Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Patty Mills: “That’s What I’m Talking About!”*

*In no way is this actually real news.
Haters of the spoils system and nepotism are furious this evening as Paul Allen, owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, convinced the Blazers’ front office to tender a qualifying offer for his BBFF (bigger best friend forever) Patty Mills.  Mills, one of 43 point guards on Portland’s roster, had spent the last three weeks canoodling his best buddy boss Allen, hoping his NBA tenure with the Blazers would continue.  Skeptics assumed Mills’ days in Portland were over after the acquisition of Raymond Felton and the addition of Duke guard Nolan Smith; however, they underestimated the power of love.

Allen might have the public perception of a cold-blooded, ruthless business man who will fire a person because they like a different coffee than him (see Rich Cho).  But, Allen is an Israeli Sabra at heart: hard on the outside and mushy on the inside.  Ever since Allen laid eyes on Mills during the 2008 Olympics, where Mills took the world by storm, it was love at first sight.  After the Olympics, Allen went on weekend trips to visit Mills at St. Mary’s College where he was seen numerous times with his chest painted with St. Mary’s red and blue at Gaels home games.  (Despite these jaunts to Moraga, CA, Allen was very careful not to violate any NCAA rules.)  When Mills was available in the late second round in 2009, Allen told Kevin Pritchard he would fire him if he didn’t draft Mills.  Then, when coach Nate McMillan informed Allen he wanted to cut Mills from the final roster in both 2009 and 2010, Allen reminded McMillan he was on a one year contract.

Allen and Mills even have inside jokes.  One little known fact is that the origin of the “3 goggles” last season was not because Mills was poking fun at his Spanish friend; rather, it was a hand signal Allen and Mills would give each other at bars when they wanted to indicate to the other that they had made a poor choice in women that night.  Allen, a marketing genius, thought it was so cool that he convinced Mills to integrate it somehow into Blazers culture.  This is just another example of the bromance between the Aussie and the self-proclaimed king of Rock Band.

With the news of the qualifying offer, Mills was seen only hours ago getting picked up by Allen in a helicopter.  Nobody is quite sure where they went, but rumor has it that the two were headed to Moraga to relive their first in-person meeting.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Replacing One Hostage with Another—The Right Call

When the Portland Trail Blazers shipped Petteri “The Hostage” Koponen to Dallas and drafted guard Nolan Smith from Duke, I was concerned acting GM Chad Buchanan was ignoring our advice of holding hostages overseas and acquiring veteran assets.  However, after yesterday’s news conference where Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith, and Jon Diebler were announced to the Rose City, I am confident that Buchanan and the Blazers are finally making wise, calculated personnel decision that can help the Blazers be real contenders in the Western Conference. 

The first example of the Blazers’ front office maturation is when Buchanan defended the selection of Smith over rebounding behemoth Kenneth Faried.  Buchanan explained how the Blazers plan to acquire a backup power forward and/or center through free agency, as they believe there is a wealth of experience at those positions (as opposed to the dearth of point guards available).  This statement proved once and for all that Buchanan is not David Kahn, a man who will take point guards because point guards make him happy; rather, the Blazers acting GM realized filling gaps in a team’s roster is often better served through free agency and trades.  

The second example of the Blazers’ front office growth is through their likely decision to send second round draft pick Jon Diebler to play in Europe for a season to gain experience.  The Blazers realize Diebler, a sharpshooter from Ohio State who was arguably the best spot up shooter in the draft, would not get much playing time this year.  Despite Diebler’s uncanny accuracy from long range, the Blazers need him to become a more experienced, complete player in order to play a legitimate three point specialist role, like James Jones and Kyle Korver.  Diebler can hit an open shot, but Jones and Korver have become experts in finding open space, moving without the ball, and catching and shooting from any spot on the floor.  The only way to hone those skills is through repetition and game experience, something Diebler would not get in Portland this year.

Therefore, the answer for Diebler is the same as it was for Claver, Freeland, and formerly Koponen: keep them hostage until they can become key contributors to the Blazers.  Joel Freeland is the perfect example of this hostage method.  Just today (here), Freeland told a Spanish journalist that he believes he will be ready to come to the Blazers next season.  The Blazers are not rebuilding anymore—we need to remember that.  This is a team that needs to be surgical with every personnel move.  We can’t bank on potential anymore; instead, we need to wait to add a player to the Blazers roster until a player has met his potential. 

Jon Diebler could be the three point assassin we need to win a championship. But, let’s force him to get minutes and improve abroad so he can become that player for the Blazers.  Being held hostage may be the best thing for Diebler and the Blazers—it will force him to shed his potential and become a baller.



