Monday, April 21, 2008

Today in links: April 21

That was one fine weekend of basketball. Mo Cheeks and the Philly 76ers upset a smug Detroit Pistons squad on their home court. Tim Duncan cans a three, Steve Nash does the save, Manu Ginobilli wins the game. Pau Gasol and the Lakers prove once again that any team with a talented bigman can dominate the Denver Nuggets. Utah Jazz win on the road, signaling that another year will pass without Tracy McGrady winning a playoff series. And in case you were unaware, the Hornets are for real.

But back to the Blazers. Here's some of the best from the internets.

•'s "You Be the GM" feature continues today with Channing Frye. No one finished out the season better than Frye, so I'm expecting a positive outcome.

• More Channing. In his blog today, Frye hooks up some local business with free advertising by naming some of his favorite place to shop in Portland. By the looks of it, Channing doesn't make it over to the eastside (aka "the real Portland") very often.

• David Aldridge, one of the best NBA writers/media personalities out there, answers a question about Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge:
Q: Just how much of an impact will Greg Oden have on the NBA? And will Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge one day be as good or better than Olajuwon and Sampson?

Oden will be great because he won’t have to be a dominant player from minute one. They’ve got enough talent up there that he can ease himself into the league more slowly and adjust normally. All he has to do the first two years is rebound and play defense, and he’ll help them immensely. I don’t know that Olajuwon and Sampson are the comparison you’re looking for, since the Rockets didn’t win anything while they were together. Maybe Robinson and Duncan? The answer would be they’ll be very lucky if they reach that level.

Nice catch on the Ralph/Hakeem comparison. I hope the LaMarcus/Greg tandem doesn't end up like that.

• Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel declares the Trail Blazers as "the future colossus of the West":
For as much as has been made about the wild West, there well could be a new sheriff in town next season, one loaded with enough ammunition to shoot itself into contention, especially after making a 20-game gain in the standings over the past two seasons.

With expectations elevated, upgrades already are being evaluated.

At point guard, Steve Blake again was his efficient self. But he also appears to have plateaued. Then there are Jarrett Jack, who seemed to regress, and Sergio Rodriguez, who endured a season-long sophomore slump. There is a reason this team pursued Toronto's Jose Calderon at midseason.

At small forward, there is similar uncertainty, with Webster's game having yet to grow to championship level and with Outlaw often enjoying his best moments at power forward.

In each case, there are ample assets to address the shortcomings with not only the No. 13 seed in the lottery in play but also three second-round selections available, including two of the first five in that second round. Beyond that, there is a possibility of dangling Channing Frye, what with a power rotation that otherwise would feature Oden, Aldridge and Joel Przybilla.

Already, one leading Web site has the Blazers seeded to select Kevin Love with the No. 13 pick. And that's before the lottery, where beating the odds could make Portland an instant 2009 contender.

Jarrett Jack won't have to pay the fine for getting thrown out of the Phoenix game.
(Brian) Skinner had his ejection and accompanying $3,000 fine from the league rescinded on Friday. He and Portland's Jarrett Jack were kicked out in the second quarter Wednesday's season finale. Jack's ejection and fine was also rescinded.

Seems fair considering that he didn't deserve to get ejected in the first place.

•'s Paul Forrester writes about what went right and wrong for the Western Conference teams that didn't make the post-season. He also adds a prediction for next season.
What's next: Transforming potential into juggernaut. With Oden set to handle the low-post chores for the next decade or more, the Blazers need only make sure the players who improved so dramatically this year fit. Can Steve Blake and Jarrett Jack work as a combo point guard? Will Aldridge learn to mesh with Oden or struggle for shots? All important questions; all only answered with time on the floor together.

• Joe Freeman chronicles much of the feel-good events from this season.

• The Columbian's Brian Hendrickson looks at the Blazers who are on the roster bubble.

• My man Dave at Blazer's Edge has a nice breakdown of the statistical improvements or lack thereof from the 2006-2007 season to the 2007-2008 season.

• If anyone can read Spanish, here are two article from regarding Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez.

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