Posted: March 18, 2012 in Blazers, Hoops
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes its hard to accept that a true change in fate requires a complete bottoming out.  People often go down career paths they aren’t passionate about, in order to put food on their tables.  Others might get too deep into a bad relationship, because the person stuck by them through hardtimes.  When you’ve been a marginally successful sports franchise with aspirations for greatness it can be difficult to just letgo of those dreams.  A simple coaching change and a little addition by subtraction can provide new motivation to a flailing franchise.  Call it the Ewing Theory, or a gut check, or maybe just a kick in the butt.  The reality is the irrepresible Kaleb Canales, a couple bruised egos in contract years, and a few competitive veterans who’ve never learned to tank, and suddenly you’re back to vying for the 8th spot, maybe the 7th.  The question is: if you’re the Blazers GM… or i mean if you’re Mr. Spock, what are your intentions here? The Blazers have a legit shot to get two top ten picks in the best draft since 2003. Or you can probably take a good shot at the 7 or 8 spot in a year where Western conference competition looks weaker than it has in decades.

The decision should be easy. Any cold analytical mind would say tank hard now and position your franchise for the contention in 14-15 (your best player’s next contract year). The problem is, if that’s your goal, you probably shouldn’t have replaced McMillan with Canales. After all, if your goal is losing, Nate was doing a better job than any interim coach trying to prove himself possibly could.  Don’t get me wrong – I get it.  Canales is likely the future of this franchise, as much as Aldridge or Batum.  You’re not exactly the most attractive option for talented basketball minds, thanks to how you’ve treated your braintrust over the past few years.  So, you give your coach of the future a chance to audition for the job, just like you give Thabeet an audition at Center, and Flynn an audition at point guard.  I think the issue is, if you’re management, you have to mandate that Kaleb take a good look at guys like Thabeet, Flynn, Elliot Williams, and Nolan Smith to see if any of them have a legitimate future filling any of the many gapping holes the blazers have in their current rotation.  There is no reason Raymond Felton should be playing 30 minutes per game as he did in last night’s romp over the bulls.  The good news (if you’re hoping they start losing some more games), is that Flabeet hasn’t reported to camp yet.  Nothing can mess up a little team chemistry like two draft busts clammoring for an opportunity to prove themselves, and a three headed timeshare at PG.  Hope springs eternal.

All is not lost though.  In the journey into negative space, the blazers are off to an  0-1 start, one game into the Canales era.  But they beat a Bulls team that was coming off an emotional win over the Heat, and was without their MVP.  Though they have proven to have plenty of talent to win without Rose this year (9-5 without him after Saturday’s win), and they may have been looking ahead a bit to a potential playoff preview against the Sixers Saturday night.  You had to expect Portland to come out fired-up after getting decimated by Indiana and the Knicks by a combined 59 points over the last two games, prior to the dismissal of McMillan and two of their starters.  When everyone expects you to dump, it’s a bit of a shot to your pride.  Here’s to hoping future self-interest takes over pride at some point this year, if we want this to be a successful rebuilding effort.

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