Monday, August 31, 2009

EuroBasket 2009: France Advances After Stomping Belgium

Maybe we'll look back on the French losing to Belgium in the first game of a two-game playoff as a turning point for Les Bleus. Is it possible they needed a kick in the pantalons to realize they weren't going to be able to waltz into EuroBasket 2009? I don't know what happened between the 70-66 loss on Thursday and the 92-54 beating they hung on the Belgians yesterday, but whatever it was, they should keep doing it. By beating Belgium by more than four points, France has official qualified for EuroBasket. Now they'll will have plenty of opportunities to show which team they really are.

From the looks of the play-by-play, Sunday's game was over by midway through the third quarter. The Belgians didn't have the luxury of a rowdy Antwerp crowd this time around as the game was played in Pau, a city in the south of France, and without that advantage, the Belgians couldn't muster the firepower to defeat a vastly superior French team.

Nicolas Batum finished with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting, 2 rebounds and an assist, which is a pretty nice line for having played just 18 minutes. I'm guessing French coach Vincent Collet decided to let Nic rest his shoulder once the result was locked up.

Ronni Turiaf had another nice game, leading the French with 19 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes. Tony Parker (16 points, 4 assists), Boris Diaw (13 points, 6 rebounds), Nando De Colo (13 points, 2 assists) and Ali Traore (12 points) all scored in double figures. Antoine Diot dished out 9 assists for Les Bleus.

With the win, France locks up the final spot in EuroBasket, joining Russia, Latvia and Germany in Group B. It's a tough draw, but manageable nonetheless for a team with as much talent as France. The top three teams advance to the next round, so Les Bleus seem like a good bet to advance to the second stage. They play Germany, who will be without Dirk Nowitzki, a week from today in their opener.

By the way, if I'm reading the tournament bracket correctly, France would have to make it to at least the quarterfinals to have a chance to play Spain.

I'll have a more comprehensive preview of EuroBasket later this week.

(Photo credit:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

EuroBasket 2009: Batum And Les Bleus In Trouble

Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Ronni Turiaf, Mickael Pietrus, Nando De Colo, Ian Mahinmi and Nicolas Batum. All French nationals, all NBA players, and in the case of Parker, Diaw, Turiaf, Pietrus and Batum, pretty dang good players by any standard. You think they'd have an easy time against a team who's biggest-name player is DJ Mbenga, but anything can happen in international play (as Team USA found out a few years back). Even so, it's still hard to reconcile Team France losing to Team Belgium (that's right, Belgium) 70-66 Thursday. The Belgians had homecourt advantage with the game being in Antwerp, but come on, Belgium?

The French were paced by Parker, who finished the game with 26 points and 4 rebounds, though he tallied just one assist and shot 1-for-6 from three. Ronni Turiaf messed around and got a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) but after that, the French box score is void of good news. Batum played a game-high 34 minutes but scored just 5 points on 1-for-5 shooting. He added a steal, an assist, a rebound and a block but Nic needs to score more for the French to be successful. Also didn't help that Les Bleus went 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.

It's not as though the Belgians are without talent. Mbenga, who finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds and all 4 of Belgium's blocks, is a decent player. Axel Hervelle, who lead Team Belgium with 14 points, was the 52nd pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, though he plays currently for Real Madrid. But after that, there's not many names on the Belgian roster anyone outside of the Flemish lands would recognize.

All is certainly not lost for the French, thanks in part to the ... creative way they run things over in Europe. The winner of the tournament is determined based on a two-game point differential system rather than a "best of" series. So right now, the French are -4, meaning they'll need to beat Belgium by no less than 5 points in their final game on Sunday, which will be held somewhere in France. If they lose or win by less than 5, Belgium gets the final spot in EuroBasket. I have no idea what happens if they win by 4. Coin flip? Thumb war?

I can't convey how important making EuroBasket is to Batum. While talking with him in Paris this summer, Nic noted repeatedly how he thought a solid showing by the French could catapult basketball's popularity in that country. If they get this close then stumble against the Belgians, who knows if they'll ever recover.

Press Clippings: August 27

Press Clippings took a few days off due to a severe lack of interesting Trail Blazers news, but there are a few articles of note in the ol' RSS reader, so we'll mix a bit of the old with the new today.

Jeff Rabjohns of the Indianapolis Star (known as the "IndyStar" on the internet), checks in with our friend Greg Oden. It's a nice summer read, but there's one passage that I take severe exception with ...
Oden forever will be compared to Kevin Durant, taken immediately after Oden in the 2007 draft. While Oden has dealt with injuries, Durant has become a star with Oklahoma City. Oden also has the unfortunate circumstance of playing in Portland, where fans vividly recall injury-prone centers Bill Walton and Sam Bowie.
The first two statements are true. Oden will probably always be compared to Durant, and GO has battled injuries while Durant has put up two successful seasons, at least from a statistical standpoint. But the third statement about the "unfortunate circumstance of playing in Portland" is bunk, for a couple of reasons.

First, not many in Portland remember Walton for his injuries; they remember he was the main cog in the 1977 Championship. There's probably plenty of people who beleive the Trail Blazers could have added at least one more trophy to the case if Walton could have stayed healthy, but that one championship is what people remember, not Walton's foot.

Second, are there a lot of people in Portland comparing Oden to Bowie, or even recalling the memories in regards to Greg? There's plenty of people outside of the area, haters if you will, who like to bring that up, but as far as Portland fans are concerned, the careers of Bowie and Oden have nothing to do with each other.

John Schuhman at
looks at the Lakers signing Ron Artest, floating the idea that one of L.A.'s reasons for bringing in the "TruWarrior" has to do with ... Brandon Roy.
One guy who was better than Artest in on-off court differential was the Blazers' Brandon Roy. Portland was a +9.4 per 48 minutes against the Lakers with Roy on the floor last season, and a -18.8 with Roy on the bench (which includes one game he missed due to injury). That's a +/- differential of 28.2, highest among anyone who played 100 minutes against the Lakers in 2008-09.

Consequently, no Western Conference team played better against the Lakers than Portland. The Blazers were the only West team that didn't have a losing record against L.A. in '08-09 (they were 2-2) and were outscored by only nine points in four games.

It's reasonable for the Lakers to see Portland as their biggest threat in the West, and Artest's signing plays into that, too. Artest wasn't exactly a Roy-stopper last season. In nine games against the Rockets, Roy shot 43.0 percent with Artest in the game and 48.0 percent with him on the bench. Overall, the Blazers had a better +/- per 48 minutes against the Rockets with Artest on the floor (-4.7) than with him on the bench (-7.3).

