Archive for the ‘Portland Trail Blazers’ Category

Between the chyron explaining how many lead-taking shots he’s made and the announcer perfectly calling the play, Damian Lillard’s game-winning three kind of feels scripted. It’s like everything was in order for an iconic moment, so both teams agreed to just let it happen.

This is the kind of shot that leads Rookie of the Year highlight packages though, so I’m glad they went through with the plan. Pretty much nailed it, as far as I’m concerned.

The Portland Trail Blazers are in Washington, D.C., trying to hand the Wizards their 13th consecutive loss to start the season. This is great news for fans of history, but terrible for rookie point guards who are legitimately scared of statues of dead people.

From Damian Lilllard’s Twitter:

I like DC. I wana come back and visit the memorials even though I’m scared of statues

People I’m only scared of historic statues. Abraham Lincoln , MLK, etc . Had a bad experience at the wax museum lmao

I’m not sure what’s weirder here — that Damian Lillard is scared of statues or the idea of having a bad experience at the wax museum. Either way, it sounds like Damian Lillard should definitely avoid this place because that seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

At one point early last season, Charles Barkley thought the Portland Trail Blazers were the best team in the NBA. They started the season 7-2 before hitting a bit of a tailspin and losing four of their next five. By March, they were below .500, and by the trade deadline they’d fired their coach and traded away productive veterans for draft picks and were tanking hard. By the end of the season, Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford were two of the biggest jokes in the league, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were retired and the Blazers had missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Not the best of seasons for the Trail Blazers, which is probably why Wesley Matthews would prefer that you never bring it up. From the AP:

”Last season was such a debacle,” he said. ”I don’t want to talk about it for the rest of my life.”

For the rest of his life, you got that? That time he made eight threes, setting a career-high? Don’t bring it up. That wicked pass he threw to LaMarcus Aldridge? Shut up about it. There are other things to talk about, such as anything else, OK? Definitely do not bring up how he shot the worst percentage from the field in his career or how he took a solid step back from his successful 2009-10 season, whatever you do.

And really, I have to imagine that most Trail Blazers wouldn’t want to talk about last season, which turned out to be the eighth-worst in terms of winning percentage in the franchise’s history. I’m guessing pretty much everyone involved in that mess would be happy to act like it never happened. Except Luke Babbitt, maybe. Things worked out pretty well for him.

Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

24. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have overhauled their roster in an attempt to build around John Wall, but going into his third NBA season, it remains to be seen if Wall is a legitimate franchise player. His mid-range and perimeter shooting have been abominable thus far, and his defense has not lived up to the expectations created by his otherworldly athleticism — according to 82games.com, the Wizards gave up over 6 points more per 100 possessions when he was on the court compared to when he was on the bench. We’re going to have to wait a while to see if he’s going to make the necessary improvements in these areas because he’s expected to miss the first month of this season recovering from a knee injury.

Wall’s ceiling is not even close to the most questionable aspect of the Wizards going into this season. With a 118-238 record and a ..331 winning percentage spanning three different teams, head coach Randy Wittman has the worst winning percentage in NBA history among coaches with at least 350 games at the helm. The fact that he’s been empowered to try to turn Wall into an All-Star shows the lack of imagination prevalent in the management groups of too many teams.

23. Portland Trail Blazers
I’m not really sure what Blazers management saw in Terry Stotts and his 115-168 career pro record that led them to give him a third chance to prove that he can be a successful NBA coach, but here we are. Early reports indicate that Stotts plans to go young and athletic with this squad, with J.J. Hickson starting as an undersized center and rookie guard Damian Lillard likely to start. It’s a fan-friendly approach but it’s not likely to be a strategy that propels the Blazers into the playoffs.

The Blazers in their current iteration kind of remind me of my Raptors when they were led by Chris Bosh. Like Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge is a very good player, a fringe All-Star that any team would be happy to have. But if he’s your best player and there’s a significant gap between him and your second best player, you’re probably not going to finish above .500.

22. Milwaukee Bucks
Every season, people wonder if a backcourt of Monta Ellis and (fill in the blank) can work. The question used to focus on Ellis and Stephen Curry, and now it’s about Ellis and Brandon Jennings. The Bucks had a fairly impressive 12-9 record last season when Ellis and Jennings played together, but only one of those wins came against a team that finished with a winning record.

In trading Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson for Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown (the latter of whom is no longer a Buck), Milwaukee sacrificed defense for offensive firepower. They’ll be a more exciting team to watch, but I don’t expect them to make the playoffs unless Jennings can start performing at an All-Star level. Considering that he’s improved gradually every season and he’s still only 23 years old, it’s within the realm of possibility that he could elevate himself and the Bucks into the post-season.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25

Next in the countdown: 21-19

As Tas Melas will surely tell you, the Olympics are about the pureness of sport and the integrity of competition (and also performance enhancing drugs and various cheating scandals). It’s a bunch of athletes who have devoted their lives to being able to represent their countries, finally getting the chance to represent their country. It’s pretty amazing.

But sometimes, one basketball player punches another player in the nuts because they’re flopping and tanking, so no one really knows how to feel. Not only is a nut punch pretty brutal in any context, doing so at the pinnacle of sports seems even worse. But according to puncher of nuts Nicolas Batum, some people thought it was awesome. From Blazersedge:

“I won’t say any names but Spanish people and Spanish media were truly mad at me on Twitter,” Batum acknowledged. “I got some bad things, trust me. [But] people all around the world, on Twitter, or media, or people, even coaches and players from the other teams, thanked me.”

