Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warriors Preview

So it is official, the Memphis Grizzles have signed Darius Miles to his first 10 day contract. So despite warnings from the Blazers, they signed him about 6 hours after he cleared waivers. I think it is just time to accept the fact that he is going to be back on our cap. But enough of that crap, lets get to what matters more.

Game Preview

Tonight’s game against the Warriors is what I like to call a trap game. It is easy to discount and dismiss this as an easy win, but as I am sure you all know the Blazers tend to struggle with running teams. We lost to Golden State earlier in the season at their place despite their horrible record.

Brandon Roy is still a question mark for tonight’s game along with Rudy who suffered from a sore left foot on Friday. If I was going to guess, I would say that Rudy will play but Roy will not. Hamstrings are not something that go away quickly, and tend to be the nagging type of injury as anyone with a fantasy football team knows. But Stephen Jackson is out for the Warriors, so that helps. Despite the injuries and stuff, here are my keys to the game.

1. We Need to Get Easy Baskets.
a. Golden State doesn’t play any D, so we need to
take advantage and not settle for jumpshots. Lets get to
the hoop, get out and run a little bit and get some lay ins.

2. We Can’t Be Satisfied Trading Baskets
a. We have to play D and still have to take care of the ball tonight. We still have to value
each possession, and just cause there are going to be more in this game, doesn’t mean we
can relax and just fire up bad shots.

3. Get to the Free Throw Line
a. This will help control the pace for us. It also falls into the category of easy baskets. This
will also force Golden State to dig into their bench, which Don Nelson is not comfortable with.

Gambler’s Corner

The line is the Blazers by 13 and O/U of 209. I am going to go with the Warriors and the Over. I think we will somewhat get caught up in the pace and exceed 209 and I think the Blazers will pull off a win, but it will be closer then it should be.

Goose is taking…..

Friday, January 9, 2009

Darius Miles Update Part 4

I am sure many of you have heard by now that yesterday the Blazers president Larry Miller issued a memo to the other presidents in the league stating that if anyone signed Darius Miles just to screw up our cap, we would prosecute them to the fullest extent. So what does this mean? How is to be interpreted by Blazer fans? By the rest of the league? Well I am going to give this humble, yet strikingly profound, man’s opinion on the situation.

If you reflect on every move and action the Blazers have made since naming Kevin Pritchard as general manager, nothing is rash or un-calculated. All the moves that have been made are pieces that belong to the final puzzle of assembling a championship team. So it is hard for me to believe that this letter, which seems very brash, is one step in a bigger plan. What is the bigger plan you ask? Well, what I see it as potentially being, is a move that is going to have future ramifications. So even though it might not discourage any team from signing Darius (and if it does, bonus), it is documented proof that a team could possibly sign Miles just to mess with the Blazers cap. So say 2 months from now Miles does get signed to a 10 day contract by a division, or salary cap rival, and plays his 2 games and is cut. Now the Blazers have at least somewhat of an argument against that team, and hopefully revoke Miles salary coming back onto our payroll. Granted this is a longshot, but say it doesn’t work, we aren’t any worse off then if we would have not sent the memo and Darius played 2 games. So isn’t it worth a shot?

I remember last year when KP was asked about Darius and the possibility of him coming back on our books and he briefly mentioned that we would take legal action if need be. So this is not a new concept for the Blazer’s brass. This leads me to believe that they have planned out this scenario and are going to do everything in their power to prevent that salary back on our cap.

There is a meeting scheduled between the NBA and the players union today and according to ESPN, the Darius Miles topic has been added to the slate. So don’t be surprised if a statement is released today from the NBA regarding the situation.

I thought this response from Cavs Owner, Dan Gilbert was interesting...

What do you guys think? Was this a brash move that you wish the Blazer’s would not have made? Do agree with it? Have you been taken aback by the bold move? Do you think it helps or hurts the Blazers? Why? I want to hear what you guys think!

In unrelated news from, check out the new shoes BRoy was rocking at practice today.......Those are pretty sweet!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Darius Miles Update Part 3

So the news just broke this morning on Yahoo Sports, that the (6) preseason games Darius Miles played in count against the (10) he needs to play to come back on the Blazers payroll. So he is now only (2) games away from that. It is now easily conceivable that some team will sign him to a 10-day contract and play him 2 mins in 2 games (especially teams with significant salary cap space this offseason that would be competing with the Blazers for free agents, like Memphis, Miami, Oklahoma City, Detroit, and Minnesota). So I would say it is almost certain that we will have Darius Miles on our payroll for the next two seasons.

