Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Clipper sweep

The last two nights set a record for me this season: most back-to-back Blazer games watched this season. I nearly went to the game last night at the Staples Center, but decided that I didn't want to deal with downtown and the blue line that late the night before finally flying to Chicago.

I wish I would have been there, if only to see Joel Przybilla completely destroy the Clippers on the boards. Przybilla was fantastic, and he brought some offense too. It really did look like a preview of what Oden could do next year. Interested in seeing how he's doing? This article will lead you through it. Great stuff from Jason Quick, as always.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy were once again great in the same game. It was Aldridge's ninth straight game over 20 points. That's another great sign for next season. If he can play like this consistently next year, and Roy stays the steady presence he has been all year, this team will be so good. Add Oden and Rudy Fernandez (who, according to Pritchard, is coming over next year) to this team and it's even more exciting than I would have thought.

Another great sign from these two games – the last three, actually – is the point guard play of Steve Blake. His defense has been a little shaky, and his shooting has actually been a little down. But the way he led the offense and his assist to turnover ratio has been really great. He has had 23 assists and one turnover in the last three games. If he can keep doing that next year, and Sergio Rodriguez can make a leap this summer, I don't think we need a new point guard. I know, that's risky to say, but I think it might be true.

Alright, I'm going to get back to reading The Breaks of the Game while I wait for my flight to leave. Stupid snow in Chicago. Stupid.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Snow in march. Boo.

I'm sitting in Long Beach drinking a vanilla latte at 11:39 am. I should be sitting on a plane above Utah or Colorado or Kansas. And I found out this would be the case at 4:22 this morning when my phone rang. I jolted awake and opened it to see the Utah number 801-993-8000. The winter storm that's been raging in Chicago was enough for them to cancel my flight six hours before it was to take off.

Because I'm flying JetBlue, there's nothing I can really do. There are only two flights from the west to Chicago on JetBlue each day, which means that all the flights for tomorrow were full. I'm scheduled to fly out Easter Sunday morning at 10:30 and land in Chicago at 4:29. I am currently a standby passenger for the 4:15 flight tomorrow afternoon, but that seems pretty unlikely. And that means I get to sit around today and tomorrow relaxing, figuring out how to use my time, and reading The Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam. I think that's the end of my rant about my spring break debacle, except to say that I'm still flying back on Wednesday, cutting my trip from Friday-Wednesday (a nice length) to Sunday-Wednesday (far too short).

Speaking of The Breaks of the Game, I'm really excited. I've been wanting to read this book for a very long time. It's been out of print for a while, and I'd been searching for it for about a year. I spent far too much for a used paperback, but I'm still happy to have it.

The Breaks of the Game is about the downfall of the Portland Trailblazers in 1978-1979, and is a sort of microcosm of what was going on in the NBA at the time. This article is a commentary on the potential beginning of the end of Darius Miles' NBA career, and that could be seen as a microcosm of some things that are currently happening in the NBA. The article makes me really sad, but it's pretty good. And not long.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A quote and a mini-sermon

Jesus did not come to make us Christian; Jesus came to make us fully human.

––Hans Rookmaaker

A good friend has labeled himself as an "unrepentant sinner." This is infuriating to another friend of mine, so we talked about it for a while the other night. In the end, the label hit me because of the thing against which it is set up. Some might think the opposite of "unrepentant sinner" would be "repentant sinner." I agree. Sadly, though, many Christians instead live as though they are no-longer-sinners. We cover up to look like this, instead of openly and proudly calling ourselves repentant sinners, which is what we are. That's what my friend is really doing: being perfectly honest about who he is. He's being more honest than most of us dare to be. If we do not openly claim to be repentant sinners, then we might as well be unrepentant sinners.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Still not finished

Okay, tons of thanks to Lewis for leading into this post: why would Portland do this? Won't this hinder the growth of the team together? What will Nash have in the tank in a few years?

Before I try to answer those questions, I need to fix one thing from the post yesterday. I left off a really important piece of the Suns roster in Grant Hill. I don't know how I did that. There are a few other guys on the roster too, but I think he was the only really important one I left off my made up two-deep depth chart. I was thinking that maybe Hill gets included in the deal, perhaps with Martell Webster coming over from Portland.

I don't know if that makes it more likely for Phoenix to do the deal, but I think it might because my whole idea is that they'd be blowing things up and trying to get younger and build from the ground up. Okay, whether or not that helps, here are the answers to those other questions.

  1. Why does Portland do this?

  2. Portland has the youngest team in the league right now. There was talk that Atlanta was younger after the trade for Bibby, but I think I saw somewhere else that this isn't true. Portland would be trading away three young players. One of whom is finally showing how much he can grow into his potential. One of whom was great as a rookie, but has been a little disappointing since then. And one of whom I love, but just isn't getting his chance with Portland and still needs more time to make mistakes and grow up. The other guy Portland would be trading is one of their few veterans, even though he isn't really that old. Portland would be willing to give up these guys because they'd be making a huge upgrade at the one position that's really a gigantic question still. Right now Blake is one of the main guys who brings veteran leadership, and Nash would do that to a far greater extent.

  3. Won't this hinder the growth of the team together?

  4. I think this would actually help the growth of the team. One of the problems with the inconsistency at point has been that we can't develop the team the way we want. This is supposed to become a great running team, but Jarrett Jack has trouble running the break, McMillan doesn't trust Sergio Rodriguez very much, and Blake, while good, still isn't as good as what we hope Sergio will be. The team is still built around Roy, Aldridge, and Oden, who will all be less than 24 next year. That's still young and still plenty of room to grow. In addition, we have another PG of the future stashed in Finland. Petteri Koponen has a ton of potential, much like Rodriguez, but would need a lot of time to develop. Having Nash on the team to help him develop in practice would be huge, and since Sergio is still just a great prospect, it makes sense to me to take the risk on another great prospect, especially if he could learn from Nash.

