ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 40TH BIRTHDAY, A BRIEF CONSIDERATION OF RASHEED WALLACE’S RECORD SETTING 2000-01 SEASON

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LaMarcus Aldridge works against Rasheed Wallace

In his 2000-01 season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Rasheed Wallace set the single season record for technical fouls accrued in a season. 41 techs in 80 games. .51 techs per game. “Sure,” you say, “That is a lot of technical fouls for a single player. But is there a scatterplot that can illustrate to me, the reader, the true enormity of Rasheed’s achievement?”

(VIA 538, sort of)

Rasheed Wallace out-teched most teams in NBA history, including one Bad Boys era Pistons team. He is sitting on the border between “Normal teams” and “Teams that got a shit ton of technical fouls.”

Rasheed earned his fouls by fomenting a two way relationship with the NBA’s referees that you could describe as “Combative” or “Toxic” or “Special.”

You’re seen Sheed get ejected for staring before, but watch it again. “WACK!” Why did Ron Garretson say wack? Who has ever said that? Did he have a flashback to his days on the farm, when he father handed him a dull machete and a rock and told him to thresh a whole field full of corn himself, to teach him a lesson about how to be a guy with a stick in his ass? “Get away from me Steve! I can’t handle this! There’s so much corn! Daddy, please, just love me!”

Trustworthy Person Tim Donaghy talked about Sheed’s relationship with refs in a 2009 interview with Boston Sports Station WEEI:

“ I would say, unfortunately, I know he’s on your team right now, but Rasheed Wallace was someone I don’t believe anyone cared for. Looking back, it’s probably because he’s one of the smartest players in the league. He was outspoken about how there were biases and how relationships affected the refereeing.”

Rasheed paid a price for staying woke. And he would pay it again. Staying woke is worth more than gold.

In the 2006-07 season, the NBA instituted a new rule. After 16 technical fouls, a player would be suspended for one game. Every two fouls accrued after that suspensions was served would earn the played another suspension. If these rules were in place during Sheed’s legendary season he would have played, let’s see… 41-16 is 25, 25/2 is 12.5, 82-13=69. He would have played 69 games. Ladies and gentlemen Rasheed Wallace managed to make fun of that dumb rule a full six years before it was instated.

Rasheed’s record will never be broken. It’s practically impossible. A played would have to go out of his way to get that many techs and just be totally okay with losing a shit ton of money in the process. The Blazers should design and engineer a gold plated plaque commemorating his achievement. Maybe install it in the fountain in the Rose Quarter, so playing children will always be inspired by this great man’s mistrust of authority and watched over by his benevolent gaze.

FIBA WORLD CUP VIEWING GUIDE FOR OREGONIANS AND LOVERS OF THE OREGONIAN LIFESTYLE

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I can barely walk down the street these days to enjoy an open-air donut without some person yelling over at me, “Hey! You with the donut! The FIBA World Cup is starting soon! Whooooo! I love basketball and the Earth! But I’m a Portland Trail Blazers fan and I don’t know which country best reflects my basketball values! Rooting for America feels too mainstream for my lifestyle and a bit too casually nationalist! I mean sure, I like living in America and I eat tofu hot dogs on Fourth of July and real hot dogs when I’m drunk! But I always vote for the Green Party in elections! Except in elections when I actually care and need my side to win! And by the way, why doesn’t Cascadia have its own independent FIBA-recognized squad yet?! We have the lumber industry to support it! I just love basketball and the Earth and lumber! What do I do?! Enjoy your donut!”

“Well, child,” I say. “You asked the right fucking donut. Check my blog.”

Welcome to said blog. Now place your hand in mine and let me guide your emotional and spiritual journey into the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

First, you should absolutely not root for America. America wouldn’t even root for America. Well, maybe some parts of America would root for America, like the Steak N Shake parts. Steak N Shake’s America would root for America. But did you know that George Washington famously hated Steak N Shake? “That menu is like if Carl’s Jr. had an even sloppier descendent named Carl III, who put ‘Steak’ in the name of his restaurant to make it sound fancy to yokels who get dressed up to go to the hot dog stand outside Home Depot,” he would tell Martha.

George Washington, Whitney Houston, the old guy in Shooter who calls Mark Wahlberg “gunny,” the red-white-and-blue bald eagle in the Dipset logo, and everything else this country is built on would call bullshit on Coach K for cutting Damian Lillard to keep Kyrie Irving and generally Coach K’s hypermilitaristic approach to basketball. Guys, Coach K rode into the arena for the last game on a white horse, dressed like Stonewall Jackson. Then he brandished a saber and stabbed two fans. There’s no place for that.

So who should you root for? Unlike Coach K, I’m not here to mold your brain into my own image, but I will lay out the brief cases (curated to appeal to Oregonian minds) for each country below.

[IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THESE COUNTRIES. I'M PRETTY SURE THAT THEY'RE ALL ACTUALLY PART OF WYOMING. I DROVE THROUGH WYOMING ONCE AND THE BIGGEST CITY IS CHEYENNE AND IT DIDN'T SEEM THAT BIG AT ALL. THEY GOTTA HAVE MORE IN THAT STATE THAN JUST CHEYENNE AND A MUSEUM WITH A PAIR OF SHOES MADE OUT OF HUMAN SKIN. THEY'RE HIDING SOMETHING. LIKE POSSIBLY SENEGAL AND MOST OF WESTERN EUROPE.]

Angola

Angola spelled backwards is alognA.

Argentina

Argentina is sailing to Spain for the tournament on a giant barge called Bargentina. Playing on a barge helps their muscles learn how to balance when they play on hardwood that’s attached to solid ground. Oregon also has barges, wood, and solid ground.

Australia

If you turned the Earth upside down, Australia would be in the exact spot where Oregon is now, and Canberra would be exactly where Portland is now. Basically, Oregon is the Australia of Australia. So who really are the real Australians? Is one’s Australianness just a matter of perspective? Patty Mills is injured and will not be playing.

Brazil

Brazil’s portion of the Amazon Rainforest is the fourth largest forest in the world behind Mt. Hood National Forest, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and the other part of Mt. Hood National Forest. Brazil also has a river. We have upwards of four rivers, plus Fanno Creek. Brazil deserves your sympathy.

Croatia

Croatia’s Adriatic coast has been called “The New Italy” in travel writing aimed at people with enough wealth to tire of the original Italy. Coincidentally, people also describe Oregon as “The New Italy.”

Dominican Republic

An entire country dedicated to miniature canned goods. Prepare for the worst, but do so without being overly wasteful. Very Oregonian of you, Dominican Republic.

Egypt

You know who liked Egypt so much that he had an Egyptian tattoo on his arm? R.A.S.H.E.E.D. W.A.L.L.A.C.E.

Finland

Petteri Koponen plays for Finland and I think he might have a beard now. Actually I’m pretty sure he doesn’t but he should have a beard.

France

Nicolas Batum, that weird era of Marlon Brando, some other cultural stuff.

Greece

The giant inflatable octopus that has sat above that restaurant downtown forever is Greek and you wouldn’t want to let him down.

Iran

I was watching a Portland Beavers game through the fence one time and a man next to me who had long fluorescent white hair like Legolas and was wearing nothing but neon-colored running shorts said that America invaded Iraq because you could launch a missile from Iraq to anywhere in the world because Iraq was the very center of the entire world and then he told me to go home that night and look at my globe to confirm. I did and holy shit he was right. Oh wait, we’re talking about Iran?

Korea

Ha Seung-Jin will not be playing but I’m sure he will be smiling at you from somewhere because he’s very sweet.

Lithuania

Arvydas Sabonis, The Grateful Dead, tie-dye, the early ’90s, it’s all kind of spelled out for you there isn’t it.

Mexico

The best Mexican food in the Portland area is in the back of a grocery store in Hillsboro and mayor whatever his name is should make a special jail for people who put Tabasco sauce on tacos.

New Zealand

Imagine Portland stretched into an entire country: lots of white people who like nature and hate dancing.

Philippines

If the Philippines win this tournament, all of the players will be frozen in carbonite and hung on the walls of Jollibee locations throughout the country, much like Portland did after the ’77 championship.

Puerto Rico

America doesn’t even root for America.

Senegal

Senegal is shaped like a head with The Gambia being the negative space of the open mouth and Dakar being Rudolph’s illuminated nose so that’s pretty fun. Root for Senegal.

Serbia

More like 420_HERBia_420.

Slovenia

in Portland we have those eARTh bumper stickers and in Slovenia they have sLOVEnia bumper stickers.

Spain

Victor Claver is on the team. PS: miss u rudy plz come back :(

Turkey

Whenever the Turkey coach calls a timeout he puts his hand on the dry erase board, traces around his five fingers, then draws eyes and a beak on the thumb part and it looks just like a Turkey are you still reading this?

Ukraine

A country based on ukeleles and rain! Just like Portland!

SPAWNING THE REVOLUTION: THE CASE FOR SCHRUNK THE SALMON

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DATELINE: PORTLAND, OR, MARCH 13TH, 1970.

The night the people of Portland were told what the name of their new professional team would be, the (soon to be World Champion) New York Knicks were the visiting team against the Seattle Supersonics at the Memorial Coliseum. In those days, Portland was mostly a shipping town: dockworkers, lumbermen, commercial fishermen, beaver trappers. A lot of families lived on barges. Vancouver, Washington was still technically part of Canada. Beaverton was still 80% “BEAVERTOWN,” a beaver themed theme park. The Willamette River had yet to be dug.

This is all to say, that once upon a time, the people of Portland were not basketball people, per se.

A traveling drifter knife fight in Pioneer Square? An exhibition baseball game with a viewing of Babe Ruth’s corpse during the 7th inning stretch? A group of truck drivers beating a hippie outside Powell’s? Portland was a town for all of these things, absolutely. But basketball? Too Eastern seaboard-y. I mean, Bill Bradley was playing that night, and he went to Princeton. Very fancy, Too fancy. Modern Basketball was born on the concrete jungles of New York, and Portland still was still 80% dirt roads. Basketball Hall-of-guys-who-played-pro-basketballer Mike Riordan would foul out in this game, an incidence that the PA announcer had to spend 4 minutes explaining to the restless fans who had come to see him. The culture shock had everyone in the stadium ill-at-ease as they watched the Sonics beat the Knicks behind 28 points from future Blazer player and coach Lenny Wilkens.

At halftime though, they announced The Name. Let your mind envision the moment. The mayor at the time, the Honorable Terry Schrunk, quiets the crowd. The lights dim. A spotlight follows an envelope in a little cart being pulled along by a pair of beavers, descendants of the beavers that Meriwether Lewis himself trained when he arrived in Astoria in 1805. Mayor Schrunk picks up the envelope, breaks the official seal, removes the small slip of paper and reads.

“The name of the new NBA team will be…”

A tense silence. One witness said later that you could actually hear the beavers breathing.

“The Portland Trail Blazers.”

A gasp. Then surliness. A small riot ensued. Several cars were burned in a fire in the field where the Rose Garden now stands, hundreds of basketballs were deflated and thrown into the river. Two young, coonskin cap’d children robbed an old lady in the madness. You have to understand: Portland was a town looking for any reason to riot in those days, and a sport that might as well have been soc-cer was now going to be played by a team with a name that had two words in it. It was a shocking thing.

Boos rained from every direction. It didn’t help that it was a capitulation. The team had held a “Name The Team” contest and the most popular submission, “Pioneers,” was already in use at Lewis and Clark College, then a training school for riverboat operators. (Side note: Reed was originally founded to teach failed farmers how to become speed manufacturers.). This necessitated the use of the city’s second choice, the “Trail Blazers.”

“THAT NAME IS TERRIBLE!” yelled one child in attendance.

“TWO WORDS? HOW AM I GOING TO WRITE HEADLINES!?”

“I AM VERY ANGRY THAT MY SUGGESTION, “THE BEAVER PELTERS,” WAS NOT PICKED.”

The team’s name probably would have eventually changed, were it not for the sense of tradition that was wired into the club after the 1977 title. But as a consequence of the violent rage on night of the Knicks-Supersonics game in the Memorial Coliseum, we don’t often think about the Trail Blazers as the “Trail Blazers.” We generally  use the “Blazers” shorthand. Think of all the popular modifications of the name: “Blazermania,” “‘Zers,” “#bazers.” The red and black colors associate the team with fire and heat.

“Oh, the Blazers are ‘Blazing’ tonight!”

“There’s a real ‘Blaze’ in the Rose Garden tonight!”

This was the frame of mind behind the creation of “Blaze the Trail Cat” a very ugly and unlikable mascot that has dumb ears made of fire and nothing to do the pioneering history and spirit of the region where he works.

Blaze was introduced by the Blazers in 2002. The marketing department wrote a contrived backstory about how he was a special breed of mountain lion which makes sense if that breed is “House Cat,” which is what Blaze clearly is clearly modeled after. They even said that Scottie Pippen adopted him from a rescue shelter. You don’t adopt mountain lions from rescue shelters, you adopt house cats from shelters.

Before we continue, I would like to make perfectly clear that this is not about the performer who works in the Blaze suit, he is perfectly good at his job. It is about the very idea that the “Portland Trail Blazers” – a name once supposed to evoke the history of pioneers who came to Oregon in the 19th century – are represented by an animal that would be useless to any self-respecting pioneer. What would a domestic cat be to a group of people traveling cross country, across rivers and plains? Here is every use I could think of:

1. Maybe they kill mice at the campsite.

2. They are good for skinning and eating when things start to go south. Other than that, a cat is just gonna pick away at your rations and scratch your poor starving children when it gets bored.

Other local teams and universities have mascots that reflect the region. The minor league Hillsboro Hops baseball team have a perfectly charming mascot in Barley the Hop, a gigantic, anthropomorphised hop flower that honors the area’s craft brewing industry.

(A picture of the author with Barley the Hop)

The Portland Timbers, a local soccer team, have employed a series of “Timber” men that represent the region’s timber industry. The Oregon State Beavers take their name from the state animal, the mass genocide of whom by beating and skinning was the region’s earliest industry. The Oregon Ducks, I will concede, maybe make less sense in this regard, but there ARE ducks in Oregon. The University of Portland Pilots? Riverboat pilots from the 1930s. Portland State Vikings? That one doesn’t make sense. But this is not a Portland State sports blog, so I won’t extrapolate on this.

Nearly all of these teams have reasonable mascots that reflect the region, while the Blazers trot out an animal that not only does not represent the region, but doesn’t make even a lick of sense as a logical construct. Not to mention, Blaze is not terribly well designed. Is he as horrifying as the original Pierre the Pelican? No, of course not; nothing is. But is he attractive or engaging in any way that would make you miss him if he were gone? No!

His ears are made of fire which is unbelievably corny. He is white and grey, which I guess is the color of the weather here, but ain’t no one trying to think about that. His countenance is set in a constant smile which is disassociating in an anthropomorphization of a cat because cats are cranky and aloof animals who withhold love. Think of famous cartoon cats from history: Garfield, an open misanthrope merely waiting for death’s sweet embrace; Tom and Sylvester, put upon predator/victim of a smaller animals. “But Corbin, what about Top Cat? he has a cheery disposition!” When was the last time you or ANYONE paid attention to Top Cat? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

My friends Zak and Baylie own cats that have basically taken over their condo. They don’t even use one bathroom because they use it to store stuff they don’t want the cats to destroy. These are angry animals. Blaze’s big dumb smile is an upsetting fiction that prevents people from loving him because he is a fanciful lie. The symbol of our proud city in the arena of basketball is an animal that never smiles, “Blazing” a trail for a journey in which he would be utterly useless except as the last disgusting thing for pioneers to eat before they would eat their own children.

I have established that Blaze is horrible and must be replaced. But I did not come here to burn down the church: I came here to build new cathedrals and propose a noble animal to represent our beloved Blazers for now and forever.

Enter, the mighty salmon. The salmon will provide everything the Blazers need in a mascot. It is a local animal, a symbol of the region, a Trail Blazer by instinct and a charmer who will appeal to the the child in us all.

The Salmon is a native fish to the Oregon area. Before Europeans and capitalism arrived in the 1850s, the Columbia River was lousy with salmon. Scientists have ballparked runs at 10-16 million salmon and steelhead trout passing through the region every year.  In the 1860s and 70s, the salmon canning made the fish Oregon’s leading export after wheat and flour. A hundred years of overfishing, over-development, hydroelectric power and brutalization from invasive flora and fauna have depleted the runs significantly. The Salmon is a “keystone species” in the local ecosystem of the Northwest, an important source of nutrients for native birds, bears, and plants. Restoring salmon runs is the symbolic and practical heart of local conservation efforts. Anyone who grew up in the Portland Metro area knows about the area’s deep ties to salmon. I remember raising salmon for release into the wild in a tank aquarium in elementary school and setting up eggs to hatch in Whipple Creek in the 8th Grade. The salmon is a perfect symbol of Oregon and the Portland metro area, and one that has somehow slipped between the fingers of local sports teams looking for a mascot.

A salmon’s life, like those of the pioneers that walked the Oregon Trail, is full of adventure and travel. A salmon will hatch in a river bed and swim out to the ocean where he or she will live an adventurous life, feasting on the fruits of the sea and gaining mass. Then it swims upcurrent, back to the specific riverbed of its birth, where it will lay eggs and die. This kind of Trail Blazing is in contrast to a cat, which just hangs out in a person’s house until one of them dies.

“But Corbin,” you say, trying in vain resist this amazing idea because it overwhelms you so much. “Salmon are not cute!”

To which I say: are Catfish cute ? Tuna?  Fish hooks? No, but a good design will make it work! I solicited some designs from notable artists for you to get an idea about what a salmon mascot might look like:

Casey Jarman gave us this handsome fellow dressed more or less like a Portland resident prepared for the rain. Check out the “77” on the jersey. Casey also sent along a nice alternate logo, for marketing purposes:

(Casey Jarman is the Managing Editor at Believer Magazine and the founder of Party Damage Records.)

Dana Cox’s contribution has a grim look of mild panic, which would be relatable to all people. He is also wearing a coonskin cap, like a pioneer. He’s naked, but I think people could handle that.

(Dana makes stuff. She made this.)

Matt Hatfield’s contribution is decked out in full pioneer regalia and beautiful Blazer black and red on his scales. Your kids are already demanding stuffed animals.

(Matt Hatfield is in Drop the Root Beer and Run and performs sketch comedy and improv in and around Seattle, Washington.)

HANDSOME STUFF!

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DATELINE PORTLAND, OR, JUNE 20th, 2015:

It was a hard fought NBA Finals. No one had expected the Atlanta Hawks, an underdog in every sense of the word, to bring it like that. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up in the decisive Game 7 — 35 points, 20 rebounds, and a game winning pass out of the post to Damian Lillard, whose buzzer-beating three-pointer gave the Blazers a 101-98 victory. The whole Portland Metro area cheered in their homes. Parents and children, white, black, hipster, square. From Ridgefield to Salem, the people cheered.

The Finals MVP trophy was presented to LaMarcus Aldridge. “We couldn’t have done it without the fans. Or without that guy, right there.”

LaMarcus pointed to Schrunk the Salmon, the Blazers’ beloved mascot, named for the mayor who helped bring the team to the city. He was surrounded by laughing children and crying grown men, who never thought this day would come. In the locker room after the game, Wes Matthews, wearing a protective eye patch he earned in the heat of playoff battle, told gathered reporters that Schrunk, “Really rallied the fans…Schrunk brought everyone together. I can’t even imagine the Blazers without him.”

HAWKS 88 – TRAIL BLAZERS 65 (SUMMER LEAGUE): SOMETIMES IT SNOWS IN APRIL

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This was an unequivocally terrible performance from the Blazers. Like really, really bad. I hope you didn’t watch it. It was beautiful outside yesterday. I hope you were spending time with your loved ones in a grassy field somewhere and forgot that summer league basketball even exists. Please, allow me to make such sacrifices. Save yourselves.

The first half of The Basketball Game That We’re Never Going To Talk About Again After This saw the Blazers fail to establish any type of offensive continuity or rhythm. They took a lot of jump shots and missed a lot of jump shots. They didn’t move the ball well, or really at all. Their interior game was substantially weakened by Thomas Robinson being on the bench and not the floor. All of this contributed to them having 15 points and a field goal percentage in the 20s with 5:22 left in the 2nd quarter. However, to their credit, they went on a nice little run and walked into the locker room at halftime trailing by only five.

The second half was a lot like the first half, minus the last 5:22. The Blazers didn’t do anything well, and they pretty much got run out of the gym by a Hawks team that was led primarily by (Jesuit High School’s) Stephen Holt and Adreian Payne. It was tough to watch, and it was made worse by the fact that all of the guys who were playing are supposed to be relatively good. Only eight players played, and only the top 6 guys (five actual Blazers plus Bobby Brown) played significant minutes. So that kind of sucks.

Bobby Brown had a very impressive game, the only member of the squad for whom that can be said. He shot 6/11 from the field, including 3/4 from behind the three point line, and finished with 20 points. He was also once asked in an interview about his name and said, “Someone is always trying to be funny…asking me where Whitney’s at,” so that’s pretty cool, too.

Remember that time that Will Barton kinda sorta beat the Spurs in an elimination game by himself? Today was kinda sorta the opposite of that, as he scored 15 points on 4-19 shooting, and looked very much like 2012-2013 Will Barton. Luckily, nothing can diminish Will Barton’s confidence because he is Will Barton.

Fellow shooting guard Allen “Apparently my nickname is Breeze” Crabbe had another underwhelming performance, though he did shoot 3/4 from the field. Filling out a stat sheet doesn’t exactly seem to be a forte of young Allen, as his shot attempts are pretty much the only evidence that he in fact participated in this basketball game.

CJ McCollum had another game where he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (6/15, 0/3 from deep) but still managed to have a mostly positive effect on the game, due to his 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5-5 mark from the charity stripe. He also had what was probably the play of the game, in which he split two guys and hit a ridiculous high arcing and-one. I celebrated briefly, remembered the score of the game, and then stopped celebrating. It was pretty cool.