Why? For upholding the Olympics spirit? For getting in a good lick on Navarro? Because Spain had it coming?

“I won’t say what they told me, but trust me a lot of people thanked me,” he repeated. “I won’t say, but they just thanked me. Trust me, a lot, a lot of people. Not especially from France but from everywhere. I won’t say that’s good. I’m not happy or glad about it.”

So basically, “I’m not proud I punched Juan Carlos Navarro in the junk, but people do think it was pretty great,” which is a very weird version of a humblebrag. I didn’t know it was possible to be boastful and ashamed at the same time, but here we are.

Besides there’s nothing else that Batum really needs to worry about since other Spanish players are laughing at it too.

With the incident now in the past, Batum told reporters he is able to laugh about it with Victor Claver, a member of the Spanish national team who also happens to be his teammate on the Blazers.

“The first time playing against him I was 13 or 14 years old,” Batum said of Claver. “I’ve known him a long time. A good friend. Yeah we laugh about it. I talked to him. He said, ‘yeah, I can understand.’”

Haha. I love how Victor Claver is like, “Yeah man, I’ve wanted to punch him in the balls too.” Maybe Juan Carlos Navarro is really annoying and everyone always wants to hit him in the genitals. I don’t know, but that seems like it might be a legitimate possibility, based solely on him getting punched in the Dickens and having a teammate laugh about it and say “I can understand.” Must be that beard he grew or how he’s always bragging about leading the Grizzlies in three-point shooting that one season he was in the NBA.

All that being said, I still stand firm by my belief that you shouldn’t punch other people in the nuts. Maybe I’m old-school, but that’s just how I feel.

Sit down, guys. I need to tell you something important. We might be coming to an end of an era. Sure, it’s one that’s kind of been over for a few years now, but still might be completely, 100 percent, done-and-done over by the time everything shakes out. Naturally, it’s happening in Portland, where careers go to die.

I don’t know how to say it, but Adam Morrison could be officially retired by the end of the month. From CSNNW.com:

After being out of the league the last two years, Morrison, 28, told CSNNW.com that if he didn’t make the Trail Blazers’ regular season roster, he has plans to end his professional playing career and start a new one.

“I’m going to finish school and start coaching (If he didn’t make the Trail Blazers roster)…I did the Europe thing and it just wasn’t for me,” Morrison told CSNNW.com. “Not saying the (Europe) culture or anything like that, (or) the people, it just wasn’t for me. So, yeah, if it doesn’t work out, I’m willing to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘I gave it a honest shot’ and turn the page. Do something else.”

Can you imagine a world where Adam Morrison lurking on the fringes of the NBA doesn’t exist? Where we don’t have annual Adam Morrison updates? Where we don’t get to see pictures of him looking like a different bass guitarist two times a year? It’s scary to think about that reality. I imagine it’ll be something like the majority of “I Am Legend,” but we’ll just have to wait and see.

While the natural inclination might be to feel bad for Morrison because he’ll be done with a career he dreamed about as a little kid at age 28, don’t. He actually seems pretty OK with the possibility.

“It’s funny, people act like just because it didn’t work out, my life is just, horrible. You know what I mean?,” Morrison said with a chuckle. “It’s not that bad. Ok, it didn’t go well, but it’s not like I’m destitute, and broke, and homeless. There’s a lot of people who have had worst things happen than not making it in a certain career.

“I’m a father, I enjoy other activities. Life’s alright.”

Let’s get the zings out of the way first. Yeah, he’s not homeless, geez — he just looks homeless. And also: Well at least he enjoys other activities. Felt good. Moving on.

Now that we’re done with that, this is a pretty solid way to deal with the end of your career, especially when you’re kind of the first guy who completely busted out of the league during the internet age. Like, there have been other busts in history, but you can easily track Morrison’s progression from dominating college to crying during his last NCAA game to being drafted by Michael Jordan to being immediately criticized for being drafted too high to blowing out his knee to becoming a punchline during two Lakers titles to playing overseas and showing up on various summer league teams. He’s the league’s first wholly modern bust and that’s why he’s talking about his retirement before he’s even retired. Even Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi never had to deal with that.

It’s a very weird situation and it’s impossible to know how well he’s handling it because he’s the first one to ever do it. Sure seems like he’s got the right mindset though, kind of just saying he tried his best and it turned out he wasn’t up to the task. That has to be incredibly tough when you’re 28 and spent the first 21 years of your life being the best player on the court.

Of course, if we’ve learned anything from basketball and rap, it’s that premature retirements never stick. Maybe Adam Morrison will get cut and maybe he will retire, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the end, unless he’s Barry Sanders. Still, this might be the end of the Adam Morrison era, so let’s enjoy it while we can.

Hey guys, have you been wondering what Brad Miller has been up to since his retirement? Me too, obviously.

Well, the answer is pretty much what you’d expect — hunting alligators with fellow Indiananite Jared Jeffries. From the Country Boys Outdoors Twitter:

Me taking jerrod out for his first gator ever

Even in retirement, Brad Miller is still the best. Maybe not at knowing the exact spelling of his hunting buddies’ names, but definitely at everything else including but not limited to wearing a camouflage Chicago Cubs hat and Nikes for a hunting excursion with a random NBA guy who I didn’t even know was a hunter but is indeed a hunter. Brad Miller is the gift that keeps on giving.

(Also, since both of these guys are 6-foot-11 or taller, imagine how big that gator must be. Yikes. Please don’t get eaten, Brad Miller.)