Tag:Paul Allen
Posted on: June 3, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Blazers GM: Can Brandon Roy play 82 games?

Portland Trail Blazers acting GM Chad Buchanan wonders whether guard Brandon Roy can play 82 games next season. Posted by Ben Golliver. brandon-roy-point

The last few months have been nothing short of disorienting for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The team was bounced out of the first round of the playoffs for the third season in a row by the Western Conference's eventual champion: the Dallas Mavericks. The loss was not unexpected, but it was still frustrating, as owner Paul Allen and coach Nate McMillan both seemed dead set on making further progress in the postseason this year.

If the playoffs were frustrating, than the offseason, so far, has been perplexing. GM Rich Cho, on the job for less than a year, was fired without warning. President Larry Miller shifted some deck chairs around, naming director of college scouting Chad Buchanan as Acting GM.

There's no bigger issue facing Buchanan and the Blazers than guard Brandon Roy. Roy went through dual knee surgeries last season and missed a good chunk of the season while rehabbing. But no one, not even Buchanan, apparently, knows what to expect from Roy in the future. 

In an interview with 750 AM in Portland, Buchanan admitted that he wasn't certain Roy can make it through an entire season.
We all recognize -- if you watch Game 3 and Game 4 of our playoff series -- that Brandon Roy has still got some game. We are very conscious of that. People have counted him out, but I think we all recognize that Brandon can play at a high level. Whether it's for 82 games or not? I think that's something that Brandon is still trying to figure out with his body and where he's at. I think, for our coaches and for Nate, we're trying to figure out best how to utilize him knowing his health. I think we're both asking: How is this going to work moving forward?

Brandon Roy has meant the world to this organization, he's helped resurrect our franchise, we're very appreciative of that. We have not had any discussions with Brandon about anything since the season ended. We let our guys decompress and get away from the game. We'll start to re-engage with Brandon here, making sure that he's on course for this summer to do the things he needs to do to be ready for next season.

With most players in his physical condition, the best course would simply be the patient one: wait and see what he can handle and how he performs, manage his minutes and keep a careful eye on his progress.

The Blazers owe Roy more than $68 million over the next four seasons, so there is a clear urgency factor at play, especially among fans. With starters Marcus Camby and Andre Miller winding down, and new arrival Gerald Wallace with just a few more years of prime play, the feeling is that the Blazers need a lot more from Roy than he's capable of giving.

Given his health and contract, though, he's essentially untradeable. The Blazers have another capable two guard on the roster in Wesley Matthews, but he lacks Roy's starpower. The Blazers don't have many other choices. If there's an amnesty clause they'll likely consider using it on Roy, but the temptation to hang on and hope will be very strong because of the lack of other options. Roy is committed to continuing his career, so retirement and medical retirement are out of the question.

Buchanan's honesty here reveals just how directionless this team is right now. Roy was once the pillar of the franchise, a perennial All-Star who could be counted on for consistent, reliable production. Now, even those with the most to gain for hyping him up, are taking a very cautious approach.

Reading between the lines, it could be tough times ahead for Blazers fans.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 3:27 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 3:38 am
 

Chad Buchanan takes acting GM reins for Blazers

Posted by Ben Golliver. chad-buchanan

PORTLAND, Ore. --  So, who’s next?

The Portland Trail Blazers have fired three talented executives in a little more than a year, canning assistant GM Tom Penn, former GM Kevin Pritchard and Pritchard’s replacement, Rich Cho.

Despite that carnage, the basketball operations staff still has plenty of pieces thanks to a unique group dynamic that features two assistant GMs – Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry, hired by Cho -- and two directors of scouting – Chad Buchanan and Mike Born, installed into their positions by Pritchard. Blazers coach Nate McMillan and president Larry Miller also contribute to basketball decisions, as does owner Paul Allen, who has rightfully earned a reputation for meddling.

With all of those cooks in the kitchen, determining a chain of command can be tricky, if not fruitless. However, the Blazers did announce one official organizational move other than Cho’s firing on Monday by designating Buchanan as Acting GM in Cho’s absence.

“I’ve never really set a GM position or anything like that as a goal,” the typically aww-shucks Buchanan told CBSSports.com on Monday night from Minnesota, where he’s scouting in advance of the NBA Draft. "Whatever is on my plate, I’ll put my full effort into it. I didn’t set out to want to become a GM when I was hired by the Blazers. I just wanted to win a championship. That has not changed.”

Despite all the drama and internal political nightmares, Buchanan, 38, is as fresh-faced as he was seven years ago when he first joined the Blazers. After playing two sports at Simpson College, in Iowa, he began working his way up through the scouting and coaching ranks, including stops in the ABA and at Drake University.

The task facing Buchanan is a large one. McMillan has made it known he expects roster changes, particularly in the backcourt. The team has already committed major money to forward LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Brandon Roy, but Roy is dealing with ongoing knee issues. The Blazers also face a decision on oft-injured center Greg Oden, who is a franchise player this summer.

Buchanan said he wasn’t sure how many moves it would take to get Portland into a position to contend for a title after three straight first round playoff exits. “You have to have some cornerstones that we’re building around.  We feel like LaMarcus is definitely that and we’re still evaluating who might be another pillar for us. As far as how many moves away are we, that’s a really tough question to answer. Our team has needs. Whether we can address that with one move or three moves, it’s hard to give you an exact number of how you fix what your roster needs.”

While Blazers president Larry Miller said that Cho struggled developing “chemistry” with owner Paul Allen, raising questions about Cho’s communication style, Buchanan said he appreciated the style Cho brought to the organization. “He allowed you to do your job. He listens. He’s a great listener. He stays out of your way. He wants to hear your opinions as a scout, that’s all you can ask for.”

Miller said the team has no timetable on hiring a full-time replacement for Cho but admitted that the organization could enter training camp without hiring someone. He was vague, however, on whether Buchanan would be considered as a full-time candidate. "Once we determine what the criteria are and what the qualifications are that we are looking for. If any of those guys meet the criteria or those qualifications then they will be considered for sure."

While the organization's criteria are unclear, Buchanan's skillset is fairly obvious. He's a basketball talent evaluator, a skilled communicator and an endlessly loyal employee. The next co-worker to speak ill of Buchanan publicly will be the first. 

He's perhaps best known in Portland for his in-depth scouting report breakdowns and encyclopedic knowledge of players’ strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. For years, he's been tasked with briefing the media on the players that the Blazers bring to Portland for pre-draft group workouts, and he seems to relish the opportunity to share his year's worth of work.

Asked to break down his own strengths and weaknesses as a potential GM, Buchanan didn’t hesitate.

“My strengths are my overall work ethic and love for the game. I strongly believe in valuing everyone around you. That includes players, coaches, staff. I think everybody has to feel invested and part of what the ultimate goal is.”

Clearly, though, Buchanan is facing a major adjustment period from scout to GM, which he openly acknowledges. “I think I have a strong sense of emotional connection to people, which can also be a weakness for me. I find that trading players can be hard for me because you get attached to players and families. You see them from a human side. Sometimes maybe that’s not a good thing from an executive standpoint, that you have a human connection to people that you’re eventually going to have to make tough decisions on.”

Buchanan also noted that, unlike Penn and Cho, he is not a salary cap wizard. “I’ve never really focused a ton on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The rules of the salary cap. I have a general understanding of a lot of issues but not the deep layers of it. It’s not something that I’m totally or completely familiar with.”

As Cho was the team’s point man on salary cap and CBA issues, his departure leaves a fairly large hole heading into draft season and free agency. It's unclear how that situation will be resolved in the short-term.

The constant turnover in Portland’s management ranks is enough to turn even the most optimistic fans cynical, but Buchanan did his best to stick to what has got him this far. “I go to bed every night dreaming about what it would be like to win a championship,” Buchanan said. “For this city and for our owner and for our players and coaches. It’s something that drives me every day.”

Still, his first take upon hearing about his short-term (for now) promotion was empathy for his predecessor. “The first emotion is that you feel for Rich,” Buchanan said. “A good person who lost his job today. Has a great family. At the end of the day, we’ve got to regroup, collect ourselves, and find a way to get ourselves moving forward.”

Or, as Jay-Z might say: On to the next one.

Posted on: May 23, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Blazers President Larry Miller defends Cho firing

Posted by Ben Golliver

PORTLAND, Ore – For the second time in less than twelve months, the Portland Trail Blazers have parted ways with a respected general manager. On the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, word surfaced that the team had agreed to part ways with former General Manager Kevin Pritchard. On Monday, the team announced that it was doing the same with his successor – Rich Cho – roughly one month before the 2011 NBA Draft.

Cho, known for his salary cap acumen and analytical approach, made two moves of substance during his tenure, trading away guard Jerryd Bayless and trading for forward Gerald Wallace. He had meticulously planned his draft war room structure for months, turning a conference room into a think tank with flat screen televisions and white boards adorning all the walls.

He never got a chance to use it.

“I think the big issue was chemistry between him and the owner,” Blazers president Larry Miller told CBSSports.com. “They were just never able to click. Rich is a smart guy, a really nice guy, brings some talents to the table but I think if the chemistry isn’t right, it’s hard for it to work.”

Portland’s owner, of course, is billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In his memoir, Idea Man, released a little more than one month ago, Allen writes: “After replacing Kevin Pritchard (who struggled in the managerial parts of his job) with Rich Cho, we believe that we've found a leadership team that can get us back to the Finals."

And, then, Monday’s abrupt news.

“There wasn’t an incident,” Miller maintained. “I think we learned from last year, that sometimes it’s better when you know something, to move sooner than later. If we know this is not going to work, let’s not drag it out. Let’s not put it off, let’s just go ahead and move on it now.”

Cho declined interview requests, but did release a statement through the team's public relations department. "Obviously it's a difficult day, but I want to truly thank Paul Allen and Larry Miller for the opportunity they gave me here in Portland," Cho said. "I also want to thank the fans, players, coaches, business office staff and especially my basketball operations staff who have supported me along the way. I feel good about the work we've done here and I know the Trail Blazers are headed in the right direction."

Asked for Cho's reaction to the news, Miller said simply: "Rich was shocked."

While Cho kept a very low profile in Portland, rarely making public statements, at least two rifts emerged during his tenure. First, an apparent disagreement in how to handle guard Brandon Roy, who made critical comments about his playing time and role both during the season and during the playoffs. Second, a difference in public strategy in terms of handling injured center Greg Oden. While Miller said publicly that the team would likely extend Oden a qualifying offer this summer shortly after he underwent microfracture surgery, Cho remained tight-lipped, not offering a public statement until weeks later.

Miller said Monday that neither issue figured into the decision to part ways with Cho.

“I don’t know whether there were philosophical issues,” Miller said. “The whole deal about Brandon … that really didn’t play into this decision. That was something that was talked about with Rich about how we should handle that around Brandon. We kind of agreed that the best thing was for Rich to talk to him and let him know if something happened again, there would be a suspension. That was the extent of that. It wasn’t like there was any issue around that.”

As for Oden’s future, Miller said the management team was and is in lockstep. “I think we were on the same page, although I may have expressed it one way and Rich may have expressed it another way. From an organization perspective we were on the same page. If Greg does the things that we need him to do or that we expect him to do, then we are going to issue a qualifying offer to him. Rich may have just said the same thing differently than the way I said it. The reality is, even up to Mr. Allen, we’re on the same page.”

That timing of the firing and the quickness with which it came left many Blazers fans scratching their heads and others outraged at organizational incompetence. Indeed, Miller’s explanation about a chemistry rift is a 180 degree turn from previous statements. The team had publicly vouched for Cho’s ability to hit it off with Allen during his job interview and officials had regularly spoken about the new management group’s relationship together.

Miller acknowledged those concerns but chalked it up to a casualty of doing business. “I can understand how fans and people would say, ‘But you guys said this was the right guy.’ The reality is we thought this was the right guy or we wouldn’t have hired him. The fit is just not right. I’ve seen this in other business situations where I’ve worked before. You’ve hired someone at a senior level and you think that the skillset and they’re smart people, they have all the right tools to come in and do a job. Then, you hire them at some point into it you realize that they’re not the right person for that job. The difference is that this is a public situation but to me it’s not unusual. This does happen from time to time.”

The Blazers have no timetable for replacing Cho, and Miller noted that it’s “possible” the team enters training camp in the fall without naming a full-time replacement. In the meantime, the team’s Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan will serve as Interim GM. “I think we feel comfortable with Chad and the rest of the team out there as far as going into the draft is concerned.”

Buchanan, who has worked for the Blazers for seven years, leap-frogs over Cho’s two hand-picked assistant GMs: Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry. Miller says both men will remain with the team and are still under contract.

“Chad has been around here,” Miller said. “Even though their titles were different, their responsibilities were not that different. They all reported into Rich at the same level. The reporting structure was the same, it was just a difference in title. I wouldn’t say he’s jumping over them.”

Still, the situation is as bad as it looks. A team beset by injuries on the court and drama off of it.

Miller defended his owner from charges of irascibility. “Mr. Allen is determined to get this right. He’s determined to try to build a championship team here. Determined to make sure this team is going to be the best it can possibly be.”

Miller also brushed aside the notion that he’s serving as the de facto GM. “I do have some things I can bring to the table to help with some of those decision but the decisions are going to be driven by the basketball operations staff. I’ll be there to help and assist those guys in any way that I can.”

Whether or not Miller is correct that the team learned from its mistakes, it’s clear the organization’s leadership doesn’t want to be here again.

“We’re going to make sure we take our time and do it right this time,” Miller said.” I don’t want to go through another summer like this.”

Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 4:01 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 6:31 am
 

Blazers part ways with GM Rich Cho

Blazers part ways with GM Rich Cho, college scouting director Chad Buchanan named acting GM in stunning move. 

Posted by EOB Staff


The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that they have parted ways with GM Rich Cho. Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan has been named acting General Manager. Here's the Blazers' announcement: 

The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that they have parted ways with Rich Cho , the team's general manager of basketball operations.

"The fit between Rich and our team simply wasn't right," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. "This was a tough move because I respect Rich and he's a good person with many strong skills. But it simply wasn't a good match."

Trail Blazers Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan will serve as acting general manager. Buchanan has been with the team for four years. Buchanan and Head Coach Nate McMillan will report to Miller until a permanent replacement is hired.

Trail Blazers Owner Paul G. Allen said the move is part of the franchise's commitment to building a championship contending team. "This decision, as difficult as it was to make, reflects our willingness to admit and recognize that things haven't worked out," Allen said. "We're going to be tough on ourselves in assessing what we could have done better, and then go out and find the executive who is the best fit with the needs of our franchise. That chemistry and connection is critically important." 

Cho of course was hired after popular and highly regarded GM Kevin Pritchard was fired after last year's draft. Now, with a month to go before this year's draft, the Blazers have once again changed directions. The Blazers made the playoffs both seasons despite dealing with significant injury issues but were eliminated in the first round each time. The instability is stunning for a franchise that seemed headed for certain prosperity and championship contention. as recently as 2008.

Reactions (Updating): 
  • Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reports rival executives believed team president Larry Miller was the key decision maker, not Cho. 
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus notes the Blazers passed over two assistant GMs Cho hired. This looks like a clean sweep.
  • Interestingly, the Oregonian reported two days ago that Cho "pushed" to suspend Brandon Roy over his comments about playing time during the playoffs. The move was blocked by upper management, and two days after that report surfaced, Cho and the Blazers parted ways.

More on this story soon from CBSSports.com.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Blazers sign coach Nate McMillan to extension

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed coach Nate McMillan to a two-year contract extension. Posted by Ben Golliver. nate-mcmillan

The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Tuesday that they have inked head coach Nate McMillan to a two-year contract extension, carrying his deal through the 2012-2013 season.

On a Blazers.com video stream, McMillan said that the agreement, which had been hinted at earlier this week, came together quickly. "The offer was made this morning and it was accepted this morning," McMillan said. "I was busy this morning." 

Blazers owner Paul Allen chimed in shortly thereafter on Twitter: "I'm thrilled we just signed 2-year contract with Nate McMillan who committed to coach the Blazers for 2 more years!"

The Blazers' release included statements of support from Allen, GM Rich Cho and President Larry Miller.
"Over the past 12 months we have made significant investments in this team, all keenly focused on assembling the right pieces to compete this year and in the future," Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said. "We've done that by adding Marcus, Wesley and most recently, Gerald and, now, I'm glad that after productive discussions,  Nate is now committed to be our coach for two more years."
"With his NBA and USA Basketball track record, Nate has established himself as one of the premier minds in the game of basketball," said Cho. "What Nate has accomplished in the last few years is truly remarkable and getting his contract extended was a top priority for the franchise and me."

"Without question Nate has ascended into the upper echelon of coaches," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. "He's more than demonstrated his leadership and commitment to the team and this community and the time was right to demonstrate our commitment to him by extending his contract."
Portland's recent history has been injury-plagued, with franchise center Greg Oden troubled by multiple knee injuries and guard Brandon Roy missing significant time this season as well. McMillan has developed a reputation as the steadying hand, guiding the Blazers into the playoffs the past two years, on track for another playoff run this year as well. 

To achieve that success, he's leaned heavily on his slow-down, rebound-centric offense that looks to create high percentage shots and limit turnovers. This season, he's shown a new-found adaptability in Roy's absence, re-structuring his offense around forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has responded by delivering career numbers. His defenses aren't spectacularly effective, but generally work hard and "scrap," which is by far McMillan's favorite and most often used word in the English language.

The organization's stated goal remains championship contention. When personal and philosophical differences led to a new management team and a new group of assistant coaches last summer, McMillan kept his head down and his lips sealed. While an early-season losing streak briefly raised questions about McMillan's future in Portland, and some wondered whether he would be a candidate for higher-profile jobs this summer, Blazers management has been unwavering in its public and private support of McMillan. 

Once the team righted itself after the loss of Oden to microfracture surgery this season, McMillan's return began to feel inevitable. If losing his franchise center to season-ending injuries for the second time in his first four years wasn't going to affect McMillan's ability to reach the playoffs, then McMillan started to look like the building block that should be in place long-term.

McMillan lives full time in the Rose City and is extremely active in local community service efforts. He understands the Portland market's need for accountability and transparency and the fanbase's desire for hard-working teams that fit the underdog ethos of the franchise's history. By all accounts, McMillan is happy in Portland. On the other side, the Blazers had far more to lose if McMillan left town given the difficulties of luring a premier coach to the NBA's most geographically-isolated city with a roster in peretual flux and a rookie management team. 

To boil it down, life with McMillan is far better than life without McMillan, and that's why you see the extension from the Blazers now. His reliability is a big asset for a team whose roster has been turned upside down multiple times over the last few years, and still hasn't settled into a finished product.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Should the Blazers blow it up?

rich-cho-ball CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Portland Trail Blazers could be in for an active trade deadline. Posted by Ben Golliver. 

On Wednesday, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger noted a few factors that could make the Portland Trail Blazers an important player during the 2011 trade deadline season. First, the Blazers are just over the luxury tax line and presumably looking to get under it if possible. Second, the Blazers possess a number of expiring contracts that would serve as good bargaining chips. 
Execs are monitoring the intentions of Houston, Portland and Utah -- all tax-paying teams that will be deciding whether to go deeper into the tax or pull back from it.
One exec said he believes Portland GM Rich Cho is "poised for a pretty significant 24th." Given the grim prognosis for star guard Brandon Roy and the uncertainty about what cap space will be worth under the new labor rules, Cho is seriously considering cashing in on the expiring contract of Joel Przybilla and the essentially expiring deal of Andre Miller, whose 2011-12 salary is fully non-guaranteed. Marcus Camby, who has a year left at $12.9 million, could be enticing to one of the few deep-pocketed contenders not shy about taking on future money with CBA changes looming. The Mavericks, for example, will "listen to anything," according to a source.
Cho, Portland's first-year GM, doesn't have much of a track record to date, but he previously worked under Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti, who is known for his patience, discretion and how much he values salary cap flexibility. Cho appears to be cut from the same cloth. He's developed a reputation for his analytical approach to evaluating players and has made one significant move this season, dumping reserve guard Jerryd Bayless for a conditional first round draft pick in order to shed salary and increase his flexibility.

Here are the question that Cho has been grappling with all season: Are the Blazers, who have been bounced in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs each of the past two seasons, coming or going? And if they are going, is it time to blow things up and get younger?

I won't bore you with all the surgical details, but the Blazers have a number of factors clouding their ability to properly gauge their future lot. Two are much bigger than the others.

First, and most importantly, All-Star guard Brandon Roy has yet to return from dual knee surgeries and all indications are that he will be limited to some degree by his knees going forward. The Blazers are in the first year of a 5-year, $80+ million fully-guaranteed contract with Roy. He's as untradeable as a player can be.

Second, the Blazers must make a decision regarding chronically injured center Greg Oden this summer. Most likely, that decision will involve extending him a $8 million + qualifying offer which he will likely reject so that he can weigh multi-year offers. While his market value is unclear given that he is currently rehabilitating from his second microfracture knee surgery, the Blazers have indicated they are prepared to do what it takes to keep him. Between Oden and Roy, then, the Blazers have tied up a significant portion of their salary cap.

