Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

Nate McMillian thinks Portland’s roster could use some changes

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The Portland Trail Blazers have been in “stockpile assets” mode for a couple of years now. They have managed to accumulate a lot of fine players, and haven’t really made a disastrous move. More importantly, they somehow managed to field a playoff team with two guys who should be their franchise players almost completely hobbled by knee injuries.

Still, the Blazers’ roster is a bit overstuffed and incomplete right now, and coach Nate McMillian wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings on the state of the roster to Mike Barrett, Mike Rice, and Brian Wheeler on Blazers Courtside earlier (hat tip to Ben Golliver of Blazer’s Edge):

“I think there are a lot of questions that we have to answer,” McMillan said. “The first thing is to balance the roster. The combination of the twos that we have — with Wesley [Matthews], Rudy [Fernandez] and Brandon [Roy] — that combination is just… really… there’s no way we can play the three of those guys.

“Now that we’ve brought in Gerald Wallace, Nicolas [Batum]’s contract will be coming up pretty soon. What’s going to happen in that situation?

“Our backup point guard, our guard position. I played Brandon at that spot most of the second half of the season. We’ve got to look at the point guard position.

“And Brandon Roy. How did he come out of the season and what [is] his role going to be?

“There’s a number of things I think we have to address. Backup center. Is Greg [Oden]… when will he be ready to go next season?”

After listing off questions concering both guard positions, the center position and the small forward position, McMillan concluded: “All of those things we will have to look at here before the draft and, if possible, if it is possible to make some moves to improve the team, we’ve certainly got to do that.”

Well, that’s certainly different from the “we’re one or two pieces away” talk you generally hear from teams during the off-season. McMillian appears to want some serious changes to the Blazer roster, and he appears to want them soon. Free agency won’t help much, either — Andre Miller, Greg Oden, and Patty Mills are the only players on the roster without guaranteed deals for next season. The Blazers have been known for wheeling and dealing on draft night in previous years — we’ll see if they start working the phones aggressively after tonight’s draft lottery goes down and every team knows what pick they’re holding.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.