"Joel (Pryzbilla) is as solid as they come and with whatever happens
with the team, a lot of fans will be disappointed that Joel will not
have an opportunity to be a part of it."
I wrote that as part of my February 24, 2011 column Saying Goodbye to Some Friends
-- the same day Joel was traded to Charlotte, along with Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks, for Gerald Wallace.
Well, hold that thought. As most of you've heard by now, our friend has come home!
Due to knee pain, Joel played just five games last season for Charlotte
following the trade. He became a free agent at the end of the season,
but did not sign with a team. He considered retiring, but all the while,
kept in shape and rehabilitated his knee. Then, the new year came, and
he began to consider his options.
Portland, Milwaukiee, Chicago and Miami were all vying for Joel's
services. In fact, he was nearly headed to Miami and possibly contend
for a championship with the Heat. In the end he decided Portland is
where his heart is. It appeared that last sunday, he had decided on
Miami, but after thinking about it overnight, he surprised his wife:
"I looked at her and said, 'Let's go back to Portland, and I could see a smile on her face."
His wife wasn't the only one smiling. The BlazerNation, which has been
openly urging the team to bring in some depth at center, has seemed to
have an extra kick in its step following the news of
He's listed at 7'1" and 245 pounds. He's a defensive presence and
excellent rebounder. He also has a strong sense of determination and a
strong sense of teamsmanship. Oh, and don't even try a cheap shot
against one of his teammates when he's on the court. That's just not a
I look forward with great anticipation to seeing Joel back on the court
in a Blazers uniform. I believe we will be a better team with him on the
SAYING GOODBYE TO ANOTHER FRIEND
Of course, to say hello to Joel, we have to say goodbye to someone. In this case, it's our friend, Armon Johnson.
Armon was with us for just a season-and-a-half, but spent most of the
season on the inactive list. He's played in just one game, in garbage
time, this season. He scored 2 points and grabbed a rebound in that
game. Armon served in a backup capacity during his rookie season,
averaging 2.9 points, 1.2 assists and not quite a rebound in 38 games.
Perhaps the biggest memory I take from Armon's time as a Blazer was in
game two of the playoff series at Dallas last season. He played just
three-tenths of a second, and claimed one rebound. Armon's future
remains to be seen, but I hope he understands his contributions for
Portland are very much appreciated by at least this member of the
While it's sad to say goodbye to Armon, I am thrilled to say hello again to Joel.
Welcome home, friend.
In Kassandra's Words features regular blogs throughout the
year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin
and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on