No ultimatum and nothing has changed between Blazers, Fernandez, sources say
Portland Trail Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez has not delivered an “ultimatum” to the team and there has not been a significant change in ongoing negotiations between the sides during the past week, a league source with knowledge about the situation told The Columbian on Wednesday.
The source described the relationship between Fernandez and the Blazers as “symbiotic.” Fernandez believes that he has done everything he can to adapt to his place in Portland’s system. Meanwhile, the Blazers feel that they have done everything within their power to accommodate the second-year guard from Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
The source conceded that the relationship is not working and that it is “time for a divorce.” But at the same time, the person said that nothing substantial has changed since The Columbian reported last Wednesday that the Blazers were willing to trade the disgruntled 25-year-old and the team was actively exploring its options.
“I understand how (Fernandez) is feeling,” Portland general manager Rich Cho said. “I’ve spoken to his agent (Andy Miller). I’m aware of (Fernandez’s) feelings, and I’m going to make the best decision for the franchise going forward.”
The situation between Fernandez and the Blazers dates back to training camp for the 2009-10 season and became more serious as the year progressed. It then peaked during the last two months, sources say, as the team considered trading Fernandez during the days leading up to the 2010 NBA Draft.
However, Fernandez’s struggles in 2009-10 — combined with his relatively low contract value, repeated complaints about playing time, and the ability to play for more money in Spain — have in turn limited his trade value.
In addition, the energetic sharpshooter who was a fan favorite during his rookie season was unable to build upon on an impressive first year. He struggled with consistency and missed 20 games due to back and leg injuries last season.
Fernandez’s troubles were highlighted during a first-round playoff defeat to Phoenix. After questioning his role and the playing time he received while backing up starting shooting guard Brandon Roy — a three-time All-Star — Fernandez was given the opportunity to start during the first three games of the series, with Roy out of the lineup due to a knee injury. But Fernandez averaged just 7.3 points and shot 35.2 percent from the floor during the stretch.
He bounced back to score 16 points and hit 5 of 6 3-pointers during the Blazers’ season-ending Game 6 defeat to the Suns. But to many, the image that remained was one of Fernandez declaring, “I am not Brandon Roy. I am Rudy Fernandez” as questions mounted about his confidence and mental toughness.
Fernandez then spent an exit interview with the local media responding to queries about whether he wanted to play for Portland in 2010-11 by repeating “I have a contract.”
“For sure I don’t want to stay in the same situation next year,” Fernandez said in April.
But despite Fernandez’s public stance and recent reports of a flare up between his camp and the Blazers, sources said Wednesday that both sides are still engaged in an open dialogue and are amicably attempting to find a resolution to the issue.
“A change has to be made,” a league source said. “But nothing has changed in the last couple weeks.”
Sources also said it is highly unlikely that Fernandez will be waived or that the situation will dissolve to the point that he is placed on the NBA’s suspended list. And while Portland will not hesitate to trade him in either a one-for-one or package deal if a promising proposal is made, the Blazers are also going through the process with the knowledge that Fernandez could be on the roster for the foreseeable future as the team explores a multitude of options.