But when you compare Artest to Trevor Ariza, the Blazers probably aren't too happy about the small-forward swap the Lakers made with the Rockets this summer. With Ariza playing for the Lakers against Portland last season, the Blazers were a +11.3 per 48 minutes (dramatically better on both ends of the floor) and Roy shot 55.6 percent. With Ariza on the bench, the Blazers were a -14.1, with Roy shooting 33.3 percent. It's a small sample size (Ariza played just 90 minutes against the Blazers last season), but those numbers are pretty startling.
Makes some sense. Roy is the best shooting guard in the Western Conference after Kobe, so I wouldn't be surprised if other teams consider that fact when making personnel decisions. Then again, getting Artest keeps Kobe from having to guard the opponents best wing player. That probably played a bigger role in the acquisition.

Kerry Eggers at The Portland Tribune checks in with a very interesting article about Bill Schonely and the end of his full-time broadcasting career.

My man Wendell Maxey at Beyond The Beat questions whether the Trail Blazers got tougher in the offseason.
When I think of toughness – particularly physically - on the Blazers, one guy comes to mind: Joel Przybilla.

Who else? Brandon Roy, Steve Blake and Greg Oden could join that discussion. But is that it?

And where would you rank Portland in a toughness category across the league? Top ten? That may even be a stretch with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Cleveland, Denver, Utah, New Orleans, Houston and even Atlanta holding it down.
Over at Blazers Edge, Dave asks his readers what the best and worst of Trail Blazers fans, and Ben relays some interesting information about Brandon Roy's contract.

Bust A Bucket has links to some funky Trail Blazers items you can buy on EBay. I think I might make a run for that coffee mug.

Rip City Project relays information from KP regarding Nic Batum, and Larry Miller's thoughts on Brandon Roy, with corresponding commentary.

Finally, the 365 Days Of Greg Oden photo project continues. In today's edition GO gets his picture taken in front of a carton of egg beaters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Podcast: Kevin Pritchard On Wheels At Work

There's really no offseason for the guys in the front office. There's players to be scouted, contracts to be drafted, negotiations to negotiate, so on and so forth. It's busy all the time.

Even so, the decision makers make time to talk to the media during these summer doldrums. Kevin Pritchard, the busiest of them all, called into Wheels At Work yesterday to give updates on Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Victor Claver and Joel Freeland as they participate in the runup to EuroBasket 2009. KP also talked a bit about signing Dante Cunningham, working on deals with LaMarcus Aldridge and Jeff Pendergraph and Martell Webster's status. A little bit of everything.

Download the podcast (10.7 MB)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Keep An Eye Out For Cunningham

The Portland Trail Blazers don’t disclose contract terms, so there’s no legitimate way to know how much Dante Cunningham is going to make over the life of his newly signed rookie contract. But the NBA does have a minimum salary, so we know that, if nothing else, Cunningham is doing all right for himself. Material possessions can now be stockpiled. Cars, clothes, jewelry, all within reach. But Dante doesn’t have his mind on shopping after officially becoming a Trail Blazer on Friday. He just wants to get to work.

“I really don’t want much,” said Cunningham. “I just really, really want to play ball. I’m going to bring out my old truck from college out here. I live in a townhouse so I really don’t need much here. It’s kind of a laid back kind of place. You really don’t need to be flashy or anything like that out here.”

True enough, which is why many expect the No. 33rd pick in the 2009 Draft to be a hit with Trail Blazers fans. Cunningham’s no-nonsense, workman like approach to the game is just what this city and team are looking for out of their players, which is one of the reasons he was signed to a multi-year deal last week. It’s that desire to get down to business that has prompted Cunningham to move to Portland more than a month before the start of training camp.

“I got here Wednesday, signed on Friday, found a house Saturday, so I’m moving in today. It’s rolling along right now. Guys are coming in. It’s clicking. I’m liking Portland a whole lot.”

And what’s not to like? After averaging 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in his senior season at Villanova, Cunningham is ready to show he has the skills to not only play in the NBA but to help the young Trail Blazers continue their ascent in the Western Conference.

“This opportunity that I have now, in a great city with a great up-and-coming young team, is a perfect situation,” said Cunningham. “This team is young and talented and very dangerous. We have great leaders here that are hungry and want to win. You could see it last year and hopefully this year we can continue to push and get better.”

Cunningham had a feeling he was going to be offered a contract after averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in the Las Vegas Summer League, but he didn’t want to hang around at home waiting for the phone to ring, so stuck around Vegas for another week to attend Tim Grgurich’s camp.

“I went out there and that was a great experience, being around other NBA guys and NBA coaches, hearing the philosophies on defenses and offenses and stuff like that,” said Cunningham. “I got exposed to a lot of different things, a lot different looks. Then I came back home, had a little time with my family, worked out a whole lot, came up here and now I’m ready to go.”

He’s so ready to go that, when asked about the prospect of rookie hazing, Cunningham, who is currently the only rookie on Portland’s roster, sounded like he was almost looking forward to it.

“Jerryd Bayless talked to me a little bit about it at summer league,” said Cunningham. “He informed on a couple of tricks, who to stay away from. Everyone goes through it. It’s a rite of passage. Hey, I’m ready for it. Hopefully no one gets too crazy, too overboard on me.“

Cunningham might not know what the veterans have in store for him, but he’s not going to spend any time worrying about it. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

“It’s a dream come true. Everything that I’ve worked for, from when I was young and running around playing basketball, not really knowing what I was doing, all the way up to now, it’s been a great journey. I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”

Press Clippings: August 24

Nothing that's going to blow your mind in today's clips, but don't let that stop you from reading on. How's that for a hook?

Some guys in the NBA might have a bit of trouble with TwitPic, but Travis Outlaw ain't one of them. Check tweet pics of Trav "melting faces" on Rockband and of Chubbs, his new bulldog.

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie tabs the 1999-00 Trail Blazers as one of the 10 best teams of the decade to be denied a championship:
A notorious also-ran that managed to lose a trip to the Finals (and probably title) not with an injury or ref-addled series of bum calls but with a miserable meltdown in the fourth quarter of a Game 7 that handed the Los Angeles Lakers a comeback win and rendered a promising team absolutely frazzled for three seasons following. Worse, with a big win on February 29th of that season (Portland was 45-11 entering the game, they finished the season 14-12), the Lakers sent the Blazers reeling twice in one season.

Brian Smith's piece on Martell Webster is now up over at The Columbian:
Webster knows what he wants to do. Now, he just has to do it.

