A Day of Drastic Change
It was never supposed to be this way. It wasn’t part of the plan, and it’s disappointing, frustrating, and difficult to deal with.
You know what else? Tough. That’s life. You do the best you can with the situation and if it’s not going the way you like, you make changes. Of course, it’s not that simple, and it’s not that easy, but identifying issues, and taking quick and decisive steps to correct a course, is a lot better than continuing to do things the same way and just hoping for different results.
Today, the Trail Blazers altered the road map, in a big way. They burned it, as a matter of fact, and set a new course. Point fingers and lay blame, or fix it and turn the page.
Good coaches, and good people lose their jobs. One of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and working with, lost his today.
Nate McMillan is the one I feel badly for tonight. But, even as I spoke to him at length in our hotel in Chicago, just hours after he learned he was being relieved of his duties, I realized that he understood what happened wasn’t totally his fault, and also I learned that he’s going to be just fine. Always the class act, and always with a firm grasp of perspective, he talked of the past, of the original plan, and how it’s such a shame it all came to this. But, he’s not bitter. He’s disappointed, but not angry.
How did we get to this point, this quickly? That’s what we’ve probably all asked ourselves as we’ve processed the events that went down. I know Nate is thinking that. He just simply never had the roster he was supposed to have.
The trio of Roy, Aldrige, and Oden ended up playing just 76 games together. They were 51-25, and were still in the early stages of finding their way around the league.
When you think of the plan, it seemed so right and so bulletproof- the Big Three, and the coach who would lead this team up to, and perhaps through, a championship window. Three of those four I just mentioned are no longer a part of the Blazer franchise. Oden was waived today to clear up a roster spot. Arrived with such an explosion, and now disappears into the wind.
The crazy part to realize is that the Trail Blazers lost Oden and Roy, and got absolutely nothing in return. They just lost them, and everyone had to deal with the emotional scars. This game can be cruel.
Now, the good news- nothing has burned to the ground, and despite every devastating body blow, the cupboard is far from bare. That’s the beautiful part of today.
Short-term pain, for long-term gain. You don’t want to hear that, and I’m right there with you. But, what choice do we have?
Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby were two very popular, and at times, two very effective players. They both were a part of the band-aid that attempted to cover the Oden and Roy wounds. But, again, with an eye what’s best for the future, it’s time to move on.
A year ago, the Trail Blazers traded for Wallace. So, fast-forwarding to today, in a year’s time, they took Joel Przybilla’s expiring contract and cashed it in for what should be a top-10 pick in a talented draft, with this pick they’re getting from New Jersey in today’s deal. At the same time, they potentially took another chunk of money off of the books, and got themselves in a better position to strike in the free-agent market this summer.
The Camby deal brings the Blazers a point-guard they’ve always wanted to test drive, in Jonny Flynn, and a project big man in Hasheem Thabeet. (Crazy side note- Flynn was the 6th overall pick in the ’09 draft, and Thabeet went 2nd in that same draft). The Blazers also got a second-round pick from Houston in the deal. Camby, who loved his time in Portland, now gets to go to Houston and play, where he lives in the off season.
Now then, there are still 22 games left to play.
Kaleb Canales steps in as the interim head coach of the Trail Blazers. I’ve got a feeling he’s not going to sleep much tonight (not that he sleeps much anyway). Canales could be one of the finest human beings I know. You know, one of those people who when you hang around them you find yourself being a better person? That alone doesn’t make you a good coach, of course, but Canales is also that. The players love him, and respect him.
Canales has gone from unpaid intern as a video assistant, to interim head coach. No one is more deserving of a pat on the back. But, don’t try and give him one. He’s fiercely loyal, and I promise you isn’t looking at this as a promotion. The people who have compared him to Miami’s Erik Spoelstra are on to something. They are cut from the same cloth, took the same paths, and he and Canales even look like they could be brothers.
This summer the Blazers will have their own first-round pick, New Jersey’s (as long as it’s not 1-3), Minnesota’s second-round pick, and their own second-round pick. They’ll also be about $20 million bucks under the salary cap, and can be a major player in the free-agent market. That’s the plan.
No one feels sorry for you, so it’s a waste of time to linger in the past. Learn and move on. Again, it’s not that easy, but that’s what today was all about.