“In his most recent MRI, and following further evaluation, it’s been determined that LaMarcus has a slight labral tear and will require arthroscopic surgery,” said Acting General Manager Chad Buchanan. “LaMarcus’ priority is that he’s 100-percent healthy going into training camp this fall and we all feel this is the best course. He’s had an All-Star year and his long-term health is the most important thing to consider.”
Dr. Marc Phillipon will perform the surgery at a date to be determined.
A first-time NBA All-Star this year, Aldridge averaged a team-high 21.7 points to go with 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.93 steals, 0.82 blocks and 36.3 minutes in 55 games (all starts). He shot 51.2 percent from the field and 81.4 percent from the foul line, both career highs.
Aldridge currently ranks eighth among league leaders in scoring, 14th in field goal shooting and 25th in rebounding. He is the only NBA player averaging at least 21 points and eight rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.
He joins the list of casualties this season that includes Brandon Roy (retired), Greg Oden (injured and later waived), Gerald Wallace (traded), Marcus Camby (traded) and Nate McMillan (fired), among others.
Recovery time for the procedure is expected to be two to four months, effectively ending the chances of Aldridge competing for a spot on the Olympic team for the London games this summer.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You could feel the vibe from 3,000 miles away.
That energy was real.
The Portland Trail Blazers were on the verge of something special with one of the league’s best young executives, Kevin Pritchard, best young coaches, Nate McMillan, two new young stars, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, already in the fold, and the new No. 1 pick, Greg Oden, smiling on the stage in front of a sea of thousands and the “Welcome To Rip City” banner hanging behind him.
Nearly five years later, Aldridge is the only one left amid the rubble that was the Trail Blazers’ championship blueprint. Pritchard was the first to go, fired on draft night two years ago. Injuries forced Roy into retirement in December, McMillan was fired Thursday and Oden’s injury-plagued career with the Trail Blazers (82 games is all they have to show for his actual game time in uniform) came to an end later that evening when he was waived.
This isn’t yet another savage poke at an already wounded rabid and wickedly loyal fan base in Portland. On the contrary, they have been the one constant and positive force surrounding this cautionary tale. Their plight is a reminder for any fan base, and the franchise they love, out there dreaming about what could be. The future is always now in the NBA, right now, in fact!
And if you operate with any other theories in mind, you do so at your own risk.
CHICAGO – A glut of media types, team staffers and security personnel were huddled under a TV mounted in a United Center hallway, catching the final seconds of the Norfolk State-Missouri NCAA tournament game Friday evening. There was a Portland Trail Blazers backdrop draped on one wall, it was about time for their head coach to do his media chores and that’s when someone realized: Maybe he was standing amongst them already. Who’d know?
Within moments, Kaleb Canales hurriedly walked over and took his position before the cameras and reporters. In his polo shirt, baggy shorts and sneakers, he looked like a ball boy trying to pull an April Fool’s stunt, but no, this was the right guy. He had been out on the court, putting Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge through their pregame workouts. Same as always.
What, change things up just because Canales was going to be working his first game as an NBA head coach?
Wouldn’t be right. Wouldn’t be Canales. ”They’re giving me a hard time about it,” he said. “But anytime I can get out on the court and try to improve our team, improve our guys, it’s a great time.”
It is a dizzy, improbable, staggering time for Canales, who joined the club in 2004 as a video intern and was named Thursday to replace fired Nate McMillan, his friend and one of his mentors. In between Canales worked as the Blazers’ video coordinator, adding “assistant coach” to his duties prior to the 2008-09 season. At 34, he is the youngest of the 30 men working the sidelines in the NBA. And as far as actually coaching a game, well, he did go 4-1 with Portland’s 2010 entry in the Las Vegas summer league.
He a 5-foot-11 former forward for his Laredo (Tx.) high school team. He easily could pass for a twentysomething. And he has been flipped the keys of a franchise that – however sideways it has gone in recent days – boasts an All-Star (Aldridge), four players who have been in the league longer than he has and one (Kurt Thomas) who is five years older. The men on his staff – Bernie Bickerstaff, Bob Ociepka, Buck Williams – have smarts and credentials beyond his own.
But Canales, tabbed for this role by Portland’s acting GM Chad Buchanan, apparently prepared for this overnight opportunity the way he prepares for everything basketball-related: Tirelessly.
“You have so many ideas and thoughts running through your head,” he said of the night before his debut Friday against the Chicago Bulls. ” ‘I want to do this and that, and this and that.’ I put my head down at 1 a.m., turned and looked over my left shoulder and it was 4 a.m. So I haven’t really slept too much.”
What else is new? Canales is known as the guy who slept at the Blazers’ practice facility, the gym rat who was available at any hour to shag balls for a player hoping to hoist a few hundred practice shots or work on some other facet of the game. He spent two years as an assistant at his high school and one on the staff at the University of Texas-Arlington where he got his bachelor’s degree.
Mostly, he went sponge, soaking up as much basketball know-how as he could at each level. He still was doing it as he fielded phone calls and texts from well-wishers Thursday-into-Friday, and he isn’t likely to stop learning now.
“Nobody’s going to outwork him. Period,” Portland guard Jamal Crawford said. “I’ll go shoot at the gym at 9, 10 at night and he’s still there. He’s going to be prepared. He knows every set, he knows every player in the league. ‘Cause he’s a hoop-aholic, so even if it has nothing to do with the team, in his time off, I’m sure he’s watching basketball.”
Canales spoke with McMillan about the awkwardness of this opportunity. He met with the Blazers players and, though so many already are thinking about next season, hammered home the usual tonight-is-the-most-important-game message. He acknowledged other pluggers who have come before him – coaches such as Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra. And now he’ll lean on everything he knows about the team, the game and the league, from deep inside, starting Friday and for 22 games after that.
