Time for another crack at the Blazer's Edge Mailbag, covering your questions about the Portland Trail Blazers.
If you could choose one tactical adjustment that Stotts and the team would fully buy into this season, what would it be? This is assuming that certain things like defense and the fast break are already expected to a point. And of course, "winning" certainly doesn't count.
You took away defense from me, which is where I think most of the buy-in will occur. This team may not look great offensively no matter what they do, but they can't help but scan the locker room and notice how powerful they could become as a defensive unit. Trapping, forcing turnovers, hitting bodies...we may see some defensive tactics this season that have been missing in Portland forever.
But since you want to go for the offensive end, I'll name two. The first is constant motion. After all, what good is all that athleticism if you don't use it?
Last year's offense was based, in part, on finding open space and standing in it. This year the team will need to blitz through that open space, with or without the ball, moving defenders constantly, always trying to create a lane for the ball to approach the rim, and tiring out the opponents in the process. Standing still will be anathema. Though the ball will likely remain in the guards' hands longer than we're used to seeing, they still have to move and probe, not stand-still dribble. If the motion stops, Portland's offense stalls.
Motion should create opportunities for offensive rebounds as well, a near-necessity for this roster and something it's been built for. Everyone on the team should be able to buy into crashing the boards on both ends, but those bigs know that they're not getting the ball in the offense much. Their eyes should light up at the prospect of retrieving misses and jamming them home.
My question is about Mike Miller. We haven't heard too much about what is happening with his situation, since Portland acquired him (beyond the initial talk of buying him out or waiving him). Do you think Mike Miller will actually be on the opening night roster and contribute to Portland's season? And if so, how do you imagine him fitting in with the young nucleus that Portland is constructing?
I don't anticipate he'll be here for long, but you never know.
There's no incentive for the Blazers to do anything with him sooner than they have to. He's not taking up cap space. (They'd have to pay for his contract slot anyway, as they're below the mandated minimum salary amount a team can carry.) They don't need an extra roster spot yet. He still could be included in a trade. If there's no cost to carry him, why give up a potential trade asset sooner than you have to? Or the Blazers could just keep Miller under the same principle. Why lose a player for nothing?
If Miller does stay with the team, he would add much-needed perimeter shooting to the wing corps. He might not be able to keep up with the rest of the lineup or fill the small forward role in Portland's schemes for extended minutes but he'd make a serviceable reserve or even short-minute veteran starter in a pinch. Coach Stotts might lean on him just because Miller would understand what Stotts is trying to do. Having been part of winning teams, Miller would pick up on the system right away and know how to execute.
That said, my guess is that his advanced career stage, coupled with Portland's apparent commitment to clearing space for their young players to see the floor, will make waiving Miller an easy decision. He'd flourish elsewhere. Every minute he played in Portland would come at the cost of a small forward with more future and higher hopes. Miller's presence alone wouldn't guarantee enough wins to turn a lower-tier team into a playoff squad. The math all leads to the waiver wire if the Blazers can't trade him.
A while back I promised to do a Mailbag answering some of the more personal or site-related questions I've received. I can't see doing a whole separate piece on those at this point, but I thought I'd throw in a couple here.
I kinda dropped away from B.E. for a year because of personal stuff and now I'm back and everything's changed! Love the new staff and all the articles! Wow! But how do you feel doing less? Do you miss the days when it was "your site"?
I'm not actually doing much less. I used to do 5 features a week. This summer I've been doing 3. The difference is that those 5 used to comprise all 5 posts for the week at the site. Now my 3 pieces stand among a dozen others. You're getting way more content far quicker and with more perspectives than you used to. I'd say sacrificing a couple chances to hear from me is worth it. When the season starts my workload will pick up again, so you'll be getting most everything you're accustomed to from me plus all the extra content. It's amazing.
Not for a moment do I miss the old days. I loved writing then and I love writing now. I'm not getting any less joy out of the experience. Now the joy of seeing others be able to fulfill their dreams because of the community we've created together gets added to the excitement of creating content myself. This is ideal. And we're not done! We'll be targeting a few positions as we roll into the season and asking for some skilled contributors to bolster our amazing staff, so watch for that.
What's one thing you wish everybody knew about what you do? Or one thing you wished they knew more about?
We probably don't publicize enough that we're part of a large network, SBNation, that does fantastic work. There are something like 400 sites in the network now, covering everything from soccer to combat sports to American football (niche market that it is). We've grown over the years, but the network has grown even more around us. You have no idea how hard they work to make sure we're ahead of the game, connected, and have the resources and support we need. The professionalism at SBNation combined with forward-looking vision make this THE place to work in sports media right now, in my opinion. The network that started as a core principle of, "Serve the fans by bringing them great information and giving them a place to live out their passion" has morphed into a large, stable, highly reputable company delivering more bang for your buck than anyone. It's a great thing to be a part of.
Are we doing Blazer's Edge Night again this year? I mean of course we are, but any news?
Yes, and soon. It's going to be a wild ride in more ways than one. Stay tuned.
Favorite D&D character class?
I mostly DM nowadays but it's got to be Paladin. It's just who I am. And that pic in the first edition Player's Handbook of the Paladin fighting minions from the nether realms? Sold for life.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer them!