Tag:Portland Trail Blazers
Posted on: September 2, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Pop Quiz: What teams are flying under the radar?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question.. .

What teams might people be sleeping on?

When the season starts, everyone is in first place. And when the season starts, everyone has the hopes of being that sleeper team that comes out of nowhere to shock the basketball world. Everyone thinks their team could be the next Oklahoma City Thunder, the next Tampa Bay Rays, the next New Orleans Saints. Even the most pessimistic fan has that small bone in their body that thinks, "What if?"

But for some squads, it's just not realistic. Just like there has to be a best team, there also has to be a worst team. We've already tried to focus in on that really, really bad team. But what about the squads maybe flying under the radar? Not just teams that might come out of nowhere and make a playoff run, but teams like last season's Memphis Grizzlies who were simply just better than expected. Or teams that people simply aren't giving enough credence to. So, who are this season's sleeper candidates?

Sacramento Kings
The Kings are almost approaching "trendy pick" territory, which is extremely dangerous. That's the area the Clippers were in last season and where teams like the Houston Texans have perpetually been stationed. It's like sports purgatory. You're better than terrible, probably mediocre, but because of elevated expecations, you're set up to be a disappointment. It's a really odd place. And the Kings might be in that category.

But the reality is, there's a ton of talent on that roster. Tyreke Evans is obviously waiting to break out into superstardom, smart moves brought in Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert, two players that help a lot and of course drafting maybe the most talented player last June in DeMarcus Cousins helps. The roster has talent, and lots of it, but it's about overcoming youth and learning to win. The Thunder figured those things out last season as they put together an unexpected 50-win season. That expectation might be a little high for this young Sacramento squad, but seeing them as a potential .500 team or maybe even pushing for the postseason in March isn't too hard to picture. 

Indiana Pacers
By playing much better basketball and finishing the last two months of the season 12-10, the Pacers played themselves out of a higher lottery pick. But what they might have done, is played themselves into a better 2010-11 campaign. Momentum heading into an offseason is always a good thing and even with a rag-tag roster that didn't feature a real point guard, the Pacers were able to compete. Now with Darren Collison, a proven point man, Indiana has something to get a little more excited about.

Of course losing Troy Murphy stings. Stings a lot in fact. Indiana is desperately searching for an interior replacement for Murphy, but for now, the Pacers will try and survive on Danny Granger's scoring, Collison's creating and the continued development of Roy Hibbert. The Eastern Conference is looking at a changing of the guard with teams like Cleveland falling down the line a bit. The eighth spot is wide open in the East, and the Pacers might just have enough to get there.

New Jersey Nets
Don't laugh. Seriously, don't. Everyone knows the Nets weren't truly as bad as their record indicated last season. It was a snowball effect that started in training camp and eventually led to the team flirting with the worst record ever. Simply put, that roster was just too good to win only 14 games last year.

But with the additions of Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Troy Murphy, there has definitely been a talent upgrade. An interior duo of Brook Lopez and Murphy is definitely one of the best combos in the East. Add in rookie Derrick Favors whose ceiling is so high even he can't touch it and the Nets are a lock to be better. Will they be a playoff team? Probably not. But can they be a vastly improved squad that at least can talk a little postseason around February and March? Definitely.

Portland Trail Blazers
What are they doing on here? Well, hear me out. Most aren't considering the Blazers a true Western contender this season. Most don't think Portland has what it takes to get to the Western finals. Playoff team? Certainly. But a team to be reckoned with? Hardly.

And that's where I think people might be wrong.

Everyone knows the well chronicled injury issues the Blazers faced last year. Starters missed lots of games, bench players missed lots of games, everyone missed lots of games. The team was ripped apart with injuries, but yet somehow, someway, made it into the playoffs and won over 50 games. So imagine that Blazer roster at full tilt. Of course that's a big if, because assuming Greg Oden will be healthy for a full season is like assuming Gary Busey won't say something crazy on TV. But even just having Brandon Roy, Joel Pryzbilla, Andre Miller and Nicolas Batum all together for a full 82 means that's a pretty scary roster. Is this your traditional sleeper? Not really because everyone already knows they're good. But the question is, just how good?

Posted on: August 24, 2010 9:31 am
 

Shootaround 8.24.10: Heisley goes Vesuvius

Heisley blows up, Bosh says no to loyalty, and Nate McMillan's on the hot seat in today's Shootaround...Posted by Matt Moore

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley went on the radio yesterday and had himself quite the little adventure. Among his more interesting answers, besides calling host Chris Vernon "partner," and "son" several times, Heisley admitted that he has not read the CBA, and was therefore previously unaware of the clause that allows for negotiating with rookies on incentive-based bonuses. This is toally okay for an owner who simply signs the check and directs the front-office, but not so much one who makes the majority of basketball decisions. Having listened to the whole interview, I can tell you it was, in fact, an abject trainwreck.