He wants to leave a legacy. He wants to last. He wants to once again be the player who started in 70 games and posted career highs across the board in 2007-08, including average points (10.7), rebounds (3.9) and 3-point percentage (38.8). The type of player who could burn nets and drop in 24 points in a single quarter, as he did against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 5, 2008.

But this year, Webster wants to be even better.

Another goal. Another personal challenge.

"There's no question in my mind that I'm going to be where I left off," Webster said. "My challenge is to be better than where I left off, after I've taken a year off. That's the challenge that I'm presenting to myself. That's where my mind is at now."
I'm not at all worried about Martell's legacy. The guy is in his early-20's. Get to 30, then start considering what your legacy will be.

The Oregonian comes through with some video of the MVP Blazer Theme contest. I've been told the decision on which bands will be used this season is coming soon.

One of Kamenetzky brothers, blogging for the L.A. Times. picks the Trail Blazers as one of his favorite teams to watch when he's not watching the Lake Show:
Again, I'm perfectly aware this crew will likely become the Lakers' chief rival over the next decade, but it doesn't change the fact that I dig these guys. A lot. In particular, I've got a big-time man crush on Brandon Roy. Extremely versatile, great in the clutch, good dude. In fact, the whole team is pretty likable, in addition to collectively impressive talent. As much fun as it was watching the Jail Blazers perpetually melt down- often at the expense of the Lakers- I hated seeing a historically great franchise in the gutter. The city, their fans and the league deserved better. Now they have it.
See, Lakers fans aren't all bad.

Friday, August 21, 2009

EuroBasket 2009: Spain Rolls, France Gets Ready

There's a ton basketball going on over in Europe right now as teams prepare for EuroBasket 2009. It couldn't come at a better time, as news about the NBA has ground to a halt.

But there is something I don't quite understand about EuroBasket, or specifically, the friendlies that lead up to the start of the tournament. It seems strange to me that teams who are preparing to face off in the preliminary rounds of the tournament would play against each other just weeks before the start of group play, but that's exactly what they're doing. For instance, Rudy Fernandez, Victor Claver and the rest of Team Spain are participating in a series of tuneup games in Seville against the three other teams in their EuroBasket group. I guess there's not much competitive advantage if everyone is playing everyone else, but for a team like Spain, the odds on favorite to win gold, it seems like an unnecessary risk. It would be like playing a few practice games against the Rockets prior to the start of last year's playoffs.

But from the looks of the results, the Spaniards are getting by just fine. Yesterday they beat Slovenia, a team boasting the likes of Sasha Vujacic, Beno Udrih, Bostjan Nachbar, Goran Dragic and Primoz Brezec, 89-71 in Seville. Neither Fernandez (eight points, five rebounds) nor Claver (seven points, six rebounds) lit up the gym, but I imagine Sergio Scariolo, head coach for the Spaniards, is taking it easy at this point.

Spain plays Linus Kleiza and the rest of the Lithuanians today before taking a week off.

In other EuroBasket news, France, featuring Nic Batum, will face Belgium in a best of three two playoff to decide who will get the final spot in the tournament. Which ever team wins the playoff will be put into Group B with Russia, Germany and Latvia.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

EuroBasket 2009: Rudy, Claver best Freeland

That handsome fellow there is Mieszko (pronounced Mee-e-shko) the bison, named after a 10th century Polish prince. He's the official mascot for EuroBasket 2009 (also known as the European championships) being held in Poland this September. According to these guys, the bison is "the biggest wild animal to be found in Poland's forests... The animal is known for its calm attitude, while its posture and small horns are associated with strength and dignity." Basically, a perfect mascot for a basketball tournament. The NBA should really consider adopting a mascot for the NBA playoffs, though some might argue LeBron and Kobe already fill that role.

But enough about mascots. With EuroBasket '09 starting up a little over two weeks from now, teams on the other side of the Atlantic are either working to qualify for the tourney or getting in a few friendlies before the start of the real competition.

Spaniards Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver along with Brit Joel Freeland fall into the latter category and yesterday their respective teams faced off in Seville, with Team España rolling to a 84-63 victory [PDF]. Not many recognizable names on the British roster, so it's probably an achievement they kept it as close as they did.

Rudy finished with 11 points, two assists and a rebounds in 24 minutes, though Claver and Freeland didn't fare as well. Claver, starting for the Spanish side, went 0-of-4 with three rebounds in 21 minutes. Freeland, also in a starting role, pulled down 11 boards, but finished with just six points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Rudy has blogged a little about the run up to EuroBasket '09, so heck in over at every now and then. Fernandez also posted some video of him attempting one of his dunk contest dunks during an open practice.

On a related note, Team Spain is sponsored by San Miguel, which according to this commercial is bonito, or something. Claver makes a quick appearance, and Rudy gets a speaking part. Cha-ching!

The Spaniards have to be feeling pretty good about their chances to repeat as EuroBasket champs, even with Pau Gasol out with a busted finger. They did end up in the "Group Of Death" with Great Britain, Serbia and Slovenia all fielding decent teams (the Slovaks got a squad), but it's nothing the Iberians can't handle.

The squad that many think could give Spain a run for their Euros is France, lead by our own Nicolas Batum. Les Bleus haven't actually qualified for yet EuroBasket, but if they can beat either Belgium or Bosnia/Herzegovina in they're next game, they're in. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Moving Away From Back-To-Backs

This time last year, all everyone in Portland wanted to talk about was the Trail Blazers schedule, specifically how difficult it was going to be in the early going. On the road 16 of the first 24 games. Fifteen games against playoff teams in the same 24-game span. Over a quarter of the 82-game campaign played slightly more than a month into the season. Valid complaints. Turned out that the team was up to the task, but there was a built-in excuse in case they weren’t.

This season, no one seems too worried about the schedule. They probably shouldn’t be. Last year, when no one knew just how good this team could be, maybe there was an inclination to hedge expectations, and pointing to the big, bad schedule looming off in the distance was a good way to do that. But that’s not going to happen this year, regardless of how the schedule plays out. If they could overcome last year’s slate of games, there’s no way this season’s schedule should be a problem, right?

Well, mostly right. As difficult as Portland’s early season schedule was last year, there were some positives, mainly when it came to back-to-back games. In ’08-’09, we played a league-high 27 games in which the opponent was on the second night of a back-to-back. Let that sink in for a second. That’s 33 percent of the regular season played against teams that played the night before. And we dominated in those games, winning 23 of those contests. So to recap: 27 games against teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back, with a 23-4 record in those contests. Factor in that we’re located in the northwest, now the hinterlands of the NBA, and you start to realize that maybe last season’s schedule wasn’t so bad after all.

