Notebook: Fernandez says he is uncertain about his role on the Blazers

               Blazer Banter

Notebook: Fernandez says he is uncertain about his role on the Blazers
Sunday, November 8 | 9:43 p.m.

PORTLAND — Portland Trail Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez sounded uncertain about his role on the team during an interview before the start of Sunday’s contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Rose Garden.

Fernandez struggled to find a consistent rhythm during the Blazers’ first six games of the season. He shot 38.9 percent from the floor and just 26.1 percent behind the 3-point line.

Fernandez averaged 7.3 points, 1.3 assists and 1.5 rebounds during the stretch, and saw his playing minutes decrease from a season-high 32 against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 31 to a season-low 12 in a Nov. 6 contest versus the Spurs.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said during a pregame interview he wants Fernandez to increase his aggressiveness and drive to the basket more often, rather than settling for 3-pointers. Fifty percent of Fernandez’s field-goal attempts this season have been 3s.

“What I told him is to try to get yourself something easy,” said McMillan, who added that Fernandez’s shooting percentage will almost certainly increase as the season unfolds.

Fernandez acknowledged that he needs to push the agenda when he is on the court. And he did just that Sunday, playing aggressive basketball while recording five points, six assists and five rebounds during more than 23 minutes of action in Portland’s 116-93 victory over the Timberwolves.

But before the blowout, he questioned his role on a team filled with talent and depth at the guard position, using the phrase “I don’t know” four times during a two-minute pregame interview.

Fernandez is listed as the Blazers’ No. 2 shooting guard, behind starter Brandon Roy.
However, McMillan’s decision to insert point guard Andre Miller into the team’s starting lineup along with incumbent starter Steve Blake and Roy has only deepened the Blazers’ build up at the 2 guard slot.

While Miller and Blake share point-guard duties, both are able to shift over and play the shooting-guard role. In addition, reserve guard Jerryd Bayless took the court for the first time last Friday against the Spurs, and played more than 17 minutes Sunday.

Fernandez said this only complicates his standing on the Blazers.

“Right now, I don’t know my situation in the team,” said Fernandez, who dealt with back spasms during training camp and missed four preseason games. “Blake play in the 2 (guard) position. For sure (that) is one more player in that position. Right now, I’m focusing in my work and taking (care of) my back. And when I’m on the court, play hard to help my teammates.”

Fernandez, a native of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, added that he is losing money by playing in the NBA, rather than starring in his home country.

“For me, it’s wait my turn … and play hard,” Fernandez said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes or 35.”

Following Sunday’s victory, McMillan said that playing time is based on what his players do, and that every decision is made to try and win a game.

“Everybody’s minutes have dropped. So, that’s where it’s at,” McMillan said. “And we’ve got to understand that.”

Travel time
The Blazers hit the road for a five-game, seven-day road trip starting with a Tuesday matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Portland was 20-21 on the road last season, and the record was one of the only drawbacks to an otherwise strong 2008-09 campaign. The Blazers were 34-7 at home, which ranked fourth in the NBA.

McMillan said the key to having success on the road comes down to one thing: winning.
While he was reluctant to look ahead, McMillan stated that the Blazers needed to win Sunday’s home game against the Timberwolves and then carry the momentum into their first extended road trip of the season.

“I think it’s important for us to try and get hot here,” McMillan said. “Get a rhythm, as far as style of play and playing aggressive, and doing the things that we need to do on both ends of the floor to win a game.”

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