The Joel Freeland / Meyers Leonard frontcourt worked about as well as you would have expected. They finished with a combined 5 points and 12 rebounds, and really made you stop and think about the potentially devastating consequences that would accompany the Joel Freeland / Meyers Leonard frontcourt ever becoming a reality in an actual NBA basketball game. Freeland missed every shot he took and grabbed 8 of the duo’s 12 rebounds. Which, unfortunately, means that (LOTTERY PICK) Meyers Leonard had a grand total of 4 points and 4 rebounds in 31 minutes of action.

He continued to not understand basic defensive principles. He continued to look timid and unsure of himself. He continued to play basketball as if he’s simultaneously trying to do long division in his head. In other words, he continued to be the Meyers Leonard that we’ve come to know and not love. At one point, one of the NBATV announcers proclaimed, “Yeah they really need more out of him [as a franchise].” We don’t need more out of him; we need anything out of him. There were multiple times throughout the game where I thought… Can we trade him for Adreian Payne? Please? Or for anybody? How about anything? At this point, I would give up Meyers if it meant that Chalupas could come back, no questions asked.

But I digress. Now, having been eliminated from a chance at winning the prestigious NBA Summer League championship, the Blazers will head to the losers bracket to play Utah on Friday in a game that somehow matters even less than an average summer league game. Pray for Meyers. Or Chalupas.

SUMMER LEAGUE RECAP: KNICKS 71 – TRAIL BLAZERS 69: KING OF COUNTRY

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A Summer League game between the Blazers and their spiritual cousins in the East, the New York Knicks, is always a special occasion and the two teams delivered today with a 71 to 69 point defensive monolith that left everyone in the Cox Pavilion on the edge of their seats.

I am going to level with you, the readership. Will Barton wasn’t wearing a headband in this game and Bobby Brown was, so I got them confused from time to time. Maybe once or twice I was impressed with Brown when I should have been impressed with Barton, because Barton was really good in this game. 11 Points on 11 shots, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He should have had more assists: Freeland and Robinson both mucked up some really solid passes out of pick and rolls. In the game’s last three offensive possessions, Barton attacked the teeth of the defense, got them to collapse and delivered a good to a teammate who mucked up the attempt; McCollumn Missed, Freeland bricked a pretty point blank-y take at the rim, and Brown was out of bounds on a catch after Cleanthony Early (Is his name an intentional mash-up of “Anthony” and “Cleopatra?” If so, excellent choice, Mrs. Early.) missed a layup on the other end. Bad results, but Barton’s process looked good. Also had a nice midrange crossover sink in, show your kids that action on the YouTube reel someday.

McCollum also looked pretty good. He had a nice drive to the basket, looking real quick out there kind of stuff in the 2nd even if he did end up bricking the layup (The World Cup has lowered my standards for requiring a shot to go in to be impressed, apparently.). 1-4 from three isn’t ideal, but I don’t have to tell you about the sunrise, sunset nature of three point shooting. He also got 4 steals in the first half, which the commentators were quick to attribute to some kind of new defensive mindset that is going to now defines CJ McCollum, a sort of Avery Bradley of the West. But people, let’s get real. It’s great that CJ was playing heads up but the Knicks are trotting out a Summer League lineup with a marginal amount of practice time and telling them to run a triangle offense. It was a guy bringing 20 bicycles to the park and leaving them out while he went swimming in the lake: a lot of hot opportunities for theft.

The Knicks’ triangle execution got them two (2) Jeremy Tyler mid-post turnarounds that went in and 7 more shots that didn’t. So one might assume that Joel was doing a good job keeping him on lockdown out there. But Joel also had four fouls, so let’s call that a push. It also netted them a good performance from Tim Hardaway, Jr., netting 20 points on 16 shots, a ratio I will call “Summer League Efficient.”

Thomas Robinson looked good in ways you wouldn’t expect and bad in ways you wouldn’t expect. Sinking some midrange twos: good! Netting five turnovers, primarily from bad catches and making pretty cruddy attempts at the rim on fast breaks: bad!

Alan Crabbe had a drive to the basket and missed all of his other shots. Meyers didn’t play on account of shoulder trouble, he was supposed to start. Bobby Brown wasn’t productive or anything, but when you watch him, you understand what teams keep giving him Summer League slots: he doesn’t make weird mistakes or ball hog or anything like that. It’s weirdly veteranish, like a summer league Derek Fisher. Fisher was coaching the Knicks today, I couldn’t even begin to tell you anything about that except “Yes, they are running the triangle.” Summer league has a weird scoring system that the Blazer got points out of, but it’s even more complicated than World Cup scoring and my doctor has me on headache watch right now so I’m not going to get into it.

Devion Berry played for three seconds and didn’t manage to get anything into the box score. The NBA Record for fewest seconds played while still scoring points is held by Earl Clark, who somehow scored while not recording even one whole second of play in a game against the Nuggets on January 13th, 2013. Second place goes to Joel Anthony, who got fouled and sunk two foul shots in one second of play in a game against, once again, the Nuggets, on December 30th, 2013. Third place belongs to former Blazer fan favorite Craig “The Rhino” Smith, who scored in four seconds of play in a game against, and hold on to your hat here, THE DENVER NUGGETS, on March 5th, 2011. The Trailblazer record for fewest seconds played with a score belongs to Armon Johnson in a game against, HOLY CRAP, The Los Angeles Lakers, in a game on March 5th, 2011. But you thought it was going to be the Nuggets for a second there, didn’t you?

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS SUMMER LEAGUE PREVIEW, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST:

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Another July, another half-hearted blockbuster Summer League roster from the PORTLAND MICHAEL BAYBLAZERS. I can’t be the only one tired of all these explosions and so called “Witty” lines and whatnot. I much prefer the prestige basketball of fall or the quirky indie college players performing to Belle and Sebastian in the early spring. But I am a basketball critic and Summer League basketball is the dominant financial engine of the industry so I am obliged to write about it, I suppose.

Because their bench is “Under-performing” and young the Blazers are bringing A LOT of NBA-players to Summer League for reps. Six of their players played for the team last year, two of them in relatively major roles. The rest of the guys are all weirdo Euro prospects, and I will discuss them as well.

DUDES YOU KNOW (In alphabetical order):

BARTON, WILL:

WHO IS HE? A dynamic guard in his third year on the Blazers. Athletic, rangy, possesses a good shot but either has been robbed of his birthright minutes by Mo Williams or too inconsistent to crack the rotation. The official position of this website is the former but I encourage people to read literature on either side of the issue.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Will has talked about playing point guard, which is probably not going to happen in the actual NBA, but he will hopefully get some cracks at running pick and rolls and seeing if he can make something out of it. He should also be features on defense, taking whacks at perimeter scorers and exhibiting development on that end, if he has any.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST BRAND SEITAN BASED MEAT SUBSTITUTES: A very jaunty headband.

CRABBE, ALAN

WHO IS HE? A three point shooter.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Shoot threes. Try to play replacement level defense.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE An eerie lack of accessories that make you feel unnerved by their absence. Who is this man? Does he feel? Does he sweat?

FREELAND, JOEL

WHO IS HE? A power forward/center on the Blazers who was actually pretty good at the beginning of the year, playing a brand of grinding defense that you wouldn’t expect from a gentleman of the British Isles. He had an MCL sprain halfway through the season and didn’t get back into the rotation when he was healthy.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Before he came into the NBA, Joel’s main selling point to any team that signed him was a tremendous pick and pop jumper. Expect to see him try and get that going again. He will also get postups because teams think that kind of thing is funny in summer league.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A totally hilarious basketball with fire coming off of it that he has claimed he is going to get removed because of how silly it looks. It’s like if a there was a cartoon tiger who has basketball themed stripes. Hopefully he replaces it with a big-ass bulldog wrapped in a British Empire flag weeping over Queen Victoria’s grave.

