The Blazers hold one set of open pre-draft workouts and all of a sudden it doesn't feel like the dog days of the offseason anymore. A little late this week thanks to the long weekend but that just means there's even more to get to. But first, here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge recently...
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
Sean Meagher wrapped up his You Be The GM Series over on Oregonlive.com. The final results are here.
Nicolas Batum upped his 97 percent from 2008-09 to a near-perfect 99 percent this year.
New Blazer Marcus Camby grabbed 98 percent "Stay" with a productive quarter season with the Blazers. Rookies Dante Cunningham (98) and Jeff Pendergraph (95) won the hearts of the voters.
Kevin Pritchard still has the confidence and the backing of the Rip City fan base, earning a 94 percent return vote (just shy of his 97 percent last season).
During the series, Henry Abbott went to bat for Nate McMillan...
The way to judge a coach is not to obsess over this or that little thing, but to look around the franchise and ask: Are the basketball players well-led? Do they give great effort at all times? Are the offense and defense generally efficient? Are the players on the roster well-deployed? Do the players believe in the coach as their leader? Is the staff on the same page?
The answer to all of those questions is hell yes when it comes to Nate McMillan.
Here's my contribution: Year-end thoughts on Kevin Pritchard.
Eric Freeman of the Sporting News on Kevin Pritchard (with a few of my thoughts)...
It's an awkward situation for everyone involved. Pritchard is still doing his job, but it's not clear if he'll be around to see the fruits of his labors. We were promised a solution, and yet none appears on the horizon.
Keep an eye on Portland. Things could get very messy.
Coup from Rip City Project asks a great question: Who should the Blazers target with their Mid Level Exception? His list has some interesting names, although some are difficult to picture in red and black.
Ray Allen, SG, Age 34: He's the oldest guy on the list, and the best option, to boot. Nevermind that he's one of the best shooters of all time, he's just a good fit for team that will probably be trying to rebuild its offensive attack around more interior options. I probably don't need to explain the ways he could free up space for Oden and Aldridge, as his shooting credentials speak for themselves, but one of the more underrated aspects of his game is his work on the break. Scoring 1.3 points per transition possession, 17 percent of Allen's total offense came on the break, and it's not because he's out dunking on people and drawing a ton of and-1's. The Celtics run an exceptional secondary break, routinely getting uncovered threes for a trailing Allen or Paul Pierce, and while some of this success is due to Rajon Rondo's ball-pushing, it's not luck that Allen keeps getting left on the wing. Not everything on the fast-break has to be a layup or a dunk, and having one of the best trailers out there would be a good step to Portland getting easier buckets.
Coup then narrows the discussion to two players you might have heard of...
Let's begin by saying that trading the expiring contracts of Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw for Marcus Camby last February was absolutely the correct move. Not only did it, for the price of two players bound for unrestricted free agency, give the Blazers a desperately needed defensive and rebounding presence, but it also freed up minutes for Jerryd Bayless as the backup point guard and prevented a logjam at SF among Nic Batum, Martell Webster and Outlaw. You do that trade yesterday, today and tomorrow.
But both those players are free agents now, and don't deserve to be ignored just because they were traded away from the team.
According to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, it's almost go time for Monty Williams.
Sources said the Hornets would be equally happy with either of their coaching finalists, Thibodeau or Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams.
Sources also indicated Tuesday it's possible the position could be filled by week's end, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Sources with knowledge of the Hornets' thinking said Tuesday that Thibodeau and Williams are essentially neck and neck in the eyes of Hornets' management. And should Thibodeau reject the Hornets' overtures, sources said, the team would be quite comfortable offering the job to Williams.
Marc Stein on Monty...
The New Orleans Hornets, who offered their vacant coaching job to Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau last week, might hire someone else if Thibodeau has not accepted the job before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, according to sources close to the situation.
The Hornets don't want to let their coaching search drag beyond this week and plan to offer the job instead to Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams if Thibodeau, Boston's defensive specialist, doesn't accept by Thursday, according to sources.
