Following last Thursday's 2011 NBA Draft, Henry Abbott of True Hoop joined Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report podcast. The pair talked a little Portland Trail Blazers.
Abbott didn't mince words as he said that point guard Raymond Felton "got a little fat," two guard Brandon Roy has raised questions with how he's dealt with adversity and that the organization as a whole suffers from a "leadership vacuum" and "feels like a middling team" that needs a "health miracle" to push past its current lot.
Here's a link to the audio. The following is a transcript of their conversation.
Note: In the first answer Abbott references "the dreaded middle." That is a carry over from an earlier portion of the podcast in which Simmons and Abbott discuss how it's better for an NBA team to be either really bad or really good rather than hovering around average.
Bill Simmons: "Portland turned Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez and the rights to that Finnish guy into Raymond Felton. Which I think is a good trade for Portland."
Henry Abbott: "Yeah, I like it. Raymond Felton feels a little bit like the dreaded middle that we were just talking about. If I'm right, he only has one year on his contract too so it's not like you're stuck in the middle. Maybe he's far better. He's had moments. I feel like he got a little fat. When he was a rookie he was incredibly athletic. And then he got bigger, I don't know if fat is the right word. But he started playing more of a power game, I didn't like his game as much like that. I liked it when he was really fast. Certainly nothing to sneeze at. I don't think it's a big downgrade from Andre Miller, who wasn't going to be in Portland long no matter what.
"As for Rudy, there's a guy who works for a Western Conference team. He has been saying to me for years that everybody thought Rudy would get himself to the Lakers or Suns or Mavericks, some team that's very good at using their offense to make space and then he would just murder everybody. In Portland, he very often with Brandon Roy's injuries, Brandon stopped drawing the double teams and Rudy tried to score against muscly large defenders in his grill. That's just not his game. He's kind of a scrawny dude. Just like [J.J.] Barea shines in Dallas because they create space for him, when Dirk is doubled or Dirk kicks it to Rudy he's going to be beautiful there. He's a great wide open shooter. When they do the hot close, he can put the ball on the floor and do all kinds of stuff on the move. He can finish lobs. He'll be great in Dallas."
Bill Simmons: "Brandon Roy, what happens with this? Where does this go? They drafted the Duke kid, they traded Rudy so he fits into the Rudy spot. Is this the biggest albatross contract in the league not named Gilbert Arenas?"
Henry Abbott: "It's up there. It really is. That said, he has been effective without athleticism his whole career. Now he just has way less athleticism than ever. I don't think he's going to be a zero production guy but what worries me is that the harder things get for him the more he lashes out about how he needs to be the man. That's the opposite of how it should go. It reminds me a little bit of Kobe [Bryant] right now. Now that there are signs of stress, now that he's less effective it's the time we hear how much about how he needs to get the shots first. That gets corrosive in both cases over time. I don't know if either one of them can adjust to that. They both have plenty of years left to suffer not really being the most efficient players on their team even as they want to take a bunch of shots."
Bill Simmons: "What's the mood in Rip City? A lot of high hopes. Entering the playoffs they were the 'sleeper.' They lose to Dallas and then Dallas wins the title. You could argue that maybe that Portland team was better than we thought."
Henry Abbott: "You sure can. But I think honestly the mood is now finally clear that Paul Allen was always the problem."
Bill Simmons: "The GM firing. The Rich Cho thing was a little weird."
Henry Abbott: "Honestly, I really think Portland fell in love with Kevin Pritchard. They just haven't had that kind of charisma in that city anywhere. In any part of the city, this was the guy who seemed like everything he said came true. He seemed like this charismatic, vocal genius. Some of that was projecting of course. He's a very inspiring guy in front of the camera.
"Rich Cho was not inspiring at all. It was almost comedy. Everybody liked his shrewdness, his hard work, his databases but they introduced him as if he was Kevin Pritchard. They made him very public, had cameras follow him around and not one thing memorable happened that whole first day and they never put him on camera again.
"I think there's a leadership vacuum there. They haven't had that thing to latch onto to really get excited about, especially in the face of all this bad news. Oden and Roy injuries. It feels like a middling team. It's unclear how this is going to become an un-middling team unless there is some kind of Brandon Roy or Greg Oden health miracle."
Bill Simmons: "Depending on how the salary cap shakes out they could be in a lot of trouble. That Brandon Roy contract hogs up a lot of salary. I don't know how that's going to work with the rollbacks. If there's an amnesty clause, which there seems like there might be, if this all works out, you could just basically knock a guy off of your salary cap and pay him off. The way Dallas paid off Michael Finley. That's a guy who would be an amnesty clause guy. Brandon Roy. I think you wipe that contract off the cap."
Henry Abbott: "This is why there is going to be tremendous value in being well under the cap because somebody needs to scoop up those amnesty clause guys. Michael Finley's next contract was extremely cheap. If I was an NBA team, assuming there is an amnesty clause -- and there might not be -- get all the way as low as you can get under the cap."
Bill Simmons: "I think there's going to be one."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter