Teardown & Teardrops In Portland





Greg Oden, they hardly knew ye. No longer a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, the hobbled center and ill-fated No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft was released by the team Thursday and goes off to seek cures – surgical, emotional, inspirational – for what ails him, with the best-case scenario of a Roy Hobbs-like return to the NBA someday. Hopefully, it should be added, before Oden grows as old as he always has looked.

The Oden era ended for Portland soon after the NBA’s trade deadline passed, but then, so did the Gerald Wallace era, the Marcus Camby era and most of all the Nate McMillan era. The Trail Blazers folded Thursday and immediately stepped to the front of the humiliation line, ready for their tarring, their feathering and their smearing on a clown grease paint as they got about getting a whole lot worse before they can get much better.

It’s a ritual that the NBA peculiarly embraces, driven by the belief that getting stuck in the middle somewhere — as in, Pretty Good, U.S.A. — is really Nowheresville. All or nothing is the preferred strategy for team-building in this league, as ESPN’s TrueHoop blogger Henry Abbott bemoans:

Here’s the crazy thing about this: As a Blazer fan, I think this loser of a strategy is a winner. I’m only sad they didn’t go further. The team was not on a path to win a title. My conviction is that LaMarcus Aldridge could be traded, too. As a talented big-man All-Star in his prime he’ll hurt the lottery positioning. But he might fetch some splendid cap space and picks.

Abbott’s first choice, of course, would have been for Oden never to get hurt, for Brandon Roy to continue as an All-Star shooting guard and team leader and for other Blazers to fall in line and fill their roles.

But that ship didn’t just sail a long time ago in Rip City; it sprung a leak where the champagne bottle christened it, lilted into an iceberg and went stern-over-tea kettle in sinking to the bottom of the Northwest Division. Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com analyzed the many ways in which 2011-12 went wrong for Portland:

Starting point guard Raymond Felton has been atrocious on and off the court it since he arrived via trade on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft.Fellow guard Jamal Crawford, signed as a free agent in December, was visibly frustrated with his changing role, shots and minutes under McMillan. Forward Gerald Wallace — acquired at last year’s trade deadline and then traded to the New Jersey Nets on Thursday — provided inconsistent production all season. Center Marcus Camby — acquired two deadlines ago and shipped to the Houston Rockets on Thursday — took out his evident frustration with flashes of homicidal rage during the team’s current road trip, getting ejected for shoving Washington Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin to the ground and then getting a flagrant foul for decking New York Knicks forward Landry Fields on a dangerous play in transition.

All the while, franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge has taken on the glazed look of Chris Bosh circa 2008, going through the motions on offense and in his bland post-game comments. The last time Aldridge looked genuinely excited came when he was named to the 2012 All-Star team.

So now Wallace (to New Jersey) and Camby (to Houston) are gone, and so is McMillan, who doesn’t add to the roll of fired NBA Coach of the Year selections because he only deserved to win it a couple of times, without actually snagging one. It’s a sad time in Portland, shameful in its handling by upper management, but mostly just dreary for its fans and whichever players still care.

At least one of the denizens of the HTB Hideout wished for good things for the Blazers right after the All-Star break, making the bold prediction that “something good would happen in Portland.” That echoes now like a taunt or a curse – unless really bad leads in some tortuous way to good. Even then, detours always stink.


45 Comments

  1. g chaffee says:

    frankly i like the coach change – now start your best 4 -aldridge felton-crawford-batum-maybe williams and for goodness sakes let crawford be crawford and stop making him be a point guard

  2. Josh says:

    And then the Blazers went out and beat the best team in the NBA…. Haters gonna hate.

  3. Not sure if that should be NBA.com’s new commentator…he really has no idea why TB’s did what they did…not just draft picks…summer free agency is going to be huge. He was right about the tuning out…but aside from that, he’s just trying to get a job.

  4. Johnny says:

    That guy sounds like a bad reporter to me… after reading his article… he should be fired just like the guy on espn that made a racist comment about asians about jeremy lin. His looks really? But we all know we had the pieces to become contenders if everyone wasn’t hurt. These L.A. fans just got it good because their owners fork up mad cash in order to bring in talent. If Paul Allen brought out his wallet we would probably get half the U.S,A olympic team.

  5. Larry says:

    Because of the move, they’re going down the line. There’s a lot of things to consider yet with the decision, they’ll going nowhere.

  6. Lee in Oregon says:

    The fish stinks from the head, This is a flawed organization who just fired a good coach. Paul Allen couldn’t care less as long as the team generates dough. The entire history of the team can be summed up in 2 words….”Bill” & “Redhead”

  7. STAT says:

    sorry for the typos. patty mills and greater minutes

  8. STAT says:

    hurry up and decide about atty mills is what needs to be done. my view is that they should add him back into the roster and play him grater minutes and do the job that felton is meant to be doing but isnt.

  9. PTB says:

    What a special blazer moment tonight in Chicago. All you people out their in NBA land have no idea whats its like to LOVE a team like people here in Portland do. I went to the February Blazers Lakers game in LA and was seated in the 300 level amongst typical gelled hair, jersey shore watchin, #24 jersey wearin, Neck tatted, Straight outta Hollywood section. I was sporting a #7 jersey, got Booed only one time, and watched the Blazers score 7 pts in the first quarter, then outscore the Lakers all 3 quarters after that and I heard Lakers fans boo their own players more than my team during that game. You know how many people I approached with my Blazer gear on in LA that had LAKER gear too, and I brought up the blazers game that week and they didn’t know what the F I was talking about. Lakers gear is apparently just a Fashion statement in LA, much like life is in general in Los Angeles. Dude, Screw LA man! Come to portland and watch how TRUE FANS support their team. Check out a Portland Timbers game too. Rose Garden and Jeld-Wen feild are two of the most special Arenas in the USA. You should hear some of the interviews of other NBA team’s players talking about the amazing atmosphere in portland, Its pretty cool actually. Props to OKC, Minn, Memphis, Kobe Bryant: Different Animal, Same Beast, LA Blows

  10. Roy says:

    I am disappointed with Portlands management of this slump. The problem is the BACKCOURT of FELTON AND CRAWFORD. They should have been the ones traded. Why they got rid of a top 10 coach, their second best player Gerald Wallace, and a great center Camby to get NOTHING of value in return beats me. This team could have made the playoffs if they pulled it together. But they destroyed their chances with bad management, I dont want to be a fan of an organization that has NO IDEA how to handle problems thrown their way!!!

  11. res says:

    i understand if blazers is finish last in the regular season thats when u make changes but still in 12 seed…which is better than some of the team in the west. they even beat OKC , BULLS and SPURS..isnt thats one of ur best teams….

  12. tony12314 says:

    they don’t even need to to rebuild completely. We have pieces we can trade and just build around Aldridge and Batum.

  13. Joseph_05487 says:

    wish the blazers get a former laker to be a GM and then they could trade Aldrige, Batum and Felton to the Lakers. We could sure use those guys better. hahaha! Just wishful thinking guys.

  14. Eks says:

    I’m a Laker fan but I still think what is left is a pretty solid core. Aldridge & Batum. Nobody should say anything until we see them play…Remember Nuggets after Melo left???

  15. Lakers R Us says:

    Don’t know what happened to this team! They were tough at the beginning of the season! Then they had a meltdown for no reason! Not a Portland fan by any means! But for once, I agree with Prix! Dismayed! lol

  16. Kirby says:

    We all know Oden’s unfortunate career (if one can call it that). However, I believe it is very unprofessional for Mr. Aschburner, an experienced journalist to comment about how Oden looks (last sentence of the first paragraph). I believe the NBA.com website and Mr Aschburner owe Mr Greg Oden a public apology,

  17. B-ROY!! #7always and forever says:

    this makes mew so sad to see this amazing portland team just split up.. =( its very hard to see =( four new players, two traded, and a new coach. i will always be a blazer fan through the ups and downs… i just hope we dont stay down for long… BLAZER FAN 4 LIFE!!!!!!!!!<3<3<3<3<3<3

  18. Aleksandar says:

    I pretty much disagree with everyone, I don’t think Portland is that much weaker after these trades. They have good players left. Aldridge is one of the best PF at the league, and with Wallace gone Batum can play at 3 and someone else to step up as a guard, Wes Matthews or Crawford. With a new coach new system and fresh start, I think they might even be better..

  19. mike says:

    send aldrigde to chicaho and will give u guys deng :D

  20. ko0kiE says:

    I don’t think they’re bad enough yet to be lottery team ;)

  21. mikeyaltamont says:

    as a long suffering blazer fan this turn of events, however tragically perceived, is to me a breath of fresh air. this years team lacked any cohesiveness and structure on both ends of the court. for that i blame nate. either he couldn’t motivate them or failed to put together a plan that they could effectively execute. i’d rather we start rebuilding now (around aldridge and batum) then continue on this dreadful path we’ve been on with at best a repeat of the one and done playoff scenario thats been played out for us the last couple of years. also, the whole durant over oden argument is great when viewed in hindsight but oden had the potential to be one of the great center in the league and was just what the blazers needed to compliment roy and aldridege.

  22. Andrew Baertlein says:

    A big lesson to be learned here is this; Drafting a Center @ #1 (Oden), just because they needed a Center at the time, was the biggest mistake of all. CHOOSE THE BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE! College Stats for Oden: (15 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.3 BPG) College Stats for Durant: ( 26 PPG 11RPG 2BPG 2 SPG & 40% shooting from 3pt. range). Much of this would have been avoided had we selected Durant in my opinion. Sam Bowie picked over MJ was another example. Come on Portland, Learn from your mistakes.