The delay, according to sources, stems not only from Boston's ongoing postseason obligations but from Thibodeau's desire to see how serious the New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls are about hiring him. It remains unclear when or if the Bulls still plan to interview Thibodeau, but one source said Thibodeau did speak with the Nets before the Celtics left Tuesday for Los Angeles.
Fred Kerber of the New York Post wonders: Monty Willliams to the Nets?
One interested observer to the proceedings said Thibodeau easily is the preferred selection of any assistants vying for the job. Portland's Monty Williams is another assistant Thorn might consider - but, like Thibodeau, also is a strong candidate in New Orleans.Fired Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is in the mix, too.
Rudy Fernandez gave another interview, this time with a manatee at Sea World, you stopped reading this sentence after the first five words and slammed your head against your computer table, didn't you? This interview is from UltimateNBA.com and the translation is via Hoops Hype.
Do you think Nate McMillan is hurting your improvement as a player? Rudy Fernandez: No, because I'm an ambitious person, but it's true that maybe I'm starting to be categorized as a perimeter player that only shoots three-pointers. I believe I can do a lot of things on the court.
Brian T. Smith with a brief update on Greg Oden...
The Blazers will meet today with center Greg Oden to formulate a summer rehabilitation plan for the often-injured big man. Pritchard said Oden is committed to remaining in Portland as much as possible this summer, and added that his surgically repaired left knee is supposed to be in excellent shape.
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel thinks the Miami Heat have interest in Greg Oden...
I think the next choice would be Carlos Boozer, who actually is an undersized power forward. But I don't think the Heat is going to throw money at length just to get taller. I do think there is an outside chance the Heat makes a run at Greg Oden, or at least sees what the asking price would be.
Kevin Pelton previews the NBA Finals...
If there is one thing I've learned in this postseason, it is this: Pick against the Boston Celtics at your own peril. Before the upset over Cleveland, when regular-season performance was all we had to go on, the Cavaliers were an easy pick. Like my colleague Bradford Doolittle, I agonized a bit more over the Eastern Conference Finals before ultimately going with the Orlando Magic--my pick as champion since day one--in seven games, figuring the 82-game sample was more meaningful than the handful of great games the Celtics had played against the Cavaliers.
By now, I'm convinced Boston is legitimate and that we didn't see the true Celtics team during the regular season (at least the last four months of it). The question then becomes whether that is enough to beat a Lakers team that is playing some pretty fair basketball itself and holds home-court advantage. I think we've got a good chance of seeing the classic NBA Finals we anticipated when these two teams met two years ago and Boston won going away, which would be nice given how forgettable most recent Finals series have been.
Still, I'm picking the Lakers to win it.
Dwight Jaynes on lessons from the playoffs...
Do the Blazers look good after seeing how well Phoenix has played in these playoffs? After all, Portland is so far the only team to defeat the Suns on their homecourt during the postseason. Yeah, I think it makes Portland look good. But I've also thought about what a great opportunity this season would have been for the Blazers if they'd stayed healthy. There was a definite path there to a long playoff run.
SJ from Rip City Project with more lessons from the Conference Finals...
Accountability from within: This is a lesson learned from the Celtics. Great teams police themselves. Ask any one of them and they will say the players run the joint. Credit Doc Rivers for the job he has done, but we all know he is just the driver or valet parker of this car, aka it's his job to make sure it doesn't crash into anything. If someone misses a defensive assignment or ignores a player with a mismatch, best believe someone is holding him accountable. This lesson also was learned from the Lakers. You know who the king of what I just stated above is? Kobe Bryant. Count how many times he flails his arms in the air, or is getting in someone's ear for either missing him having a mismatch or one of his teammates not being in the right position. When your superstars have that kind of mentality and that kind of accountability they don't want to let their teammates down. You're no longer afraid of upsetting the coach, because truth be told at this level players can brush that anger off. But angering and upsetting your comrades is a different story. This applies to the Blazers because to tell the truth, no one has really taken that approach yet. Brandon Roy may be the unquestioned leader of this team, but I don't feel like he's felt comfortable enough to be that guy. Maybe next year he will who knows.