This season’s schedule doesn’t have the same advantage when it comes to back-to-backs. Not even close. We only play 14 games against teams on the second night of a back-to-back (in case you care, 24 is the most games any team plays against teams on the second night of a back-to-back this season). And we’re coming off the second night of a back-to-back in four of those games, so if you assume that’s a wash between the two teams, we only have ten games this season in which we’ll be going up against a team that is theoretically more tired. I think that qualifies as bad news.

We play 19 back-to-backs this season, three more than last season, which isn’t terrible. After all, the team was 9-7 last season on the second night of back-to-backs, and of those seven losses, I would only consider two “bad losses” (that dreadful overtime loss to the Clippers at home and the loss at Golden State in the game right before the All-Star break). Fifteen of our second night of back-to-back games are on the road this season, which is actually a bonus from a travel/night’s sleep perspective.

By the way, three of our four games against the Thunder are second night of back-to-backs for us. The scheduling folks back at the league office must think that’s still a quick trip from Portland. And apropos of nothing, half of our second night games are against divisional teams, for whatever that is worth.

(Many thanks to Sports Communications savant Aaron Grossman for crunching these numbers)

Press Clippings: August 19

You want proof that NBA news is light these days? How about this: of the ten headlines on the NBA page, three pertain to legal issues (Nate Robinson not having a license, Carmelo Anthony suing his business manager and a judge ruling on the Atlanta Hawks ownership) of minimal importance. Lebron better not get any parking tickets between now and training camp, lest he wants the world to know about it.

Hopefully the following links will provide a bit more interest to you, the faithful Trail Blazers fan.

Courtside Podcast

Trail Blazers Courtside, YOUR weekly source for all things Trail Blazers and the NBA, aired on Monday, and the podcast of that show is available. Rice's opening salvo about Greg Oden comes out of nowhere, which is par for the course. The Courtside Crew are taking the next three weeks off, so this hour-long show will have to be your fix until then.

Terry Porter

It was nice to spend some time with No. 30 at the event in Longview on Monday. You don't often get to ride in the same bus with a legend. Two legends really, Jerome Kersey was in attendance as well. Three if you count The Schonz, which you should. And the Blazers wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Harry Glickman, so I guess that makes four legends. One bus, four legends.

But back to Terry Porter. A few of the local journos had a chance to catch up with TP at the event.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:
There are still questions that are unanswered in Terry Porter's mind these days.

He wonders why both times he became an NBA head coach, he was fired early into his contract, including last February, when the Phoenix Suns let him go just four months into his first season with a 28-23 record.

He doesn't understand how he could prepare so diligently, work so hard and care so much about his team and job, only to be told he is no longer wanted.

The same thing happened in Milwaukee, when he led the Bucks to the playoffs in his first season (2003-2004), but was fired the next season after injuries marred a 30-52 season.

"It's a tough pill to swallow," Porter said. "My whole career has been about working hard and you will have success. The coaching thing hasn't worked out that way, and so there have been a lot of questions in my mind as far as the whole coaching thing."
Regardless of what you think of TP as a coach, it's impossible to argue he's been treated fairly while wielding the clipboard. He deserves better.

Dwight Jaynes of
The Suns still owe him quite a bit of money, there’s no sense of urgency on getting back into any kind of coaching grind and I think, with a daughter just a year away from graduating high school and considering some very exclusive colleges, it’s a great time for dad to be around a little more.

It speaks so much to the impact this city makes on NBA players that a guy like Porter, who has played or coached in places like Miami, San Antonio, Milwaukee and Phoenix would choose this as the place he wants to live.

And our town will be better for all the Terry Porters we can add to the wealth of good people in our area. He is first class all the way.
Amen to that.

Egregious Errors

Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld has been taking a beating in the comments section of his "Top 5 Shooting Guards" post. The reason? He neglected to include Brandon Roy in his Top 5. Turns out it was a simple oversight.
(Author's Note: Brandon Roy was originally left off this list because I was, for some reason, viewing him as a point guard. Were I doing this over, he'd absolutely be ranked #3, followed by Johnson and Ginobili, which would push Ray Allen to the top of the Honorable Mention category).
Everybody makes mistakes.

Travis And Twitter

Seems to be a minor kerfuffle this morning about this comment Travis Outlaw posted last night on Twitter:
Workin out hard so I'll be gettin' paid like out of this world
Seems benign to be, but this time of year anything is a story.

Ben Golliver of
It's difficult to see, in the ultra-competitive environment that is the Blazers' rotation, exactly how Outlaw will find a yellow brick road to gettin' paid. Indeed, as we discussed this past weekend, he seems to be a likely candidate to see less, not more, minutes this season. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he saw less shots as well. For Outlaw, Minutes + Shots = Dollars. This equation is heading the wrong direction for Trout. You might say he's swimming upstream (my bad, indulge me).

Earlier this summer, Greg Oden made a similar "Contract Year" declaration, which was particularly grating and ill-advised given his performance relative to expectations up to this point and the absolute certainty that the Blazers will pick up his team option for 2010-2011 even if he were to play 0 games this season.

But with Travis's tweet, and the stark(ville) honesty that goes with it, we're looking at a totally different dynamic: this is less about Oden's faux-bravado and faux-self motivation and more about a player looking to make the most of a career at the crossroads. Because if Outlaw is, in fact, looking for big money next summer, Portland is not a likely final destination.

Dwight Jaynes of
Damn, Travis Outlaw is going into a contract year and I don’t see any way, barring injury, he’s going to get enough playing time to make out-of-this-world money with his next deal. It’s just not in the cards for him, unless those off-season workouts are going to result in a major makeover. “Out of this world” money?
The interest in Travis' sentence fragment got me thinking about what other parts of Trav's longterm career goals we could decipher from his tweets. Prepare to be shocked.

August 15, 8:22 PM
It's almost midnight and I just finished workin out, bout to watch film and expand my mind on Live... I mean business!
Is Trav considering leaving the NBA to get an MBA? Who knows!

August 12, 3:42 PM
Back at home in the south and back at it yall...out here grindin!
This is clear indication that Travis has at least a cursory interest in metal work. Welders make some pretty nice bank. Good benefits, too.

August 1, 12:33 AM
I'm addicted to polo y'all...respect my fresh.
Maybe Travis isn't ready to say goodbye to the world of professional sports just yet. Signing on with a top-tier polo squad would combine Outlaw's love of animals, the outdoors and mallets. Respect his fresh! Respect it!

I also stumbled upon this photo over at Travis' website,

Travis in nerd glasses? Does Travis need corrective surgery? Call the optometrist, or at least someone in the A/V club!