Some of you might be freaking out about how we just lost the chance to sign a free agent, and how Darius has come back to haunt us again. Well I have a few reasons for you to back off the ledge and realize hope.

  1. Many of the local media and fans are freaking out about the extra 9 mil on our cap. But like I explained in Darius Miles Update Part 2, I think it is safe to assume that the Blazers will exercise their option on Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw next year, leaving our cap space at approximately $8.40 mil. I heard on the radio this morning that we should not exercise our options on Blake and Outlaw, and use it towards a free agent. What annoys me is they say this, but what is that extra $7.6 mil going to get you? Who do you have in mind that you need that extra cap room for? Hedo Turkoglu? Carlos Boozer? David Lee? Paul Milsaup? Allen Iverson? Jason Kidd? I personally don’t think any of those guys is worth the $15+ mil we would spend on them. People just spout off like a chicken with their head cut off about cap room, but have not plan behind it. Plus I am not sure that you can let someone like Travis Outlaw walk for nothing. He has significantly more trade value then the negative his salary brings our team. So don’t get caught up in the media saying we need to cut guys to make room! Who are we making room for?!?
  2. You will also hear from many media sources that this effectively removes the Blazers from the list of teams who can vie for free agents this summer. That is incorrect. But you already know that because you come here to read your Blazers information and you know that even if we keep Blake and Outlaw, we will still have $8.4 mil to work with.
  3. Lastly we still have Raef LaFrentz’s expiring contract. What makes things interesting now is, the value of that contract is worth more to the Blazers if we trade it rather then let it expire. What I mean by that is if we let it expire we will only be able to realize $8.4 mil of the $12.7 mil contract. But because you have to match salaries to make trades, we can essentially use all $12.7 mil of Raef’s contract to take on new players who’s contracts extend through the 2008-2009 season. I personally think this increases the likeliness of the Blazers making a trade before the deadline (Feb. 19th). Maybe that extra piece will help us make that extra push to for sure get into the playoffs?

So where does that leave us today? I highly doubt Pritchard and Co. will make a move anytime soon, as long as Miles still has 2 games to play, and does not want to make a panic move on speculation. But as soon as he does or February hits you can bet he is going to be burning up the phone lines. Pritchard (along with the rest of the organization) that our goal this year is to make the playoffs. So if February starts creeping up and we don’t look like we are a shoe in for the playoffs, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we made a trade that would both help us I the short term and long term. I fully trust KP to do his due diligence in finding who that player is, then using our laundry list of attractive assets to obtain that player. In KP we trust!

Another new development is this article (big ups to Fox for finding the article) just released about how Portland has issued a league-wide e-mail warning owners who pick up D Miles for the sole purpose to play him two games and put his contract back on the Blazers books. The article states

"Such conduct by a team would violate its fiduciary duty as an NBA joint venturer. In addition, persons or entities involved in such conduct may be individually liable to the Portland Trail Blazers for tortuously interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers contract rights and perspective economic opportunities. “Please be aware that if a team engages in such conduct, the Portland Trail Blazers will take all necessary steps to safeguard its rights, including, without limitation, litigation.”

Looks like a good move by President Larry Miller to hopefully scare off any teams who potentially try and stick us with Miles' contract.

-Kyle and Goose

Pistons Recap

Phew, we needed that one. It was hard fought, scrappy, and ugly as Goose's jumper. But a win’s a win, especially over a Detroit team that had won their last 7 games and 10 of 12. I am definitely satisfied with going .500 against the likes of: Boston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Detroit.

The key to our win was defense. In the first half we were getting absolutely shredded by the Pistons, as we played some sort of soft, slow moving zone. Everyone was late rotating, and that combined with Detroit’s stellar jumpshooting put us in a hole early. But second half was a different story, we switched to a trapping man to man, and began our comeback. Bayless’ energy was key in the comeback along with key jumpers from Blake and Rudy, combined with Aldridge’s easy fast break dunks. All and all everyone contributed to help us come back and secure a win, much like the way we played against Boston.

I have a lot to say about each guy, so on to the individual performances.

LaMarcus Aldridge: LA carried us again tonight on some great shooting (11-21) from the field to total 26 points. He did a great job of getting easy fast break buckets in the 2nd half, and kept the defense honest by knocking down his jumper along with a few moves inside as well. A good game from LA.

