Found April 30, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Five Burning Questions

With the 2011-2012 NBA season over for the Portland TrailBlazers, there leaves a lot of questions to ask. Our man has 5 tough questions and answers for the Blazers this off-season.

1. What 3 areas concern you the most with respect to gameplay with the Blazers in 2011/12? (Discuss)

Lackluster shooting, Poor inside play, an inconsistent transition offense

The first two concerns are inter-related, because the inside game can open up the outside if either one is working. LaMarcus Aldridge is not a traditional power forward on the sense that he likes to play near the block, so the team needs to find an inside scorer.

In order to be successful, the team also needs to find guys that can shoot.

Luke Babbitt is a built-in possibility, but not as a 35-minute starter.

Lastly, finding a point guard that can command a run-and-gun offense will go a long way to solve the transition issue. Raymond Felton was not the answer in 66 chances this year.

2. What do you do with the coaching position and why?

Kaleb Canales

The interim coach did finish with a losing record after the dismissal of former coach Nate McMillan, but many predicted that he would anyway given that Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace had been traded.

Canales, 33, was able to get his team to play hard the rest of the season, although the squad lacked the talent of many of their Western Conference foes.

KalebCanales NWSB 2012 Portland TrailBlazers Post Season Recap

Will Portland make this permanent?

Similar to a chorus behind a preacher, the players praise Canales for his game-time preparedness and his ability to communicate with players, despite his lack of NBA playing experience.

Assuming that the team is filled with a bunch of young players, why not give Canales a full off-season to develop an attack? How can he make the situation any worse? The Blazers are already in the lottery.

On the flip side, this comes down to the general manager.

The Blazers do not currently have a notable vision of where they want to go with player personnel, because there is nobody that has been named long term to make those decisions.

As the roster is currently constructed, the team has no reliable superstar /  top-10 player to build a team around so for any coach the Blazers job will be a challenge at the beginning.

That said, Portland’s vacancy is only one of 30 NBA jobs in the entire world, so the scarcity alone makes the position appealing, regardless of management’s jumbled mess.

3. What players on this team don’t deserve to be back next year based on their 2011/12 play?

Raymond Felton

The poster child for this question is undoubtedly the starting point guard. Fans watched Andre Miller lead an injury-plagued Denver Nuggets into the playoffs often serving as Ty Lawson’s backup (or counterpart when the Nuggets went with a small lineup).

Felton’s poor conditioning at the beginning of the season influenced an inability to make shots for the majority of the season.

His lackluster play was magnified by his willingness to throw former coach Nate McMillan under the bus both through passive-aggressive quotes in the paper and ill-timed turnovers in close games. Portland fans always think that their teams are better than what they actually are.

At the beginning of the season without Roy, at best, they were a .500 club. Even if they went 33-33, they would have missed the playoffs, as Phoenix did this year.

With the players currently under contract for next year, one could make the argument that Wesley Matthews did not fulfill the hype in the second year of his 5-year / $34 million deal, as his field goal and 3-point field goal percentages declined along with his points per game — from 15.9 to 13.7.

4. If you would trade anyone who would you trade and why?

LaMarcus Aldridge

The team has two players that teams have strong interest in: Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I am on record as saying that the Trail Blazers, as they are currently constructed, do not have a superstar and are not even close to competing for the NBA Championship. The player with the highest trade value is LaMarcus Aldridge, even with his torn labrum.

This all depends on how willing the organization would be in fanning the flames in a currently fickle relationship with fans.

It is undeniable that the Blazers will be able to get a player as talented as he is currently. What can be debated is how many pieces, or future draft picks the team can get as compensation (at least two first rounders, a solid role player, but likely a bad contract). He will not command what Carmelo Anthony or Deron Williams did by any means, but he could get as much if not more than a Pau Gasol.

LaMarcusAldridgesq NWSB 2012 Portland TrailBlazers Post Season Recap

Does it make sense to trade LaMarcus Aldridge?

On the court in perhaps his finest season — 21.7 ppg, 8.0 rebounds, 51.2 percent from the field –Aldridge  deserved the all-star nod that he received.

That said, when the Blazers need him the most in the fourth quarter, he is often unwilling to the type of shots down the stretch that the highest-paid players on the team are responsible for taking.

In a sense, I see a lot of Rasheed Wallace in his game. He is undeniably skilled and moves very well for his size. At  6’11″ he can finish over anybody at the rim when a fire is lit under him and he possesses a fadeaway that is almost unguardable when in rhythm.

In the same Wallace mold though, Aldridge does not appear to want to be “the man” in the final minutes of a ball game when it comes to taking crucial shots. He is happy to facilitate for others, which is great when Brandon Roy is on your team to pass it to.

In order to be the superstar that he wants to be and the one the Blazers need him to be, he must be willing to take those shots and be more aggressive offensively, because he wil never be a double-double type of guy based on the way his game currently is. Simply scoring 21 points alone doesn’t justify being a team’s highest paid player for a championship team.

5. What is going to happen with regards to the GM position. What do you want to see happen? What will happen?

Take a Wager

I could see the team going into another year without a general manager, honestly.

The days of Kevin Pritchard Pritch-slapping teams are long behind Blazers fans, but I would like to see a general manager that is willing to take some chances, similar to Denver’s Masai Ujiri or Boston’s Danny Ainge.

I don’t think that they are the answers necessarily, and I don’t think that anyone would have the nerve to do it as long as owner Paul Allen has his fingerprints on things.

Inevitably, I think that team will go with someone with experience that is willing to be a people-pleaser.

I have a better chance of picking the Kentucky Derby winner than I do the Blazers’ general manager.

For kicks, I’ll say former Kiki Vandeweghe to play it safe or power broker “Worldwide” William Wesley if the team is willing to sell their souls.

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© Blair Thomas for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Andre Miller, Carmelo Anthony, Danny Ainge, Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kaleb Canales, Kevin Pritchard, Kiki Vandeweghe, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luke Baibbitt, Marcus Camby, Masai Ujiri, Nate McMillan, Paul Allen, Portland Trailblazers, Rasheed Wallace, Raymond Felton, RIP City, Season Recap, trail blazers blog, trailblazers, Ty Lawson, Worldwise Wes

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