Martell Webster

Brian T. Smith, who has really hit the ground running since taking over for proud new papa Brian Hendrickson, caught up with Martell Webster to discuss the last year. The feature is still yet to be release, but Smith did put a few excerpts from the interview in his Blazer Banter blog.
Webster on how he felt about being forced to watch the Blazers' success in 2008-09 from the bench:

That was very hard for me. That was very depressing. Because I'm not one that plays this game for the dollar signs; I play for the love of the game. So it was very hard for me, sitting. It was very beneficial but yet very depressing. Because with me out, I actually got to kind of watch the game and try to understand it and learn it from an assistant coach's standpoint. So I got to see plays develop that coach (Nate McMillan) has drawn up, and see those plays develop, or see plays not work. I got to see that happen. And also, defensively, just see where we would break down — I mean, that stuff is deep. You're really not thinking about it that much when you're playing. But then actually see it, it makes you understand. But it was also very depressing because I really wanted to be out on the court with my teammates. It really didn't feel like I was contributing to the team, 'cause I was sitting out.

Nicolas Batum

The French National Team is just one game away from qualifying for the European Championships (or Eurobasket '09 as they call it) and Nic Batum is the main reason why. Les Bleus are 3-1 in qualifying, with their only loss coming by way of the Finns (way to go Petteri!) when Batum was unavailable because of a bad shoulder. Cue the doctors.
Recently, Batum’s ailing shoulder gave cause for concern to the Portland Trailblazers, who summoned the 20-year old back to the United States so the Blazers’ doctors could look at the shoulder first hand.

Batum, who had just helped France to victory in their second game against Italy, was distressed by the news, “It was perhaps my last match, so I wanted to win at any cost before leaving the team.” Batum said, “Tony Parker got back quickly, so I’m hoping that the the same thing happens for me. I’m just taking off to be examined over there, and after that, we’ll see what happens.”
Trail Blazers team doctors ended up giving Batum the OK to head back. Now Team France waits to play either Belgium (grudge match!) or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Press Clippings: August 18

Trail Blazers news gets a little scarce in the dog days leading up to training camp. I've gt some stories in the hopper that will hopefully combat that problem, but I'm also going to put out a daily post of links which will help pass the time.

"Cheers To 40 Years" Announcement

Since it was less than 24 hours ago, the kickoff to the 40th anniversary season seems like a god place to get started. Here's the press release, pictures from the event
and every team photo from the past 40 seasons.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:
The upcoming Trail Blazers season will be marked by new jerseys, special visits from former players and coaches, and even a guest radio appearance by broadcaster Bill Schonely during a preseason game.

Why all the hullabaloo about this season?

It will mark the 40th in team history, which the Blazers will celebrate with a "Cheers to 40 years" campaign that kicked off Monday at the site of the team's first exhibition game - Mark Morris High School in Longview, Wash.

Brian Smith of the Columbian:
The old became new again as the Portland Trail Blazers used the site of the franchise's first-ever preseason game at Mark Morris High School to announce details of how the organization plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Former Blazers greats Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey were among those who participated in a press conference Monday inside a small gymnasium that is now more associated with the Mark Morris Monarchs than it is the beginning of Blazermania.

But the message was clear: The Blazers are eager to celebrate 40 years of Rip City, and the organization plans to spend the upcoming season painting the regional area in black and red.

Dwight Jaynes of
Pretty cool stuff announced up in Longview, Wash., today at a news conference in the Mark Morris High School gym, the site of Portland’s first-ever exhibition game.

Portland’s exhibition game this Oct. 14 will be in Memorial Coliseum, as you all know, with Bill Schonely sharing play-by-play duties with Brian Wheeler. I was actually kind of hoping for a reappearance of either Dave Twardzik or Geoff Petrie alongside The Schonz, but hey — just happy to see Bill get one more game, just a couple of days before he turns 80 years old.

They’re already apparently selling tickets for that game at $19.70 — reflecting, of course, 1970, Portland’s first NBA season. Just remember to bring your radio

Ben Golliver of Blazersedge:
I'm not going to lie to you: it was a strange event. Let's invite the entire Portland media and bring together multiple generations of Blazers personalities in a mostly empty Longview, Washington, high school gynasium to celebrate a rich tradition hawk throwback jerseys. Alright then.

I guess that's life these days; business is business.

New Jerseys

To help celebrate the 40th anniversary, the team released yesterday two alternate jerseys to be worn at select games throughout the season. One is a throwback, the other a new design featuring the phrase "Rip City," both of which you probably saw first via our Twitter page. Reaction to the jerseys has been mixed, with almost everyone loving the red throwback and about 60 percent (that's my rough, ultra non-scientific guess) liking the "Rip City" design.

Sean Meagher of
Hardwood classic from the '70s and a new "Rip City" jersey will be worn in honor of the Trail Blazers' 40th anniversary year.

It appears they will be used on a limited basis.

Like 'em? Dislike 'em? Personally I love the reds
J.E. Skeets of Yahoo! Sports Ball Don't Lie:
Two new Portland Trail Blazers jerseys were announced today in celebration of their 40th Anniversary Season — a red Hardwood Classics from the 70's and a new "Rip City" jersey, which sort of looks like something Ron Artest or Vince Vaughn would play slow-pitch softball in.

Hank Stern of Willamette Week:
OK, I get that throwback jerseys are a total marketing stunt designed to part a fool (uh, me) from my money.

But as a Trail Blazer fan who gets teary remembering the mid-1970s when Blazer stalwarts like Leroy Ellis sent me a letter or when Barry Clemens rallied Portland back from a 26-point deficit against the Lakers circa 1974, I think bringing back the red jersey from that era on the left is a total plus.

Dime Magazine:
Blazers uniforms with the words “Rip City” on the chest is either the best thing or the worst thing ever. We can’t decide how we feel about it. And if these are official, are we looking at “Motor City” Pistons and “Clutch City” Rockets unis (among others) shortly? (click on the headline for a larger look)

Slam Magazine Online:
Putting nicknames on jerseys is never a good look

SJ of Rip City Project:
The first is a Hardwood Classic throwback to a uniform I believe the Blazers first busted out in 1975. A year I know they wore it in? 1977. Coincidence? I think not. I believe everyone is in agreement that this uni is pretty sick. The second is a brand spankin’ new white uniform with ‘Rip City’ across the front in that classy lower case Blazer font. This one….this one I’m not so sure about. As I tweeted earlier, I’m more in love with the idea of the Rip City uniform than the execution. I’m still torn about it to be honest. For one, I know for a fact that if they wear this on a nationally televised game, I’ll be asked ‘Hey, what’s Rip City?’ about a gajillion times. And then I’ll get the obligatory Rip City jokes. It will be annoying. I can’t be the only one who would have rather seen them just make a white version of the 70’s throwback or maybe even a white version of those early 90’s jerseys.

