes frustrating, but the percentage play.  If he were a poker guy Nate would be Joey Knish, not the Worm. 

Forget the overall scheme, the flow of the game, and all that for a minute.  You have one play.  What's your call on offense?  Brandon Roy is going to shoot it, right?  And what do you want Brandon doing?  Whatever the sam heck Brandon needs to do to score.  Obviously that's not a recipe for a complete offense, but if you break the game down into possessions you can see--and probably even agree--why Brandon gets the touches and freedom he does.

As with LaMarcus shooting jumpers instead of posting anything can be taken to an extreme.  I think even Nate himself would like a more varied approach to the offense.  But here again you have to remember that this team is young.  Nate's been with the key guys since they were rookies.  He had to throw them in there not knowing a thing.  So it's not surprising that the offense they learned to run was basic.  They were trying to grow beyond that mold early on this year--step one being incorporating Oden--but then everything fell apart and the team's been in emergency mode since.  This isn't the year the offense is going to get an overhaul.  I do expect to see some offensive growth in the next season or two.  If I didn't and if the Blazers weren't getting deep in the playoffs with this offense I'd say that would be reason to try something new coaching-wise.

If you could have any PG that's currently in the NBA for this team, who would you pick? Disregard contracts, ability to acquire them, etc. Who's your dream PG for this team?  --ZB

I wish Roy could play the point.  That would free up so much rotation space.

Do you think Durant has a shot at MVP this year? His team could easily end up top 4 in western conference, largely on the work that he has done for them. I suppose LeBron is still probably a shoe in, but is Durant worthy as well?  --SL

To me MVP includes a measure of longevity as well as personal stats and your team doing well.  I'd like to see another year out of Durant with superlative performances and the Thunder going to the conference finals before I'd make that call.  He's having a great season though.

There is quite a bit of discussion about the extent to which the Blazers coaching staff is helping its players to develop their abilities to the maximum extent possible.  Other than observing the progress, or lack thereof, of players on the court, it's pretty hard for me to tell what impact coaching is having on player development.  So, can you (a) discuss your views on how this coaching staff is doing in developing the amazing young roster we have, using specific player examples; and (b) talk about some other examples from around the league of staffs that do it right or wrong and how you can detect this as a fan.   --AC

Three things have to happen in order for development to go right.  First, you have to have assistant coaches who are skilled in teaching young guys.  So much is pinned on the head coach but he has responsibilities other than player development.  Most of your key strides come under the tutelage of your assistant, the guy who is shagging balls for you and hitting you with huge pads as you drive.  Second, you need players who are willing to take that information, apply it to their game, and translate it onto the court.  Third, you need space and minutes for guys to play and evidence their growth.  If any of these factors are missing you don't see development.

One of the best guys in the league for years and years in developing young guys has been Tim Grgurich, now with the Denver Nuggets.  He was with Portland from 1998 to 2001 and again in 2004-05.  I've heard him speak before.  He teaches fundamentals like few others can and he's quite passionate about his work.  Portland's Bill Bayno has also been praised as a developmental coach.

I think we're seeing a nice example of player development in Nicolas Batum, who has picked up the NBA game pretty quickly.  I know he played in Europe but this is a different league.  I think Martell Webster has made strides as well, albeit more slowly.  I have concerns when I see things the LaMarcus Aldridge's aforementioned post moves.  Either someone is criminally negligent in teaching him how to establish space or he's not listening.

Portland's problem has been space to play guys as much as anything.  No matter how much Jerryd Bayless develops he's going to have a hard time earning major minutes from Andre Miller.  That's just the facts of life playing behind a veteran.  Jermaine O'Neal faced the same problem with Rasheed Wallace and Brian Grant back in the day.  Don't forget that a coach's priority first and foremost is to win the game.  If that means going with the less exciting guy at the expense of a young player's development that is what will happen.

If a coach decides to leave one team to coach another and breaks a contract, are there repercussions? They may be written into the contract... For example if one team decided to outbid another for a coach..can this be done with a coach who has signed on for a one year extension with another team? --MJ

As far as I know a contract is a contract.  You can't talk to an opposing team's coach unless that team gives you permission to do so.  Presumably if they did that they'd also be willing to let you hire that coach away, voluntarily releasing him from his contract.  The only time you could outbid someone for a coach is if he's a free agent, so to speak.

If asked to list guys in order of whose name KP hears most often in trade proposals, how would it look to you? --TG

There are a couple reasons he could hear a guy's name.  One could be talent.  Another would be the opposing GM's perception of whether the team will trade him.  Kobe is one of the two most talented players in the league.  How many trade proposals do you think the L*kers get for him?