Mike Tokito says the "LeBron to Portland" crowd needs to go official...
Apparently a group of Blazers fans is trying to organize a rally to lure LeBron James to Portland. The group has a Facebook page and is saying it will hold the rally on Sunday, June 20, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
We're told by the Square office that there is nothing on its calendar scheduled that day, and we're trying to confirm if anyone has applied to use the square that day (you can't just show up with 300 people, even on a Sunday).
Clippers fans tried something similar when about 75 marched around the Staples Center during the Western Conference Finals, and the L.A. Times called them "delusional." BlazersEdge.com is running a poll on this, with only 30 percent saying they would support a James-to-Portland movement.
James with a pinwheel jersey sure seems a pipe dream. I do wonder, though, if this was more realistic, say if the Blazers made some draft-day trades to clear up a huge amount of cap space, if Blazers fans wouldn't jump all over the idea.
John Canzano: the Blazers hired a private investigator to tail Zach Randolph...
Randolph, who scored 43 points in his final game as a Blazer, scratched his head over that trade. He laughed at Portland for being foolish. But anyone paying attention understood the Blazers were flushing Randolph, even if he couldn't see it. What we didn't know at the time was that the Blazers hired a private investigator prior to making that move and ended up with a file one-inch thick on the Randolph and his posse.
"It was bad, bad stuff," a team source said.
Kerry Eggers writes that Chris Dudley is turning to Sacramento's Mayor, Kevin Johnson, for advice...
Dudley spoke with Kevin Johnson about two months ago.
"We were rookies together in Cleveland," Dudley says. "We talked about the (governor's) race, about campaigning, about what he went through, about how it was going for him as mayor of Sacramento. We talked about sports and how he used his background in the NBA to his advantage."
Our Mock Draft Database has been updated. There are some interesting new names from the heavy hitters.
Casey Holdahl with thoughts on each of yesterday's 6 prospects from Chad Buchanan.
Some of Chad Ford's brief thoughts on prospects that have been linked to the Blazers...
Trevor Booker, 6-8, Clemson
Booker is an undersized 4 but has a great motor, good athleticism and toughness. He needs to prove he can be an energy player in the mold of Jason Maxiell, Carl Landry andDeJuan Blair. How can he do that? The same way Landry did, by going into every workout and physically dominating. In the late first round, teams are looking for toughness and the ability to help right away. Booker could fit that bill.
Gani Lawal, 6-9, Georgia Tech
Lawal had a good college career but has struggled to get anyone to fall in love with him. That's partly because, while Lawal is a good player in a number of areas, he doesn't excel at anything in particular. In workouts, he's going to have to define for NBA teams who he is and show them that one thing that will translate to the next level.
Quincy Pondexter, 6-7, Washington
Of all the players on this list, Pondexter is the guy most likely to land in the first round. He's coming off a huge senior season that finally saw him live up to his ability. To seal the deal, teams want to see him shoot and handle the ball well enough to make defenses a little honest when they guard him.
Larry Sanders, 6-11, VCU
Sanders, like Pondexter, is close to a lock for the first round. His size and shot-blocking ability give NBA teams a lot to covet. But can he take his raw abilities and turn them into NBA tools? Sanders is going to have to beat someone in a workout between now and June 24.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express on Wesley Johnson...
Johnson stands out immediately. He looks every bit as smooth and polished as we envisioned coming in. The explosiveness he shows is unmistakable despite the late hour and the fact that his body is running on nothing but adrenaline at this point. Some of the dunks he pulls off are incredibly impressive. He glides through the air with the body control of a 6-2 guard, despite measuring out the previous day at 6-7 ¼ in shoes with a 7-1 wingspan (ideal size for an NBA wing). He's going to be a terror in transition right off the bat. There's no question about that.