Dustin of Holy Backboard (and former PTB intern):
I have a few problems with the Rip City alternate. First, there shouldn't be that much silver involved, if any. Rip City was a saying by the Schonz long before any thought of silver being an accent color on the color scheme for the Blazers, especially when Rip City is written in the original font the team adopted back in 1970. I love that Rip City is in orginal font, but then make the pinwheel upright to match the era. The side paneling is very plain as well, not bad for NBA standards, but when the Blazers have the best jerseys in the NBA, my expectations for new alternates are high. Overall Grade. 6/10.

Rudy Fernandez

Everyone's favorite Mallorcan has been popping up in a few places on the web over the last few days. Fernandez, logged 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes as Team España rolled through Cuba 94-57 in a Eurobasket 2009 tuneup. 2009 Trail Blazers draft pick Victor Claver pitched in eight points and four rebounds. You can download the PDF of the box score if you're so inclined.

Rudy made two appearances, at the No. 5 and No. 1 spots, in this Top Rookie Plays Of The Season clip. Excellent find by Skeets.


On the topic of Europeans on video, check out this BBC interview with Joel Freeland talking about Team England's quest to make the London Olympics. Tip of the hat to Stephen "The Moon Man" Moon, who does video production work for us here at Trail Blazers HQ.

Brian T. Smith peppers team president Larry Miller with a few questions regarding the ongoing negotiations with LaMarcus Aldridge:
"We're going through the process," Miller said. "It's just a process and it takes time."

However, Miller was more direct when asked if the Blazers have an ideal timeline for signing Aldridge to an extension.

"We're ready," Miller said. "We'd do it right now if we could."

Portland must reach an agreement with Aldridge before Oct. 31 or he will become a free agent following the 2009-10 season., turning a deaf ear to calls that you can't put out a power ranking in August, picks the Trail Blazers as the No. 9 team in the league:
Andre Miller is an upgrade at the point, but the Portland offense was already very efficient. In order to take the next step they need to improve defensively. So if Greg Oden can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, they're in great shape.

Brian T. Smith again with a Q&A with Terry Porter:
Porter analyzes what the Blazers are building:

"There's no doubt about it, they have the personnel right now. And they're obviously slowly having success, which is so critical in the growth part. The ability to have success, build on that confidence. And when you talk about the NBA, you talk about having core players. And obviously they have some core players that they think are very important for this franchise going forward. And so you have to keep those pieces together, make sure they continue to grow and develop as players get better, and add pieces here and there each year as you think is needed and then go from there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

40th Anniversary Season Primer

It's getting pretty late in the day, but I thought it might be good to clear up a few things regarding today's "Cheers To 40 Years" announcement at Mark Morris High School in Longview, WA. We went with that location because it was the site of the first ever Trail Blazers game, a 119-118 preseason loss to the San Fransisco Warriors.

About the jerseys. They are alternates. They will NOT replace the regular jerseys the team wore last season. They're supplemental. The Hardwood Classics jersey, which were the unis worn during the 1976-77 championship season, will be worn on throwback nights. The Rip City jerseys will be worn on special occasions. I don't beleive any specific dates have been decided on yet. Not entirely sure whether the alternate road red jerseys the team wore in 2008-09 will be worn in 2009-10, but I'll get an answer to that question soon.

As for the preseason game at Memorial Coliseum versus the Phoenix Suns, tickets are on sale now, with every seat going for $19.77. Top to bottom, the price is the same. I'd get those tickets while you can. Best seats are going to go first.

If you end up not being able to make it, there's still some good news. Bill Schonely, legendary voice of the Trail Blazers, will be dusting off the vocal chords to help Brian Wheeler call that preseason game on the radio. That's going to be a good time. In fact, even if you get tickets to the game, I'd consider bringing a radio to listen to The Schonz and Wheels trade catch phrases.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Music Video Project: Day One Auditions

It’s hard to imagine there’s a more recognizable tune to the collective ears of Portland than the Trail Blazers theme song. For many longtime fans, the sound of those horns belting out a few quick notes brings back so many fond memories of time spent rooting on the Trail Blazers while huddled around the radio or television. It simple song, one without lyric or pretense, which is probably one of the reasons why it is so beloved by fans.

And that’s a mixed blessing for the groups who are auditioning in this year’s Trail Blazers Music Video Project. Covering a song that so many people have an emotional connection to can be kind of tricky. It takes some guts to put your stamp on a theme while also being respectful of what that song means to fans, but eight bands did just that last Thursday at Lola’s Room, with eight more to give it a go on Monday.

For the second year in a row, the Trail Blazers have encouraged local bands to send in their interpretations of the theme song. Acts with the best submissions are brought in to record music videos to accompany their takes on the theme, which are then aired prior to the start of games broadcast on KGW and Comcast SportsNet. It’s a great partnership that lets the team interact with Portland’s vibrant and extensive music community. It’s also an unparalleled way for bands to be exposed to the Blazers’ diverse fan base. But for the groups who tried out on Thursday, their desire to be a part of the Trail Blazers team, even in a small way, had much more to do with their involvement that the opportunity to boost name recognition.

“All of us are huge Blazers fans,” said Gus Nicklos, lead singer of The Mediam. “Four of us are from Portland, grew up here during the whole Clyde, Terry, Jerome, Duckworth area. Adam moved here from Indiana so he’s got that Oden side of things. And we’re all basketball players.”

Nicklos, with fellow bandmates Adam Pike, Joe Mengis, Ondrej Fercak and Sean Cochrane, describes The Mediam as “probably a rock band,” though their overriding goal is to make “hard music that people can feel.”

“We wanted to make the Blazers song sound like a sing-along,” said Nicklos. “What the Blazers need is that song that they play where it’s like, the whole crowd sings along with the Blazers theme song, not just us at the beginning of the game. We kind of approached it as more of a background, sing-along, let’s get psyched up and take’em down kind of way.”

Diamond Liars, a self-described “party” band consisting of Rvi Alvarez, Jeff Bond, Steven Cook and Scott Thomason, fashioned their attempt at the theme with a similar objective.

“It came out pretty cool, we think,” said Cook, who plays bass for Diamond Liars. “We were pretty stoked on it. We just wanted to sound kind of party and get people pumped up, so hopefully it accomplished its goal.”