Jerryd Bayless: This was Jerryd’s coming out party (sorry Mike, not like that). He played aggressive, but not too tight. You could almost see the weight being lifted off his shoulders as he made a few plays in a row and helped spark a Blazers run. What I really like about Bayless is his ability to get to the foul line, which besides Roy and occasionally Oden, we are missing. Bayless only played 17 minutes but shot more free throws (and made) then Outlaw, Batum, Oden, Rudy, and Blake combined. That is pretty staggering, but when you are primary a jumpshooter that’s what happens. I hope that Roy’s return doesn’t dry up Jerryd’s minutes, because he brings things to the table that we are definitely missing, such as getting to the free throw line, a quick and strong perimeter defender, and intensity that is unmatched by any other Blazer.

Steve Blake: Blake played a solid game and tried to at least somewhat take over Roy’s “creator” role. Blake had 10 points and 10 assists. You could tell his main focus was getting everyone else involved on offense rather then himself. He did a commendable job. His D however is a different story. Blake got burned all night, by the quicker and stronger backcourt of Detroit. To Blake’s credit though, not many people can hang with Stuckey and A.I. anyways.

Greg Oden: Greg was in foul trouble early and often as he struggled with the rotations in the zone. Usually Greg’s best games are ones where he stays out of early foul trouble and is able to get into a flow early in the game. Tonight was not one of those nights as he ended with 4 points and only 1 rebound in 13 mins.

Rudy Fernandez: Rudy hasn’t seized the starting 2 guard opportunity like I thought he would, but he does continue to contribute none the less. Rudy had a key rebound at the end of the game for us, which if we do not get, chances are we do not win that game. Also Rudy had multiple steals/blocks that started fastbreaks and helped us get some easy baskets. As he continues to try to find out how he can score on a regular basis in the NBA, it is good to see him contribute in other areas.

Joel Pryzbilla: Joel stepped up again tonight, with Oden in foul trouble and played a solid defensive game. Joel continues to be one of the most underrated players on our team, as he regularly steps in for the foul plagued Oden to help us secure wins. Keep up the good work Pryz, I appreciate you.

Travis Outlaw: The game winner. Outlaw definitely stepped up his game tonight and did a great job of hitting shots when we needed him to. However I am beginning to wonder if he will ever perform consistently. Usually as a player matures and spends more time in the league he becomes more consistent. This is Outlaw’s 5th year in the league, and he still cannot find that consistency. So I pose this question to you, can the Blazers win a championship relying on Travis Outlaw as their 6th or 7th man? Where other teams have the likes of James Posey, Lamar Odom, and Paul Milsaup?

Game Summary In One Sentence: Ugly early, gritty late, earned us a much needed win at home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pistons Preview

UP-UPDATE: It looks like Sheed and Rip are actually a no go for tonight's game. Anything helps.

Nate will not change the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Pistons. Rudy will start just as he has the last 3 games.

Tonight’s game vs the Pistons, looks to be a difficult one. The Pistons are on a 7 game win streak, and are definitely not the same team we saw a couple months ago when we pulled out a win at Detroit. Rodney Stuckey has began to emerge a real player, and him and Iverson are playing very well together in the backcourt right now. It also sounds like Detroit will get Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace back from injury tonight. So the Blazers will definitely have their hands full.

With Brandon Roy still out McMillen has toyed with the idea of starting Bayless at the 2. With the second unit struggling without Rudy, Nate says he might opt to start Bayless and hopefully bolster our second group. Another rotation idea that Nate has toyed with is moving Outlaw back to the 4. This would effectively all but end the playing time for Frye and Diogu, but Batum would likely see an increase in minutes, and after the way he played vs the Lakers on Sunday, I say he deserves it. It will be interesting to see what Nate goes with.

Keys to the Game

  1. Keep Their Guards Out of the Paint.
    1. Neither Stuckey or A.I. are considered great shooters, so most of their points and assists are generated off dribble penetration. Stuckey will be a tough matchup for Blake, but we need to really step up tonight. Bayless should have a great matchup with the undersized Iverson at the 2. I am interested to see how Bayless responds.
  2. Score Consistently
    1. Hopefully moving Rudy back to the 2nd team will bring us some more offense. We will lose this game if we have another drought like we did against New Orleans and L.A.
  3. Blake Must Hit His Open Shots
    1. With Roy out, if Blake doesn’t hit his open shots, then you can pretty much seal the deal.

Gambler’s Corner

The spread for tonight’s game is Blazers by 3.5 with an O/U of 177. I think the Blazers will bounce back after a loss to L.A. with an inspired effort after 2 days off, so I will take them and over. Although Detroit plays at the 5th slowest pace in the NBA, I think the Blazers (especially Outlaw) will find their stroke tonight to get us up over the top.