LEONARD, MEYERS

WHO IS HE? A tall person who flails a lot on NBA courts. A person I’ve made so much fun of that I have dreams where he beats me up while I cry and apologize.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Not flail so much. Resemble an NBA player.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An unnervingly perfect pomade structure fixed on the top of his head.

MCCOLLUM, CJ

WHO IS HE? An aspiring NBA journalist who is occasionally a small combo guard in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS: Resemble an NBA player. CJ being injured for a lot of last year was not good for his getting used to the league, but when he did play, the results were really underwhelming for a four-year player. If he can help the summer league offense go he will go a little ways towards proving he belongs.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A faint mustache, the sort preferred by a man trying to make love to your wife at your bowling night.

ROBINSON, THOMAS

WHO IS HE? A power forward who does hustle shit. Was regarded as skilled in college but hasn’t shown anything in that vein in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Board, try and exhibit the kind of skill shit that will buy him more NBA minutes.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A cat-like reaction to being sprayed with a bottle

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OH MAN, this has been a real work-a-day typing out all this stuff about summer league. I better take a break and have some of the new FIELD ROAST BRAND MAPLE BREAKFAST SAUSAGE. All the flavor of breakfast sausage, none of the pig. Soy and GMO free!

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DUDES YOU DON’T KNOW (And for this section, certainly the most important section, please welcome PRS Summer Leaguer James Fillmore who will be providing extra insights on players you will never think of again after these two weeks.)

The goal of every undrafted player who plays in Summer League is to attract the attention of scouts, be they NBA or D-League or European so I won’t expound on that as much in this section.

APPLING, KEITH

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Keith Appling, a smallish man by basketball standards, played point guard at Michigan State, a college in Vermont. He averaged 3.3 assists — this in college ball, mind you, where all they do is pass for 39 seconds then huck it up — and 2.2 turnovers. That’s an assist-to-turnover ratio of Lousy. He also shot .283 from the shorter college three-point line. This is better than I could do.

CORBIN: A 6-1 point guard guard who played at Michigan State. His DX profile is not terribly kind: the word “Vanilla” is involved. It does compliment his defense, though. In this Youtube video, the ESPN YouTube guy calls a move he made “Nasty,” but he just kinda dribbled behind his back without any particular flair and drove to the rim. College basketball types: raise your standards for nastiness!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A wristband on his left hand. This probably indicates that he is left handed, which would be VERY useful if he were a baseball pitcher.

BERRY, DAVION

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Davion Berry can shoot, which is nice for him, because he is 6’4” and 185 lbs, just about the worst possible size a professional American basketball player can be. Like Damian Lillard and Jack London, Berry is from Oakland, a town that could pass for Baltimore in the second season of “The Wire” (the one with boats) and is known for its tough-as-nails point guards such as Lillard, Payton, Kidd, and London (“The Sea Wolf” would be a cool NBA nickname, or maybe “C-Wolf”). Like Lillard, Barry also played at Weber State, so the two can reminisce about doing beer bongs in Utah. He looks, in photos, like a very nice young man who should probably give up basketball already, since he is the wrong size, yet I can’t judge. I was pretty confused at 23, and maybe Barry could use basketball to live in Poland. The Blazers might sign him for the Idaho squad, because he can shoot, but Poland is better, Davion. Really.

CORBIN: A Webber State product who went undrafted this year. Statistics and height (Real GM lists Six-Four, DX suggests he is six-two and a alf without shoes) suggest a that he is a guard by trade. He doesn’t have a DraftExpress profile. Played at Cal State Monterey for two years before transferring to Webber.  Here is a highlight package. Probably got the slot because of his connection to Lillard, which is fine and the way things work.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Had dreads when he was a younger man.

BRACKINS, CRAIG

CORBIN: WHO IS HE? A 26-Year old forward, height-ed Six-Ten. Drafted in the first round by OKC in 2010, then traded to the Sixers where he didn’t play much for two years. This makes him one of many people (see also Evan Turner) who thirst for Doug Collins’ sweet, sweet blood because he ruined their careers in some way or another. He deserved to lose that medal for the mid range shooting he enabled later in his life. Played in the D-League for a while, spent last year in the Polish League, doesn’t seem like he played so great or so much (1.9 rebounds a game, yeesh.). A man on a mission for a new European home.

JAMES: Craig Brackins, a largish man by any standard, played forward at Iowa State, where they helped invent computers and nuclear bombs (not while Brackins played there). He shot three-pointers better than the ostensible point guard Appling, at .292. He had a handful of games with the 76ers, did time in D-League, went to Israel, Italy, and Poland. The Polish city he played in sounds totally friggin’ awesome. His D-League minutes (yes, there are people who record such things) went down every year. So hopefully he likes Poland. I would.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLEA rubber band on his leg.

BRYAN-AMANING, MATTHEW

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 26-year old, 6-9 British forward, whose mother was self-assured enough that she insisted on a hyphenate. Played college basketball at the University of Washington, the school the other author of this blog attended. In an interview conducted over Twitter dot com, Joe said that all he does is dunk off screen and roll action.  Was on Britain’s hilariously slapdash, Luol Dung led Olympic team. Last played in France, I think? 20-ish MPG, respectable numbers. Here is a highlight mix.

JAMES: Matthew Bryan-Amaning is from Surrey, England, and has two last names, meaning he certainly grew up on a diet of Roasted Peasant and stayed warm in his huge drafty castle by reading histories of the Punic Wars by fireside. He ended up playing in America after a tragic duel in which he wounded the future Earl Pearl-Monroe (who turned out to be his own illegitimate half-father) and to flee the estate. He went to college in Seattle, was undrafted (athletic, tall, can’t shoot, it’s not uncommon), D-Leagued it, then landed in Turkey, Serbia, and most recently France, where a team website lists his position as “Interieur” and says he “est un joueur actif tant en attaque qu’en défense” AKA not very good by NBA standards at anything, but probably an interesting chap, life-story wise. Just don’t use the wrong salad fork or say the queen should “sod off” in his presence.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Polo with an undershirt, a Washington State staple if there ever was one

BROWN, BOBBY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: My favorite basketball player ever.  A Six-Two, 29-Year old point guard coming off a stint with the Dongguan Leopard of the Chineese Basketball association. Cal Fullerton product. Played for four NBA teams between 2008-2010. Has he played in Summer League before? You’re goddamn right he has, he’s played in Summer League every year since 2007. This man is a Summer League animal. His job on the team will be to teach the young, non-NBA level guns, how to conduct themselves if they want to attract the attention of the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers.

JAMES: Bobby Brown was named after a vicious Frank Zappa song (not the vicious R&B singer) and is a living testament to how this undrafted-to-Europe-to-NBA thing sometimes, against all odds, can happen. He went from Cal State-Fullerton to Germany to four years in “The Show,” getting decent minutes for indecent teams. Then he restocked his SIM card and had bad stretches in Poland, Germany, and Italy, a good stretch in Greece, and scored 74 in a game for the Dongguan Leopards in southeast China. If you think I’m going to try and decipher his stats from that website, you think highly of my abilities and I thank you for this but you are wrong. He is a point guard who will be 30 by the time the NBA season begins and he will probably not be part of that season.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An infectious smile!

