Pick and Scroll: Dog Days of Summer Edition

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Over at Peter Keating’s blog, Tom Haberstroh introduces the idea of WPA for basketball to the masses. (INsider)

• Speaking of statistics, over at the TrueHoop Motherblog, Henry Abbott discusses the “Googlization of Basketball Information.”

• Does this whole statistics revolution excite you? Want in on it? Kevin Pelton tells you how.

• Neil Paine on Josh Smith taking fewer threes.

• Mike Tokito of The Oregonian reports on Brian Grant’s valiant efforts to raise money to find a cure for Parkinson’s.

• From Blazersedge, the Italians are trying to steal our Austrailian! Don’t do it Patty! While there might be minutes over there, they don’t have Vegemite!

• Over at TrueHoop Network sister site Hardwood Paroxysm, Matt Moore reviews “The Punch” by John Feinstein, starring former Trail Blazer, Kermit Washington.

Pick and Scroll: Controlled Burn Edition

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Rest in Peace, Lorenzen Wright.

• Over at his blog on Blazers.com, Mike Barrett brings a balanced perspective to the whole Rudy Fernandez situation. Now, we can play “what if” all day, but consider this: What if Quick was absolutely correct and there was about to be major drama, but Portland’s front office was able to act quickly and head it off? I would be thrilled if that was the case because first off, it would demonstrate a reassuring level of competence by the Blazer front office, and secondly, I agree with Mike Barrett that Quick isn’t the kind of guy to drum something up just for attention.

• Speaking of Rudy Fernandez, Alan Hahn has the breakdown of where the deal sits from New York’s perspective. The good news here is that there is apparently a demand for Rudy’s services and teams will have to out bid one another to obtain him. In other words, time is on Portland’s side until one or more of the teams take themselves out of the bidding.

• Still speaking of Rudy, Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer thinks more teams should be interested in the Spaniard.

So yes, team, give up that first round pick. Give it up in an instant. This guy is either going to be a bust out player for you, or well worth what a team like Chicago or Boston (with a selection in the low teens or probable 20s) would end up paying for a first round guaranteed deal at that slot anyway. If you kept the pick, and ended up drafting a guy of Rudy’s 2010-11 caliber, you’d be ecstatic. Even with him playing at his lowest ebb, as we may have seen last year.

• Over at BlazersEdge, Dave Deckard answers some mail.

• At the TrueHoop Motherblog, Kevin Arnovitz has created a very thoughtful article which makes a compelling and specific case for why the Bulls should adopt Utah’s flex offense.

• Casey Holdahl interviews coach Nate McMillan in his capacity as assistant coach for Team USA apparently, Team USA is going to have to figure out how to win games with an injury-depleted front line. If only there was someone on the Team USA coaching staff who had dealt with such a situation…

• Was Chris Dudley the worst free throw shooter ever? I mean, we all know he wasn’t the worst on a percentage basis, but could he still be the worst? Basketbawful thinks so.

Pick and Scroll: “What Color is a Dozen?” Edition.

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Jason Quick dramatically reports that Rudy Fernandez wants to be traded and the Blazers are working to move him. Quick is taking some heat for the buildup to a rather anti-climatic story, however, I would argue that the buildup was at least to some extent, fan driven. If Quick had something ultra-juicy, he’d likely have to break it quickly for fear of being scooped. The issue at hand is that Quick left a vacuum in his lead up and fans rushed to fill that vacuum with best case and worse case scenarios and quasi-plausible fears. What article is going to live up to that kind of drum-up? In the old days before the internet, people would have heard Quick announce that he had a story about some player drama, shoot the breeze about it around the water cooler, and then wait in anticipation until the story came out. Now, that announcement gets placed in a Petri dish where it can quickly mutate and grow until when the article itself comes out, the expectations are completely out of proportion.

• Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk doesn’t want to see a sad Rudy Fernandez.

• Cha-Lu-Pa! Cha-Lu-Pa! Wait! Make that, E.Co-li E.Co-Li!

• Allow me to take a second to say that I’ve been hard on the Blazers front office during The Offseason of Our Discontent, and I think I’ve been pretty fair about it. There were a lot of communicational miscues that surely could have been handled better, though it is arguable that the Blazers themselves were not at fault for all of them. That said, the actions taken as of late by the Trail Blazers have been home runs. By retaining top scouts Mike Born and Chad Buchannan, hiring a rising star in Rich Cho, bringing in Rip City legend Buck Williams, and bringing in a high-character (albeit overpaid) guy like Wesley Matthews, the franchise has done a fantastic job of whitewashing some ugly stains.

