Tag: Portland Trailblazers

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Bobcats, Game 3

Charlotte sends Gerald Wallace to Portland for picks, savings


Gerald Wallace for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, and two future first round picks. If we reduce the trade between the Charlotte Bobcats and Portland Trailblazers to that simple form, both teams did well for themselves. The playoff team acquired a talented piece to complement their already existing core, and the rebuilding club cleared cap space, saved money, and acquired draft picks. Yet if we bring that fuzzy mess into focus, questions of short and long-term strategy seem to loom over any fulfillment of those teams’ general, immediate goals.

Portland needs to restructure their team around LaMarcus Aldridge, and acquiring Wallace isn’t too bad of a start. He’s an incredibly versatile defender who should give the Blazers a lot of lineup flexibility. However, for Portland to field their most effective lineups — say, Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Wallace, and Aldridge, for example — they necessarily have to play Wallace at a position he’s averse to playing and put Aldridge in a full-time position battling against opposing centers. Such a lineup decision isn’t inherently bad, but it does introduce quite a few questions. The biggest may be what exactly becomes of Marcus Camby upon his return; the positional fluidity of Wallace, Batum, and Aldridge creates a ton of interesting possibilities, but Camby has historically made such a profound defensive impact with the Blazers that it would be difficult to deny him major minutes.

However, assuming that Wallace introduces any kind of minute/positional crunch could be wishful thinking. Wallace’s production has declined rather sharply this season, primarily because of his complacency within Charlotte’s offense. His field goal percentage had fallen to the lowest of his Bobcats career (.433), in part because Wallace is taking (and missing) more jumpers than ever before, and getting to the rim less and less. This season’s Wallace has not been an accurate representation of his Bobcats career; he’s capable of more, but whether he’s willing to provide that dynamic slashing for the Blazers has yet to be determined. In principle, Wallace could be an interesting piece for Portland. But if we take him at face value based on his performance this season, it would be a stretch to see him as anything more than a good defensive addition and boost to the Blazers’ wing depth. Even then, losing Cunningham, Przybilla, and Marks obliterates Portland’s rotation of bigs, and puts Camby and Aldridge on an island.

There’s no reason for Portland not to make this trade, but for the moment it relies on the Blazers playing a lot of small-ball and Wallace reversing course mid-season. It’s palatable as an idea, but could be very different when we see the product on the court.

Charlotte received two “future” first round picks as the meat of their return, with Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, and Sean Marks included as trimmings. Przybilla embodies the savings ($21 million over the next two seasons, compared to the Bobcats’ total had they retained Wallace) the Bobcats always crave, and cutting that kind of salary (combined with possibly moving another player or two in the off-season) puts Charlotte in a more flexible position moving forward. That said, a true rebuild doesn’t begin for the Bobcats until Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson are off the roster.

The timing (and possible protectino) of the two first round picks acquired also greatly affects the outcome of this deal for the Bobcats. Michael Jordan’s club is in need of serious prospects; Tyrus Thomas, D.J. Augustin, and Gerald Henderson are decent pieces, but purely complementary ones. There is no Bobcats core, and teams in such a position should be in constant pursuit of finding even a single piece to begin building around. If it seems like the Bobcats are rudderless, it’s because they are.

The fact that the picks acquired are described as “future” first rounders is slightly troubling, if only because Charlotte could sure use some help this summer. Whether picks or prospects, the Bobcats need some kind of infusion of talent, and this deal may not even begin to pay off for Charlotte (in terms of actual players) for a few seasons. Savings and cap clearing are great, but the end goal is always to make the team better. The Bobcats set themselves up to maybe start improving down the road, but the actual rebuilding process won’t begin immediately.

Marcus Camby doesn’t want to be traded


Portland is very actively looking for trades — GM Rich Cho realizes that the old Roy/Oden plan is dead and it is time to restructure. Andre Miller is drawing a lot of interest and may well be moved.

Marcus Camby also is on the trade block — except he’s not cool with that, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Someone close to Camby told Broussard that if the center were traded to a rebuilding team (such as Charlotte, where he was rumored to be going last week) Camby would seriously consider retiring.

One elite team that reportedly has interest is Orlando, which needs a backup center after sending Marcin Gortat out. Exactly what kind of deal could be swung is unclear but Broussard said they talking.

Frankly, Camby doesn’t want to go to an elite team, either. He would prefer to stay in Portland, where his family is. But this is a business. One that after 15 years of being in Camby could just walk away from if he isn’t happy with the final destination.

Report: Nets looking to land Andre Miller along with ‘Melo

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The Denver Nuggets have suspended trade talks for Carmelo Anthony through the weekend, as Anthony is currently at home with his family after the untimely death of his sister. It was the classy and right thing for the Nuggets to do.

But it doesn’t stop the rumor mill from cranking.

The Nets are hoping to pull Portland into a multi-team, with the hope of reuniting Anthonywith Andre Miller in New Jersey. From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

The Nuggets would likely acquire forwards Derrick Favors and Troy Murphy and two first-round picks from the Nets in potential deal. Under one scenario, New Jersey would send point guard Devin Harris to the Blazers. The roadblock is that the Nuggets also covet the Blazers’ Nicolas Batum and Portland officials have shown no interest in trading their versatile young forward. Other players and draft picks could also be involved.

“There are some other scenarios, but [Nets general manager] Billy King is really pushing for this,” one NBA executive said. “He is trying to figure out what Denver wants.”

Brandon Roy has said that either he or Miller should be moved because they don’t play well together. However, with Roy out due to injury, the Blazers may be hesitant to make any bold moves. Swapping one’s starting point guard for Devin Harris would certainly be considered bold.

