Archive for NBA

Mr. Blazer or Mr. Paycheck?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2008 by blazersog

It was not all that long ago that we posted about our Coach and what we in Rip City thought about him.  The consensus was that Nate is doing a heck of a job, but it LMA or Roy wanted him out he would see the door. 

Last week we were hit with the news that Nate declined the opportunity to negotiate a new contract and instead wanted to “earn” it.  Since this is a slow time (between the Draft and before summer league) sports radio and the blogs lit up with the little nugget nestled in the Oregonian.

So what does this all mean?  First, it is important to note that we here at the OG support Nate and feel he is one hell of a coach.  Look at our team last year.  No one outside of Portland expected much of us after Oden went down.  And in all honestly, not many in Portland expected a .500 season.  A lot of that has to do with our team, but lets not forget that Nate lays the foundation.  So we are on record as supporting our coach.

So….why the big deal that Nate said he wants to earn his contract?  He never said he wants out, he simply said he signed a 5 year deal and he will honor that deal….good enough right?  RIGHT??  Well not really…at least for some.

Let’s not forget that Nate left Seattle on his own and was rewarded with an excellent contract.  He has shown he is not afraid to leave a comfortable place and go for the money.  If Mr. Sonic could leave the Sonics like that he could surely leave the Blazers just as easily.

Portland’s new sports radio station 95.5 The Game (which by the way provides amazing Blazer-related content ever day…thank god) was buzzing.  Every explanation was discussed, every opinion was given, and Nate himself even went on Wheels After Work to explain his words. 

Here is a quick rundown of what Portlanders think about Nate’s situation:

1.  He is holding out for lots of money

2.  He is being honorable and serving his contract and will deal with it later.

3.  He is going to bolt for another team in 2 years.

4.  He is not the coach for this team

5.  ETC, ETC, ETC

So, let’s cut through all of this and look at it from the one standpoint that has not been discussed.

First, Nate makes $5 million a year.  A top tier salary for a coach in the league.  Phil Jackson makes $10 million a year, top of all coaches.  If the Blazers wanted to extend Nate right now you would see him get a jump in salary.  Probably $2 million a year or more.  Just to be conservative and for sake of argument we will say he would get a $1 million jump per year.  So an extended contract at the minimum of $6 million a year keep him at the top of the league, and very happy.  Its hard to turn down $6 million a year.  So, we all know Nate turned down some serious cash.  Let alone the fact that the team wants to keep him…job security and money is hard to pass up.  So why do it?

Well, that is easy.  Nate wants more money.  Just like any player, or person in a job if they see the ability to make more they will go after it.  So why does this concern people?  IT SHOULD NOT.  Let’s look at this from a different angle.  If Nate were to jump at the chance to resign he would be saying a lot of things.  The loudest is the fact that he is going after job security.  If Nate were to sign a 3 year extension at $6 million a year he is guaranteed $18 million at the minimum.  No matter how good or bad the team is he gets his cash.  So passing up speaks volumes about what Nate thinks about this team.

What Nate is telling everyone is this team is DAMN GOOD.  Who better knows the team then to coach?  If Nate were to jump at the chance for job security he is telling everyone that he is unsure about the success of the team and wants to secure himself because this team may not live up to expectations.  What he is saying about not re-singing is that this team will succeed and he is in line to cash in.  No person in his position would turn down guaranteed money if the team was bad.  And no person would sign for millions less when they knew the team would blow up like expected putting them in line to get a bigger payday.  By riding out his contract he gives up security, but he also gains leverage when we start our march to a championship. 

So while the rest of Rip City freaks over this news, read between the lines, understand that what Nate said by not re-singing is music to our ears.  When our team goes above and beyond what even we expect and Nate is getting Zen like money remember this post.  Thank you Nate for showing us you believe in our team, and letting us peek behind the curtain to our assured success.

Advertisements

So long James..we hope we’re not making a mistake

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 9, 2008 by blazersog

The Oreonglive blog reports this morning that James Jones is ready to sign a deal with his home town team the Miami Heat for a guaranteed 8 million for two years, and an option for more cash after those two years (providing that the 3-point assassin delivers).  James opted out of his last year with the blazers for 3.2 million and it sounds like Miami will be getting our James Jones Mojo for just a 800k more. We understand that there are more factors that could create a salary cap block for our coveted future all star point guard,  __________(insert name here), but for what James is asking are we making a mistake by letting him go?