One more thing I’d like to make clear is that when I criticize the Blazers’ “P.R.” I do so in the abstract sense. Kevin Pritchard, Larry Miller, and the rest of the players in this summer’s drama are directly responsible for the words they speak and that moment where their lips are moving in front of that camera or tape recorder is a moment where they hold full responsibility for what they say. I am not of the opinion that the actual public relations department employees are in any way at fault for any of the gross miscues that occurred. Likely, they were at their desk, sobbing into their hands, asking the heavens why that their boss was making their job so damned hard, sort of like a Whitehouse P.R. intern circa 2000-2008. 

• Dave Deckard from BlazersEdge remembers Buck Williams, the player.

• Dwight Jaynes wants us to know that he “told us so” about Rudy Fernandez.

• Jerryd Bayless, a man famous for his scowl, discusses happiness.

• Over at Wages of Wins, there is a discussion about advanced statistics and conventional wisdom. I feel that the entire debate is built around a misunderstanding of terms. People misunderstand what it is that statistics can actually tell you. APRBmetrics will almost certainly never produce a one-number ranking system that definitively states who the best players are. The reason I say that is there are too many variables that must be controlled for and one single number would be a crude approximation at best. What APBRmetrics are, is useful. A statistic may be an answer in one area, but be irrelevant in another. If I go to the store to buy eggs, that little number on the package tells me definitively how many eggs are inside the carton, which is very useful. However, I still have to open the carton to see what color the eggs are and if any of them are cracked. “A dozen” is not a color, it is not a guarantee of freshness or quality, knowing the quantity can’t answer those questions. Of course, I could have different, separate metrics that tell me what the odds are that the eggs will be white or brown and how likely it is that any of the eggs will be broken, or I could open the carton myself and take a look. That is the “eyes, ears, mind” approach espoused by freshly minted Blazers’ GM Rich Cho. A statistic is an answer to a very specific question; it is not the answer to all questions.

• In the latest “Link Tachos” over at Bust-a-Bucket, Seth Johnston makes damning accusations that I would be willing to one day join the dark side. I think it’s just because Seth read this New York Times piece about law degrees and NBA front offices and combined that with the fact that I’ve recently shaved my head so now I look like a super villain. That’s not fair Seth, that’s stereotyping.

• Neal Paine over at Basketball-Reference looks at “Who ruled the top defenses? Part II” featuring a dichotomous Nicolas Batum.

• Via BlazersEdge: Apparently the Jail Blazers were not universally loved.

The Mailbag: Dante Cunningham’s Class Act

|

Tyler Ormsby (right)

Reader Tyler Ormsby went to Vegas to watch a few Summer League games and came back with a great story and a little something else. He was kind enough to write in and share. We pick up with Tyler and his three friends walking back from the Thomas & Mack Center after the Blazers had dispatched the Chicago Bulls. It was hot as hell—in the neighborhood of 110 degrees.

Take it away, Tyler:

Over all, the mood was jolly for about the first quarter mile. Then our bottled water began to run low and heat up, the sun refused to set and the desert heat mixed with the asphalt’s absorption of it made it all but unbearable outside. Paul joked to us all that he would never again say “It can’t be the bad” to scenes in movies with people wandering the desert. Brandon and I laughed through dry mouths, Jeff just poured what was left of his water on his head, it seemed we all agreed. We were about half way back when another car honked at us, we were all likely going to ignore this one, as we were certain this one was not a Blazer fan, we were right about that as it turned out.

The car pulled up right beside us, I can only speak for myself but I’m pretty sure all of our hearts jumped a bit thinking someone was going to give us a ride. The window rolled down and a hand holding fabric we walked up to the window we didn’t focus on the face at first, we were just trying to figure out what was going on. A voice that seemed nearly disembodied told us “Hey guys I saw your Blazer gear and just wanted to let you know that we love that you guys come down here to see us and I wanted to say thank you, it means a lot.”

We all looked at each other seemingly all with the same thought, “Is that, I think it is….it’s Dante Cunningham.”

