PORTLAND – Suddenly the Portland Trail Blazers have more than just the Dallas Mavericks to worry about. Those defensive rotations, that 0-2 hole in their first round playoff series and anything else that needs to be cleaned up suddenly takes a backseat to some internal strife that cannot be ignored.
Blazers swingman Brandon Roy vented his frustrations about his reduced role after a Game 2 loss in Dallas Tuesday night, suggesting that he should have been on the floor more despite struggling mightily in this series so far.
After playing just eight scoreless minutes Roy opened up to the Oregonian:
“There was a point in the first half, and I was thinking ‘You better not cry,”’ Roy said. “I mean, serious. I mean, there was a moment where I felt really sorry for myself. Then I was like, nah, you can’t be sorry for yourself. I’m a grown man, but there was a moment there that I felt sorry for myself. Especially when I think I can still help.”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hurt, or disappointed,” Roy said. “But the biggest thing is to keep moving, to try and keep my spirits up. But it’s tough man. I just …. I just always thought I would be treated better. That was a little disappointing for me.”
Roy’s comments have drawn a mixed reaction from fans here in basketball-mad Portland, where the Blazers’ robust and loyal following have had to deal with a multitude of crunching injuries to key players the past few years (Greg Oden).
As of early Wednesday afternoon, nearly 63 percent of the participants in an Oregonian poll voted that Roy should not see more minutes in Game 3 of this series Thursday night at the Rose Garden.
Ultimately, that’s a decision for Blazers coach Nate McMillan, who will field questions from those of us in the media this afternoon at the team’s practice facility. McMillan’s already been fined $35,000 for public comments about the officiating following Game 1. So he can’t be pleased about yet another controversy arising as his team tries to hold serve on their home court in what has been an extremely competitive series thus far.
But make no mistake, he’s in the unenviable position of having to choose between the wishes of one-time superstar (a role that LaMarcus Aldridge fills for this team now) and the reality that Roy, no matter how much the Mavericks talk about him, simply has not been effective enough in his limited minutes, to warrant any more playing time.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Roy’s situation won’t go away, no matter what decision McMillan makes in the short-term. Roy still has four years and nearly $69 million left on the max contract extension he signed two summers ago. He’s just 26, but trying to return to his All-Star form on two knees that have been surgically repaired. There is no guarantee Roy will ever return to the level he played at before.
And if that is the case, the Blazers should not be expected to cater to a player, no matter how beloved (by his teammates, fans and peers), who isn’t capable of living up to his own lofty standards, let alone those of one of the most passionate fan bases in all of professional sports.
There is no easy solution for the Blazers!