I didn't write a blog over the weekend because frankly, there wasn't much to write about. There still isn't a whole lot, but I figured I'd do the best I can.
Our boy Batum played the roll of Robin in Le Bleu's victory over Azzurri. He dropped 18 pts and 8 reb on the Italians to eliminate them from Eurobasket contention. Le Bleu will now face Bosnia for the chance to qualify for Eurobasket. Our boy Koponen will not be playing aside from his final games against Italy and France.
While I'm on the topic, has anyone noticed that Koponen looks and talks a LOT like a young Jean Claude Van Damme? Seriously, check out the youtube interviews. It's freakishly similar. Maybe VanDamme is like his BabyDaddy or something. I digress...
Back to Batum. It appears his shoulder instability will bring him back to Portland for evaluation by team doctors and will possibly keep him out of the finals against Bosnia. Hopefully all the tests come back negative and he can continue to prove himself a sure fire threat. I've loved being able to see his progress throughout the off-season.
At BEST Portland will now have four Blazers competing in Eurobasket: Batum, Rudy, Claver, and Freeland. I hope LeBleu can pull off a sweep of Bosnia to give Batum a chance to shine on a truely Global medium. That would be great for him and the Blazers.
As far as the other messages I've read here on IAMA, I have to say, I am not nervous at all about Lamarcas. I am curious though why Portland is handling things this way. It's like they are saying, "Lets just focus on one thing at a time. First, sign the FA. Then sign Brandon. After ALL that is taken care of, then we can actually start TALKING
to Lamarcas. Lets not get ahead of ourselves, one thing at a time." I am just glad LA hasn't jumped on the bandwagon and signed with Olimpiakos.
Denver got BURNED by losing Kleiza to Olimpiakkos and Houston got a little softer. Not only did Ron Ron get away, then they pick up Ariza and Von Wafer signs with the Greeks too. As seems pretty standard for this offseason, the good have gotten better and the rest have folded their hands and saved their chips to play another day.
Which leads me to the final message about teams getting better in the Western Conference. Minnesota will be in the Playoffs this year. A month ago, I would have said I was crazy, but with the current shift in power thanks to Greece, the Wolves have a small window. I see the Playoffs as follows: 1. Lakers, 2. Blazers, 3. San Antonio, 4. Denver, 5. Dallas, 6. Utah, 7. New Orleans, 8. T-Wolves.
I'm not saying they will make it far, they will probably get swept but they should be there. They are following the same pattern as Portland in trying to grow their team organically with small trades and ultimately with experience. They have a talented PG in Johnny Flynn who has the heart of a champion.
I believe the Blazers and the Lakers will be in a heat come the end of the season. The young Blazers have grown so much individually and when you add them all together and multiply them by Andre Miller, you get the value W. If my math serves me correctly Portland is going to have an EXCITING season to say the least. There is a small chance that Rip City could be crammed down Broadway come the end of the Post Season. It will be the task of the LA Lakers in order to upset them because I don't think Orlando or Cleveland can do it without David Stern's help.