Unlike some of the other bands trying out, Diamond Liars didn’t take the stage draped in Trail Blazers gear, but their status as hardcore fans of the team should be unquestioned nonetheless.

“Scott literally has a Blazers poster over his fireplace,” explained Bond, who plays drums. “After we lost in the playoffs we stood by that for probably a half hour. He looked at it and he said, ‘Every one of those guys deserved it! It just hurts, deep down.’”

“They really are a team that deserves to win,” said Cook. “As much as it’s funny the way that Scott describes them, it’s true. There’s a camaraderie. They’re not showboating. They’re not the Lakers. They’re like the anti-Lakers.”

Jon Ragel, the one-man band known as Boy Eats Drum Machine, probably had more practice playing the theme than the other bands in attendance on Thursday. Ragel, accepting a previous challenge from the Willamette Week, produced his version of the theme last season prior to the start of the playoffs.

“I did it in like one week,” said Ragel of his rendition. “I didn’t have a lot of time because the playoffs were three weeks away. I just knuckled down one weekend and really banged it out. It just went really fast. It was really natural.”

The Boy Eats Drum Machine version of the theme featured Ragel, wearing a vintage Bill Walton t-shirt, playing saxophone, drum and tambourine while utilizing looped beats from a turntable. Ragel also got the audience involved in his version by handing out kazoos, which were played during the song’s chorus. The combination made for a multilayered sound that is typical of Ragel’s work.

“I always try to tell people it’s poppy and it’s experimental and it has a lot of beats and it’s eclectic,” said when asked to describe Boy Eats Drum Machine. “If I’m describing my live show I would say I try to interact with the crowd, get people involved, but it’s a one-man band so that’s the first thing everyone notices. It’s post hip-hop; I use a turntable. I love Motown, I love Stevie Wonder, so I try to make the sax sound in that vein, make it sound like it’s a horn section rather than an eighties noodling romantic solo.”

Ragel’s use of the saxophone gave his rendition a sound that harkened back to the original theme, a ploy that was no accident.

“The theme gives me really warm feeling inside,” said Ragel, “so I really wanted to keep that original horn, kind of funky vibe, but obviously make it more along the lines of the way I would do it.

“I love the original theme. It’s cheesy but it’s glorious. It’s like the ‘CHIPs’ theme song mixed with ‘Dallas’ mixed with everything you loved about that era… I don’t even know why they bother making a new theme. It’s perfect.”

Jacob Merlin Band, Strange Tones, Paper Or Plastic and Dennis Mitchell Band also auditioned on Thursday. Eight more bands will tryout on Monday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Contract, No New Pressure

For some, the burden of expectations can be debilitating, and nothing seems to increase expectations like money. You can go from scrappy overachiever, the everyman, the blue-collar crowd-pleaser, to lazy ne’er-do-well simply by signing a new contract, even if your on-court production remains the same. There’s something lovable about the guy who averages five points and three rebounds a game if he’s making the league minimum, but the same guy making $5 million a season is a pariah.

So signing on that dotted line can be tricky for a ballplayer. That’s not to say anyone in the history of the NBA has turned down extra cash out of fear of being dubbed as overpaid. Heck, some players seem to go out of their way to prove they’ve got no business making as much money as they do, but for those with the slightest bit of pride or integrity, mailing it in once the ink on the contract is dry isn’t an option.

And for some, living up to that contract can amount to a gang of pressure. After all, if you weren’t trying your hardest when you were making $3 million a season, but now feel like you should because you’re making $13 million, that’s likely going to cause some anxiety. But if you’re like Brandon Roy, a player who has been giving his all while making rookie scale, you don’t have to worry about the weight of that big money burden.

“I signed a contract but I don’t feel any added pressure,” said Roy. “I feel the pressure of helping this team get back. I’m not going to do it alone; I need every single one of those guys in the locker room to continue to improve and help me just as well as I can help them.”

Notice Roy didn’t say he doesn’t feel pressure; just that the pressure he feels doesn’t stem from signing a lucrative contract. Though his play would sometimes indicate otherwise, Brandon Roy is, in fact, human. He feels the burden. He’s felt it since the first time he put on a Trail Blazers uniform, but it’s neither increased nor decreased because of the number of digits on his paycheck.

“From the moment I came to this team and I won Rookie Of The Year and I came back and I’m like ‘Man KP, this is a lot of pressure,’” said Roy. “We traded Zach (Randolph) and I’m like ‘Wow, I’ve got to do this myself?’ and the first thing him and Nate said was ‘No, you’ve got a team of guys. You’ve got an organization that is going to try to make sure that this team is successful.’ It’s no different with this contract.”

It might not be any different for Roy, but hopefully the same can be said for his teammates. It’s one thing to ignore the expectations of fans brought on by max money, but it’s entirely different, and I would argue more difficult, to overcome ex-expectations from within the locker room. Seems like an unlikely scenario with this group of players, but Roy is ready to address the issue if need be.

“I’m going to continue to let (my teammates) know that we’re only going to do this together,” said Roy. “I can’t do this alone. I can get all the money in the world and that doesn’t make us a championship team. A team does.”

08.13.09 Podcast

The Podcast is back, now that I've got all of those pesky business trips and vacations out of the way. Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of and I, Casey Holdahl of meet up in studio and over the phone to talk Trail Blazers for 50-some odd minutes.

In this week's podcast we discuss whether it's reasonable to think the Trail Blazers will complete with the Lakers for the top spot in the West, what it would take to make the NBA Finals and whether or not that would be surprising, how the Blazers can win the Northwest Division outright, which teams we think are the favorites to win the East, the Top 5 Trail Blazers of all time and whether Brandon Roy is one of them, Roy's new contract and a quick look at how this season's schedule shakes out. Thanks in advance for listening.

Download the podcast (46.1 MB)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Do You Know?

It's hard to gauge how much anyone can know about an NBA team in mid-August, and I think that goes double for a young team like the Trail Blazers. You know Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge are going to be starters. You know, barring injury, that they'll lead the team in minutes. One will almost certainly lead the team in scoring. But can you really know anything else about the Trail Blazers on August 12, 2009? I'm not so sure.

But Ben York at Dime Magazine does a good job of hedging his bets. In his piece today, "5 Things I think I Know About The Northwest Division," York does some soothsaying that I'd like to beleive.
1. I think I know that the Blazers will be trouble for the Nuggets.

