Another week of offseason, another great, vital content-producing edition of Trail Blazers Courtside with Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler. Go ahead and click the play button a few inches north of here if you missed it live Monday night. Guests on this week's show include Lakers radio analyst (and former Trail Blazer) Mychal Thompson and Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.
But the heavy hitter this week is our own Nate McMillan, who discusses a whole host of topics, including his son's graduation from Arizona State, the Mavericks sweep of the Lakers (Dirk and the Jet as good at running the pick and roll as Stockton and Malone?), whether that makes him feel better about how the Trail Blazers season ended, his thoughts on the Mavs/Thunder series and, most importantly, his thoughts on what roster "tweaks" the team might be considering.
Please to enjoy the following transcript of Coach McMillan's comments. Questions are truncated, but the answers are basically verbatim. And please, watch the whole thing. It's not like there's a whole lot else going on in Rip City.
Are you winding down? How are you doing?
"Well, I just celebrated my son graduating this past weekend, so been working on getting down to Phoenix and watching that guy accept his degree."
Had to be a proud moment for the both of you.
"It was great. He worked hard for it and he was able to get that. Now he can get out and work and get back some of that money."
He wants to be in broadcasting?
"Yeah, he majored in business communications so a little bit of both. He wants to work in front office or do some broadcasting. Right now he's going to go for an interview at Drake University for a position there, so we're crossing my fingers that he gets some income coming in quickly."
Of course you're going to make a phone call for him, to help him along?
"Well actually the coach that is there was an assistant for Arizona State his first year, so this guy recruited Jamelle and is familiar with Jamelle the person, the young man and wants to try and get him to come to Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. He's going to go for an interview and I thin he's ready. I think he'll be a great addition. He'll be able to work in really all areas as far as coaching, the business side of basketball. A number of different areas, so I'm hoping he goes there, he likes it and he can accept that opportunity."
And he won't call home anymore.
"Well Mom, they talk every day. That's not going to stop."
Did you see a sweep of the Lakers coming?
"I really didn't see a sweep coming on in that series, but I did feel that Dallas could give the Lakers some trouble. The pick and roll is really the oldest play in basketball and I think Dallas pick and roll with (Jason) Terry and Dirk (Nowitzki) or (JJ) Barea. I would say Terry and Dirk is as good as Karl Malone and (John) Stockton. When you have a guy that you can't leave and you have a guard that can score and Terry is shooting the ball extremely well -- they're running the pick and roll with three different guards and their taking advantage of really the weakest defender. (Jason) Kidd is able to slide and play bigger position, guarding the three at times. They play Barea, they play Terry, the three guards together and they basically just ran the pick and roll with Dirk.
"With a guy like that involved in a pick and roll it just causes you so many problems because he can score and you don't want to leave him. You're trying to keep a matchup with him at times. He does a good job of screening and enforcing the switch at times. At times it's illegal, and I called Stu Jackson on that, but he does a good job of forcing that defense to have to make a decision and if you make the wrong decision, they are scoring. The guards are knocking down shots and Dirk is playing probably as well as anybody in the playoffs right now."
What weapons does Oklahoma City have that would hurt Dallas?
"(Kevin) Durant. I don't see a matchup for Durant. I think (Shawn) Marion will do a good job. I think Jason Kidd will do a good job, but Rick Carlyle, he does a good job of mixing in some zone. I would expect to see some zone just to disrupt and form a wall. It's almost like a box and one the way they play their zone. They will stay close to Durant and (James) Harden and then the other guys, they will zone up and pack it in, make those guys shoot the ball.
"So I see them mixing in some zone to play against Oklahoma City, but I think the hard matchup is going to be of course Dirk. I think (Serge) Ibaka will do a pretty good job because he's athletic, he can move his feet, he can go out on the perimeter and guard, he can guard also in the post. But guarding (Russell) Westbrook and guarding Durant, that could be a problem for Dallas. Kidd will play him some, but I don't see them being able to guard Westbrook and Durant. That's going to be hard matchups for Dallas."
Do you think Oklahoma City can win this series even without home-court advantage?
"Certainly they can because their defense is really good. They come off the bench with four bigs. Those bigs are very physical, their guards are very aggressive. Durant is making the effort to play defense, Westbrook is as good and as athletic as any guard in the league, Harden is playing great basketball for them. Their backup, (Eric) Maynor, who is coming off the bench, is playing well. They have a solid starting unit as well as a solid bench.
"I think their bench will be able to matchup with Dallas. I think they're going to have to run on Dallas. I think they're going to have to get up and down the floor and try and get down before Dallas packs it in in the paint and make that team shoot over the top. But yeah, I think they can win this series."
Any vindication seeing Dallas make it to the Western Conference Finals after the hard series you gave them or is all of that opportunity lost?
"We needed to play perfect basketball to win the series and what I mean by that is we needed our guys, all of our guys, to play well. That didn't happen. We had maybe one or two guys who had good games in each of the games or the first unit was playing well and the second unit didn't play well. We were too inconstant to win that series. Every time we made a run against Dallas they made big shots, They continued to do that in the Lakers series. We needed to play perfect basketball and we really struggled, I thought, most of the season with that, where we got our first and second units playing well and playing consistent for three, four, five games in a row. We just did not get that in the series."
Do you get a sense that there is going to be some tweaking to this roster, at least if you had your druthers in terms of adding some key pieces to give you more flexibility and constancy?
"Well I think there are a lot of questions that we have to answer. First thing is to balance the roster. The combination of the two's we have with Wesley (Matthews), Rudy (Fernandez) and Brandon (Roy), that combination there's just really no way we can play the three of those guys. Now that we've brought in Gerald Wallace, Nicolas' (Batum) contract will be coming up here pretty soon. What's going to happen in that situation?
"And then our guard position and our backup point guard position. I played Brandon at that spot most of the second half of the season. We've got to look at the point guard position and Brandon Roy. How did he come out of the season and what his role is going to be? There are a number of things we have to address, backup center. Is Greg (Oden), when will he be ready to go next season? All of those things we will have to look at here before the draft and if possible, if it is possible, to make some moves and make some changes to improve the team. We've certainly got to do that."