  23. E L says:

    Trailblazers went to the playoffs an NBA record 19 times in a row (I think maybe a pro sports record). The franchise is storied. It will be fine.

  24. 'chenko says:

    PAUL ALLEN KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING!

  25. Musing says:

    Let’s just hope their future draft picks don’t continue that awful trend of injury prone players. Better yet, let’s hope they make better choices when it comes to picks (Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, etc)

  26. Steele Curtain says:

    Seriously after 7 years of mediocrity this is what Portland fans get. I understand the team needs to rebuild and I think it should happen around Aldridge not by trading him, but unless Portland gets some support from Paul Allen who seems more interested in his mediocre football team, I don’t think we will ever get better. We need a front office that is able to evaluate long term needs and is able to develop talent and is able to build a team identity. I felt bad for McMillan but I am not entirely sad to see him go. He did the best job he could with a hodge podge team that has lacked an identity especially since Roy left. I do think its time for Aldridge to step up and take the lead and stop acting like a lesser version of Rasheed Wallace on and off the court. RIP Trailblazers, lets just hope Paul Allen doesn’t move them to Seattle.

  27. charles says:

    LaMarcus Aldrich and Nic Batum are a solid core. Hopefully with their own pick and the pick of New Jersey, they’ll have the opportunity to fill out nicely. Joel Perzebylla is actually a decent defensive center and If Hasheem can learn to be a rebounding beast, they would have their 3-5 spots pretty much filled and can focus on the 1-2 spot which they maybe able to address with a Raymond Felton trade in the summer.

  28. SYDALE says:

    Portland hasn’t had it as bad as people make it seem… They’ve won a championship before with Bill Walton… They went to 2 Finals in the 90′s with Clyde… They’ve been a playoff team a lot in the 2000′s…

    It’s not like they’re the Clippers…

    • B-ROY!! #7always and forever says:

      our number one draft pick greg oden got injured and only played a season or two with the blazers!!!!!!!! our 3 time all star and roockie of the year brandon roy had to retire cause of his bad knees.!!!! and now we fired our coach, got four new players and traded two!! =( it is as bad as it sounds

  29. ArAb says:

    Portland did not reach the finals due to injury. If they were health they had all the pieces. Wishing them lcuk cause i will still ride with them over L.A.

    • kobe says:

      ALWAYS HAVE EXCUSES..IF WE HAD THIS IF BLAZERS WERENT HURT..BLAH BLAH BLAH..LAKERS RULE ..BEST FRANCHISE IN BBALL AND ONE OF THE BEST IN ALL OF SPORTS (YANKEES STEELERS )

      • D Lion says:

        Just think, if Shaq had only played 82 games in 4 seasons and Kobe had to retire like 5 seasons into his career things would be a LOT different for the Lakers now… The Blazers’ big 3 of Roy, Aldridge, and Oden is reduced to a “Big One,” yet Blazers are still in the picture in the west. If Kobe and Bynum had to leave and Pau Gasol was the only one left in L.A., Lakers would have nothing to brag about. So before you poke fun @ Portland’s injury-stricken situation, think about what would happen if your Lakers were in the same boat.

        And yes, I am a Trail Blazers fan. Go Portland!

  30. this franchise has just never gotten over the hill so to speak…very sad to see nate, Wallace, and camby go, but the NBA is business folks even if for cursed franchises: http://Mindofmattman.blogspot.com .. “portland’s cursed franchise”

  31. charlesFTW says:

    sad sad day in portland, can’t fault managment for Roy and Oden’s lack of health. wish portland good luck on thier draft picks

  32. Fr3D says:

    Sad, but in the NBA you always have the hope to rebuild through draft picks and clever management. Something many team sports around the world can only dream of.

  33. prix says:

    Blazers are now consider a trash team..i dont know if they will come back with their glory days..Days of Grace with Pippen, Smith, Wallace days or the Drexler- Porter era where they just beat the Lakers like rookies…dismayed!

    • kobe says:

      THATS WHEN THE LAKERS WON 3 IN A ROW..BACK TO BACK TO BACK ..DIDNT THE BLAZERS BLOW A 17 PONT FOURTH QUARTER LEAD..REMEMBER KOBES LOB TO THE DIESEL ..

      • d says:

        it was 15 an the lakers were up 3 games to none an the blazers forced a game 7 but since your such an avid laker fan you obviously knew that

    • Glory Days? You Sure? says:

      Here’s something interesting. Drexler’s Blazers were only 1-3 in the playoffs vs. the Lakers. Wallace’s Blazers were 0-5 vs. the Lakers in the playoffs. Kinda sad that you’re longing for futility.