*In no way is this actually real news 
Al-Rayyan, Qatar:  The drama continues for Targuy Ngombo.  Three days after the world discovered he lied about his age to enter the NBA draft (which does not allow international players over the age of 22 to participate), the Portland Trail Blazers’ Interim General Manager Chad Buchanan uncovered some startling news before the trade with Minnesota officially went through: Ngombo hired infamous Dominican pitcher Danny Almonte to help him gain entry to the draft.  When contacted by Buchanan, Almonte confessed, “Targuy called me up and asked if I could help him make his dream come true.  He kept going on and on and on about how dominant I was at the Little League World Series when I was 32; how could I deny him my help?!  But I thought I was helping another Dominican get into the majors.”  Ngombo could not be reached for comment.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Pritch Slap Awards Winner!

The votes have been tallied.  The dais is adorned with a bedazzled NBATV microphone.  The GM's are in their finest Armani sweat suits.  It's time for... Drum roll please... ... Fine. We will go without the drum roll... The Pritch Slap Awards!

The nominees for most bad ass GM in an NBA draft are:

Rich Cho, with the Charlotte Bobcats.  Rich had a decent draft for someone that was hired by a team he swindled a few months prior.  That situation calls to mind the scene in "Catch me if you Can" when Frank Abignale gets hired by the FBI and then he has to go into the office and work with the people he just screwed over.  I guess if your Charlotte you are just happy to have this guy on your side.    

David Morway, with the Indiana Pacers.  The Pritch Slap Awards are not just about making your team better, they can also be about ruining another team.  Which is why we have nominated David Morway.  The trade that landed George Hill may not make Indiana a contender but it certainly took the Rascal(tm) out from under the San Antonio Octogenarians.  Now how is Old Man Duncan supposed to get up and down the court?  

Chad Buchanan, with our Portland TrailBlazers.  Don't be fooled by the title Interim GM, on Chad's W2 it reads: Intern to Mr. Allen.  Which is a pattern with Portland, the namesake of this award did his best work in the 2006 Draft as an assistant GM.  Chad did past Portland GM's proud with this draft, trading away three players to two teams, bringing in Raymond Felton and drafting another three.  All told, Chad had his hands on 8 players in this draft.  That is special.  

And the winner is...

Chad Buchanan!!  

Congratulations Chad!  Keep this up and one day there will be an award with your likeness!

Do you agree with our pick?  Tell us what you think in the comments and check out the poll to cast your vote as well.


Crash Should Give "Crash" Lessons to the Rest of the Team

Controlled chaos is the best way to describe Gerald Wallace, aptly nicknamed “Crash” during his tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats for his aggressive, punishing, treat your body like a crash test dummy style of play.  After acquiring Wallace at the trade deadline, Portland fans got an appetizer of Crash’s unique approach to the game.  Watching him play brought back memories of Jerome Kersey, but with an elevated skill-set (no offense to Jerome).  Wallace appeared to be out of control in his cuts to the basket; yet every time, he found a way to maneuver his body to avoid an offensive foul—it was impressive.    

Before Wallace came to Portland, their offense was already going through a metamorphosis, shifting from a Roy isolation offense to an Aldridge-centric offense that depending on an inside-out game and sharp cuts to the basket (ala the Utah Jazz).  This change brought a spark to the most methodical offense in the league, resulting in an abundance of high flying dunks.  However, there were two major problems with this new offense: poor spacing and out of control cuts.  With the acquisition of Raymond Felton from Denver on draft night, the spacing issue should be resolved.  Therefore, it is critical that Gerald Wallace become a leader on the Blazers, mentoring his teammates on how to attack the basket with grace.

If Crash can teach two players in particular, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, how to aggressively cut to the basket without drawing a charge, the Blazers offense will leap to another level.  With a spread offense that goes through LMA, the players need to cut sharply and controlled.  Yet young players like Matthews and Batum were unable to alter their bodies to account for weak-side help last season.  So instead of two free throws or a three point play, the Blazers turned the ball over, and the next time down the floor, these young and talented players were more hesitant to attack the basket. 

Crash needs to coach Matthews and Batum on the physical and mental aspect of controlled recklessness.  He needs to help them become more aware of defensive movement to his cuts.  He needs to practice with them how to adjust their bodies in mid-air.  He needs to go through half court cuts and breakaway drives to the basket with them.  Crash needs to help create mini-Crashes. 

