This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I was watching Up and Adam.
Terry Porter was the guest. Among the various topics of the show, Adam questioned Terry about his playing days and his time as a coach. In one of his responses Terry mentioned that he’d played for a few teams in the league other than the Trail Blazers. Of course this news wasn’t new to me, but it did spark an interesting question in my mind about traded players and the dilemma of scouting your former team.
Do traded players spill the secrets of their former teams? Play calls, defensive sets, the little “isms” of teammates? Or do they zip their lips as a measure of professional courtesy? And courtesy aside, how would you feel if you turned your back on a team that you’ve given your blood, sweat and tears to?
I posed these questions to Terry through the online chat. When my question came up Terry responded with laughter, “You open up all the secrets and you tell your current team all about it. You tell ‘em all the little ins and outs, what guys like and they don’t like. How you can get under guy’s skin. You always wanna try to beat them.”
The absolute of Terry’s response drove me to ponder the question a bit more, and specifically how Gerald Wallace would be used to scout the Charlotte Bobcats for tomorrow night’s game at the Rose Garden. I wondered if Coach Nate McMillan would call Wallace into his office for a one-on-one? Would he draw out plays on a white board? How exactly would this espionage transpire? And how would Wallace feel about it?
At practice today I posed a few of these nagging questions to Coach McMillan. When asked if Wallace would play a key role in scouting the Bobcats McMillan laughed a little.
“No question. No question," said McMillan. “He will be giving a lot of the scouting report tomorrow. We certainly do that and Joel and Dante, we should expect them to give all of our calls. So that’s, no question.”
As to how Wallace will report this inside knowledge, Nate said the scouting will occur in the morning. “We will ask him tomorrow during shoot around when we go through their sets and start to prepare for them,” McMillan said. “Right on the floor in front of the players and tomorrow night in our meeting before the game. Tendencies, sets, how do you guard, what’s effective. He certainly will be a big part of giving the scouting report tomorrow.”
The same can be said for former Trail Blazers Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks. McMillan has no doubt that their inside knowledge of Portland will be shared with the rest of the Bobcats.
“We’re gonna run our stuff. We can’t change within a week as far as what we do and who we are.” McMillan said of Przybilla, “He’s gonna know what’s coming. These guys see each other in practice. He knows our guys and our guys know Joel. So the work is gonna have to be done out on the floor.”
Satisfied with McMillan’s insistence that we’ll use all the tools in our arsenal to crush the Bobcats I wandered over to Gerald Wallace to gather his thoughts on playing his former teammates and friends and the key role he’ll play in developing the Trail Blazers plan of attack.
Wallace certainly thinks he’ll feel a bit weird taking on the men dressed in the uniform he spent seven years wearing. “It’s gonna be interesting, it’s gonna be different, totally different feeling,” said Wallace.
But Wallace knows that he’ll do everything in his power to win, history or none. “You never want to lose to your former team, I don’t care what sport you’re in or where you at. You always want to write a better article than your co-worker, right?” said Wallace ribbing the reporters surrounding him. “It isn’t about the Bobcats, it’s about us and the team.”
As for how he feels about scouting the Bobcats. “How about I tell you in the morning. Right now I don’t know,” he said with a sly smile.
I’m sure when I talk to Gerald tomorrow the informing will be done and the Trail Blazers will be extremely prepared for what Charlotte will bring to the floor. I’ll make sure to get the perspective of the man who will single-handedly change Portland’s take of the Bobcats following shoot around.
It’s an interesting line to ponder. Where do loyalties lie? Is it just a business? Or is there more to it than that? To me it just doesn’t seem like it could be that easy...
What do you think?
More to come in the morning.
UPDATE FROM SHOOTAROUND:
As promised, I went to shoot around to ask Gerald how the scouting went. “It was cool. They didn’t need my input that much, just the reassurance that everything they had was correct,” said Wallace. “It was cool.”
Wallace knows that the Bobcats are gunning for the Trail Blazers. He plans to do all he can, including dishing the secrets of his former team, to make sure the Trail Blazers come away with the win. To him, scouting his former team was part of the natural evolution of a trade.
“It’s not a big deal,” Wallace said. “In the NBA, around here, teams are scouted real good. They probably know information I don’t even know and I played there.”
And so the question is answered. Scouting your former team is the norm. Giving yourself any kind of leg-up on the competition is the way of the game.