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Blazers and Babies: Excitement Mixes with Frustration

A columnist reflects on the state of the Trail Blazers while he awaits a bundle of joy.

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As I sit on the couch and wait for my very pregnant wife to give birth to our first child, I’m filled with excitement and anticipation. Yes, I’m going to be a father any day now and while there are nerves aplenty, there’s also a great deal of excitement emanating from our little Melbourne home.

That’s emotion I haven’t felt in a long time watching the Portland Trail Blazers.

Let me be clear, while I will always support this team, my current domestic situation is a much more important distraction.

I plan to spend a lot of time watching the Blazers with my little girl, explaining to her in a few years that while Anfernee Simons is the reigning MVP and Nassir Little Defensive Player of the Year, they had uneasy, slow starts to their respective careers.

I even hope to take her back to the Moda Centre — once international travel becomes the norm again — to experience the joy of watching a game in person.

But I hate to think what it would be like for Blazers fans who aren’t lucky enough to have this amazing life change on the horizon to distract them.

This team is close to horrid to watch, particularly on the road. And it’s absolutely, 100 percent because of the roster.

Yes, the Blazers have a rookie coach who still needs a while to find his feet but the Blazers’ struggles are not his fault. And neither were they Terry Stotts’.

This team needs to trade CJ McCollum, we are well past the point of no return. It’s patently obvious, this team has a massive chain shackled to its lower limbs and McCollum is the ball at the end of that chain.

Yes, we know he hit 28 last night, yes, the Blazers won. But it was against the league-worst Detroit Pistons. He needs to show up when he’s actually needed.

The backcourt is small, slow and poor defensively. But thanks to the return of Norman Powell, a potential McCollum departure will not hurt.

McCollum, who is also expecting his first child, doesn’t play defense, aside from the odd block or steal. He stops the ball. I repeat, he stops the ball, ignoring better scoring opportunities for teammates and settling for higher degree of difficulty possessions.

The other thing that irked me, not sure if it bothered anyone else, but McCollum, in his post-game TNT interview against the Denver Nuggets claimed that “we’re a lot better than I thought we were going to be.” How are we settling for this? This team needs to have loftier expectations than this. Seriously, this adds insult to injury.

It’s actually quite frustrating to watch and, I’ll admit, there have been times I’ve thought about throwing things at my screen.

One of things that stops me is the thought of my daughter’s imminent arrival, getting her room ready, touching my wife’s belly and talking to the little person I hope is hearing me inside.

But back to the Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic’s Jekyll and Hyde persona, Robert Covington’s re-appearing man trick, Tony Snell’s shooting slump — for the umpteenth time, I do not care what his three point percentage was last season.

The consolations I take heart in are Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, Larry Nance Jr. and Cody Zeller — the bench. I think I might procure a Little jersey for the little one. Fitting, no?

There’s also the deep-seeded belief that Lillard will re-capture the consistency that placed him in the prestigious Top 75 players of all time list, announced earlier this season.

So this team is in the dumps on the road, but it doesn’t mean decisive and bold changes can’t turn things around.

Regardless of what you might think about Neil Olshey and the allegations made against him, he has to be moved on, as quickly as possible — I honestly don’t want to even contemplate a world in which he’s able to return.

Sadly, we’re not even at that stage, we’re in purgatory because as these words are being typed Neil Olshey is still employed by the Portland Trail Blazers and we have no idea what’s happening with this ongoing investigation.

He needs to be replaced by a General Manager prepared to trade McCollum, I don’t care if it’s Danny Ainge, Dennis Lindsey, Tayshaun Prince, Chad Buchanan or Marc Eversley. They need to trade McCollum and then one, if not both, of Nurkic and Covington. I want Damian Lillard to stay in Portland beyond next summer, and right now, not sure why he would return.

Whatever today looks like, tomorrow always holds possibilities. That’s the miracle of new life. Who knows? Maybe that’ll take hold for the Blazers too. The version she’ll see when she’s old enough to understand will be much different than this one, guaranteed. May it be a better and brighter one.

Adrian is understandably taking the weekend off in order to be present for this Big Event, so we’re running his column early this week! The Blazer’s Edge staff wishes his family all the best as they welcome Damina Lillardopolis Bernecich into the world. Ok, that might not be her name, but it probably should be. Congratulations Berneciches! All our best wishes are with you.