Jeff and I were in the best position to grab what it was that Dante was holding our for us, Jeff however was wiping either the disbelief or bottled water out of his eyes so I nabbed it first. After I grabbed (the jersey), Dante looked at us all and said, “That’s the one I wore through all the games thanks again guys.”

We mumble a conglomeration of different fan remarks, “Thanks so much,” “good to meet you,” “great game.” So forth. Dante shock all our hands, waved and said, “see you all in Portland,” And drove off

We were all in shock “Did that just happen?” was the common expression on our faces.

On the walk back we agreed on a few common things, 1. Dante was awesome 2. Far and away the best part of he trip just happened 3. Our friends were going to be sooo jealous 4. Seriously, Dante is awesome and he just earned four life long fans.

Brandon and I spoke later about what this meant to us as fans, he appreciated us, by no means did he have to stop but he wanted to tell the driver of the car to pull over to us so he could show his appreciation. I thought a lot about it later we may have gone above and beyond the call of duty as NBA fans, we did after all go on a pilgrimage that few fans do and cheered whole heartedly for our team. We walked in full Blazer gear to and from two games and were, once again in Vegas, just for them. But we loved every minute of it we got to watch our boys play, we had a great time and really little sacrifice was made by us. But I cannot help but be impressed by the action of one of our Blazer. By no means did Mr. Cunningham need to stop, or give his jersey to a group of guys in their mid twenties to say thanks. He did though, and he understood that by simply giving us his jersey he made our summers. He seemed to understand that because we love the game and this team he gets to play for a living. That small token of his appreciation meant the world to us. And he did it with no cameras or news crews around.

Pick and Scroll: Drama!

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Coup from Rip City Project is headed to South Beach to cover The Great Triumvirate. We at Portland Roundball Society wish nothing but the best for Coup and hope he doesn’t get drenched in locker room champagne too often.

• Buck Williams is BACK! Now I can finally get my Dairy Queen Rip City glass autographed!

• Over at Portland Mercury, PRS’s own Ezra Ace Caraeff is handicapping the odds on the drama Jason Quick predicted. Just a thought here, if Ezra is right and Rudy refuses to report to training camp, there may indeed be some major drama. The Offseason of our Discontent rolls on.

• Speaking of drama, those guys over at TNT? They know it. Casey Holdahl has video evidence of Kevin Pritchard’s cameo appearance on the TNT show Leverage as a used car salesman. I think that Pritchard may be the first actor to be typecast before having even been in a movie. Here is a still shot.

• Is the public perception of Brandon Roy changing? Dave Deckard at BlazersEdge thinks so.

• Dwight Jaynes is an Oregon Sports Hall of Fame inductee. via BlazersEdge

• How does Louis Amundson not have a job yet? I’d be in favor of bringing him to training camp.

• Speaking of hustle power forwards, WallaceNBAHeat tweets that internet superhero Shavlik Randolph is back with the Heat. 

• Mike Barrett is serving up some courtside. He’ll be filling in for John Canzano on the Bald Faced Truth for the next three days as well.

• Over at The Oregonian Mike Tokito has you NBA high 5. I hear Rudy is still whining and Chris Paul is still flirting with the league at large. Who can’t wait for the season to start? *points at self* This guy.

• Yao Ming may retire if his foot doesn’t heal right. Ooofff, that’s the sound of millions of Rockets fans in the US and China taking a collective punch to the gut. When healthy, Yao Ming is a nigh-unto unstoppable force and the very best center in the league. When healthy, it’s “Dwight who? Oh, the guy from the dunk contest?” However, health is a fragile thing, some people are able to maintain it better than others. That a 7’6” body of his bulk has survived as well as it has after all the running and pounding and banging is a minor miracle. It will be a sad day if Yao goes out like this. Yao is good for the game, he’s a great role model for young big men who want to develop touch and footwork, he’s a great ambassador for the sport of basketball internationally, and he’s genuinely a good man. Get well soon Yao.

 

Pick and Scroll: What Time Does the Train to Mallorca Leave?