Johnson changes speeds fluidly, looking more comfortable executing advanced ball-handling moves in this setting than we expected. His mid-range game sharpens into focus. He elevates beautifully off the floor for a pretty pull-up jumper, creating separation and banking the shot off the glass effortlessly from 17 feet. His footwork is outstanding, his moves look quick and decisive, and the touch on his shot is excellent.
Joe Freeman writes that the Blazers brass is headed to Europe...
One day after hosting a second waive of NBA draft prospects in a predraft workout, the Trail Blazers will hit the road to continue their draft preparation.
A contingent of team personnel - including director of college scouting Chad Buchanan, director of NBA scouting Michael Born and assistant coach Bill Bayno - will travel to Treviso, Italy later this week for the Adidas Eurocamp, which runs June 5-7.
Fran Fraschilla on an international Hoop Summit star I could see the Blazers move up slightly to grab if he slips a la Nicolas Batum...
Donatas Motiejunas, 7-0, Lithuania
Montiejunas is the only international player this year who has a chance at being selected in the lottery, but he is a long-term (two or three years) prospect. While he is playing solid minutes for Benetton Treviso in Italy's best league, the 19-year-old is still adjusting to the top level of European basketball.
The versatile left-handed big man has the skill level to play inside and out and but likely will be a face-up power forward. Montiejunas' biggest adjustment to the NBA will be his physical maturity, and that will come in time.
Ironically, though he has been a major name in Europe since he was 16, Montiejunas' performance in the 2009 Hoop Summit, where he and Serbia's Milan Macvan dominated the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Duke's Mason Plumlee, opened a lot of NBA eyes.
Chad Ford with some analysis on the athletic testing portion of the combine...
Luke Babbitt was really helped here. A 37.5-inch vertical, a 3.2-second sprint and an impressive 10.98 lane agility score blew away a few GMs I spoke with. The thinking was that he had poor lateral quickness. This measurement disputes that. We've had him No. 12 on our Mock Draft for two straight weeks. We might have him too low.
Avery Bradley also fared well, with a 37.5-inch vertical and a 3.1-second sprint score. Bradley's numbers are very close to those of both Russell Westbrook and George Hill. Bradley and Hill both had 37.5-inch verts. Westbrook's vert was an inch lower. Westbrook and Hill were slightly faster in the sprint. Westbrook was off the charts on the lateral quickness, while Bradley was average and Hill wasn't so good.
Larry Sanders didn't help himself either with a 28-inch max vert. Tiny Gallon reached 28.5 inches.
Joe Freeman quotes a careful Kevin Pritchard on the draft...
"We're having discussions," Pritchard said. "I would never get into the details of where and who -- we don't comment on that kind of speculation. But it's our job to look at every opportunity. ... You're always assessing the landscape, whether you're looking to move up, down or stay where you are. You're always assessing your options."
Dwight Jaynes is sick of young players...
Man, this team cannot afford to waste trade assets on young players. This is not a rebuilding time and not a time to gamble on unproven rookies who may or may not become stars. It's a time to win. I would hope anything done in the draft will be done with the idea of supporting a major deal for a veteran player - either through a sign-and-trade, a two- or three-for-one trade or a free-agent signing.
But with young players already stashed in Europe and a roster of others ready to prove their worth, no more inexperience can be tolerated.
- Rudy Fernandez meet your future self: Hedo Turkoglu.
- Senator Bill Bradley talks to SB Nation's Andrew Sharp.
- Brian Grant raised six figures for Parkinson's research.
- John Hollinger ranks the Blazers Finals teams from history via thomasikehara in the FanShots.
- Forget the LeBron tracker, check out the Sean Maydar.
- Bill Schonely turns 81, helps a lot of kids.
Drop anything I missed in the comments. And, please, frequent the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter