Blazers Thoughts (And Z-Bo hating)

Tonight, I got to go see the Blazer game. I was left with a variety of thoughts.

For my recap of thoughts during the game (and some half-decent pics from the game), you can read here.

We’re discouraged from pulling things from our own blogs to put here, but I thought that we may be able to have an interesting Blazers discussion regarding some of my final thoughts, so I’ll post them here and you can chime if if you’re interested…

Final thoughts

Z-Bo was amazing. Yet we lost to a team that we should have beat. I can’t help wondering if this a coincidence. Since Zach’s been back, we’ve gone 0-3 after going 3-0 with him gone. And we’re losing games we should really have a shot at, especially with a player of Zach’s caliber on the floor. What gives?

I think Z-Bo stymies the offense of the other players on the team. Which would be fine if Z-Bo were, say, Kobe, and if we were the Lakers. They’re designed to complement Kobe. And Kobe’s dominant on both ends of the floor.

The Blazers are designed to get scoring from more than one person. When you have a game where the ball gets pushed into one guy, and the guy shows a propensity for taking shots when he could pass (really, Zach should’ve had a triple-double tonight, except he’s not very good at passing to an open man when the defense collapses on him), then the team can’t get the production it should. LaMarcus is a legitmate 15 point guy right now, but he was held to 6 tonight. Roy is a 20 point guy right now, but was held to 13. I think a lot of this has to deal with the fact that they aren’t being fed shots they should.

I’ve picked on Zach a lot, so I know this may come off as me being a hater. But I can’t help wondering if the result wouldn’t have been different with him sitting out, even though he scored a career-high 43 tonight. I think if other guys had a chance to get into a rhythm, it would’ve paid dividends all over (like on the free-throw line, where we shot an abysmal 69%, or from 3-point land, where we were 0-11 overall).

After the game, I heard a couple of things that I thought were interesting. First, Coach McMillan was on the Fifth Quarter on KXL and noted that the disparity in free throws had a lot to do with weak defense by our squad. Alot of reaching and grabbing and not enough moving of the feet and chasing the ball. But he also seemed to imply that the officiating was a bit ludicrous, and I tend to agree.

From Charles Barkley on NBA Tonight: “The Grizzlies are like the Washington Generals.” My thoughts exactly. We had no business losing this game.

Today Roy was on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. He noted that he thinks that next year we should make the play-offs. With the current squad, I’m not so sure.

My off-season wish list:

–> Move Z-Bo. He’s a great player, and his value is going to be at its peak after this season. But we have LaMarcus, who is the future for us at PF, and we need to pull a legitimate big-time small forward. After tonight’s game, Kevin Pritchard paid lip-service to bringing both Ime Udoka and Travis Outlaw, our current SF platoon, back in the off-season. I can see bringing both back. But as back-ups, not as starters. We NEED to upgrade. And for anyone hoping that Darius Miles will come back, I feel pretty confident that he’ll never lace ’em up again as a Blazer.

–> Draft a center. Joel and Jamaal are fine for now, but we need to develop the player of tomorrow. LaMarcus is not a center, and we need to move him to the PF, where he belongs. And the truth is that, without a legitimate star at center, we aren’t going to go anywhere, even if we make the play-offs. Go back 15 years and look at who won the championship. Unless the teams had Michael Jordan (who still always had a real-life center on his squads, even if they weren’t star centers), they had Shaq, or Duncan, or Olajuwon, or Ben Wallace. Portland’s best recent seasons included Sabonis, who was a big fat turd but who took up a lot of space, made scoring more difficult, and had some offensive talent. Right now we have little offense and spotty defense at center. We won’t be able to trade for a good center, since everyone’s aging at this point. We need to draft a real big man and train him up. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all of the NBA draft boards I’ve seen have the Blazers drafting a center with their first pick. I think that’s where we need to go.

–> Move Jarrett Jack (this hurts to say…I love the guy). He deserves to start somewhere, I think. But he’s not our guy, and he doesn’t fill our needs. We need to turn the keys over to Sergio, build his confidence, and bring in a role-player (a shooter) to back him up.

–>Do something with Darius. I don’t like the idea of him lurking out there, almost certain not to come back but always a possibility. Darius has always intrigued every team that’s had the displeasure of dealing with him with his potential. I don’t see that changing. The “what if he can come back” thoughts won’t stop swirling in the minds of the powers-that-be at One Center Court, and that alone is reason enough to dump him. I don’t want any planning going on for the future that involves the possibility of Darius coming back. I don’t see the benefit. That said, I know it’s hard to just waive him and carry the money on our books. But it’s only two more years, and I honestly think we’re that far away from the play-offs anyway.

I have great hopes for this team. But if anyone thinks that we’re not in a two-to-three-year rebuilding phase prior to really making any noise in the play-offs, they’re deluded. That said, I’ll probably fall into the trap of what-could-be early next season, and again be disgruntled toward the end when the team doesn’t meet my unfair expectations.


7 Comments so far

  1. Steve (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 3:03 am

    I have been the biggest, and I mean biggest naysayer for Zach Randolph since we moved to make the guy a starter. Stat Bo drags this team down not only with his shoot first pass second offensive strategy, but his questionable moves off the court.

    When I am on bereavement leave, its because I need to be with my family and friends for the loss of a loved one, not at a strip club. And I don’t want to hear anything about it being a way to release stress and the loss of the friend.

    I’m starting to get to the point where I think Nate McMillan is wrong for this team. He is a great coach I feel when he can mold his players his way, but he caves often to managements desires and doesn’t know what to do when he inherits existing talent.

    What really should have happened is that Zach should have remained on the bench after he returned from the team to continue and see how the current group develops and should have been relegated to the second squad or at least a diminished role. Nate still has not figured out that you don’t rock the boat when you win. Instead he won’t rock the boat enough when they lose.

    My thoughts are as follows:

    – We are going to become pretty good chums with Sacramento in the next 6 months. We will make a move for Petrie as the President of operations. This will give Pritchard, the new GM a great mentor and allow this team to get a great NBA executive.

    Adelman will return in a VP or upper management role to support Petrie and management.

    – After this takes place, Portland needs to make a trade for Mike Bibby and ship Zach to Sac in a sign and trade deal. This not only gets rid of our Stat problem, it also gives us a quality PG who is very involved in the community. Bibby gives us solid contribution immediately and with Sergio creates a run and gun offense we can be proud of. It also lets Sergio be mentored some and develop some shooting ability.

    – That leaves Jarrett, who I completely agree with you is a great player but doesn’t belong in a starting role. He is at his height for getting value and I think we need to use him as bait to move up in the draft or move him in the offseason. Many pundits out there think we will go after Jeff Green out of Georgetown, and I really can’t say I blame them. I think he would be a good big small forward, and would be that last rookie powerhouse we would need to deal Miles away.

    – I see us trying to resign Mags, honestly because as he has played more he has become valuable to me and I feel the Blazers. He does a lot back home in Toronto and is a positive influence to any organization. When Zach was out he had great games and proved he and Joel should be running the big man game inside.

    All in all, its going to be a big mistake if Zach isn’t moved at the end of the year. Pritchard needs to do the right thing and trade away the last two real pieces of the Jail Blazers.

  2. TKrueg (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 9:36 am

    A few points…

    – I don’t necessarily agree that we SHOULD beat Memphis (we should on paper anyway) and that it’s Zach’s fault we didn’t. We’ve had trouble with Memphis all season despite their record… they’re a better team than their record indicates. Likewise, the Blazers have been a thorn in the side of several playoff teams this season. Such is life with the blazers… beat Detroit one night, lose to Milwaukee the next. Inconsistency and matchups, my friends.

    -The idea that Zach should have had a triple double if only he could pass out of a double-team. Okay. When you’re in the low block and you’re pressured to pass out to a teammate, they’re usually not in a position to score. UNLESS you have solid 3pt shooters. You truly have unrealistic expectations if you think Zach should have 10 assists… he’s a PF! I’ve actually been impressed with how far Zach has come in his passing, though no one will ever mistake him for a PG.

    -Zach went 16 for 26 last night and 11 for 16 from the line… I don’t think Zach getting 43 points on 26 shots constitutes him being some sort of ball-hog disturbance. Martell went 0 for 6, Roy went 5 for 12, and Lamarcus went 3 of 10. Really, having watched plenty games this season, Zach has big games when his teammates don’t step up. AND he hasn’t been some spoiled baby about touches this season when others are having good games. He rarely forces things like he used to.

    -Not sure why the Blazers NEED to get a true, old-school center. Maybe it’s true. But the league is going in a Phoenix-like direction these days with hybrid 3-4-5 guys that run like deer (ahem, Outlaw, ahem, LaMarcus).

    I guess I’m not sure why we’re so anxious to trade away our only legitimate all-star-caliber producer. We ran Rasheed out of town and the team with south. Not the same thing, but…

    That said, I’m always interested in what Zach could fetch in a trade, but Steve must be stuck in 2003 if he thinks Bibby is a fair deal for Zach. I mean, huh??

    I wish I knew what the Blazers really need, position-wise, but I’m honestly hopeful about the group of guys they’ve got right now. It would be hard to see Udoka relegated to bench duty. All three rookies are only getting better. Outlaw is finally getting better. We have a wealth of decent centers, health permitting. Martel is looking more and more like Jerome Kersey everyday, but needs to get his confidence back. We’ve got three good PGs too! I think we have a nice problem on our hands. At this point, the Blazers should just focus on the draft, workout and get better. I’m cool with standing pat because things are moving in the right direction.

  3. tkrueg (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 9:39 am

    Meant to say “We ran Rasheed out of town and the team WENT south…”

  4. Rusty (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 1:11 pm


    It’s hard to be a Z-Bo naysayer, because it ends up making us look like we’re struggling for arguments against him. The fact is, though, that he creates arguments for us to use. Over at BlazersEdge today, Dave brought up the excellent point (during his Jason Quick re-cap) that Ma and Pa Ticketbuyer certainly don’t look kindly on Zach’s off-court stuff (illegal or otherwise) when deciding where to spend entertainment dollars for their kids. In that way alone, Zach is a detriment.

    In terms of your other points–
    -> I don’t think we can give up on McMillan yet. He needs an X’s and O’s guy to help him out, but the discipline and ethic he’s brought to the team has been instrumental in the organization’s sea change. And given the youth on the roster, it’s hard to join in your sentiment that he’s being prevented from molding his players his way. The majority of the roster is essentially being trained ground-up by Sarge.

    -> I don’t know if Petrie comes here, and I don’t know if we want Adelman as VP. What does he bring to the table, aside from coaching skills (and we already have a coach)? I don’t see a business advantage to Adelman. Of course, if Petrie came here, more power to the team. I love him. But does he really want to come back to the franchise (and more specifically the owner) who ran him off in the first place (while destroying Rip City for years to come)?

    -> Mike Bibby? No. I see the more pressing need at the SF. Ime’s a good character guy, but his knees are going to be a problem (I’ve heard they’ve been bugging him all season) and neither he or Travis is the quality starter we need. At PG, Sergio’s rough but Roy brings balance there. I think we need to upgrade, but I don’t think Bibby’s a fair trade (for us) for Zach and I don’t think we should put all of our eggs in that basket. I like Quick’s statement that if we could get a good PG and a good SF (two legit starters, not necessarily stars) for Z-Bo that would be a success. I agree with that.

    -> And, along those lines, Z-Bo to another Western Conference team? Highly unlikely. He’s a stat monster. Do we really want to face him more than a couple of times a year?

    -> I can see re-signing Mags for reasonable money, but I honestly think we need to move him (via sign-and-trade or just dropping him — we can’t move Joel) and bring in a high quality rook or younger guy who we can train up at that position for the future.


    Knew you’d step up. I love ya, man.

    -> It’s true that any given team can beat any other on any given night. But on paper (and in the minds of anyone who you asked to pick who’d win prior to the game) the universal reasonable expectation was a Portland victory.

    -> I’m no basketball genius, but when I see Zach going against a triple-team and trying to shoot it, it tells me that two players are probably free of defenders. That, my friend, is a situation where a pass has to be made. And it happened at least 6 times last night. So he should’ve, and could’ve, had a triple-double if he’d been playing less selfish.