I'd say that Nicolas Batum, Travis Outlaw (pre-injury), perhaps Martell Webster, perhaps Jerryd Bayless, perhaps Joel Przybilla (pre-injury), perhaps Rudy Fernandez would be high on the list.  LMA might be in there too.  Cunningham will get there if he keeps playing well.  I'd assume Roy and Oden are low on the list.  Blake would be low unless people are looking for the expiring contract.  The Miller buzz might have picked up when the rumors of his discontent started flying but he's a particular situation-type guy so I don't guess that the phone is flying off the hook for him. 

If this group continues to show that they are good but not great without a true center what do you think the management will do in the offseason?  Will they put all their eggs in the Greg Oden basket and hope he stays healthy next season, while praying for a full recovery by Pryzbilla as the backup?  Or will they look at their roster and see too many great players who won't live up to their potential without a permanently healthy center? I just wonder if the organization is willing to put the future of the whole roster on Oden's health, or if there might be a move simply because they've invested too much already to lose another season of potential if the big guy goes down again.  --JC

The problem here is what kind of center are you going to get?  Does Brendan Haywood make a deep-playoff-run difference for you?  A guy like Erick Dampier and his enormous contract?   For all that it's a guard's league now 7-footers who can produce are still hard to come by.  The Nuggets gave Nene Hilario an eight-figure annual salary when he was barely back to walking if that gives you any indication.  If you talk packaging Bayless, Fernandez, Webster, Miller, or whoever for a strong power forward or a decent point guard I can see it.  When you're talking a real, quality starting center those guys aren't going to get it done.  It's too rare of a commodity.  I'd bet the Blazers bet on one of the best center tandems in the league coming through at some point and look to improve in other areas.

Do you feel that the Laker loss was a "quiet" nail in the coffin for our playoff hopes?

No.  The OKC loss was worse.  But I don't think either will keep us out of the playoffs as long as Roy is healthy.

Do you watch every game looking for the same things that can't be found in box score like, I don't know, zone rotations on defense, or creating space on offense, or does the team makeup or the rotation on a particular evening dictate what you watch for? I want to watch the games better. Please help!

I'll do a more extensive post on this sometime.  For now a couple of tidbits.

1.  With young players, watch for them to extend out of their comfort zone and see how they do.  Is Bayless hitting jumpers?  If so, where, when, and how?  Is Oden getting down the floor quickly and establishing position with dominance?  If so, something is going on.  Try to figure out what's contributing.  If the player is out of his comfort zone and not doing well, try to figure out what the defense is doing to force him there and what he might do to counter.  Sometimes it's not even the defense.  Sometimes it's just him being spastic.  In that case don't be surprised if he gets pulled to the bench.  In general, though, don't ask established players to be what they're not.  Instead figure out how effectively they're able to be what they are.  If they're not effective is it the scheme (turning small forwards into weak-side three-point shooters, for instance) or the defense being smart?

2.  When watching individual players, watch their feet.  They can tell you a lot about that player's performance and confidence.  Are they squaring up to shoot?  Are they moving to get in front of the man they're guarding or just keeping their feet still and trying to reach?

3.  Spacing is completely underrated by most of us.  On offense are there multiple people in the same area or are you forcing the defense to choose who to guard?  Are people away from the ball moving with the dribble to keep passing lanes open or are they watching?  Are big guys moving into position for the offensive rebound?  Are wing players getting back as soon as the shot goes up?  In general when you see more than one player clumped in the same place or multiple players on the same vertical or horizontal plane you're making it easy for the defense.  What it usually means is somebody isn't paying attention.  Who's the culprit?  On defense watch when, where, and how quickly the team uses help defense, how quickly they recover, and whether the weak-side players are aware of what's going on or not.  Also watch where the primary defenders are standing.  Are they in position to make a play or have they sagged off or bodied up so much that they're easily foiled by one move?  When the opposition gets a free look rewind the play and watch all five players.  See who reacted to what and who didn't move at all.

4.  Pay attention to matchups.  If you're guarding Dwight Howard tight when he's 20 feet from the basket something is probably wrong.  Likewise if you let Steve Nash come free off of a screen without a hand in his face.  Certain basic things can tell you quickly whether a team or player is prepared and energized or just going through the motions.  There's nothing wrong with getting beat, but you want to make the other team work for it.

Mike Rice is...  A) A comedic broadcasting genius  B) A gigantic blowhard C) An embarrassment D) All of the above  --TMR

I think he'd chuckle at all of your options.  Mike Rice is Mike Rice...a guy who knows the game who's also made a long living with the personality he displays on TV.  As with sardines, progressive jazz, and Lebanon, Oregon, liking him is a matter of taste.