Still the big question in all of this remains: would Anthony sign an extension to stay in New Jersey? Clearly this is the deal Denver wants to make happen — a return package including Favors and picks is the best on the board.

But Anthony’s people have reportedly not been supportive of a move to New Jersey, and it’s been reported that he would not sign an extension there. If that is indeed the case, the Nets have no reason to go through with the trade.

The Nets will move to Brooklyn in two years, but for now, they’re a pretty bad team. Anthony doesn’t want to lose for a couple years waiting for things to get better, so New Jersey needs a talent upgrade to make their roster a bit more appealing. Eventually Nets owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z would need to sell Melo on being the face of their franchise if he’s ever to end up playing for NJ, but given the ‘New York or bust!’ talk coming out of Anthony’s camp, it seems a long shot.

Whether Miller is really an upgrade over Harris is up for debate (the numbers are fairly close and Harris is seven years younger). But it is something being discussed.

Saturday Starting 5: Injury Damage

Detroit Pistons v Portland Trail Blazers
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Hey, so, you’re stuck with me on the weekends, so I thought we’d put together something you can count on. Every weekend here at PBT we’ll have the Saturday Starting Five. Five elements, chosen thematically (so I’m not just basically vomiting words onto a screen for you) and brought for discussion about the NBA. Today’s topic? Injuries that shape this season.

The Big Guy On Ice. Again.

All the talk this week was about Greg Oden having microfracture surgery for the second time on the second knee. It’s the kind of development which makes the hill that much higher for the Blazers to climb. Most annoyingly, it lowers the ceiling on the club. The Blazers have been up and down this season, but the thought was that if they could just reach their potential in the other areas of the game, then add a young, productive center like Oden, all of a sudden a championship seems less like a fairy tale. But with Oden on the shelf, the team not only has to lower their expectations for this season, but to reconfigure their vision of the future. The Blazers will need a new plan because Marcus Camby won’t last forever and they still need a true big to compliment LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Other Terrible Blazer Injury Situation

Oden is at least a conundrum the team is used to. They’ve been playing mostly without him for years. Brandon Roy having to toe the line on avoiding microfracture surgery is a pretty significant development. There’s been some clarification that Roy does not have bone-on-bone arthritis, but the fact is that his knee is pretty jacked. It’s not going to get much better, and you can’t help but wonder if the Blazers are hoping instead of thinking that Roy will be able to avoid injury. And in that instance, the Blazers’ season is pretty much over. The Blazers are pretty much at their breaking point with injuries. They can’t sustain any more hits to their roster, and we’re in November. It’s a long season, and they’re still having to deal with a superstar who just simply may not be the best he can be this season, or ever.

The Dynasty Undone

Yao is already on the shelf for two weeks. Already. And that’s a shame. What’s even more of a shame is that the Rockets can’t get into a rhythm with him being in and out. It just disrupts things and they’re trying to almost be two different teams which simply isn’t going to work. They need a player like Yao to work around so they have consistency when he’s not in. But finding players like Yao is simply too difficult. They can’t not have Yao, he’s too good. But his minute limit complicates things and makes it very difficult for them to be a complete team. It’s hard to see this era in Rockets history ending happily ever after.

The Jazz Addition

Mehmet Okur is due back within the forseeable future. It’s true that he won’t be back to full strength for a good long time after his Achilles’ injury, but getting Okur back to bolster the core of Millsap and Jefferson which has already proven effective is huge. It’s like the Blazers’ situation, only if Oden wasn’t as good of a rebounder and could shoot threes. It’s another weapon for a Jazz team that is already deep and clicking together. He could wind up as the difference between being at home or on the road for most of the first round.

The Championship Bruiser

Hey, take a look, the Celtics are the top team in the East. Looks like they’re just back to business. Yep, this team is really great, even if can’t really improve due to age or… oh, wait. They get Kendrick Perkins back next year. Yeesh. Imagine how good this team is going to be with Perkins as the starting center versus the two constantly banged up old guys they have now? Even Perkins at less than 100% is going to make them meaner, tougher, and more productive on the glass. It’s scary how good this Celtics team could be.

Armon Johnson puts on a rather quiet show

Armon Johnson, Channing Frye
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Box score watchers will see Armon Johnson’s six-point, three-assist outing against the Phoenix Suns as a marginal contribution, yet it was anything but. Almost all of the Blazer regulars put on a show, but Johnson, a second round pick partially responsible for picking up some of the minutes left behind by Jerryd Bayless, stood out nonetheless. NBA fans may not have too many chances to watch the lightning-fast Patty Mills in action as a part of the Blazer backcourt this season, but watching Johnson help out off the bench is a hell of a consolation prize.

Johnson’s defense is the most immediately captivating asset of his game. He spent many of his nine minutes D-ing up Suns backup Goran Dragic, and rarely did Johnson afford Dragic a step in any direction without blanketing him. His speed makes him an already effective pick-and-roll defender, and that technique will only improve as Johnson gets more and more opportunities to play. In the meantime, he’s likely already one of Portland’s most effective perimeter defenders, an attribute that should help keep him on the court, even with some stiff competition for minutes in the Blazers’ rotation.

Not that Johnson’s performance on offense wasn’t equally praise-worthy. He’s still not an NBA-ready jumpshooter, but Johnson is a very natural playmaker. One of the game’s signature plays was a fast break dish from Johnson to a streaking Wesley Matthews, and that was hardly the only time that Johnson showed off a knack for play creation.

So far, so good for Armon. He’s not going to shock the world in nine-minute spurts, but he’s already quietly winning over NBA die-hards with his quickness, vision, and defense.