If Gerald Wallace can accomplish this feat, not only will the Blazers be a more exciting team to watch and a very difficult team to defend, they will win more games and be a legitimate contender in the West.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Patty Mills—Whatever it Takes for the Qualifying Offer & More*

*In no way is this actually real news
Patty Mills doesn’t want to test the waters of free agency; rather, he wants to cruise the waters with his best buddy (BFF), the man who once dated Monica Seles.  His hope is to attain a qualifying offer and the promise of a starting spot with the consent of his best friend.  In order to ensure he receives these career defining offers, Mills realizes he must become even better friends with his boss (even though Mr. Allen won’t allow Mills to call him that.)

Mills knows he is Mr. Allen’s favorite.  Two years in a row he has been the surprise winner of the Blazers’ final roster spot, beating out former Blazer Ime Udoka in 2009 and being retained after Jeff Pendergraph mysteriously went down with a season ending knee injury during the preseason last year.  Both years, the Blazers staff attempted to hide the Australian basketball prodigy from fans during the preseason, stashing him at the end of the bench so no fans would plead for him to get playing time.  Yet on decision day, the brainchild of Microsoft, the surcharge man of Ticketmaster, made one phone call to Larry Miller and Nate McMillan and said, “You know who you need to take.”

After a year that saw Mills overtake the backup point guard position from THE heir apparent (Bayless…or was it Jack…no Johnson), Mills has spent the summer trying to gain BBFF (bigger best friend forever) status with Mr. Allen.  Mills told his departing buddy Rudy Fernandez he believes, in addition to receiving the Blazers' qualifying offer, he can be given the key to Portland’s backcourt with Mr. Allen’s blessing. 

Yesterday, Mills was seen on Mr. Allen’s famed yacht teaching him Australian rules football.  Mills recruited Mr. Allen’s 34 largest body guards and erected titanium goal posts on the SSW corner of the north deck of Mr. Allen’s yacht (three stories above the torpedoes).  After slipping each bodyguard $20 Australian dollars to go easy on Mr. Allen, Mills ensured his BBFF would be victorious in his inaugural game, allowing him to score the deciding goal.  After the game, the two were scene watching a documentary about the origins of Microsoft that gave sole credit in the creation of Microsoft to Mr. Allen.

We will know by Thursday whether Mills’ efforts paid off.  Stay tuned…


Friday, June 24, 2011

Draft Day Thoughts—McMillan's Inner Monologue

David Stern’s new plan to let fans get closer to the game is to take you inside the minds of some of the game’s brightest...

4:03pm:  We got this.  Ready for war.  Got the table.  Got the computers.  Got the stache looking better than ever.  Ready.

4:40pm: Predictable, Irving at number one.  Duke players are good.  Trustworthy.  Smart.  We should take one.  Coachable.  I like coachable. Good luck Cleveland…hope things work better than your last #1.

5:09pm:  So many eastern European players.  Still not over the Cold War.  Respect Sabonis.  Understand the conflict.  Bleed red, white, and blue.  USA baby.
5:14pm:  Great pick Rich!  Biyombo.  Defense.  I like defense.  Wish Paul would bring Rich back.  Chad’s great, but no Cho.  Rich liked my moustache too.  Said it was better than Tom Selleck’s.  That’s props.

5:28pm:  Hate waiting.  I would rather be coaching.  Maybe Chad could use some coaching.  I’ll go try to motivate him.  He looks lost. I take my contact one year at a time.  I know I’m good.  Chad needs to know he could be good.  Confidence.  Confidence.

5:38pm:  Happy for my friend Mychal.  My son’s better though.

Draft Day Thoughts—Buchanan’s Inner Monologue

David Stern’s new plan to let fans get closer to the game is to take you inside the minds of some of the game’s brightest...

8:45am EST: It's good to be back at Madison Square Garden.  Gosh, it's 8:45, you would think they would have set up for the draft by now.  Maybe it will be set up in what they call a New York Minute?  In a New York Minute, ooh ooh ooh.  Man that's a good song.

8:49am EST: Tonight is the night Mr. Allen calls me and officially ordains me General Manager... I just know it's going to happen.  I am wearing my lucky red Blazers shirt under this stupid suit.  I look like I am at my high school graduation all over again.  Class of '08 what!? What!?   O.M.G. He is calling me right now.  It's Happening!!  It's happening!!... Oh no... Oh no...  

8:51am EST: Why won't this cab go any faster!!  Come on Bro!  How hard is it to get to JFK?    Please. Go. Faster.  Mr. Allen won't mind if I expense a chartered flight back to Portland, right?  It's for business purposes.  "Smart thinking, Chaddy my boy" he'll say, "thanks chief" I'll say.  