SI's been close with Chris Bosh, and did another interview with him this week. The soundbyte you'll want to take note of is that he thinks loyalty has no place in free agency. Which was, you know, kind of apparent to begin with.

Nets Are Scorching looks at how Derrick Favors could make the difference in the Nets breaching the playoffs. This is akin to looking at how your place kicker can help win you a Super Bowl.

Is there any player with a wider range of possible results this season outside of Greg Oden than Hakim Warrick? In Phoenix, in a system that produces great players beyond their talent alongside Nash, with a host of magical trainers, Warrick could make significant leaps forward. Or, he could be Hakim Warrick. At least he's excited and ready to work .

Blazers edge says this is a "make or break year" for Nate McMillan.

Beyond the Beat takes a look at players' reactions to the famous masks they've had to wear for facial injuries. That's nto a metaphor. We're talking actual masks.

Bucksketball is worried about chemistry with the Bucks. They have the talent, but the personalities is the concern.

Is Will Bynum going to wind up starting ? Really?
Posted on: August 19, 2010 7:11 pm
 

Fernandez fined $25k for comments

Blazers forward fined $25,000 for comments by agent about wanting out of Portland.
Posted by Matt Moore


The path out of a guaranteed contract in the NBA is a messy, and often expensive, affair. Rudy Fernandez is getting a head-start on what that kind of divorce looks like.

The NBA today fined Fernandez $25,000 for "public statements detrimental to the NBA" according to an NBA release. It's assumed that Fernandez was fined for comments made by his agent regarding a desire to end his time in the NBA and return to Europe. Fernandez' agent spoke with both Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports and HoopsHype.com about Fernandez' desire for a split with the Blazers. Via HoopsHype:

“The impression I’m getting more and more is that he’s lost interest in playing in the NBA, quite frankly,” Miller said. “It’s my impression that Rudy would prefer to be in Europe rather than the NBA at this point.”

The fine is a pretty standard reaction from the league, which automatically fines a player that makes a public trade or release request. Granted the multiple reports which have indicated both Carmelo Anthoney and Chris Paul requesting trades make for an easy loophole, but it's an important distinction. You have to provide the league and your team with plausible deniability. Your agent going on record about you wanting out doesn't exactly provide a lot of wiggle room.

For what it's worth, Rich Cho, the new GM of the Blazers told Spears that they're not in any hurry to do anything about Fernandez. Fernandez' situation is particular, but GMs are always wary of setting precdents which could lead to other situations. The cold hard truth is that Fernandez is under contract with the NBA. If the Blazers don't want to let him go, they don't have to. And if he doesn't play, he doesn't get paid. Unlike the other superstars looking for a new zipcode this summer, Fernandez doesn't have much in the way of leverage.

And the NBA certainly isn't going to be helping him out.
Posted on: August 19, 2010 8:52 am
 

Shootaround 8.19.10: John Mayer burns the Heat

"" Posted by Royce Young

  • The Hornets are embracing variable ticket pricing: "Yet-to-be-determined prices will be assigned to games based on value and demand, influenced by factors such as an opponent's quality and the day of the week the game is played. Each game will fall into one of five pricing categories: marquee, premium, classic, value and preseason."
  • Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm on who takes the last shot in Miami: "In almost every regard, the Miami Heat will not be like other basketball teams. So why should they be when it comes to their play-calling with the game on the line? Erik Spoelstra has all of these incredible scoring options laid out for him. No coach in recent memory has been more empowered to go away from the “Get X the ball and get out of the way,” endgame mantra. If there’s really a place where Spoelstra’s talents can stand out amidst the incredible star power on Miami’s roster, it’s there."
  • Terrico White should've been in the dunk contest last year. So what that he was still in college.
  • Dime looks at the five worst trades ever: "Date: September 9, 1980; Warriors Get: Two 1980 1st-round draft picks (Rickey Brown and Joe Barry Carroll); Celtics Get: Robert Parish and a 1980 1st-round draft pick (Kevin McHale). This is like something out of a video game. The Celtics should have got fined for armed robbery. How do you steal two NBA legends for nothing?"
  • Usain Bolt sees Kevin Durant as a role model: "When I was younger mine were Michael Johnson and Don Quarrie. Johnson was pretty much the best runner in the world, particularly at the 200m  -  my favourite event  -  and Quarrie was one of the best Jamaican sprinters in history, so I just wanted to be like them. I still have people I look up to even now. At the moment it's Kevin Durant, the basketball player (he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder). Kevin is a good leader; he's very strong and very determined. Whatever he does, whether he's tired or injured, he works through it, pushes on and challenges his team-mates to do their best."
  • The Grizzlies and rookie Xavier Henry are in a stalement with his contract over performance based incentives. And owner Michael Heisley had in interesting quote on it: "Isn't it reasonable to think that the 12th pick in the NBA draft can make the rookie team?" Heisley asked. "I think what we're asking for is reasonable." I guess that would depend on what one sees as reasonable, would it?
  • Kenyon Martin tells The Denver Post he understands Carmelo's situation and even says the Nuggets are going backward: "I understand what he's going through," Martin said in a phone interview. "If I'm Melo, I'm thinking — are we getting better? They've got to prove to me that we're getting better... Everybody else around us got better. But we're taking steps backwards."
Posted on: August 18, 2010 11:24 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 8:57 am
 

