Dave, a writer of the website Blazersedge, once posted this genius comparison after a Charlotte game:
"The Bobcats are the most depressing "choose your
own adventure" book ever Page one reads: "You're
dead. Turn to page two." Page two reads: "Do you
care how or why? If yes, turn to page 26 where we
will begin to tell you in excruciating detail how and
why you are dead. If no, skip to page 83 where we
explain that this book is now holding you hostage
and you no longer have the free will to decide whether
you care. Turn to page 26."
Now erase "Bobcats" from the quote and replace it with "Blazers." Now, the Blazers aren't the Bobcats, close to them though, but they are in that preverbial inevitable death situation. Inevitably, the team needed to rebuild. You can't escape the death in this case, you can only prolong the time until it happens. This situation is what I want to call, "no-mans land," which in basketball means, "you're good enough to get in the playoffs, but you're not good enough to win." Now whether you disagree or agree with me, Blazers management saw their team as in "no-mans land." To be honest, a lot of other teams are in this position as well, they just don't want to disappoint the fans and blow it up. The Blazers saw, "no-mans land," were discontent, and took action.
Now blowing it up is not "giving up" like many fans think. The Blazers "blowing it up" is cutting their losses and going for an overhaul. Short term, it doesn't look good, we gave up Crash, an athletic defender, and Marcus Camby, the man in the middle for the Blazers in the past, but Blazers fans need to think long term. This season, at their position, there was almost no way of the Blazers making the playoffs. They were just getting worse and worse. Long term, with a #4-7 pick (granted the nets don't win the lottery), the Blazers can get a solid young player like Jared Sullinger or Austin Rivers if he declares. The Blazres will also, after this season of course, have almost $25 million in cap space. That means they can sign a max deal plus some. Whether this means a major signing, sign and trade, or even just a trade, this means the Blazers are a lot more flexible than past years and are in the position to make deals in the off season.
Move by move, the Blazers trade deadline looked like this (for those who missed it):
-GERALD WALLACE (9.5 MIL 2 YEARS)
-MEHMET OKUR (10.9 MIL 1 YEAR)
-SEAN WILLIAMS (3 MIL 1 YEAR + 1 YEAR PLAYER OPTION)
-NETS TOP 3 PROTECTED 2012 FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK
-MARCUS CAMBY (11.2 MIL 1 YEAR)
JONNY FLYNN (3.4 MIL 1 YEAR)
-HASHEEM THABEET (5.1 MIL 1 YEAR)
-2012 SECOND ROUND DRAFT PICK (via Minnesota)
WAIVERS + FIRING:
NATE MCMILLAN (through 2013)
-CHRIS JOHNSON (762 K 1 YEAR)
-GREG ODEN (1.5 MIL 1 YEAR)
Now, why does Nate get the short end of the stick in this whole rebuilding process? Well, there are a number of reasons. Don't get me wrong, getting fired was not Nate's fault at all, he is in no way a bad coach. However, he didn't fit with management and was even rumored to have lost the players as well. Nate really does not like playing rookies, in fact he rarely does so. Nate would rather trust veterans who have had a few seasons in the league with minutes than young, inexperienced players. That method of coaching and managing minutes is usually proven to work, and usually is just a minor issue, but with rebuilding, management just didn't that method fit. The Blazers need to get the young players experience and see what they can bring to the table. Nate also reportedly lost the team, and whether it's true or not, the Blazers were still struggling. All in all, sad to see him go, and I wish him the best, which is probably away from a rebuilding situation.
The players coming in (Mehmet Okur, Sean Williams, Jonny Flynn, and Hasheem Thabeet) are really underwhelming. Honestly these players have proven to not be good players, or in the case of Okur, he can't play proving useless. The only reason they came in, was for their expiring contracts which would benefit the cap space. Don't expect Jonny Flynn to reach his potential or Hasheem Thabeet to reach his 2nd pick potential, they are proven busts. It would be a miricle if that happened. Jonny Flynn has never been the same off of a hip surgery and he only showed promise on a Timberwolves team headed for the lottery. Thabeet was a project and at 25 he just frankly hasn't been developed at all, like a Ha-Seung Jin. However, I really like these trades and these expiring contracts do help out if we were to go for a Deron Williams, Roy Hibbert, or any other free agent.
The overlying story for the Blazers is that the Blazers finally closed the Brandon Roy, Greg Oden era. The Blazers waived Greg Oden in order to make roster space. Really that means it's finally over between Greg and the Blazers. This headache of injuries and wasted potential is finally out of the way. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of the guys saying, "we could have got Kevin Durant," because I know there was almost no chance of that ever happening for 80% of the league at the time if they had the 1st pick. Greg Oden was a freak.of.nature. He was huge, dominant and the next big thing. He showed that when he played, but he rarely played. From what I've seen, Greg is also a genuinely nice guy. This didn't go under a lot of media coverage, but this guy lowered his salary from $8 million to $1.5 million.
Now the Blazers are in rebuilding and it's up to whoever is still in management to deal with the process of getting new players. Whether they win big in the draft, free agency, or through a trade, it's all their choice and their responsibility. The ball is in their court.