The Portland Trail Blazers are still on vacation, but they face a decision about Pat Connaughton’s contract and Evan Turner’s position before the season begins. Here’s a double-barreled version of the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag on those exact topics.
Assuming the list of Blazers' Fall Camp attendees is pretty much set, I started putting to paper what the upcoming roster/depth chart will likely look like (listed by starters, followed by their back-ups).
My 'guard depth' projections are based on Stotts continuing to have Dame and CJ initially sub for each other, as has been the case for the past 2 seasons.
I got through 'Point Guards' just fine (in order: Dame/CJ/Napier), but for 'Shooting Guards' I seized-up after typing 'CJ/Dame'. As I was about to pencil Connaughton in 3rd position, it occurred to me that the Blazers have a decision to make about him by Aug. 31st, I believe.
Q: Will you share your in-depth thoughts on what will drive management's decision about Pat C. and what you think his chances of sticking are?
As things stand now, that third shooting guard is going to be Evan Turner. If you bring that Pat Connaughton theory to Twitter you better subtweet it because if Turner gets wind of it, he will fry your cupcakes and frost them with your tears.
That said, Connaughton has a good chance of sticking because he’s like a baby chick’s first monologue: cheap, cheap, cheap. Despite trading Allen Crabbe, the Blazers are still over the luxury tax line. At least in theory, Connaughton brings athleticism, three-point shooting, and a hard-nosed attitude...all things Portland covets in their guards. They can’t afford to add an expensive veteran. They’d probably jump at a talented player on a rookie-scale contract but how are they going to get one of those for nothing? The alternatives at this point aren’t that great.
Connaughton lies below the suit-and-tie line in the rotation. Those positions are never safe. But unless Portland really liked someone they saw in Summer League (likely from another team) they’ll probably like Connaughton better than anyone else they could get for under $2 million.
The caveat here is that free agent money is basically a puddle in the Sahara right now. K.J. McDaniels just signed with Toronto for a non-fully-guaranteed, one-year contract. There might be a mega-steal out there somewhere. If that player would accept a minimum contract, the Blazers can sign him.
The Carmelo Anthony hoodie video is making the rounds. Plus Embid shooting threes. Plus everybody else shooting threes it seems. Is this all NBA players do in the summer? How much do you trust those vids? Is everybody improving their three point shot? Are they just videoing the best 30 secs? And if players are so good now what happens during the season?
They’re not recording the whole workout—or at least not posting the entire recording—so of course you’re seeing the best thirty seconds. But those skills are legit. NBA players really are that good at basketball.
Most of us have probably said to ourselves while shooting around, “If only I could stroke 80% of my threes maybe I could make the league.” Nooooope. During a given practice session, unopposed and relaxed, plenty of NBA players can bury the long ball at fantastic rates. Plus they do a hundred other things quicker, higher, and farther than we could ever dream.
The key to that assertion is “unopposed and relaxed”. You’re probably familiar with the difference between hitting a golf ball on the practice range and hitting it when people are actually keeping score. Now attempt that same swing with a lightning-quick, 6’7 leaper coming at you, a garbage can lid in one hand and a two-by-four in the other. Both implements are going in the air to block that ball. Either might hit you as well. And you better complete your swing quickly because he’ll be here in under two seconds. Will you be as good under those conditions as you are in practice? Neither are they.
For that reason, no...I don’t put much stock in those videos. Carmelo already had that junk in his trunk, so that’s not surprising. But how many times have you heard (and seen), “Center X has finally developed a jump shot” only to find that development terribly underwhelming? Videos are great for a summer showcase, but nothing demonstrated before the games count really matters. It’s all kissing the mirror. You gotta get out on a date to know whether you’ve got game.
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