Let\'s hope the rain stays in Portland

We know that last year, our beloved Ime Udoka was taken by the San Antonio Spurs, and we were happy for the townie that got his money and also a chance to compete for the championship. However, Ime, was more of a town hero and not someone who the Blazers relied on at the 3 point range. He did well shooting, but was never rated as the #1 3-pointer in the league. Listen up Blazer fans, we are about to let James “44% from the 3” Jones walk away. We don’t want to keep saving our money for a player that we don’t even know would look our direction (i.e. D Will). Grandma always said, a bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush. Our team looks solid right now counting James Jones in our roster spot. There is a great chemistry building in the Rose Garden and one big reason for that is James Jones. Why give that up?

We sound like we’re doubting K.P., and yes there is that doubt. But we still think a GM batting .700 is pretty amazing (count the miss on Sergio being a good point guard). As Blazers fans we need to voice our opinion even though we trust our GM. Today is the day for free agents to sign new contracts. Knowing K.P. he might have a trick or two in his sleeve and the blog might be talking prematurely. We just know that as fans keeping James Jones would be a great start to this years free agency.

BlazersOG Exclusive Interview With Russell Westbrook

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by blazersog

After helping the UCLA Bruins advance to back-to-back Final Four appearances, Russell Westbrook joined teammates Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in declaring early for the 2008 NBA Draft. After deciding to be physical-only participant at the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, it’s apparent that Westbrook sees himself as a guaranteed top 15 selection. I had a chance to catch up with Westbrook just after he went through his workout at the camp. 

Woody Wommack: You were a late arrival at the camp, electing to come with the physical-only group, what do you think of the atmosphere in Orlando? 

Russell Westbrook: It’s good, I’m excited to be here.

WW: Did you know what to expect coming in because you’ve talked to former teammates who have been through the camp?

RW: A little bit, I’ve been practicing and working out so I kind of expecting what I was going to do. 

WW: How do you think you did in the non-basketball physical testing?

RW: I did alright, but we’ll see what happens.

WW: Do you think some of the activities are overrated, i.e. bench press?

RW: I mean it depends on how teams take it. I just needed to go in there and do my best I could and see from there. 

WW: In early draft projections you’re sort of all over the board, what would think if you fell to pick  No. 13 and the Portland Trailblazers?

RW: That’s alright with me, I’ve worked this hard wherever I go, whatever team takes me I’m just going to go in there and give it my best.

WW: Do you see yourself as a point guard in the NBA?

RW: Yep.

WW: What about the people that say you’re a “combo guard?” 

RW: It doesn’t matter, wherever the team needs me to go, probably at the next level that will be the point. Unless I automatically grow 3-4 inches in the next week or so, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, so most likely I’ll play the point. 

WW: Do you have any workouts scheduled?

RW: Not as of right now (Friday May 30) but we’re going to go back and look at it tonight.

WW: What have you been hearing from teams?

RW: Nothing new really, the same old stuff I’ve been hearing all year. Just lottery, that’s about it.

WW: Is it frustrating sometimes not knowing where you could go?

RW: Oh yeah, I mean you  hear all different types of things, somebody  might tell you this, somebody might tell you that. But you only know on June 26 when your name gets called so I’ve just got to keep working until then.

Woody Wommack is a freelance sports journalist based in Orlando, Fla. He covered the 2008 NBA Pre-Draft camp for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the San Jose Mercury News, the Bloomington Herald-Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. To see more of his work visit his journalism blog at http://woody-wommack.blogspot.com

 

Rookie vs a Vet

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2008 by blazersog

Last night two writers of this blog had a very interesting conversation about the draft.  The topic, do we take a PG like Westbrook or trade to get a veteran?

Most in Blazerland have said that we need a vet PG to take the reigns of this team and move it into a championship status.  However, the allure of Westbrook, a strong defender, solid shooter, and a guy who can play with and without the ball make an intriguing situation.  Don’t forget DJ Augustin, and waiting in the wings Petteri Koponen.

