trading away sentimentality
By Kassandra Posted in: AndreMiller, Blazers, BrandonRoy, DanteCunningham, GregOden, JoelPrzybilla, LaMarcusAldridge, MarcusCamby, NicolasBatum, PattyMills, RudyFernandez, WesleyMatthews
It's the time of year when a lot of NBA talk turns to trades, expiring contracts and attaining that one last piece for a playoff run.
As you can tell from the blogs, message boards and interviews surrounding this team, the Trail Blazers are no exception. Even during the summer and first months of the season, there were no shortage of trade talk. Much of it involved fans' proposals of attaining this player or that player, and trading one of our own to add whichever piece to the puzzle it was thought needed.
This particular blog is not intended to determine whom is expendable, whom we may attain or what the future of the team will be following the transaction. I'd rather point out the impact of trading away a player from this tight-knit group of good character guys. Just a few years ago, we might not have been too concerned whether a few of our guys were sent away. That certainly is not the case now.
It seems there is a lot of talk of trading Andre for a younger and quicker point guard. Personally, I love Andre's game and it seems to fit well with the half-court game which the team loves to run with the first unit. Even more so, I love his attitude. His comments regarding LaMarcus being snubbed in the all-star selections. Andre cares about his teammates and stands up for them (and himself; ask Blake Griffin on that one). He seems like a quiet guy, but he is definitely a team-first guy. He has gone on recent record as saying he would rather not be traded, yet thinks he will be (ref. Up and Adam, 2-3-11). I am a fan of Andre for being a team guy. i still think he has a lot to offer.
There's also been talk of trading Joel because of his expiring contract. Joel is a huge sentimental favorite in Portland and, other than his expiring contract at season's end, I've yet to speak to anyone who "wants" to see him play for another team. Marcus has been mentioned in some trade rumors as well. He's still fairly new in Blazerland, but loves Portland (he's moved his family here) and has said publicly that he would rather retire than relocate to another city at this point in his career (and just how appealing is that as trade bait to the other team?). As I understand it, Marcus' contract is not up until after next season, so that shouldn't be an issue in a trade. Marcus has endeared himself to fans as much as the city has endeared itself to him. He's a great teammate and I now consider him a Portlander.
The really interesting situation is that of Rudy. Last summer it sounded if he would rather scrap playing in the NBA for playing at home in Spain. He indicated this on media day, and his agent said basically the same things. Flash forward five months; Rudy doesn't want to go anywhere. In fact, he now wants to sign a long-term contract with the Blazers. Mike Rice said Rudy's family spends more time here than in Spain supporting him, and that his friendship with his teammates -- Patty in particular -- has cured him of his homesickness. It seems to me when he has some down time, there is something to do and someone with whom to do it. Nothing creates homesickness like sitting around alone bored. I've always liked Rudy; during his rookie season he was having fun and he was scrappy. Last season I thought he never fully recovered from his back injury physically or mentally in his second season and i think that led to some frustration. What we've been seeing this season is that he's always out there hustling and giving everything in the tank and even a little more. That's the kind of player I would like to see on this team.
Patty has very quickly emerged as a fan favorite here. Part of that has to do with how he reached out to Rudy. The other is the spark he brings off the bench and the fact he has become the back-up point guard for the team. while he doesn't always shoot the lights out, he does create difficulties for defenses when he comes in and the Blazers' tempo changes. He loves Portland, plain and simple. What ever happens with Andre's situation, I think there's a role on the Blazers for Patty. Here's my real problem with trading Patty, and this is directly a result of his connection to fans: I do not want to see him doing an "On the Streets with Patty Cakes" segment with another team's logo on the microphone.
I haven't read any fan saying he didn't like Dante'. Many have said he's undersized to play extended minutes at power forward (most identify his most effective position as small forward), but many love his attitude, intelligence and willingness to go out and do the dirty work the way he does (myself included). We got another glimpse this week with Sarah's Blog about his love for fixing up muscle cars. He's an extremely likeable guy; another good guy you want to have on your roster.
I've been surprised -- pleasantly -- at the fan reaction to Greg as he deals with is second micro fracture surgery and drive to return to the court. Greg has a huge fan base and the organization already has invested quite a bit in Greg. While he will become a restricted free agent, it's my hunch that the team will re-sign him. Upon his return, maybe fans will finally be able to say: The future is now.
I'm not going to go much into our group of rookies other than to say that I think a lot of fans out there just want to see what these guys can do on the court. On the other hand, the exception to the rule seems to be Sean. His contract is guaranteed through the end of the season and while I personally think he's done the best he can for what we're asking of him, no one seems to be in a hurry to suggest we make him a long-term Blazer.
I also decided here that I'm not really going go down this list of "core" players on the team; this blog entry doesn't really seem to merit that because I don't see much of any way we're going to move LaMarcus, Brandon, Nicolas or Wesley (based on statements from Cho).
I understand that in order to build the team we want, some players will have to be part of a trade. Be that as it may, I don't see it as any less sentimental.