Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com discusses Channing Frye's time in Portland, and transformation from a traditional, screen-setting, back-to-the-basket power forward to a floor-spacing, three-point-shooting "big". He was traded at the deadline from the Orlando Magic to the Eastern Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers.
Along the way, Haynes highlights Frye's conflicted feelings while in Portland: His contrasting desire for more of a role in Nate McMillian's scheme, while not disturbing the rise of a young, and at that time, promising team.
Frye's role was to stay down on the block, set solid screens and on occasion the ball would get dumped down to him for scoring opportunities. That's the typical workload for a power forward, especially during those times.
Except those responsibilities didn't fit Frye's skill set, and it showed in the limited minutes he received.
He tried to make his case respectfully and professionally that he be allowed to roam beyond the 3-point arc and add another dimension to his game and for his team, but he was vetoed. He was in his mid-20s and hadn't yet carved out a niche in the league. The Trail Blazers were a young, exciting team trending upward. He played 63 games that year and only hoisted 33 3-pointers. They won 54 games that year and he couldn't sit there and pout about his game being held back.
Haynes also chronicles the evolution of Frye's game from prototypical power forward to one of the early adopters of the three-point shooting, stretch-four. Frye even pointed out the exact moment he turned the corner, and the man responsible for this change:
In a practice session earlier in the season, Frye was participating in a 3-on-3 game when Gentry came over to observe and he eventually abruptly stopped the game.
"He said, 'Why are you shooting that bad two? Just take a step back,' " Frye remembered him shouting. "And he goes, 'Keep shooting them until you can't shoot anymore.' And he was like, 'If you keep missing, they'll blame me. Just keep shooting that ball.' "
One of Haynes' closing points will likely resonate with Trail Blazers fans: the fan sentiment surrounding Frye leaving Portland for Phoenix after the 2008-09 season.
When I covered the Portland Trail Blazers, Frye was always a player fans brought up as, "The one they let get away too soon." He was a beloved player even though he only played two seasons there, and the feeling was mutual. Frye loved Portland so much that he purchased a home there and made it his offseason residence, which really made it a tough situation to deal with for Trail Blazer fans.
Haynes also discusses the Frye's potential effect on the Cavaliers. To read the Haynes' piece in it's entirety you can click here.