This past week has been a crazy week for the Blazers. President Larry Miller stepped down, Nic Batum’s agent has gone public that Batum isn’t happy in Portland, and this team still doesn’t have a coach.
Some exciting things were on the horizon for this team before they took a few steps back. This coming week will be even more crucial though with teams being able to finalize and sign free agents and for teams to match offers for restricted free agents. This week, we should all know more about the Batum and Roy Hibbert situations.
But before we get these things figured out, there are a few new questions. With Miller stepping down as the Blazers team president, there are some signs of a rift in the front office. Neil Olshey was owner Paul Allen’s choice at GM and there are reports that Miller was put off by that. Miller, in his five years in Portland, received his fair share of criticism, most of it warranted. One major complaint about Miller was that this team ran way too much like a business and not enough like a basketball team. This will all make it very interesting to see who Allen brings in as Miller’s replacement.
Now to the Batum situation. His agent has come out and said that Batum would prefer to play in Minnesota next year. They have reportedly been asked to not match Minnesota’s offer or take part in a sign-and-trade with Minnesota. Following his agent’s comments, Batum and his girlfriend received hate mail through twitter which consisted of racial slurs and derogatory comments. This is extremely unfortunate. It’s always a bad situation when a small minority give a bad name for the rest of the fan base. Most Blazer fans support Batum and have really enjoyed his time here, but understand that this is his career and his choice to where he plays. Honestly at 4 years, $45 million, if he wants to play in Minnesota, I say let him go. He’s a good player with a lot of potential but no one wants to force him to be here and be unhappy.
To the coaching situation, it’s about time we get an answer on who the coach is going to be. The majority of the team will be in town this week for a mini camp preparing for the Vegas Summer League and I can’t be the only one that sees the benefits of having a head coach NOW. Personally, I think Brian Shaw is the man for the job. Shaw has been an assistant in Indiana. Bringing Hibbert over the same time as Shaw, with their existing relationship would be huge. Along with the fact the rookie point guard Damian Lillard grew up in Oakland, where Shaw is from, and looks up to Shaw. Lillard even name dropped Shaw on draft night.
Here’s my completely uneducated, prediction/guess. New GM Neil Olshey definitely works behind a veil of secrecy. No one knew about his trip to DC to meet with Hibbert. He has been extremely tight lipped about the coaching search and other free agent targets. So here is my guess, today, Monday July 9th, at 1PM when they introduce the rookies to fans and media at the Children’s Museum, they will announce their new coach. Like I said, this is completely uneducated and may just be wishful thinking but we will all see.
As the dust settles, we all know there will be an 82 game season, the Blazers will have 5 men on the court every night, and somebody will coach the team. But where we sit right now, not much else is very clear.