If we decide to go with a rookie, lets just say the two we would take would be Westbrook or Augustine, or bring Koponen on board we would have the benefit of our entire starting unit being young, talented, and ready to grow together.  Westbrook provides to most solid of the three, Koponen the most unknown (remember we already have one European sitting the bench). 

A vet brings all the obvious, experience, talent, steady play, etc, etc, etc.  But depending on who you get their lifespan on our team is limited.  Lots of talk has been going around about Billups, but he is old, and will he be around when Oden and company come into their own?

DJ Augustin

 

This guy can flat out fly.  He is a solid PG, will do what we need.  But will he be around at 13?  Is he worth trading for instead of Westbrook?

Petteri Koponen

Everyone in the NBA gets excited about a foreign born player.  Probably because they have the ability to become Tony Parker, or Manu Ginobili.  Is Koponen that guy?   Or is he just a fresh face that will fade like Sergi Monya?

Russell Westbrook

By far the most complete of the PGs available to us.  Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year, plays on and off the ball.  He wont be around at 13, so do we make a move?

Remember we are looking for a dynasty here….not a single championship!  So what do you think?

We have a poll going….check it out and vote!

 

PG of the Future?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2008 by blazersog

All the fuss recently about Jose Calderon NOT being an option for the Blazers has opened up the new, (well, actually, old) question: who is our point guard of the future?

Blake is good, but probably better as a backup.  Chris Paul should be on our team (remember we didn’t take him because of Telfair…thanks John Nash) but New Orleans is not stupid enough to let him go.  Deron Willims (again, could have been ours) is planting roots to be the next John Stockton.  So what does that lead us Blazer Fans to hope for?

Option 1: Kirk Hinrich.  The OG has a reporter stashed in the Windy City and he reports that Hinrich WILL be available.  How does he know this?  Well, the worst kept secret in the NBA is the Bulls will take Derrick Rose with the first pick.  With Rose on board, Kirk becomes expendable.  He is relatively young, but he does has a semi-large contract.  The nice part is that his contract does go down as it progresses.

Option 2:  Free Agency.  Here is the problem with option 2….Jeff McInnis, Gary Payton, Eddie Gill, Randy Livingston, and John Lucas are our options.  Besides half of them heading for Fort Lauderdale, I don’t think many could even crack out top 15.

Option 3:  Trade Ideas?  What do we do here?  Do we keep Blake as the starter, trade Jack for something else and hope Sergio comes on strong?  Sergio is an uptempo PG, and with Oden back our team will be more up-and-down.  So what do you think?  Is there someone else out there we should target?  Who should we trade?

The Enforcer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2008 by blazersog

Every good championship team has that one guy, the guy who protects the star, the guy who enforces the unwritten rules of the game, the guy who puts a hurtin on the other team to let them know who owns the paint.  Come playoff time we need someone who is going to protect Roy from the hard hits he will take in the paint.  Someone to get in the mind of Kobe and put him on the floor when he tries to drive the lane.  Basically a guy who is willing to let the other team know that when you foul Roy you will be getting the same thing back…we need a hit man.

Looking at some of the great enforcers in league history we can see they come in many different forms.  Maurice Lucas of the Blazers was one who would just plain thrown down (even in the NBA Finals!).  Guys like Bruce Bowen straight up lock you down on “D” and play the dirty, cheap unseen jabs at a guy that take him out of his game.  Then you have the “instigator.”  The guy who is not really a bad ass as much as he is a fly that bothers you and makes you respond.  The greatest of all time Rick Fox.  His main goal on the court in the playoffs was to get under the skin of the best player, to get that guy to throw a punch, make a push, anything to get both him and Fox out of the game or games.  Man we hate that guy.

Let us say this off the bat, we love our team.  Everyone knows that we have a young, great, and talented team.  However, is the current team soft?  One thing that Jail Blazers had that we need is swagger.  People were scared of us when we were full of criminals.  Not saying we need to go back to a roster of thugs, but we need someone, something that will give us the punch we need.

About 5 times this year we saw teams seriously try to intimidate us,  especially Lamar Odem and the Lakers.  The world around the league is that we could be bullied.  The last game of the year saw LMA and Outlaw get in the face of Odem, but nothing was done on the court as retaliation for his hit on Roy.  With our team getting Rudy and Greg back the question must be posed: who is going to be the next enforcer of the Blazers?