How much more we will see the games of Lamarcus, Rudy, Bayless, and Batum develop?  Do you think Batum could be our 3rd scoring option behind Brandon and LA? --FFB

LaMarcus will flirt with 20ppg but I don't think we see his offensive style change.  I think he can grow defensively, especially as a weak-side rover blocking shots.  Rudy will hopefully develop more defensively.  He needs a better dribble escape and a little more passing court sense.  I think he'll find the latter at least.  Bayless will probably be the player he is:  streaky but offensively explosive.  He'll eventually explode more with more minutes so we'll see better stats from him.  Batum is exciting because he's already developed in a couple of areas and has the physical tools to become a multi-dimensional threat offensively as well.  He has the potential for the biggest leap, if not in production at least in consistency and role on the team. 

Batum could become the third scoring option but he'll be fine if he doesn't.  I see him getting points off of opportunity buckets after others have drawn attention rather than set plays but given the other talent on the roster that's likely to happen a lot in the coming years.

If you could have one past Blazer on this team not named Walton, Drexler, Lucas, Pippen, or Porter, who would you take?

Eliminating Pippen made this harder.  For one year, Sabonis.  His rebounding and high-post passing would be perfect for this team.  Extended, Rasheed Wallace.  I know the attitude thing but he gave us a lot of good years before it fell apart and he could do everything at power forward, including defend and pass.

So, with the real, if not likely, possibility of a lockout in 2011, shouldn't be Blazers be trying to crash through the "window" next year? If so, wouldn't thinning the roster a little, pushing "all in" as KP likes to say and getting a 5 this year be a smart move? Basically, shouldn't we get Haywood for Fernandez (+ travis or blake, needed for salary) in order to solidify the roster, make sure everyone gets used to playing with a center (thus reducing the adjustment period in training camp when Oden and hopefully Pryz come back) and actually playing to win?  --BT

The Blazers should be improving the roster in any way they can.  I believe if KP saw a move that clearly accelerated the winning process he'd do it.  I don't think Haywood is that move though.

How long will Nate be around?  --DA

Until the team starts losing more than management is comfortable with.  I'd say if we don't advance into (and get close to advancing past) the second round next season he'll be gone.  It would have been this season but for the injuries.  But the truth is that injuries don't usually save coaches.  If things go really far south both he and the team will think about it sooner.  But I don't anticipate that happening.  If the Blazers do progress deep into the playoffs in 2010-11 he'll have a job for the foreseeable future.

Here's a topical question. Which players are Untouchables, Players to move, and the Middle??  We're coming right up to the trade deadline. So here is a question based on KP's three categories: Who would you select as untouchable, the players to move (or who you are willing to trade), and the players in the uncertain middle?  --JF

I don't believe we'll see a significant move before this deadline.  But in theory the only true untouchables are Roy, Oden, and Batum.  Outlaw and Blake are candidates for teams that want contract relief but neither has trade value right now for any other reason.  The rest are in the middle, the only difference being how much it would cost another team to get them.  LaMarcus would be very, very expensive, for example.  He's close to untouchable.  Some of the players at duplicate positions might come cheaper.  Really I don't think the Blazers would dump anyone right now just to get rid of them.  The offers would have to be good.

Is it even feasable to expect equal returns in a trade? When most of our guys are still on their rookie contracts? Won't a better value be had in sign and trades when some of the rookie deals expire? That's assuming a deal would go down of course. What impact, speculatively, will the pending CBA talks have on the possible roster improvements we might see?  --CR

Any time CBA negotiations come will be a bad time.  Players and their contracts will be in serious limbo.  That said, the Blazers should always be able to find a market for some of these young players.  Equal return is in the eye of the beholder.  The best way to measure it is not talent vs. talent but how much each team improves.  Some team out there would love to have 2-3 young, talented, but less predictable players instead of their established contributor because of their stage in the growth process.  For the Blazers it might well be the reverse.  Each would get value and if they both progress because of the trade more than they would have otherwise then it's equal enough to pass muster.  Everyone is afraid of getting taken in a deal but you have to realize that a head of lettuce and a tomato left in the fridge for a year will just rot.  Even if they're worth $10 combined on the open market they'd be worth trading for that $8 slab of roast beef that you're actually going to use on your sandwich.

Thanks again to everybody for the questions!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

Poll

Favorite Pixar Movie?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Toy Story
    (317 votes)
  • 2%
    Toy Story 2
    (41 votes)
  • 2%
    A Bug's Life
    (43 votes)
  • 9%
    Finding Nemo
    (181 votes)
  • 7%
    Monsters Inc.
    (139 votes)
  • 19%
    The Incredibles
    (357 votes)
  • 5%
    Cars
    (97 votes)
  • 7%
    Ratatouille
    (138 votes)
  • 12%
    Wall-E
    (233 votes)
  • 8%
    Up
    (167 votes)
  • 8%
    What????
    (149 votes)
1862 votes total Vote Now