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CARNEY, RODNEY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 30-Year old, Six-Seven small forward. Played in the NBA from 2006-2011, was last on Sporting Al-Ryhad Beirut, like the Beirut in Lebanon. Here is a video of him dunking on Dwyane Wade.  He logged a 21.83 PER with Memphis in two games played in 2010-2011, which is pretty funny. He was kind of a crummy shooter in the NBA. Will be interesting to see if he has developed on that end to get back into the league. This is his first Summer League since 2007.

JAMES: Rodney Carney is the Crash Davis of Portland’s Summer League squad, drafted way back in 2006. Another wrong-sized guy, he had some success as a defender at the 2/3 for the Sixers, before getting traded to Minnesota, the kiss of death for any NBA career. After a few more seasons bouncing around the NBA, he actually wound up in Beirut (that had to be deflating, but fascinating), and has the single most depressing Wikipedia user edit I’ve ever seen:

“On May 28, 2014, he was played for Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters as an import replacement for Othyus Jeffers who had a problem on his NBA contract. Carney first game as an import for the texters was not easy due to not enough rest for almost 24 hours He scored 13 points . But On his Second Game Against San Miguel Beermen (Philippines) He Scored 28 points and 9 rebounds . And They Win Over the San Miguel Beermen (Philippines)”

There’s more about the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters on Wikipedia. A lot more. All written, I suspect, by the same really enthusiastic aide for the team owner (his page is huge, too.) Or simply by a Filipino basketball fan who could put your meager Blazer fandom to shame. TO SHAME.

To sum up, Rodney Carney IS Crash Davis. He’s seen it all, man. If you have a chance in Vegas, meet this person. And convince him to start writing his book.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Modest facial hair.

GIBSON, JONATHAN

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Jonathan Gibson graduated from New Mexco State in 2010, and since then has the world tour down to a science, whirlwinding it through China, Italy, Israel, Iran and Turkey (Turkey being the toughest international league, according to Jonathan Gibson) In college he majored in General Business, a first for any athlete anywhere. He grew up in West Covina, CA, part of the indeterminate Los Angeles megapolis. So we know he can drive a car. But can he drive the lane? Flourish as a creative passer? Well, these too are skills one learns driving LA freeways, so I’m hazarding the answer is “yes.” In regards to NBA basketball, most likely “no.”

CORBIN: 26, Guard, Six-two. Played college ball at New Mexico State. Scored… HOLY SHIT 32.46 POINTS PER GAME for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association last year. (That team also featured FORMER BLAZER LEGEND Chris Johnson, out there snatchin 11.39 rebounds per game.That’s American power, flexing its mighty muscles in China.) Will his INSANE SCORING PROWESS translate to the NBA Summer League? Watch and find out!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Points, he scores so many of them that he just wears them on his body. So many goddamn points, guys.

 

LEBRON JAMES SPURNS PORTAND

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Today, in an article in Sports Illustrated, LeBron James announced that he will be returning to Cleveland, Ohio to play for the Cavilers. This ends a years long flirtation between the king and the Portland Trail Blazers, who have long coveted James.

“Am I disappointed? Absolutely.” Portland coach Terry Stotts spoke to Portland Roundball in an exclusive interview at his North Portland home. Stotts is looking tan and rested in a seersucker shirt and cutoff jorts but was slouching with palpable disappointment. “LeBron would have really helped our defense and our shooting and ball movement and our mid-range shooting and our ability to get takes at the rim. He would have made LaMarcus a better player and also Damian and Wes and Chris Kaman.”

“When we picked up The Big-Steve-Man (Blake), I thought we were in like Flynn, to be honest.” Stotts took a sip of a homemade mint julep and readjusted his Portland Beavers fitted cap, a sweet thrift from a local Goodwill (Four bucks, man, can you believe that?), “But I suppose that the pull of his hometown and all that; you know, we were a better situation but he was aimed at a ‘higher purpose’ or somethin’. You want some quinoa? Katie (Stotts’s live-in girlfriend) just whipped some up, lemon and cilantro, the good stuff. We got a bouch’ (A slang term for Kombucha, a drink made from fermented black tea) we just finished, too, we’re living the good life out here.”

DID THE BLAZERS DO ENOUGH?

James has semi-publicly complained about not being properly compensated for his talents as a function of the max salary in the CBA. Jeff Sullivan, writing in Fangraphs yesterday, tried to construct a baseball player with as much value to his team as Lebron has to whoever is blessed to be paying him and created a player who hit 438/.527/.820 played the shortstop position as well as anyone could possibly play it and was also an obscenity of a starting pitcher, who sported a 1.67 FIP. In short, an impossible player. But Lebron still makes less money than practically any baseball player worth mentioning.

Should Paul Allen have circumvented the CBA and paid LeBron in clandestine battleships? LeBron has long held ambitions of becoming a naval power. You would have to imagine that Paul Allen making that dream come true would have outweighed his “responsibility to lead,” or “My relationship with Northeast Ohio.”

Why has Paul Allen become such a miser with the Blazers’ roster? Is it the Seahawks? Do you love them more than us because they gave you the ring? Please, Paul, look us in the eyes. We can’t take it anymore. Why didn’t you buyLeBron his ships?

SHOULD WE RESENT BATUM?

Had LeBron come to Portland, he would have taken the place of rangy forward Nicolas Batum. Should we spend the year resenting everything that LeBron could do that Nic couldn’t? Some people might say no, but I have a different position: yes, absolutely.

The next time you see a guy beat Batum off the dribble, make sure you tap your child’s shoulder and say “LeBron could have stopped that.” Batum misses a midrange shot? Groan audibly, look at your wife, and tell your wife “Goddamnit honey, why isn’t he LeBron!? It makes me absolutely sick.” Put up signs with pictures of LeBron in Batum’s yard, to let him know that you don’t appreciate his bullshit and that he will never be good enough for you or for the city of Portland. Buy him train tickets back to France. If Amtrak insists that there aren’t any trains that go directly to France buy one to Vancouver, WA, then cross out the destination and write in “Frenchytown, Paris, in France, where you belong.”

STEVE BLAKE FAQ

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WHO IS STEVE BLAKE?

Steve Blake is a 34-Year old basketball player from Hollywood, Florida. He attended the University of Maryland and was drafted with the 9th Pick in the second round by the Washington Wizards in 2003, which, considering the length of his career, is pretty impressive. He plays Point Guard. A career backup type, Steve has player for a lot of NBA teams at one point or another.

WHAT A BORING SET OF INFORMATION. WHAT DOES THAT CRAP HAVE TO DO WITH THE MODERN DAY BLAZERS?

He signed with the Blazers today, a contract worth 4.2 million over two years. The second year is a player option. Upon signing with the Trail Blazers today, he is the first player in franchise history to have three separate stints with the team. The first spanned 2005-06 and the second 2007-10.

THIS IS HONESTLY NOT GETTING LESS BORING. JUST TELL ME, YOUR SMELLY SACK OF BLOGGING GARBAGE; IS HE GOOD?

Not really. He’s never had a PER above 15, the fixed league average. Here is his shot chart from last year:

steveblake

A lot of red and yellow. Good from the left and some pretty good three point shooting, though, 37.6% on the year. He is a backup point guard.

HEY, WHAT IS THE BI ANNUAL EXCEPTION? DO THE BLAZERS GET TO KILL SOMEONE EVERY TWO YEARS OR SOMETHING?