Rudy Fernandez is done with the NBA

Blazers forward is headed back to Europe, regardless of trade.
Posted by Matt Moore


Rudy Fernandez has made a ton of noise this summer about wanting out of Portland, where his value has steadily declined since entering the league. He never clicked with the coaching staff and had his role progressively compromised by roster moves. The steady thought was that a trade to New York, Chicago, or Boston would have placated him. However, it would appear that situaton has changed.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that Fernandez' agent claims that Fernandez is homesick and wants to return to Europe. He no longer has an interest in playing in the NBA, and is willing to sit out the season under suspension in pursuit of a split with the Trail Blazers. Fernandez is still under contract with the Blazers this season, so he can't just escape back home.

What he's going through sounds awfully similar to Juan Carlos Navarro, who joined the Grizzlies before heading back home. Of course, Fernandez was actually part of a winning team, though he did have his best friend on the team (Sergio Rodriguez) traded away just like Navarro (Pau Gasol). But it's yet another example of a European player that simply prefers the lifestyle and play of Europe over the NBA. It's a shame we'll miss out on seeing Rudy regularly. But hey, we'll always have the failed dunk attempt. 40 times .



Posted on: August 12, 2010 12:02 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 12:18 pm
 

It's Thursday and Rudy still wants a trade

Posted by Royce Young

Rudy Fernandez has made it pretty darn clear that he wants a trade. And he's reiterating those sentiments again. HoopsHype translated an interview done with Marca.com and Rudy once again laid his feelings out.

"It's more like we're trying to talk with (the Blazers) and make them understand my position. And let's make clear I understand theirs too," Fernandez said. "We have to come to an agreement and find a way out as soon as possible. I made a great effort going to the States, making less money that I would in Europe. This season, I decided with my agents that the best thing was to try to get traded so I could be on another team with more playing time."

The was also talk that Fernandez grew depressed over playing time and his situation. He talked a little about that too.

"Not to the point of being depressed, but I've been pretty messed up psychologically," he said. "I didn't feel comfortable on the court and sometimes I preferred to stay on the bench. I didn't feel capable of helping the team and that's very tough to handle for any player."

It's looking unlikely that Fernandez will in fact get moved any time soon though. The Bulls are still a candidate even though they just signed Keith Bogans, but Blazers coach Nate McMillan said in an interview with NECN.com that his focus is that Fernandez will be back and also how to use him when he comes back.

The Celtics are another potential spot for Fernandez to land, though if the Blazers aren't willing to swap Fernandez just to get him out of Portland, it's unlikely the Blazers will be satisfied with most packages teams like the Bulls and Celtics could put together. The Blazers have been clear they want a first round pick among other things, so teams like the Celtics and Bulls will have to weigh that and decide if Fernandez is a piece worth going after. But this much is apparently clear: You better play him if you get him or he'll want to leave.

Posted on: August 10, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 5:58 pm
 

5 can't miss national TV games in 2010-2011

Posted by Matt Moore

The story of the 2010-2011 national television schedule is about what you'd expect. Lots of Heat, lots of Boston, lots of Lakers, and the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Boston Celtics surprisingly lead all teams in national television appearances across NBATV, ESPN, ABC, and TNT with 33 appearances. The Miami Heat, no shock, are second, with 29 appearances, while the defending champion Lakers appear 27 times. That number is likely to increase signficantly with NBATV's fan night. The Orlando Magic also appear 29 times, compared to the East's three-seed Atlanta Hawks, who appear just 14 times. Of the 15 games on ABC, 14 feature the Heat, Celtics, Lakers, or Magic.