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Over at BlazersEdge, Dave Deckard answers questions regarding the crestfallen Spaniard, Rudy Fernandez. My take on what to do with Rudy? Trade him for unyielding rookie Xavier Henry in either a sign-and-trade or a trade for Henry’s rights. Henry is one of the few players that Fernandez could be traded straight-across for and would be worth the trouble. Henry has the size to play either wing position and he can shoot and defend; sounds like a Portland wing to me. Fernandez could join his fellow countryman Marc “The Tank” Gasol and stand around helplessly while O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph refuse to pass him the ball, also known as the Juan Carlos Navarro route back to Spain.

Yes, I realize that Henry duplicates a lot of what Wesley Matthews brings to the table. So what? Maximize your assets, and then make the next move. Trading Rudy for Xavier doesn’t fix any log jams, however, it does extract great value for Fernandez in a vacuum. Between injuries and potential trades, extra wing depth isn’t a bad thing to have.

• Beyond the Beat just expanded their coverage. On the plus side, more content is always great. On the negative side, I now have to actually look at the author’s name on the post rather than reflexively write Wendell Maxey (Wendell Maxey, Wendell Maxey, Wendell Maxey) each time I link a Beyond the Beat post.

• As is apropos, Wendell Maxey Eric King writes that former Blazer Summer League point guard Pooh Jeter (like “Cheddar”) has signed with the Sacramento Kings.

• Over at Basketball-reference, Neil Paine takes a look at which players handle the top defenses best. Roy grades out well, and the Miami Heat look to be a really tough cover.

• Seth Johnston at Bust-a-Bucket on groupthink, Chris Paul, and matrimonial metaphors.

• Mark Deeks over at ShamSports gets physical.

• Over at TrueHoop Network sister site Hardwood Paroxysm; Rob Mahoney has been covering Team USA in Las Vegas. Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Look, let’s be honest here. Playing for Team USA this summer is starting to look a bit like a sucker’s bet if you’re an established NBA player, especially an established NBA big man. If Team USA wins in Turkey, well, that was expected and much credit will go to the guards. If Team USA loses, well, it will likely be blamed on whoever is manning the middle and a lack of players from the 2008 squad. 

Pick and Scroll: If I hear one more CP3 trade scenario, my head will explode.

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

Paul Allen Shreds

|

The man who owns Jimi Hendrix’s pants comes with his own electrified version of the “Star Spangled Banner” (0:55), plus a handful of other tunes.

Pick and Scroll: Blazer Dancers and Tricycles Edition.

|

Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

• Ken Berger reports that Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans. Portland has been floated by commentators like Matt Moore (and 70% of the Portland fan base) as an option for Paul if he wants to win titles. Which makes sense because Portland has a rich owner, some cap-friendly contracts, and a collection of young talent. However, I haven’t heard any solid information about Portland being part of a “wish list” or anything of that sort. I do think that if Greg Oden is healthy this season and can produce at the level he was playing at prior to his latest injury, Portland would become a more attractive destination. 

• Casey Holdahl makes the case that you can’t overpay for a championship. I agree. However, if Wesley Matthews turns out to be the piece that leads the Portland Trail Blazers to their first Championship since 1977, I will be completely floored and the Mike Born/Chad Buchannan duo should get a shiny medal. Is there a Nobel Prize for scouting? If Matthews leads Portland to a championship, I will lead the charge to create one.

• Over at BlazersEdge, Ben Golliver catches up with the “third wheel of the basketball operations tricycle” Blazer Scout/ Basketball Information Manager Joe Cronin in the last of a three part series of “Brain-Dumps” regarding Portland’s summer league team.

• Sophia Brugato is asking some hard questions about the Blazer Dancers. Now, I’d like us all to be adults about this conversation. I realize that scantily clad cheerleaders are firmly ingrained in the institution of basketball itself, to the point where at one recent basketball event I attended, there were pre-pubescent girls gyrating and hip-thrusting to the latest top 40 hit during half time. I was incredibly uncomfortable and thought to myself that half time at a basketball game is one of the only instances where middle aged men viewing such things would not only be considered appropriate, but applause is expected.

• Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune has a great piece on recent Blazer signee Wesley Matthews. However Matthews shakes out on the court, Portland seems to have definitely gotten a high-character guy that will make the franchise proud of him.

• Over at Basketball Reference Neil Paine has identified some of the top individual offensive performances of last season. Can you guess the top 40+ minute offensive performance? I bet you’ll be surprised. The Blazers make a good showing with several great performances from Andre Miller, Nic Batum, and Brandon Roy.