“Having built sweat equity with our guys over the past eight years,” Canales said, “I feel I have a good grasp of our guys, of our team’s personality, DNA.”
Canales seems to have this opportunity, for as long as it lasts, wired into his.
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.
After 7 1/2 seasons on the job in Portland, Nate McMillan is out as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, according to multiple reports. Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowskifirst reported the move, which was confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. McMillan compiled a 266-269 record and made the playoffs three straight seasons, all of which ended in first-round losses for the Blazers.
The Trail Blazers, who started 7-2, are 20-23 and coming off an embarrassing 121-79 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday. The front office shook up the roster earlier Thursday before the league’s trade deadline, trading center Marcus Camby and forward Gerald Wallace.
Portland had been sacked in recent years by the injury bug, most notably to former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden and then last season with former All-Star guard Brandon Roy. Although Roy did return for the playoffs and had a monster performance in Game 4 against Dallas last season, his troublesome knees forced him into retirement and Portland used the NBA’s salary amnesty provision on his contract before the season.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The countdown clock is ticking … and on the Orlando Sentinel‘s Dwight Howard Watch page, it’s literally ticking … down to next Thursday’s trade deadline with no guarantees as to what’s going to happen to the Magic’s superstar center and the city and franchise that don’t want to lose him.
A week away from what could be doomsday for Magic fans if Howard is dealt and no one is quite sure what’s going to change in Orlando.
There is a strong belief that the Magic will call Howard’s trade request bluff and keep him on the roster with no chance of getting anything for him if he leaves via free agency this summer, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein makes clear here:
I’m sure some of the “Magic resolve” chatter that’s been gaining traction in recent days about how increasingly determined they are to keep him beyond the deadline is at least partly designed as a means of trying to improve the offers that come in before the deadline. Yet it seems evident that the stronger belief in the Magic Kingdom is that it’s better to keep Dwight and face the worst-case-scenario consequences of losing him for nothing if there’s so much as a 10 percent chance of him changing his mind.
The vibe coming from the Magic is that owner Rich DeVos prefers that scenario, frightening as it is, to what Orlando can get for Dwight in a trade today. Fortunately we have only about a week more to wait to find out whether Orlando’s bravery has staying power … or whether the claim that it’ll take its chances with mere salary-cap space should Dwight bolt was just posturing.
It’s strange, with all of the wild and crazy rumors that were flying around a week ago this time you’d expect we’d have more of the same. But instead, rumors are being shot down with increasing frequency.
Take a spin around the league and see all of the guys who were supposed to be on the block who are no longer considered to be in that mix, and that includes the likes of Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol and a few of our other trade rumor faves:
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Both Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton have been here before during their careers. So the roller coaster ride that is the NBA trade deadline rumor mill should be nothing new to the Portland Trail Blazers’ veteran guards.
With the March 15 trade deadline looming and the Trail Blazers stuck in neutral, losers of three in a row and currently on the outside looking at the Western Conference playoff picture, the speculation is that either one or both of them could be moved by the deadline.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s a dangerous thing, trying to read body language and later someone’s Tweets or trying decipher what’s really being said by a player or coach after a tough loss, or string of losses.
But there is no mistaking the sense of desperation coming from the Portland Trail Blazers right now, losers of four of their last five games and stumbling their way to the All-Star break with the injuries and frustration mounting. The questions about coach Nate McMillan‘s grip on the situation started a while ago, long before last night’s deflating performance.
Now All-Star power forward and franchise anchor LaMarcus Aldridge goes down with a severe left ankle injury in the home loss to Washington (… yes, home loss to the Washington Wizards) and the Blazers look like they might be in some serious trouble. Marcus Camby (above), Gerald Wallace, Jamal Crawford, Nicolas Batum and Raymond Felton have all expressed their frustrations and concerns with the current state of affairs, in one way or another.
Gotta love the Blazers. For all the management changes and whatnot, they finally have the look of a cohesive and fluid team right now, one that’s a legit contender. LaMarcus Aldridge is almost certainly headed for his first All-Star Game, Jamal Crawford has proven to be a worthy pickup (if not replacement) for retired All-Star Brandon Roy. Nate McMillan is getting it done as a coach again and the Blazers will give Oklahoma City a run for the division title if this keeps up.
I wonder, though, if the good times will last beyond this season. That’s because Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune raised a few good points in recent days. The Blazers will be faced with several major off-season decisions, and while that seems so far into the distance, it’s something for the franchise must consider right now as it takes stock of certain players and how they’re progressing, or not.
At the top of the list, of course, is Greg Oden. If you haven’t noticed, he’s still invisible. And nobody knows if he’ll ever wear a Blazers’ uniform this season or ever again, as Eggers points out:
When I approached the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft in the locker room before Sunday night’s game with Cleveland at the Rose Garden, he told me, “I’m still not talking about it right now.”
Or about anything, I guess.
Since he flew to Vail, Colo., for a meeting with Dr. Richard Steadman — the specialist who performed the surgery — in early December and spoke with The Oregonian’s Jason Quick, Oden hasn’t done any media.
Team trainer Jay Jensen won’t talk about Oden, and interim general manager Chad Buchanan speaks only in vague terms about the oft-injured, oft-maligned would-be player.
I can’t get an answer as to what Steadman and the other medical people saw in Oden’s December MRI that was termed by team president Larry Miller a “setback,” slowing his progress toward a return to on-court duty.
“It wasn’t as encouraging as we’d hoped,” is all Buchanan will say.
One report said the MRI showed a problem area in a non-weight-bearing ligament in the knee, but nobody with the club will confirm that. Oden evidently had no symptoms or anything to cause alarm. What, then, was it?
“I’d prefer not to talk about specifics,” Buchanan says politely.