New York appears 18 times, while Phoenix has certainly earned some faith from the producers, landing 25 national appearances. Oklahoma City were the big winners, with 24 big-time appearances, and the first post-Christmas ABC game, facing the Heat at home. It's a big win for a small market club.

Of course, most other small-market clubs didn't fair so well. Indiana is without a single appearanc. Charlotte and Memphis have 6 each, New Orleans 7, and Milwaukee only has 8, despite being playoff or near-playoff teams. This is in contrast to the Clippers, the freaking Clippers, getting 12 appearances. Win total didn't have much to do with these decisions.

Your top five nationally televised games not on Christmas, Opening Night, or MLK Day:

  1. Heat at Magic, November 24th, ESPN: The Sunshine Massacre. The Heat's primary weakness, true size, is tested against Dwight Howard while Jameer Nelson could have a huge game against Mario Chalmers.
  2. Lakers at Thunder, February 27th, ABC: Welcome back, Lakers. They barely got out of the Sooner state with their playoff lives last April and the Thunder should be improved. Kevin Durant will likely take this one personally, while Kobe loathes challengers to his throne.
  3. Heat at Cavaliers, December 2nd, TNT: "Peace? Peace. I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee."-Cleveland
  4. Blazers at Jazz, April 7th, TNT: Let's imagine Greg Oden stays healthy. Let's imagine Al Jefferson stays healthy. Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap. The Northwest Division is a bloodbath.
  5. Lakers at Celtics, February 10th, TNT: It's refreshing when the networks give you two seldom-seen teams that never match up. It's a once-in-a-lifetime type game, really.

Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:11 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 10:10 pm
 

NBA on Christmas: 'Tis the season for good games

Posted by Royce Young

The big, highlight games have been announced . And other than the playoffs, the NBA's brighest stage is probably the Christmas Day games. So who gets the spotlight on the best holiday of all? And exactly how good are those matchups? Let's look (all times Eastern):

Game 1: Bulls at Knicks, 12:00, ESPN
A classic for Christmas Day. Of course the Knicks had to be included and matching them against the young, exciting Bulls is solid. Putting the game in Madison Square Garden is an obvious must and maybe, just maybe, the Knicks will be in the discussion in the East. Maybe.

Derrick Rose is a must-watch player and with Amar'e Stoudemire back with Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks will be a fun team to watch. Plus, I might be the only one that cares about such things, but I think both sets of uniforms look really good together on the court.

Score 3.5 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 2: Celtics at Magic, 2:30, ABC
A rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals and a rematch of last year's Christmas game that was played in Boston. No doubt we'll get a grinder as both squads are quality defensive teams, so this might be a decent game to have on as you take a light nap on the sofa following some Christmas ham.

There could be some added intrigue as well if Shaq finishes off signing with the Celtics. Any time Shaq and Dwight Howard square off, it's good stuff.

Score: 4 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 3: Heat at Lakers, 5:00, ABC
You knew the Heat would be involved for Christmas. And you knew the Lakers would be too. But having them play each other ? Brilliant.

The storylines will be plentiful in the lead-up to this game. Kobe versus the Miami trio. A potential Finals preview. LeBron versus Kobe. Bosh versus Gasol. Pat Riley's team back in Los Angeles. Christmas in LA. It goes on and on. Other than LeBron's return to Cleveland, this will probably be the most hyped game of the season and for really good reason.

Score: 5 out 5 Santa Clauses

Game 4: Nuggets at Thunder, 8:00, ESPN
Kevin Durant is now garnering the national attention he deserves, so the young star gets primetime on Christmas Day. The OKC crowd will be fired up for ESPN's cameras and the game will be a good one. It features two Western Conference contenders and Northwest Division rivals. It's Carmelo versus KD and Westbrook versus Chauncey. The Thunder and Nuggets almost always provide some drama and the potential for a late-game showdown between KD and 'Melo would be quite a late gift on Christmas.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 Santa Clauses

Game 5: Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10:30, ESPN
The is the second straight year the Warriors have been featured in this slot, with both games being played at Oracle. It's slighty weird that the Warriors get this game, but the team is always exciting and the home crowd in Golden State is always excellent. The Warriors will run and the Blazers will slow everything down and play at a ridiculous low pace. Contrasting styles, an amped crowd and Steph Curry are good reasons to stay up late and take this one in.

Score: 3 out of 5 Santa Clauses
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com