The cap is INSANELY COMPLICATED and I am not a “Capologist” in any regard, but it’s basically an exception to the salary that is smaller than the Mid-Level exception. The Blazers used the MLE on Chris Kaman, and the biannual on Blake. This almost certainly excludes them from resigning Mo WIlliams.

IS HE BETTER THAN MO WILLIAMS? PLEASE TELL ME HE IS, THAT SHIT MADE ME CRY LAST YEAR.

Ho boy, that is a LOADED question:

Mo and Steve are pretty similar from a “Total Value” standpoint offensively. Mo had an 11.8 PER to Steve’s 11, their Win Shares per 48, .056 and, .058, are separated by a trivial amount. They came to this similar production in subtly different ways, though. Nearly sixty percent of Blake’s shots were three pointers while Mo was often content to hike up a long two almost immediately after coming off a pick. This is reflected in their nearly identical True Shooting Percentages, even though Blake’s un-adjusted FG% sat at 37.7% to Mo’s 41.7%

The Per-36 Assists and turnovers are a bit of a smoke screen. Blake played a lot of minutes for the gonzo-paced Lakers last year so that one-whole-extra-assist-per-36 is less notable when you compare their 28.8-to-26.7 assist percentage, a measurement of the percentage of baskets a player assists on. Mo turned the ball over less (21.5 for Blake, 17.5 for Mo) but that’s more a function of his midrange shot jacking than the virtue of “Caring for the ball.” Blake was a better rebounder last year but not really in any significant way and not over the course of their careers.

By these stats, it appears that the Blazers have ditched one below average caretaker backup point guard for another with almost exactly the same value who is a little older. But there is a little numbersthingy on ESPN’s big Real Plus-Minus chart worth mentioning:

DRPM is an adjusted measurement of how much better or worse your team was defensively when you played. Here is highlights that Mo WIlliams was a TERRIBLE defender last year, and Steve Blake though he isn’t Tony Allen, was hovering around “Not doing any active harm.”

So, in conclusion, he is probably better than Mo Williams. But he is older and he might get worse faster.

YEAH, 34, THAT’S KIND OF ON THE OLD SIDE FOR A PRO ATHLETE, HUH? ALSO, 26, IS A LITTLE OLD FOR A BLOGGER, GET A REAL JOB

Yeah, Steve Blake is older and the Blazers gave him a two year deal. He has been getting injured a more often in the last few years, too.

WHAT EFFECT DO VETERAN BACKUP POINT GUARDS HAVE ON COACHES, AND SHOULD IT CONCERN ME?

Coaches love veteran backup point guards more than anything. Every NBA coach’s secret dream team is five backup point guards, who are all veteran leaders and never turn the ball over, because coaches hate turnover more than anything even though they’re kind of necessary in a productive offense because they’re indicators of risk-taking.

Steve Blake is on the Blazers which is not like the worst thing that has ever happened. But he also presents an active roadblock to McCollum or Barton getting any minnutes. If he’s the backup shooting guard, like Mo was last year, it will be annoying. Then again, CJ might not be good and Barton has been a hero looking for a villain to dispose his entire career.

IS HE SCRRRRRRRAPPY!?

omg, so scrazzy

HOW DO I MODULATE EXPECTATIONS AND REALITY IN MY LIFE?

Guys, what did you think the Blazers were going to do with that money? What did you want? Luol Deng? Ariza? Sorry, those guys like money. Vince Carter would have been cool, I guess, and he might still be a possibility. I wanted Jameer Nelson in that slot, but that’s probably an underpay and he might have commanded some years for his first backup contract and he might not want to be a backup yet. It’s not like there’s just a billion dudes who play in the NBA and they’re all better than Steve Blake. Anyway, the Blazers have like a billion centers and will probably make a trade so there’s other shit to get excited about.

DOES HIS WIFE HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT?

Yes. Here is a picture she posted of Steve power washing their pool with the caption “My man loves power washing. No idea why. Looks awful to me.”

Power washing the pool. So scrappy! Look at that hustle with the wand.

CHRIS KAMAN FAQ

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WHO IS CHRIS KAMAN?

Chris Kaman is a 32-year old basketball player from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He plays the center position, primarily. He attended Central Michigan University. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003, played for that team until 2011 when he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets as a part of a package for Chris Paul, played with that team until 2012, when he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent, left that team in 2013, and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent. He was an All-Star in 2010. He acquired German citizenship in 2008 on a flimsy pretext (he has German grandparents) to play for the German National team.

WHAT DOES CHRIS KAMAN HAVE TO DO WITH THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS?

On Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers signed the Kaman to a two year, 9.8 million dollar deal. The first year is worth 4.8 million dollars, the second is guaranteed for one million dollars.

THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY! IS HE GOOD AT BASKETBALL?

Well. Kind of. Kaman posted decent per game numbers last year: 10.4 Points on 50% shooting and  5.9 rebounds while playing 18.9 minutes per game. They even stand up to pace adjustments analysis: a 17.0 PER (15 is average), 16.6 rebound percentage (Lopez had a 14.5%, Aldridge 16.5). On offense, at least, he wasn’t terrible. But, he did only played in 39 games last year, on account of both injuries and DNPs. That second thing I wouldn’t worry too much about: last year’s Lakers were a Mike D’Antoni joint and Italy Mike preferred to crank up the pace and play lineups with only one big man.

Kaman has been a pretty good midrange shooter for most of his career, but he didn’t get a lot of tries in MDA’s threes/rim runs system last year:

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When he played in Dallas two years ago, in a flow style offense that is similar to Portland’s, he did a little better:

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He is probably not a good defender. He doesn’t have swift pick and roll destroying feet and his block percentage is a’ slippin. RPM indicates that he isn’t a disaster, though;

kamanrpm

The ways of RPM remain mysterious to me. It could be witchcraft and he could be as  a fiery dumpster.

Kaman was rumored to be on the Blazer’s radar last year, and it would have been a bad idea then because he probably would have started and car bombed the defense. But he isn’t starting on this team barring some VERY bizarre roster reconstruction decisions. Kaman is not a great player, at least not anymore, but you know who else isn’t a great player? Basically every NBA backup big man. If a back NBA Big man was a great player, he would almost certainly start, because the percentage of the population that is both exceptionally tall and NBA-great at basketball is so small that everyone who fulfills those conditions is an NBA starter already. But there is a 85% chance that he is still a good NBA player who will improve the bench even if he is making a little more money to do so than one might be comfortable with.

IS WHAT AMOUNTS TO A ONE YEAR CONTRACT THAT WOULD BE READILY TRADEABLE GOING TO KILL THE BLAZERS?

That question seems leading, but no! One year contracts are basically harmless. The Blazers could pay Hasheem Thabeet 20 million dollars for one year and not really mess up too much. That might even clean up the cap a little and give everyone someone to fixate all their negativity towards.

IS HE NOT SPENCER HAWES?

He is not! This is good because Hawes is deeply insufferable and would have commanded a multi-year deal. He’s also almost certainly better than Hawes, who has a worse PER and RPM.

IS HE FUN TO WATCH?

Not really. But he is pretty goofy lookin’ out there, all big and pale and bearded and stuff. He shoved Reggie Evans after Revans gave his nuts a grab and gave a pretty funny interview about it once. (h/t Brocialite)

DOES HE HAVE HOBBIES?

Hunting, which I find abhorrent but you probably don’t have a problem with. He owns a lot of guns but at least he doesn’t have President Obama’s face on toilet paper and equate taxes with living in 1983 Soviet Union despite being paid millions of dollars to play basketball. He also drives speedboats (h/t David Roth). Outdoorsy stuff! He’s going to love it here!