Goose is also taking the Blazers and the Over.

The winner of last games (Hornets) score prediction was Hendrix! We now have 3 contestants on the board. We will announce the winner at the end of the month after the Blazers vs. the Jazz on the 31st.

Darius Miles Update Part 2

Darius Miles has officially been waived by the Memphis Grizzles. However, Darius did play 7 minutes in the first half of Memphis game last night, so that brings the number down to 8.

I would like to clarify a statement I made in the previous Darius update, previously I stated that any player can only be signed to (2) 10-day contracts before it is required to guarantee that players contract. That is false. A team is only required to sign a player to guaranteed contract for the remainder of the year only if THAT PARTICULAR team has signed a player to (2) 10-day contracts. So in theory, every team in the NBA could sign Darius to (2) 10-day contracts and he could never have a guaranteed contract. This is slightly less appealing then the scenario I previously posted, but I think it is still a long shot.

But to be honest what are we worrying about? Even if Darius goes back on our books, we will still be ok. If you add together the contracts that the Blazers are obligated to pay next season, and we assume the salary cap stays the same (usually goes up every year, but because of the recession it is expected to stay or maybe even lower a little), the Blazers will still be $25 mil under the salary cap.

There are (4) players that the Blazers must make a decision on for next season. They are:

Steve Blake ($4.0 mil)

Travis Outlaw ($3.6 mil)

Channing Frye ($12.9 mil Hold on cap space until we renounce rights to him or he signs with someone else)

Ike Diogu ($12.0 mil Hold on cap space until we renounce rights to him or he signs with someone else)

So as one can logically assume we will keep Blake and Outlaw, bringing our available free agent cash down to 17.40 mil. This is enough to sign a superstar caliber player, but to be honest, there aren’t any out there to be had this offseason. For a good breakdown of the summer 2009 free agents, check out this article by ESPN’s Chad Ford. Tell me there is one guy in there you would want to pay 17.40 mil to next year? I don’t see it.

So let’s assume Miles does come back on our books, that leaves us with 8.40 mil. That is still plenty of money to sign a quality role player. As you will notice with NBA salaries solid, veteran role players are usually in the $5-$10 mil range. So if we wanted to go that route we could.

Another scenario, is the Blazers could broker a trade for a “superstar”. With our combination of young, cheap talent, and $8.40 mil of wiggle room under the cap, pretty much any player in the NBA could fit onto our roster (financially). Granted this is a little more difficult then just signing a free agent out right, but none the less an option to consider.

Last point I would like to make is, when my man crush Pritchard took over and began making these moves, he had a plan. And that plan originally included having Darius on our books this summer. Any of you that have listened and read as much about what Pritchard says, knows that he has been circling this summer on his calendar for years. So there is no way that he is not going to have a plan for every single scenario, not to mention the time in between the end of the season (when he will know about Darius being on our books or not) and the beginning of free agency (early July).

Bottom line is I have complete faith in our management to make the best move possible with the information available. A move that in KP’s words “doesn’t sacrifice that long term for the short term”. I’ll drink to that.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

David Lee Trade Talks

So if you haven’t already heard a trade rumor involving the Blazers yesterday was tearing up the web. I was going to make a post on it, but I had already made two for the day and had some stuff to take care of. So now I bring it to you.

The deal involved bringing David Lee to Portland from the New York Knicks. I heard various different scenarios, but one that seemed to make the most sense was this (Click link and it will take you to the ESPN trade machine that I did. Also, not shown in a 1st round pick from the Blazers to the Clippers. I think this would be the most logical and fair deal involving the key names mentioned. I would do that in a heart beat as a Blazer fan, would you?

Apparently there were reports that the Blazers front office is “enamored” with Lee, and think he would fit perfect into what we are doing here. I agree, I think he would be a great fit, but there are two drawbacks that I can see. 1. Lee is a restricted free agent this summer, which means if we traded for him, we could match any offer he receives and retain him. Sounds good right? But what if someone throws a max deal at him? Is he worth that much? Then we not only lose Frye and Sergio for nothing, but also a 1st round pick. 2. Lee has stated publicly more then once that he wants to be a starter. And I can guarantee that he will not start in front Aldridge.

Here is an interesting exerpt from Chad Ford’s chat today on ESPN.

Nick (NYC): Chad, what have you heard on this David Lee to Portland stuff?? Wouldn't Lee for Jerryd Bayless and a first rounder be a great deal for both teams??

