Blazers And The Team Of The Future
But there’s nothing to guarantee it will all work out for the Thunder. The ruthless NBA is often kinder to day traders than to long-term investors.
After his Lakers owned the 1980s, Magic Johnson predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the team of the ’90s. Then Michael Jordan and a certain “shot” happened, and the Cavs were done before the decade they were supposed to rule even began.
Jordan called the Washington Bullets with the former Fab Five combo of Chris Webber and Juwan Howard the “team of the future” after his Bulls beat them in a closely contested first-round sweep in 1997. That group never made the playoffs again and was dismantled after a string of off-court incidents.
Later, Adande writes, “Meanwhile, most of the recent success stories have been quick fixes.”
How does that apply to the Blazers? Well, as the discussion turns who Portland should keep, fans should avoid becoming too attached to any particular player. For instance:
— If there’s any way in the world the Blazers can work a sign-and-trade and deal LaMarcus Aldridge for Chris Bosh they should probably consider . . . oh heck, DO IT! DO IT NOW!
— Rudy Fernandez did everything he could to play his way out of town late in the season and in the playoffs. As popular as he is (and he is verrrrrry popular), it would be a minor inconvenience to hand him a road map or a plane ticket.
— Jerryd Bayless is not a suitable backup point guard. The Blazers need one.
— Greg Oden would have little trade value because of his injury history. There’s no way the Blazers could receive compensatory value for him. I only mention this because people have asked about the prospect of trading Oden.
— Although he’s already locked up through 2013, now might be the time to sign Nicolas Batum to a long-term contract — before he gets completely healthy and further develops into a budding All-Star.
Speaking of contracts, here’s an interesting one: According to hoopshype.com, the Blazers had the lowest payroll in the league this year, although that doesn’t include rookie salaries for Patrick Mills, Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph. That’s a pretty good return on the Blazers’ investment, despite paying $9 million to Darius Miles.
Hoopshype also has the Thunder with the 28th-highest payroll, third to last in the league. That points out the difficulty in building a championship team from scratch — as the young players develop and get good, you can’t afford to keep all of them around.