Fernandez’s time in Portland may be winding down
Less than 24 hours remain before the start of the 2010 NBA Draft. And while the premier picks appear to be locked up, the Portland Trail Blazers’ plans are still wide open.
The Blazers hold the No. 22 overall selection in the first round and the No. 34 overall pick in the second round. Portland holds its first-round selection courtesy of its 50-32 record in 2008-09, while the second-round choice arrived via a trade Monday with Golden State.
But the Blazers’ draft positioning is the only certainty as the clock winds down toward the draft’s 4 p.m. tipoff at Madison Square Garden in New York. And even that could change — Portland scouts and general manager Kevin Pritchard acknowledged earlier this week that everything and anything was on the table.
The lone Blazer player who appears to be absolutely safe and secure: three-time All-Star guard Brandon Roy.
Nowhere is Portland’s draft-day uncertainty better seen than in the rumors that surrounded guard Rudy Fernandez on Wednesday.
The second-year sharpshooter from Palma de Mallorca, Spain was first linked in a possible trade to New York. Then he was mentioned in a move to Toronto, which would reportedly result in Fernandez and Portland’s No. 22 pick being exchanged for the Raptors’ No. 13 overall selection. Hours later, Fernandez was linked to reported trade offers from Houston, Washington and Chicago.
By 8 p.m. Wednesday, a source close to Fernandez said that there was no way to tell which team the fiery guard will be playing for by the time the four-hour draft draws to a close this evening.
Fernandez, 25, averaged 8.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season while shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 36.8 percent behind the 3-point line. But he struggled with consistency and injuries, missing 20 games due to back and leg problems.
Fernandez’s problems were compounded by a series of complaints he made to the regional and international media about a lack of playing time and his limited role on a Portland team that is loaded at the wing position.
His troubles then peaked in the first round of the playoffs, despite starting three games against Phoenix in place of an injured Roy. While Fernandez’s minutes temporarily increased, his production did not. He averaged just 7.3 points and shot 35.2 percent from the field during the first three games of the series.
Following the Blazers’ 4-2 defeat to the Suns, Fernandez addressed uncertainty about his future in Portland by repeatedly stating that he was still a Blazer because he was under contract. And while Pritchard recently said that Fernandez is a key component in the organization’s long-term plans, a source close to Fernandez said that the guard wonders whether that is truly the case.
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What: 2010 NBA Draft
When: 4 p.m., today
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York
TV: ESPN, cable Ch. 35
Blazers’ picks: Portland holds the No. 22 overall selection in the first round and the No. 34 overall pick in the second round.
Portland needs: Depth and experience at point guard; improved perimeter shooting.
Latest rumor: Blazers trade guard Rudy Fernandez and the No. 22 pick to Toronto for the Raptors’ No. 13 overall selection.
Possible Blazers to be moved: Fernandez, Joel Przybilla, Andre Miller, Martell Webster.
Untouchable: Brandon Roy
Best bet: Blazers deal Fernandez as part of a package deal, and obtain a long-range shooter in the second round.