Chad Ford: Portland has interest in Lee. But honestly, Portland has interest in all of the good young players in the league. Kevin Pritchard is very proactive and likes to collect assets. The Knicks would probably be interested in that deal ... Bayless and a first rounder. The problem is, Portland's not offering that. I think they're not willing to give up that much for Lee. I think Lee will be gone by the trade deadline, but I'm not sure it will be Portland.

Sounds like classic Pritchard to me, which is what I love about him. He never puts all his eggs in one basket, and is constantly turning over every rock (and sometimes the same rock over and over again) to better this team. Could it be smoke screen? Remember that every deal the Blazers have ever pulled off, there have been no rumors prior the transaction. Every single time the first time you hear about the deal, it is imminent. Pritchard plays his cards very close to the chest, so I would highly doubt that a deal for Lee is in the near future. Not to say it will never happen, just not right now.

But this stirs the pot a little for me and begins trade talk and speculation (one of my favorite things to do/talk about). So what do you think about David Lee to Portland? Good fit? If not him, then who would like to see? Who would you like to give up? Post some ideas, and we can discuss why or why not those players coming to Portland is a reality or just a dream.

As always, thanks for reading my blog, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Darius Miles Update

So as I am sure some of you already know, if Darius Miles plays 10 games or more in the next 2 years, his $9 mil. Annual salary goes back on Portland’s books. Miles, made yet another huge step towards doing this last night in Memphis’ game vs. Dallas. Miles played a little under 2 mins in a blowout Memphis win. This is huge in the fact, that Miles has already made it through his 10 game suspension (for taking a banned weight loss drug). So Darius is 1 down, 9 to go.

What is intriguing about his current situation is as of Friday (01/09/09), any player that is on a team with a non-guaranteed contract, will automatically be turned into a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the year. Darius Miles is one of those players. So what if the Grizzlies decide to cut Miles? Well, if Miles gets cut and becomes a free agent then anyone in the league can sign him to a 10-day contract. However, Miles can only be signed to a total of (2) 10-day contracts, before a team has to give him a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season.

So lets run through a scenario (one that Portland fans such as myself would like to see). Memphis has three games between now and Friday. So what are the chances that Darius gets to play in any or all of those games? It’s hard to tell, because he only played 2 mins in a blowout win vs. Dallas. What if it’s a blowout loss? Memphis is playing, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Toronto this week. I am willing to bet at least two of those games will be fairly close, so I think its safe to say Miles could only legitimately see burn on 1 game.

Now lets say they cut him. He gets picked up in a few weeks by a team on a 10-day contract. Most teams play an average of 4 games in 10 days, assuming he gets 2 of those 4 games, that puts him at (5). Then the same for another 10 day contract.

So to me it basically comes down to if the Grizzles cut him this week or retain him for the remainder of the year. Let’s hope they cut him, so we have some room to work this offseason.

Laker Game Recap

Game Review

Well, we hung in there for a half. Then the same problem arose, we simply could not score for a long period of time. In the 3rd quarter, the Blazers had only 7 points in the first 9 minutes of the quarter. No one could hit a shot, and surprisingly enough they were all jumpers. Aldridge had a fantastic game offensively, but our guards couldn’t/wouldn’t get him the ball. He finished 11-19 for 22 points and 11 rebounds. Greg Oden also had some mild success in the post, but he did not get the ball either. During one series, the Blazers missed 4 three pointers, and one jumpshot, while getting fouled once and 4 offensive rebounds, to finally hit a 3. All of the shots were wide open too. It was a rough sight from some usually reliable shooters such as Blake and Rudy, who went a combined 10-29 (5-16 from deep). During the period, LA went on a 17-3 run, and never looked back.

A Few Random Thoughts on the Game:

1. I personally think Oden out performed Bynum, even though you can’t tell from the stat book. Oden changes so many shots and clears so much room for everyone else to come get rebounds. He also had multiple times where he tipped the rebound to keep it alive.

2. It would be nice to have someone besides Brandon Roy who can consistently create their own shot.

3. Kobe Bryant is good at basketball.

4. The Blazers hardly ever get easy baskets. They don’t run, no one besides Roy really gets to the hole, Oden isn’t consistant enough to get quality shots on the block, Aldridge takes difficult shots as with Outlaw. Blake never goes to the hoop. The list goes on and on….

Game Summary in One Sentence: The Blazers hit another one of their “dry spells” and could never battle back.