(editor's note: for the next five and a half hours Mr. Buchanan just read Sky Mall and played his Nintendo DS.  For the record, it is virtually impossible to record any brain function under these circumstances)

2011 NBA Draft: Blazers Recap in 10 Bullets or Less

Grade:  B-

  • Drafted an actual three point threat, Jon Diebler, the all-time three point shooter in Big Ten history.  If he can play the role of a James Jones (before his legs went), he could be a pleasant surprise for Portland and fill a much needed hole.
  • Drafted Nolan Smith, combo guard out of Duke.  Smith, a great leader from a fantastic system, does not fill a hole, instead, he makes the Blazers’ toilet overflow.  The Blazers channeled their inner Minnesota, doing exactly what I feared Allen would want to do in our Draft Preview.  By drafting Smith, the Blazers now have five very similar point guards: Raymond Felton, Patty Mills, Armon Johnson, Elliot Williams, and Smith. 
  • Smith pick was puzzling as Kenneth Faried was still available, an ideal backup to Aldridge.  Unlike other media outlets, I believe the Smith pick is a sign of a larger move to come that will bring us a veteran bruiser in exchange for a handful of backup point guards.
  • Portland freed “the Hostage” (Koponen), showing their liberal sensibilities as a part of a three team trade between Portland, Denver, and Dallas.
  • Showing forward thinking, Blazers ship Rudy to the defending champs in an attempt ensure we can beat the Mavs in the playoffs next year.
  • Dre for Felton.  In this biggest component of the three team deal, the Blazers acquire Raymond Felton from Denver in exchange for Andre Miller, listening to the plea of “There’s Always Next Year” and acquiring a younger, veteran point guard.
  • With Dre, the Blazers lose a true floor general, a should-be future hall of famer for his consistency, work ethic, back to the basket game, and pin-point passing.  He will be sorely missed, but he gets to return to Denver to play with Karl and his future with the Blazers would not have extended past next year.
  • With Felton, the Blazers gain a young (26) veteran point guard who came into his own last year with New York and Denver.  Felton is quick, can defend, and has an above average outside shot.  Felton will help the Blazers spread the floor and free up space down low for LA (and hopefully Oden) to punish other teams.
  • Felton reunited with Mr. Bobcat, Gerald Wallace, an overlooked aspect of this trade.  While Felton was not the same player in Charlotte that he was last year, their history can help bring the new Blazers starting lineup together much more quickly.
  • Grade:  B-.  Without giving up Matthews or Batum, Blazers get a younger point guard who is comparable to Miller and has room for growth.  With a savvy move to acquire a veteran backup PF or C (which will hopefully include unloading at least two point guards), and Felton signing an extension (which I have completely faith he will after seeing how great we will be), this could be seen in a few years as a pivotal draft for the Blazers.  Most NBA analysts are saying this draft showed lateral movement for the Blazers (here and here), but here at “There’s Always Next Year,” we are optimistic the Blazers have done their research and know exactly what their next move is.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Annual Pritch Slap Award

It’s Draft Day!! So in honor of this auspicious occasion we are paying homage to the Genius at GM, the Peter Piper of Picking, the Drexler of Drafting, Kevin Pritchard!!  This man single handedly changed a franchise in one draft.  The Pritch Slap Award will be given out tonight to the GM (or interim GM, come on Chad!) who best exemplifies the art of the one sided trade.

Just to give you an idea of what it takes to win the Pritch Slap Award, here are some highlights from the man himself:

3.  In the 2008 NBA Draft Kevin Pritchard executed a string of trades that landed the Blazers with Nicolas Batum… Pritch Slapped!

2.  In the 2006 NBA Draft Pritchard traded Tyrus Thomas (our #4 pick) and Viktor Khryapa to the Chicago Bulls for Lamarcus LaMarcus Aldridge (their #2 pick).  Not only did Pritchard bring Lamarcus LaMarcus to Portland, where LMA is now the man, Pritch had the foresight to keep Aldridge off the Bulls who drafted Derrick Rose two years later… Chicago… Pritch Slapped!!