    Also, this gives Jarrett Jack more job security as the back up point guard, which is good because many consider him the soul of this team to Brandon Roy's heart. This also frees up room for McRoberts to get a chance, Joel Freeland to come over – perhaps – and get his chance, and pairs down the rotation a little better. Again, even though this would make the team a lot older, we'd really only have two old guys: Nash and Raef LaFrentz. We'd have two seasoned veterans: Joel Przybilla and James Jones. The rest of the guys on the team would still be either young studs/role players (Roy, Aldridge, Oden, Fernandez, and Jack) or prospects with huge upside (Koponen, McRoberts, and Freeland). I left out Darius Miles, but who knows what that guy might do.

  5. How much will Nash have left in the tank in a few years?

  6. I actually don't think it really matters how much he'd have left for a few years, because his main role would be to run the team next season and as much of the one after as he could, and then he can hand the reigns to Koponen, who will have hopefully already stepped into the role of PG and team leader. Maybe Nash has three good years left, maybe he only has two, at the worst maybe he has just one. But bringing him over would help everyone else develop and would give Koponen a chance to become the sort of point guard who could run a championship team.

Again, I don;'t think the Suns would ever make this deal. I also don't know if Pritchard would do it. But, as much as I'd like to see this team grow into a dynasty as-is, I think this sort of move – and specifically this move – could be the thing that helps us make the jump from up-and-comer to championship contender in only one off season.

I think there's probably more to figure out, but that's as much as I've gotten so far.

One last thing: Nash's salary is so reasonable that this would hardly have an effect on our upcoming cap space, if we still felt the need to find the last piece at small forward.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

An unfinished idea

Last night as I was talking to my brother I was inspired to begin thinking about a deal. I don't know what inspired me, especially since the Blazers were still losing to the Suns badly at that point. Maybe I was just thinking about the Suns because of the game, and realizing that their experiment is about to fail. Their window is about to close. They're going to need to rebuild. That means they'll need good picks and good young players, two things Portland has. So, if the window really does close for the Suns after this season, why not blow it up for real. That would mean trading away an old guy before all his value is gone. Of course I mean Steve Nash, who should never be traded. Also, I know that this is a homer deal. But I can see some things about it that could help Phoenix. Again, this is just the first effort, but what if the Suns received our first round picks in 2008 and 2010. The pick in 2010 probably won't be great, but this year we're a near lock for the lottery again, and they get the Hawks pick, which also looks like it'll be in the lottery because the 76ers are playing so well. In addition to the two picks, we give them three young guys who could flourish in the D'Antoni system: Travis Outlaw (Shawn Marion with a little less defense, more athleticism, and a prettier shot), Sergio Rodgriguez (a guy they drafted and should have kept, sort of like what they did with Nash), and Channing Frye (a decent big who can run some and hit the mid-range jumper pretty well, plus he'd be going back home to Arizona). The Blazers could also throw Steve Blake into the deal to give a stop-gap point guard while they dump the reigns into Sergio's hands.

Again, I don't think this deal is an easy sell for Phoenix, because they'd be trading a two time MVP for a platter of young guys, two of which are still pretty unproven. But it would give them this lineup to build around:
Also, I really haven't finished thinking this through. It might take getting another asset from Portland and the Blazers getting another player from Phoenix. And I left out the backup shooting guard, because I think the interchangeability of Barbosa and Bell, along with the interchangeability of Outlaw, Frye, and Diaw would take away the need for a backup shooting guard. Then again, with two lotter picks this year they could end up with a player like Mayo or Westbrook or Collison or somebody else who could help with that. Also, the potential for the Suns to take one guy like that and Kevin Love – a center who can start the break as well as anyone in the country – could be really intriguing. Love could end up starting alongside Stoudamire after Shaq's body finally stops working.

Tomorrow I'll try to write more about why I'd actually love to do this deal from Portland's standpoint. One last time: I know that Phoenix wouldn't do this. I know. I just wanted to try it.

I love this thing

I was playing on the lottery simulator some more today, and came up with these scenarios. The one I posted yesterday is the most likely, with us staying at the 13 spot and maybe nabbing Westbrook. (I said sad yesterday, but only because I wasn't thinking clearly. Westbrook could be perfect for us.)

Here are the basic ways it could fall, with Portland getting one, two, three, or 14. Yeah, everything else could be different, but I don't mind any of these four options. Here are the pictures, the initial picture is the way the lottery worked out, and the second picture is the potential draftee. Kudos galore to Chad Ford and ESPN for doing this every year.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Time waster? More like time betterer

One of my favorite ways to spend time is back: the NBA lottery simulator at ESPN. This is the most common result for Portland. Sad.

Save OUR sonics

No, I'm not a Sonics fan. But I do love the NBA. And I love the city of Seattle. And the Pacific Northwest is my home, even while I've been away from it periodically since 2000. Tomorrow David Stern, NBA commish, will be in Portland. He's doing an online chat...

I butchered that opportunity. Stern did the stupid chat today. I need to pay better attention. I wanted to organize a bunch of people to pester him with Seattle questions and questions about his friendship with Clay Bennett. Instead I'll just have to rely on the fans in Portland who are planning on showing him that people outside of Seattle care about the situation. I hope they do it, and do it well.