Hang Time prediction: If Rudy Fernandez ever wants to get carried off the court in Portland a la that pint-sized footballer from Notre Dame, he’d better start making nice. It would certainly help his bank account.
The league took a $25,000 withdrawal from Fernandez on Thursday because the Spanish baller publicly asked for the Trail Blazers to trade him or cut him loose. That’s a no-no in today’s NBA. Nate Robinson and Stephen Jackson were docked last season for similar comments.
The hard-line stance by the league office may appear extreme in pro sports today, considering that athletes have routinely used the media to voice their frustrations. Fernandez didn’t invent the “play-me-or-trade-me” stance.
But he’s also under contract. If he wants to sit out two of the prime years of his career — two years he’ll never get back — and return to Europe to play … well, more power to him. Trying to hold the Blazers hostage, though, isn’t going to fly and the league office acted accordingly.
Even though he’s been on the job only a month, Portland general manager Rich Cho isn’t about to get bullied into a making a deal that’s not in the franchise’s best interest. Offers for Fernandez have been made, but Cho hasn’t felt compelled to make a move yet. The Blazers have the hammer here. Not Fernandez.
Fernandez isn’t the first player to be stuck behind better players. The 25-year-old swingman can rectify the situation by simply playing better and staying healthy. Take a cue from the movie Rudy and stick with it.
And while he probably would benefit from a new start in New York or Chicago or Boston, how bad was it really in Portland last season? Fernandez still played an average of 23.2 minutes, down 2.4 minutes from the year before when he took Portland and the NBA by storm as a guitar-strumming, slam-dunking rookie.
Asking to be traded despite being a key part of the rotation can’t go over too well in the locker room, either.
At least Fernandez and Portland coach Nate McMillan are back on speaking terms, according to Jason Quick of The Oregonian. The two caught up in Madrid, site of Sunday’s exhibition between the USA and Spain. Fernandez is a star on the Spanish team and McMillan is an assistant for the Americans.
McMillan said it was a “good” conversation, while Fernandez categorized it as “cordial.” It just doesn’t seem as if any breakthroughs were made regarding Rudy for next season. McMillan told The Oregonian:
“I don’t know if he is going to report. My focus is on the team, and right now, he is still a Blazer. So until something happens, my focus will be that he will be there, so I’m preparing training camp as if he will be there.”
Will he be, or will he get his wish to play in Europe? We’ll find out soon enough.