    -> On the “others don’t step up” line: I think there’s a certain chicken-or-egg vibe to this conversation. Sure, others did poorly. I think this relates to the fact that when Z-Bo’s in, the plays are run through him and he slows things down. If the other guys can’t get into a rhythm then it’s less likely that they’ll find success. I think we saw faster, looser, more team-oriented (and successful play) in the three games he was out (where we won) than in the three games he’s been back (where we didn’t). There can be argument both ways. Agree to disagree?

    -> As I recall, Phoenix made a nice run in the play-offs, but the team with two legit centers (Shaq and Mourning) is the one that won the rings last year. Like I said, history is showing us that old-school centers win championships. That may change over time, but at this point I’ll take the precedent over the theory.

    -> I’m hopeful, like you are. But I think there are improvements to be made, unless we’re committed to 2 or 3 years more of development for a young roster. I don’t mind that, I just need to have the franchise provide me with a realistic expectation. At the same time, there are certainly some choices that need to be made. Sergio or Jack? We can’t have both, I don’t think. Z-Bo or LaMarcus? I think LaMarcus is a 20-10 guy in two years, and an All-Star (assuming he doesn’t run into issues like Zach’s, and there’s nothing out there to indicate he will).

    Here’s my “keep or dump” list, for those keeping track:

    Z-Bo: dump, if the trade makes sense. Otherwise continue to hold him until the trade deadline at mid-season and trade him then. But I think we’re kidding ourselves if we believe he’s not going to suffer another reputational black eye based on some foolish behavior in the next few months. Strike while the iron’s hot.

    Darius: dump. We’re already paying him not to play, let’s just finalize it.

    Martell: develop for one or two more years. See where he is then. If he hasn’t developed, sell his potential (a la Darius) to some willing fool.

    Sergio: keep.

    Jack: dump, but only if our plans will net a good experienced PG to mentor and develop Sergio as a back-up. Otherwise keep him until a good trade develops.

    Udoka: keep. But he’s not a starter.

    Outlaw: see Webster. Outlaw is fierce, but he’s an athlete more than a player. If he can develop a better grasp of the game, he’s going to be unstoppable. But he’s not there yet, and I think if it’s going to happen it needs to in the next year.

    Joel: keep. We have no choice. But we need a scoring big body. Joel’s the best-paid back-up in the league, as far as I’m concerned.

    Magloire: dump, either via trade or letting him walk. We should be able to get something for him, especially if he’s reasonable about what he’s actually worth. He’s a good big, but he’s not where he once was, and I don’t think he’ll get any better than he is now.

    Roy: keep. Obviously.

    LaMarcus: see Roy. No-brainer. In two years we’ll be saying “Zach who?”

    Dickau: tough. He’s super-cheap and has low expectations. He understands his role. I say keep him as a reserve shooter.

    Freddy: keep. He’s a solid reserve at the SG and SF. He’s not too expensive and can bring it. But I think we need to keep a lid on our homer loyalty to the Ducks grad and re-evaluate if he doesn’t elevate his game to some extent.

    Luke Schenster: who?

    Thanks to both of you, though, for a good discussion. Good, thoughtful opinions. Keep ’em coming!

  5. dunce (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

    We don’t need to be in a rush to trade Randolph. I’m not a big fan of his, either, but at this point the Blazers don’t require major surgery. We’re one solid perimeter player away from contending for the playoffs, and removing Randolph would be much too drastic.

    The upcoming draft is loaded with talented wings, and the most important step for the Blazers right now is making sure we pick the right one. I’m not a fan of Jeff Green (Georgetown) at SF, he’s a power player in college, and doesn’t have the quickness to switch down positions in the NBA. I’d be looking at one of the following: Nick Young (USC), Derrick Byars (Vanderbilt), Corey Brewer (Florida), Brandon Rush (Kansas), and of course Kevin Durant if we luck out.

    There are too many risks associated with moving Randolph at this point, unless it was for another proven post player like Paul Gasol. We’re going to lose Magloire, whether we like it or not, so we can’t give up any more depth in the post this offseason. Plus, despite his limitations on defense and as a team player, there’s no doubting that Randolph is a skilled scorer with a good touch from anywhere inside the three point line.