THERE ARE LIKE A BILLION BIG MEN ON THE ROSTER NOW, HUH?

Yeah, someone’s gonna get shipped out for some weird guard.

HEY, UNRELATED, BUT IS THERE A PLAYER YOU THINK THE BLAZERS SHOULD SIGN?

I think the Blazers should sign Jameer Nelson because he is better than Mo Williams.

 

PORTLAND ROUNDBALL MAILBAG, JUNE 19TH, 2014 EDITION

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Joe is in Columbia writing for irreputable publication VICE Magazine, so I am answering questions alone this week.

FAMOUS WRITER BEN GOLLIVER asks:

We can all agree that Damian Lillard’s series-clinching buzzer-beater in his first playoff series was the Blazers’ “Illmatic” moment. Even at 23, Lillard already holds a prime spot in franchise history on the strength of that moment alone.

My question: exactly how deep does his popularity run at this moment? If you heard that Lillard was traded this summer, how many players in the league would produce more excitement by their arrival compared to the disappointment caused by Lillard’s departure? Any?

1. “Illmatic,” for those weren’t previously aware, is an album by the hip-hop artists Nasir “Nas” Jones. Here is a video of him reading a song off the album off a teleprompter in front of a crowd of human beings.  It is like the “Live at Fillmore East” of hip-hop music, a masterpiece produced at the height of the artist’s powers. Much like “Fillmore East,” though, whose release coincided with the untimely death of legendary lead guitarist Duane Allman, “Illmatic” was a high point that Mr. Jones was never able to reach again. Hip-hop heads have pissed and moaned about every song and album Nas has put out since. I mention this only to say that if that shot was truly the Blazers “Illmatic” moment, we are in for 20 years of complaining. “When is Dame gonna hit another gamer winner?” “Lillard gotta start taking inbounds from Batum again, these new inbounders is lame.” Hopefully, Lillard’s career reaches new height after new height: a Ghostface Killah trajectory and the shot was merely his Ironman.

2. This isn’t to say that Lillard hasn’t carved out a place in our hearts, though. The Rose Shoten (A shot that happened in the Rose Garden? Cut me some slack, I haven’t noticed anyone else trying to give it a name!) was a bonding moment between Lillard and BlazerFan. It was a perfect moment: a game nearly ripped from their hands by dashing villain Chandler Parsons and stolen back with a perfect shot from the perfect location. Perfect location, by the way: if you told me Dame was going to hit a series winner, I would have pointed to that spot on the court and bet all five of the dollars I have on that being the location. There was yelling. There were tears. Babies born nine months later. Dwight Howard held his knees and looked really stressed out. Beautiful stuff.

It was a moment that blinded Blazer partisans to Damian, as a child is to their mother:

Whoever is playing backup point next year, be it Mo Williams or someone else, will never receive love from Portland faithful. Damian will leave the room and we will cry for him, panic, until the weird psychologist guy (Sotts) tells him to come back into the room. Then he will take everyone in his steady arms and we will ignore all of the other toys in the room.

So if Damian is our mother, who amongst the NBA’s population could become our SUPER mother? I consulted ESPN’s RPM tool and sorted by WARP: There were 21 players who were worth more wins than Dame by RPM (This list includes Channing Frye, which, weird.):

rpmchart

In looking at this list, I can confidently state that, even though there might be some initial pain, we would probably accept Lebron and Durant as our super mothers. Durant in particular might balm the wound of the Oden pick: the mother we were always meant to have. Then, I don’t know. Steph and CP3 are great and all, but Chris is old and has been mother to so many, and Steph is just too eerily similar to our old mom, but he shoots threes better and drives to the rim worse. If Dirk shows up, that’s a chaos on all kinds of levels – your weird German uncle who everyone likes, abandoning his family to replace your dead mom. Kyle Lowry I would find actively upsetting, like if mom turned into a giant mean dog who was kind of spotty about making breakfast. I don’t even think James Harden and Dwight Howard’s family love them all that much, Blazer fans would cry until their tears were gone and blood leaked from their eyes.

This is all to say, Durant and Lebron and no one else, even if it would make sense as a basketball move.

3. Then again, anyone would come to love Tony Allen sooner or later.

SMOKED OUT FROM THIS SLATE ARTICLE ASKS,

Dear Prudie,

Ours is the home my family and my husband’s family come to for holiday meals, and I am more than happy to play hostess. I have asked the smokers, who make up about half of the guest list, to smoke outside or in the garage. The problem is, I said my grandmother could smoke inside. She is 91 years old, and I would never ask her to stand outside in the cold. I also feel that at her age, she can do what she wants in my home. Now everyone else says they should be allowed to smoke inside if my grandmother is doing it. I have tried to explain that one smoker is different from 15 of them. Of course, the nonsmoking part of the family doesn’t want any smoking in the house. Am I being unreasonable? Should I tell Grandma not to smoke, either?

SMOKED,

You know, Smoked, this reminds me of a something in MY life, and I think discussing it will illuminate your situation. A basketball team I follow called the “Portland Trail Blazers” are entering the free agency period soon and one of their positions of need will be backup point guard. Their current backup – an older gentlemen who we will call “Mu Wollams” to protect his anonymity – is serviceable at times, but he is an atrocious defender who has a bad habit of ball stopping even when he comes off picks. This is a problem for the Blazers because their offense thrives on ball movement, which gets all gunked up when Mu has the ball in his hands.

But he is an older man, who has had a fairly respectable NBA career, and the coach of this team – whom I will call “Terry Cloths” – affords him a lot of respect and playing time even when he is carbombing the team. It sounds like Mu is going to be declining his player option this year, and the Blazers would, presumably, have a good crack at signing him again. I wouldn’t mind if his role was reduced and there was a strict expectation that he avoid jacking up long twos, not using Lillard/Mu two guard lineups. But “Vets” like Mu are catnip for NBA Coaches; note how Derek Fisher somehow commanded minutes in high leverage Oklahoma games this year! Terry just won’t be able to help himself, NBA coaching is a sickness and veteran fetish is a symptom.

The Blazers’ problem with Mu and your problem with your grandma have to same solution: just say no. We defer far too much to our elders, and we ought to leave them out in the cold more often. Get this lady a sweater and avoid signing her to a multi-year deal, so you won’t be enabling your greedy cig huffing relatives or Terry Cloth to do something that’s just going to stink up the joint.

FROM @jandavidjansen on TWITTER DOT COM: why is Terry Sotts so dreamy?

1. Well, Terry IS very tall, and according to the “Best answer” on this Yahoo! Answers thread women are attracted to tall men because it is “part of the alpha dog thing…subconsciously we want a man to protect us.” This is scientific stuff, ask anyone.

2. A lot of people say that Terry looks like Peyton Manning, who is a symbol of power, wealth, and sex in this and every country.

3. Terry is from Iowa, where they force feed young boys corn and shoe polish until they become handsome gentlemen.

FROM NOT FAMOUS WRITER ALEX DEWEY, @DrewNO on TWITTER DOT COM: Do you expect Mo Williams to grow a second face on the back of his original face with the face of LeBron?

Absolutely.

SEND QUESTIONS TO portlandroundballsociety@gmail.com and/or @pdxroundball + @corbinasmith over at twitter dot com; they will probably get answered. You could ask about pretty much anything. It’s SHOCKING how hard it is to generate these on a week to week basis. Thanks to Caitlin Obom for editing this post: she is in the sketch comedy group Drop the Root Beer and Run, who perform in and around Seattle, WA.