Though the off-season didn’t turn out like many Portland fans thought it would (lost out on Turkoglu, lost out on Millsap) they did address one of their biggest weaknesses which was the PG position. Andre Miller is a very good point guard, and underrated in the more methodical aspects of his game. Steve Blake will be one of the best back-up point guards in the league and gives Portland a much deeper bench, even more so than last year. With a fresh contract extension under his belt, Brandon Roy will break-out to be a top 7 scorer and Greg Oden is poised for a monster year (comparatively). Ultimately, I think the Nuggets win the division, but Portland will give them a run for their money.
I can get on board with just about all of that, with a few qualifiers.

First off, the Trail Blazers were trouble for the Nuggets last year, so no reason to think that won't be the case in '09-'10. After all, we did share the Northwest Division Title with Denver. Don't let anyone tell you any different either. It's a co-conference title. Tiebreakers only apply to playoff seeding, not divisional titles. Sorry Nuggets fan.

York's pontification gets a bit robust after that. It's all positive, which is great and much appreciated, but I wouldn't go so far to say I know everything York thinks he knows.

I don't know that Steve Blake is going to be one of the best back-up point guards in the league because I'm not convinced he won't be the starter come next season. I can't wait to see what Andre Miller can do for this team, but I'm not about to bet against Blake. He's been labeled a back-up throughout his entire NBA career, but he always seems to end up in the starting rotation, and he's coming off his best season as a pro. It's certain to be a battle in training camp, but I wouldn't even pretend to have the clairvoyance to know how that contest is going to shake out. One thing I will say though is that Portland will have one of the best back-up point guards in the league. I just don't know which guy that's going to be.

On the topic of Brandon Roy, I think there's a good possibility he slides into the top 7 in scoring. He finished '08-'09 tenth in scoring, so moving up three spots wouldn't surprise me, but I don't see anyone above him on the list having much of a drop off.

If you think about it, the Trail Blazers would probably be better off if Roy's scoring numbers took a bit of a dip this season. The addition of Miller adds some scoring pop at point guard, be it as a starter or in the second unit, which takes some pressure off Roy. Aldridge and Greg Oden taking steps forward offensively lightens the load as well, so I'm not convinced Roy bumping up his average is really necessary. In fact, I hope it isn't.

As for Oden, I agree he's poised to have a "monster year," but it's all now it's all about showing it on the court. Being poised isn't going to be good enough. Not this season. I know that.

I also know this offseason isn't over. Kevin Pritchard said he was still looking for ways to improve the team before the opening tip of the upcoming season, and I've got faith that he'll achieve that goal. I doubt it will be anything groundbreaking, but there are surely a few minor tweaks yet to be made.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Podcast: Brandon Roy On Trail Blazers Courtside

Mike Barrett and Mike Rice were attending the Trail Blazers company picnic at Sunriver, but Brian Wheeler and Kenny Vance stuck around to host a one hour edition of Trail Blazers Courtside, your weekly television and internet show covering all things Trail Blazers and the NBA.

Brandon Roy, he of the multi-year contract extension, called in to discuss said extension, what he's been up to this offseason and his expectations for next season. Give it a listen by clicking on the player below, or download it to your computer or mobile listening device.

Brandon Roy On Trail Blazers Courtside

Download the podcast (12.3 MB)

If you'd like to listen to the entire hour, that's available below as well. Internationally renowned strength and conditioning coach Bobby Media is also a guest.

August 10 Trail Blazers Courtside

Download the podcast (40.1 MB)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brandon Roy, Back To We

The money is nice. No one, including Brandon Roy, is going to deny that. But what brought a smile to Roy’s face as he sat at a table answering questions from the media while holding his son on his lap wasn’t the thought of dollars being electronically routed to his checking account. More than anything, he was simply happy to have the whole ordeal over and done with.

It’s not hard to understand why. Of course there’s the relief of financial stability, but that wasn’t issue, as there was never any doubt Roy was going to get paid. The real source of anxiety for Roy throughout the negotiating process was being in a situation where he had to focus on himself rather than the team. It was uncharted and unwelcomed territory for the two-time All-Star.

“That’s the biggest thing I was struggling with,” said Roy. “I’ve never been a ‘me’ guy, never worried about myself. Now here it is I have to be a little selfish. My agent is like ‘You have to be a little bit more selfish in this situation.’ And I’m like, ‘I just want to get this done.’ I want to play with my teammates. I don’t like this process, and I think that’s what made this hard. But at the same time I’m glad it’s over with.”

The distain for the process is probably one of the reasons Roy said he would sign a ten-year contract if he had the option. He knew he was going to be a Trail Blazer, but he still had to go through negotiations, despite knowing what the ultimate outcome would be.

“There were days were I was upset and I wanted it to be done, like, now,” said Roy, “because I didn’t like people calling saying ‘What’s going on?’ or ‘Why aren’t you a Trail Blazer? Why aren’t they signing you?’ I didn’t like that process. For me it was like, can I just get it over with? But there was never a moment I felt like I wasn’t going to be a part of this team. I couldn’t even imagine being on another team. All I know is University of Washington and Portland. There was never a moment when [playing for another team] crossed my mind.”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's Official: B.Roy Signs Extension

You can all go back to breathing regularly again: Brandon Roy has officially signed a multi-year contract extension. You've surely seen it reported earlier elsewhere, but nothing is official here at Trail Blazers HQ until the signature is on the contract. If we've learned nothing this summer it's that things can change at the last minute.

But that's not an issue today. Brandon Roy is going to be a Trail Blazer for the foreseeable future, not that that was ever really in doubt. When both player and team want the same thing, there's usually not much that can come in the way of making that mutual goal happen. These negotiations were no different.

Kevin Pritchard said "this is one of the most exciting and important days in Trail Blazers history,” and that ain't hyperbole. There are few players who have the collective skills and personality to become invaluable to a franchise and a city in just three short years, but Roy is one of them. Is he ever.

“No one has played a bigger role in the rebirth of the franchise, both on and off the court, than Brandon Roy," said KP. "While he’s a great player, he’s an even better person and I’m happy and proud to report that he’s going to be a Portland Trail Blazer for many years to come.”

KP is proud and Trail Blazers fans are relieved. Good feelings. Remember that the next time you start to get a little nervous regarding negotiations with important players. It'll all turn out for the best.

More tomorrow from the presser. Sleep easy Portland.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy 45th Coach

Casey is out on a well deserved vacation. So while he's out, we'll do the best we can in providing you updates... maybe not as good as Casey, but we'll try.

Happy Birthday to Nate McMillan who turns 45 today. McMillan gives to you on his birthday, or he at least did an interview a couple of days ago. He was on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, NC (where he played his college ball). Coach talks about coming back to USA Basketball, what he's learned from Coach K (comparing his work ethic to Michael Jordan), winning a World Championship and what Andre Miller brings to the Trail Blazers.


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