Trail Mix: Matthews felt “disrespected” by Blazers in free agency
Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Wesley Matthews was in the news this week after the third installment of Jason Quick’s “Rebuilding of Iron Man” injury-rehab series came out on Wednesday.
Neil Olshey said after free-agency that the fate of Matthews, and Robin Lopez were tied to Aldridge returning as well. Obviously he didn’t return and the Blazers did not so much as give him a call, according to Quick’s story.
But in the end, after five seasons, the feeling was not mutual. He was greeted with silence. No phone call. No text messages. The Blazers never made an offer.
“I was pissed off,” Matthews said. “I felt disrespected,”
Once Aldridge was gone, there was no point in bringing him back It’s a business, as they say. But something seems a little odd when the state sponsored story alleges that it was July 3rd when the team knew Aldridge wouldn’t be back and Matthews never even got a call before then? OK.
Sports Illustrated conducted a roundtable discussion about which team in the league took the biggest step back in the offseason. Three of the five panelists from SI picked the Blazers. Lee Jenkins, Chris Mannix and Ben Golliver chose the Blazers.
Golliver had this to say about Portland’s offseason and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.
President Neil Olshey not only failed to keep Aldridge (in addition to losing three other starters), he couldn’t keep his house in order. In what was perhaps the most embarrassing non-DeAndre Jordanmoment of the NBA’s summer, Blazers assistant coach Kim Hughes, an Olshey accomplice from their Clippers days, publicly opined about Aldridge’s departure before it was announced. That out-of-turn speaking ultimately cost Hughes his job, but it also reflected poorly on Olshey, who overcompensated by filibustering at a subsequent press conference. The summer was salvaged, to a degree, by the acquisitions of Noah Vonleh,Mason Plumlee (acquired from Brooklyn in a draft day trade) and a few other nice additions—but this group looks like peanuts compared to the outgoing talent.
SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell penned a very nice feature on Blazers’ Training Camp invitee Cliff Alexander’s journey from one of the nation’s top recruits to going undrafted. Alexander ran into several obstacles during his path and O’Donnell chronicles it very well, dating back to his childhood and first days playing basketball in Chicago. But the bad luck–like the NCAA investigation that caused him to sit out the rest of the season–even continued into draft workouts.
Alexander went into the predraft process feeling good about where his game was. He had added strength, shown an improved mid-range jump shot and proved his conditioning was up to par. Then, another setback: at the end of a 90-minute workout with the Lakers, Alexander injured his right knee.
He was unable to workout again before the draft. Alexander’s agent, Reggie Brown of Priority Sports, said it was a devastating blow, because they were banking on Cliff playing his way out of any question marks teams would have.
When draft night finally came, Alexander’s worst fears were realized. For Mike Irvin, who coached both Okafor — the No. 3 overall pick — and Alexander on the Mac Irvin Fire just two years ago, the divergent paths each of his star big men took felt overwhelming.
“It’s crazy because one just flourished in college, and the other just failed,” Irvin said. “As both of their coaches, I got to see both sides where one went to college and won the national championship and retained his status, and the other one the bottom fell out. He has a chance to recover, but the as far as his college career, the bottom fell out.”
Give the feature a full read. Alexander is coming into camp non-guaranteed. But the talent that made him a top-five recruit could still be there and O’Donnell discusses whether he could even evolve into a small-ball center. Olshey considers himself to be a “draft guy,” and has a very good track record when it comes to evaluating talent. Perhaps Alexander could be another feather in his cap. The Blazers likely hope that Noah Vonleh can one day provide them with that flexibility, but Alexander, like Vonleh, is only 19.