Making things even more complicated: the remaining Blazers have managed to climb all the way up to the middle of the pack in the Western Conference playoff picture and seem a solid bet to make the playoffs as is. Getting to the post-season matters to every NBA team, but it especially matters to the Blazers. Playoff gate revenue would surely be valued but, perhaps more importantly, this is a franchise that wants to take a place on the national stage whenever it can. Located in a small-market and geographically isolated from much of the basketball viewing public, the playoffs are a matter of pride and a chance for the team to shine when it so often feels overlooked. (Look no further than the LaMarcus Aldridge All-Star snub reaction to get a sense for this sentiment.) On top of that, Blazers owner Paul Allen is competitive and looking for a return on his investment of significant resources into this group of players.

Missing the playoffs, then, would be a blow to the pride, but also a blow to the credibility of the management staff. Despite all of the injuries, the resources and talent is still there, and that's without mentioning the team's solid head coach, Nate McMillan, who's making a case for Coach of the Year consideration. There are still expectations, even if the roof has caved in and eliminated the "contender" hopes for the time being. 

Any potential trade deadline move for Portland has to be assessed from the perspective of whether it will meaningfully impact Portland's ability to make the post-season. If a potential deal carries that risk, then it better have a sweetheart reward. If a deal can be engineered that helps the finances or the team's future without compromising this year's run, then that's got to be on the table.

Assessing Portland's roster through this lens divvies the players into some fairly clear groups. Players like Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum are obvious building blocks going forward. Roy and Oden are virtually impossible to move. The obvious candidates for a potential trade are point guard Andre Miller, along with centers Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. 

While there are financial arguments for moving any of them, Miller, Camby and Przybilla are of varied on-court importance.

Much has been made of Aldridge's breakout season - he's been floated as a Most Improved Player candidate and has twice won Western Conference Player of the Week honors - but none of that happens without his improved relationship with Miller, who hits him not only with lob after lob but also runs an effective late-game pick-and-roll as well. Miller probably trusted in Aldridge more than Aldridge did to start the season, and it's no coincidence that his voice was the loudest to complain when Aldridge was left off the All-Star team. The relationship that never developed between Miller and Roy - the relationship former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard had hoped would make the Blazers a contender - now exists between Miller and Aldridge. 

Without question, Aldridge's now dependable production would be diminished this year if Miller is moved. The Blazers also have no other legit options capable of handling full-time point guard duties. Portland would be left, for the fourth time this season, to craft a new identity for themselves heading into the playoff stretch run. It wouldn't be impossible, but it wouldn't be particularly pleasant. It also wouldn't be all that intelligent, as the Blazers can cut and run out of Miller's contract if they find a better option this summer or he can be moved to a team next year as an expiring contract. Given his on-court value and future financial flexibility it makes far more sense to hold on to Miller than to move him, and I haven't even mentioned that his age and lack of playoff success render his external value questionable.

One of the most intriguing, under-reported wrinkles of Portland's season is that the Blazers are 10-4 since Camby underwent arthroscropic knee surgery. The Blazers have made due by using Aldridge as a center and playing more small-ball. It's certainly possible, perhaps not probable, that the Blazers could move Camby and still remain in the top eight, assuming Aldridge remains as healthy and productive as he has been since December.

The problem, of course, is the team's longer-term uncertainty at the center position. With Oden's future up in the air and Przybilla not at 100% since returning from two knee surgeries last season, Camby figures to be a fairly valuable component of a 2011-2012 Blazers team. Without him, the Blazers would be forced to either re-cast their new franchise player, Aldridge, as a center, draft a big man and be prepared to give him real minutes right off the bat, or find a random big off the scrap heap. None of those options would seem to be nearly as appetizing as making due with Camby for now and moving him during the draft or next season as an expiring contract should the center position crystallize a bit. While playoff teams looking for an extra big have expressed interest in Camby's services during a playoff run, the Blazers are interested in him for the same reason, and also because they don't have another reliable center penciled into the roster next season. He's a key locker room presence, too.