Option 1:  Greg Oden

When Oden comes on board we know he will own the paint.  It is much more accepted in the NBA when a center of PF bangs someone hard then when a PG or SG does it…in a way it is expected that if you enter the paint you will get a little beat up.  But do we really want Oden being the enforcer, the guy who could potentially in a playoff series be suspended for a game?

Option 2: Joel Przybilla

The nice part about the Vanilla Gorilla is that he will now be our backup center.  Losing your backup center is not nearly as bad as losing Oden for a game or so.  We know Joel gets his fair share of hard hits.  He also kick boxes to stay in shape.  If you think about it, Joel has never played a full season in the NBA, so maybe if he gets a few suspensions for roughing up someone else his only games missed will be self imposed.

Option 3:  Free Agency

Beyond Greg and Joel our team lacks a hard nosed, bad ass who can be the enforcer.  Nothing against Europeans, but they are not know for their grit.  James, Webster, Frye, those guys are just plain nice.  When looking for an enforcer you want a guy who is not afraid to throw down, a guy who can get in the head of the other team’s star, a guy who will take a suspension for the team.  So you don’t want that guy being a star or someone who is the third or fourth option on the team.  That takes Oden out of it.  Do we have room to add this guy in free agency?  Who do you think we should go after?

So what do we need, who will be our enforcer??  Lets hear it.

Jose?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2008 by blazersog

As far back as this season’s trade deadline, Kevin Pritchard has been rumored to be interested in obtaining Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors. This off season Calderon will become a restricted free agent. With the recent news of Darius Miles being cleared from waivers, the Blazers have some serious cap room for the 2009 off season. Many have speculated that with such a large cap space and a need for a premier point guard that the Blazers will make a serious run at 2009 free agents Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Recognizing these juxtapositions, Blazer fans must ask themselves: do we want Calderon now or a chance at Paul or Williams a little later?

This season has been a break out year for Jose Calderon. After TJ Ford went down with an injury 14 games into the season, Calderon got a chance to start for the Raptors and has made the most of it, averaging 11 points and 8 assists while leading the league with an amazing assist to turnover ratio of 13.00 (just for comparison the next closest player in the NBA is LeBron James with an assist to turnover ration of 8.00). Calderon has a reputation as a team player, locker room favorite and all around good guy in the community.

There is little doubt that both Paul (arguably one of the best players in the NBA) and Williams are more gifted PGs than Calderon. Williams and Paul are big names who would undoubtedly make the Blazers better if they joined the team. But getting either of them is by no means certain. Aside from having an up-and-coming team, what could the Blazers offer either Williams or Paul that they can’t get with their current or other teams? Deron Williams looks to be happy in Salt Lake playing for a team that figures to join the Blazers as one of the premier teams in the Western Conference for years to come. Paul seems to be a shoe-in to bolt New Orleans, but why would he want to come to Portland? Joining a team in a small NBA market is a death sentence for most players financially, resulting in them leaving millions on the table in potential endorsements. Moreover, with the NBA collective bargaining agreement, all teams interested in signing Paul will be offering him a max contract, thereby eliminating the chance that the Blazers could out spend other teams.

It is also reasonable to wonder if a player like Calderon may actually be a better fit in Portland. Both Williams and Paul are used to having the ball in their hands where they can make plays or set up the offense. They both have high scoring averages and are used to a steady diet of shots on the offensive end. The Blazers are looking for a point guard who can run the offense but is also willing to share duties with Brandon Roy who is also a skilled ball handler. The Blazers are likely looking for a point guard who can score but is willing to be the 4th or 5th option on the floor; simply put the Blazers are looking for a pass first, shoot second point guard. Both Williams and Paul are excellent passers, but would they be willing to see their scoring average drop to join the Blazers? Whereas Calderon is a wizard with the ball, almost turn over free and possesses a nice offensive repertoire which has only gotten stronger since joining the league. With a floor full of franchise players and future (or current) All-Stars, do the Blazers have room for one more?

Tell us what you think. Is Calderon the right choice for the Blazers or should they take a chance at getting the big time play of Williams or Paul? Or do the Blazers even have a chance of nabbing Williams or Paul? Post your comments and let us know.