1.  Oh, and that very same draft, Pritchard traded Randy Foye and cash to Minnesota for future NBA all-star and Rookie of the Year, Brandon Roy…  Minnesota and  the rest of the NBA… Pritch Slapped!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blazers Draft Preview: Holding Players Hostage—New Strategy

Going into the draft tomorrow, the Portland Trail Blazers need two things: hostages and veterans.  Last week it was reported by multiple media outlets (here, here,and here) that Finnish guard Petteri Koponen feels like the Portland Trail Blazers have held him hostage.  Koponen, a large point guard who has shown flashes of promise at the Las Vegas Summer League and in Europe (while playing mostly at the 2), asserted he just wants to live his boyhood dream of playing in the NBA, just like every Russian boy dreams of his future father-in-law beating him with eucalyptus leaves. 

Acting GM Chad Buchanan denied the hostage implications, stating the Blazers are still waiting for the right time to bring him over and that it is not their policy to just give a talent like him away to another team.  However, unnamed sources said they could hear Buchanan mutter under his breathe during his statement, “Come on…who do you think we are, the Charlotte Bobcats?  You want talent?  Give us something in return.”

While Buchanan won’t openly admits Koponen is a Blazers hostage, underneath, he knows keeping players hostage is exactly what the team wants and needs to do to reach the next level.  Portland has spent the last six seasons rebuilding into a perennial first round playoff team.  In order for the Blazers to become actual contenders, like the Blazers of the early 90s, they need to stay healthy, play a solid nine man rotation with reliable non-ancient veterans in all five spots, and build continuity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


*In no way is this actually real news
Portland, OR:  The Portland Trailblazers’ acting GM Chad Buchanan announced today that injured center Greg Oden’s right knee has been picked up by the D-League’s Idaho Stampede.  In a press conference earlier today, Buchanan had this to say, “We feel as a team that Oden’s Right Knee (ORK) will get more reps in the D-League than with us, and with those additional reps, ORK will make a greater impact on the Blazers in the long run.” No timeline was given as to when ORK will return to Oden’s Right Leg, but the hope is ORK will be back by January, which is when Greg Oden’s whole body is expected to come back. 

Buchanan dismissed any rumors that had to do with the brewing controversy over Oden’s Left Knee. 


The Story of a Method Fan

I enjoy the almosts, and I think we all do.  I am sadistically thankful for not drafting Michael Jordan and blowing three consecutive home games to the Pistons in 1990.  I am grateful Uncle Cliffy played hot potato with that outlet pass in Game 6 against the Lakers and for our meltdown nine years later against a very different Lakers team in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.  But I don’t want to be just another fan whose moods undulate with the Blazers as they never seem to quite meet their great potential.  I want to feel what it is like to be a Portland Trail Blazer experiencing these same tribulations.  I want to be able to empathize with the plight of my team, my players.  So last fall, I decided to embark on a new level of fandom—Method Fandom.

For those of you who are not familiar with method acting, it is when actors immerse themselves in their character’s persona.  Daniel Day-Lewis famously prepared for his role in “My Left Foot” by spending all of his time on and off set in a wheelchair, being fed by crew members and speaking in his character’s dialect.  This form of preparation for acting has produced some of the best actors in modern history, including Nicholson, Brando, and Vladi Divac.  So if actors can perfect their craft by living as their character, feeling what it’s like to be them, why can’t a basketball fan perfect his craft by experiencing what his beloved team and players go through?  I give you, Method Fandom: when a fan goes through life just like his or her favorite players.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome to There’s Always Next Year…& Our Curse

There is nothing better than Trail Blazers basketball.  It is said time and time again that we have the best fans, and there is no denying it.  We are knowledgeable, loud (in the right way, not like Kobe working the officials), and we have a thirst for anything Blazers related.  That is why, despite a plethora of fantastic Blazers blogs, we have decided to create “There’s Always Next Year” to bring an added sense of humor and insight to the Blazers community and to try and break a horrible curse.

Most would agree that the single greatest thing about sports is how it brings people and families together.  We are cousins who used to like to get together at a sports bar, each other’s houses or the actual arena to eat wings so we could immerse ourselves in all things Trail Blazers.  Yet our love for the Blazers has resulted in tearing our second cousin-ness apart because of one sickening fact—together we are cursed. 

When we have watched games together in the last three years, the Blazers have won only once, which includes a back-to-back against the Nets and Wizards this past season.  When we convened at a local pub to watch Oden’s debut against the Lakers a few years back, we are fairly confident, our curse injured his foot.  The curse is powerful.

Our hope is this blog will reverse the curse, just as the Red Sox injected female hormones to swat away that pesky Bambino.  With your help, we can make this blog great and show the Blazers it is time to let Jonathan Ryan Davis and Joshua Isaac Sidis watch Blazers basketball together again. 

Do you have any Blazers related curses you are trying to overcome?  Please share with us!

--Jonathan & Joshua