Let’s Try to Make Sense of Portland’s Deadline Day

— Paul Allen and Larry Miller need to calm down

One of the more active teams before today’s trade deadline, the Portland Trail Blazers essentially cleaned house and are barely a recognizable version of their previous selves.

Changes needed to be made after last night’s ugly loss to the Knicks (how does a professional team lose by 42?), but one particular trade today struck me by utter surprise.

Tomorrow the Blazers travel to Illinois to take on the Bulls of Chicago, and the team likely taking the floor would be better suited playing in a street pick-up game than competing against the best team in the East.

So how did we get here?

Well its obvious Paul Allen thinks he’s gifted at the art of basketball operations (someone please tell him he isn’t, it’s killing me), and tried his hand at securing Portland’s future, or rebuilding the team, whatever you want to call it; I like to use the phrase “fire sale.”

Enough beating around the bush, let’s get in to the trades.

Gerald Wallace

He wasn't always the Gerald Wallace we'd come to love

The first trade news that broke was that New Jersey was aggressively pursuing Portland forward, Gerald Wallace.

Just seeing this rumor made me cringe; Crash had become a fan favorite, not to mention a personal favorite, and while he wasn’t always the Gerald Wallace we’d come to love, he always seemed to be playing so damn hard.

After this rumor became reality I was left scratching my head. Portland sent Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for Mehmet Okur, and his expiring contract, Shawne Williams, who has one year left on his contract at just over $3 million, and a future 1st round pick.

With both Okur and Williams currently hurt, the main attraction in this deal was to get money off of Portland’s books for next year, as well as acquire a decent draft pick to aid in the rebuilding process.

Looking at Portland’s track record for drafting over the past couple of years, I’m not especially comfortable with this decision to load up on draft picks.

It may be a deep draft class this year, but who will be making the decisions come draft day since Portland has no actual general manager?

Hint to Portland management: Hire a GM, your fans would be more comfortable with this team moving forward if that was done.

Everything’s bigger in Texas.

Before the dust could settle from the Wallace trade, Portland moved Marcus Camby to the Houston Rockets for draft busts Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn.

Houston also added a future 2nd round pick, so all may not be lost, right?

But seriously, Hasheem Thabeet hasn’t put together five quality minutes of basketball since he’s been in the NBA, and Jonny Flynn has been non-existent ever since Minnesota went on a point guard drafting spree two years ago.

If Portland feels the need to rebuild, so be it. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong this year as they had started off looking great, then came the road woes, then everything else began to fall apart.

This all culminated with the punishing defeat the TrailBlazers were dealt at the hands of the New York Knicks; a team that is also enduring some mid-season struggles, yet found a way to pummel the Blazers by 42 points.

Nate Mcmillan

"Mr. Sonic" will end up coaching Seattle's new team no doubt...

Uhh Mr. McMillan, can I see you in my office?

A move that was speculated over for the last few weeks, came to fruition roughly an hour after the trade deadline had passed. Portland management decided to fire head coach Nate McMillan and promote assistant Kaleb Canales to interim head coach.

McMillan’s reign as head coach ends after 8 solid years at the helm. Aside from this seasons struggles, and the first round playoff monkey on his back, Nate McMillan helped rebuild this Blazer team and gave the city of Portland something to cheer about again after enduring the “Jail Blazer” years.

Great Oden’s Raven!

In what was probably the smartest move of the day, Portland finally decided to part ways with Mr. Glass Knees himself, Greg Oden.

This brings about an end of an era, an era where Greg Oden had more micro fracture knee surgeries than the Blazers had playoff wins (that might be a stretch but the difference can’t be that far off).

What happens this summer remains to be seen...

Oden has played just 82 games in his short career, the length of one, full, NBA season.

Now that wouldn’t be such a ridiculous statement if he hadn’t been drafted in 2007; but who are we kidding, he was drafted in 2007 so only playing 82 games is ridiculous.

And no, I don’t feel bad for Oden one bit, good riddance.

This guy made millions to sit on the end of the Blazer bench and clap his hands.

It’s about time Portland cut ties with the second coming of Sam Bowie and move on.

So what’s next?

Well Portland obviously has given up on this year and will likely stumble to the finish line of this shortened NBA season. What happens this summer remains to be seen, but after the events of today, management better have more than just a few tricks up there sleeve.

If big moves are not made with the picks acquired, and the cap space that’s likely to be freed, then Portland will likely be the doormat of the Pacific Division for years to come.

Think Sacramento since Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Chris Webber left. Think the Los Angeles Clippers since, well, every year until Chris Paul happened.

I knew I’d be witnessing Madness today, I just didn’t think it would be surrounding the Portland Trail Blazers.

Get well soon Rip City.


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About Rick Stella

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