    Maybe following next season, once our young nucleus has matured and we’re no longer in the lottery, then trading Randolph will be an effective way of filling the holes in our roster. But right now, we need to be patient and wait for the draft.

  6. Steve (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

    Love the conversation guys…

    I advocate for Bibby because he has been in this league for a while now and knows what needs to be done to win. Adelman wouldn’t have been able to compete without him running the point (And I’m not an Adelman gusher, but I do see a winning team in the record books and a solid contribution). Sergio needs a mentor, and I don’t see someone who is such a positive contributor in the community at the point. I don’t want pot smoking Damon, I don’t want abusive Kidd… About the only player who would do it for me as a mentoring PG would be Nash and we all know the chances of him ending up here.

    Rusty I feel you hit the nail on the head. When this team runs through Zach the offense goes stagnant. It was apparent in the last 3 games that we don’t operate efficiently with him in the ballgame. If the point TK made was applied, we should have lost to Atlanta and New York too last week because those guys aren’t playoff bound. When you don’t have to put the ball to one person and run the offense around him the game changes and others score. The second team rarely gets a chance to show its muscle because Randolph stays in with both squads and averages almost 40 minutes a game. 2-3 minutes at the end of a quarter is hardly enough time to establish any good second squads offense.

    My problem with Nate was that he messed with a line-up that won 3 games for the first time since December… DECEMBER! Why would you mess with something giving you the longest win streak in 3 months. In the least he should have kept the current starting unit until they lost one game.

    Then last night putting Dickau into the game with about 3 minutes left. I LOVE Dan, but things were going well before that point. I want to jump on this team and brag to everyone how great the Blazers are, but here we are entering year 5 of the grand blow up. Rebuilding efforts need to be realized quickly so interest isn’t lost on a team. Blazermania has a tiny pulse and if it isn’t re-kindled soon, we won’t ever see the passion out of people in this town we once did.

    Rusty mentioned briefly that the public was getting tired of Zach’s antics… I for one am. If the goal of a team is to produce a winning product, put butts in the seats and be viewed as a profitable business model not a Zach love fest then he needs to be dealt.

    You know I would love to see Zach go somewhere else and win a championship. Hell send him to Detroit and let him play with Sheed again. With his style and the way the NBA is leaning, I don’t see it ever happening. EVER.

    With respect to the draft, Green is a little slow for what he is. I think our weakest point is SF right now and we should move Zach, Jarrett, and Darius to get a good SF and a nice PG. Whom I’ll leave up to the group.

  7. Rusty (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 2:52 pm


    My main fear with Z-Bo is the old “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” We saw what he did with his last night off, heading for a lapper when his team was sweating out a win. I think that historically speaking we can make a strong argument that he’s statistically due for a major indiscretion in the next 6 months. I’d rather he not be a Blazer when it happens. His value, a this point, has nowhere to go but down. We need to capitalize while we have a chance.

    I’m not as up on the upcoming draft as I ought to be, so in terms of who’s available in the draft and their strengths and weaknesses, I’ll defer to you for now. Thanks for the analysis.


    With respect to the “changing the line-up” argument, I’d think any coach would cave to management pressure to put Z-Bo in the starting squad. The fact is that while he’s here, there’s no ready justification to pull him from starter status. And if the goal is to trade him, we need to showcase him to build interest. If you go check out the BlazerBlog at The O today, they’re keeping tabs on the buzz around the league from Zach’s performance last night.

    Luckily, noone looks beyond the numbers to think about why our team’s skidding with him back in. Noone but the Blazer fans, at least. And that’s fine with me.

    With regard to Dickau, I think he was in because both Jack and Sergio were demonstrating absolutely no willingness to shoot, and we needed some offense. That Dickau was sloppy handling the ball and himself didn’t really produce, well, I can forgive Coach for hoping for something different.

    I see your Bibby point, I guess. But I don’t think the reward is worth the cost, especially given what I think is a more glaring need at the 3. If Bibby came, he’d need to start. I don’t necessarily want a new starter. I just want some veteran help than can help mentor Sergio and that can contribute points from time-to-time.

    All that said, good input.

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