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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In a league filled egos and attitudes, Portland’s Brandon Roy always seemed to fight against stereotype.
In the times we’ve crossed paths, Roy has always struck me as one of the more grounded players in the league, a guy very much in tune with fragile nature of things in the high-stakes world of professional sports. Perhaps his injury history, dating back to before he came into the league, influenced him. You never know.
Now Roy stands at a career crossroads in Portland, caught in the middle of a dilemma caused by all the splendid things he’s done in a Trail Blazers uniform and the things his fragile knees have done to him while wearing that same uniform.
The Trail Blazers have to decide if Roy stays on the roster as a shell of the All-Star, face-of-the-franchise talent he once was or if they use the league’s new amnesty clause to cut ties with their former leader who is owed $63 million on his current contract.
Trail Blazers president Larry Miller offered a chilling but telling assessment of where things stand, when he told The Oregonian‘s Jason Quick:
“If Brandon were to accept mentally that ‘I’m not that guy anymore, but I will do whatever I can to help the team,’ it would make it easier to keep him around,” Miller said. “We know every-so-often he is going to give us that game, and be the Brandon Roy of old, but mentally accepting where his game is, that’s the bigger challenge for him. I don’t know if he is there, or if he can get there.”
Having been in the Rose Garden crowd during Roy’s magical Game 4 performance against Dallas in that first round playoff series last April, it’s hard for me to sit here and suggest that he could dial up enough of those performances, on knees that have no cartilage, to justify the Trail Blazers keeping him in the fold.
The flip side, however, includes the Trail Blazers cutting ties with Roy and him landing with another team and excelling in exactly the same role he would have been used in had they kept him. That’s a proposition that would only serve to rile up the restless fringe of the always-fervent Blazer fan base even more.
That said, waving Roy would provide a huge financial relief for the franchise. They’d get under the luxury tax threshold and become players in the free-agent market, provided they waive him early enough. (But this theory also requires the fans trusting that the franchise, sans a GM to replace the fired Rich Cho, would make the right moves to rebuild the core of the roster. And it’s safe to say the trust factor is shaky right now in Portland.)
To their credit, Roy’s camp isn’t making this about anything other than what’s best for all involved. All they’re asking for is an immediate decision, per Quick:
“I get it. Brandon gets it,” said Greg Lawrence, Roy’s agent. “It’s not complicated. They are going to make a decision that is best for them. If they want him to be there, he will show up and work hard like he always has and do whatever it takes to help the team win. If they don’t want Brandon to be there, he will move on. He just wants to know.”
Don’t we all!