Przybilla, though, is a different story. His contract is expiring and he's not currently a critical component of the rotation, although he's filled in nicely during Camby's absence. When Camby returns, however, Przybilla reverts back to his status as a small-minute insurance piece and would likely be used sparingly in the playoffs with McMillan preferring to ride his starters. Longer-term, Przybilla's future in Portland is unclear as well, even though he's a local icon. He's simply not productive enough at this point to warrant a real financial commitment from the Blazers, given their other commitments discussed above. He is a living seven-foot tall human that can rebound so he will draw interest from around the league this summer, and he's also mentioned the possibility of retirement. Were the Blazers able to move Przybilla and receive limited contracts in return, utilizing a team's trade exception or open cap space, it's possible they could get under the luxury tax line without truly jeopardizing their rotation or playoff chances.  

Another player that was mentioned last summer but hasn't found his name in many rumors over the last month or two is guard Rudy Fernandez. Given Matthews' dependability and the potential return of Roy, Fernandez would become the most expendable member of the team's current rotation, although his ability to handle the ball helps his ability to get on the court should his minutes get squeezed. The formerly disgruntled Fernandez claims he is now happy in Portland and he's still on his rookie contract, so trading his $1.2 million salary alone wouldn't be enough to get the Blazers under the luxury tax line. Previously, Fernandez's asking price was said to be a late-first round pick. At this point, however, his internal value to the Blazers is likely higher than that given the questions surrounding Roy's availability. If you move Fernandez, a team that already struggles to score consistently and space the floor will be stretched even thinner. You would also be sacrificing a known, young, cheap rotation piece heading into a summer when you're likely to rebuild and get younger. 

Putting this all together, we shouldn't be surprised that things are busy for the Blazers in the run-up to the deadline. They've got loads of questions and an uncertain future, plus a bunch of potential trade chips and prospects on rookie deals. But the potential costs of a midseason overhaul seem to outweigh the benefits, and minimal activity at the deadline wouldn't preclude the team's ability to make the same moves this summer or during next season.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 11:15 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:33 pm
 

David Stern tops NBA's most influential of 2010

The Sports Business Journal has released its 2010 top 50 most influential list and here's a look at the NBA people who made the list. Posted by Ben Golliverdavid-stern  

Every year, the Sports Business Journal ranks the top 50 most influential people in sports business, a somewhat subjective but fun to debate list of the powerbrokers that govern the games we enjoy watching, listening to and talking about. The list is usually a who's who of commissioners and television network executives, but team owners, agents and apparel company executives can also find their way onto the list. The NBA is well represented on the 2010 list, with commissioner David Stern leading the way, as expected. "As the dean of professional sports commissioners, David Stern continues to pull all the right strings as the NBA enjoys a renaissance not seen since the Jordan era," Sports Business Journal writes. "This year, though, puts Stern under the spotlight as he pushes for huge changes in a new labor deal with the players that could lead to a lockout. But few, if any, can handle the glare as well as Stern." The three central figures that have controlled the public discussion of NBA labor relations for the last year -- Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and executive director of the NBA Players Association Billy Hunter -- all make the list. Stern checks in at No. 3, the second highest ranking for a league commissioner, trailing only the National Football League's Roger Goodell, who sits in the list's overall top spot. Silver ranks No. 27 on the list, with Hunter not far behind at No. 30. The only NBA owner to show up is something of a surprise.  New Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who also owns the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, is listed at No. 37. Sports Business Journal writes that Leonsis was included because he "became one of an exclusive group that owns two major professional sports teams and an arena in a top-10 market." Other high-profile NBA owners -- including billionaires Mark Cuban, Paul Allen, James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov -- were not included. The NBA's television partners are also well represented. ESPN/ABC President George Bodenheimer placed at No. 2 and Turner's President of Sales and Sports David Levy checked in at No. 13. The two apparel companies most closely associated with the NBA, Nike, who supplies a majority of the players with sneakers, and official partner adidas, both placed executives on the list. Charlie Denson, President of Nike Brand, and Mark Parker, CEO of Nike Inc. shared spot No. 14. Herbert Hainer, Chairman & CEO of adidas, ranked No. 23. President & CEO of AEG Tim Leiwieke, a powerbroker across multiple sports and an important voice in bringing the 2011 NBA All Star Game to Los Angeles, ranks No. 12. Multiple agents with ties to the NBA and other sports also make the list, including Casey Wasserman, Chairman & CEO of Wasserman Media Group, at No. 24, and the Co-Heads of CAA Howard Nuchow and Michael Levine, who rank No. 36. Given CAA's influence over player movement and executive placement in the NBA over the last 12 months, Nuchow and Levine may have the best case for being underrated.
 
 
 
 
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