The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t seen this much of a whirlwind of action in one day since Kevin Pritchard’s legendary draft day.
But the reaction to that day was optimistic, positive, hopeful.
Yesterday’s is a bit more head-scratching. There’s some optimism, be it veiled for the most part.
What did these trades really net the Blazers?
It seems like it rids the team of two of its strongest voices in the locker room.
And, as all of Blazer Nation now likely knows, the front office also ridded the team of its strongest voice: That of head coach Nate McMillan. Does McMillan deserve the brunt of this God-awful season crashing down on his shoulders? It’s hard to say with any sort of certainty. He wasn’t the one missing 44 out of 64 shots and coming up with only five assists against the Indiana Pacers the other night. He wasn’t the one blaming his starting point guard for his poor coaching. He wasn’t the one being outrebounded, outhearted and outtoughed game in and game out. But he was the one unwilling to make a move. He was the one unwilling to take a chance on unproven players even when his proven players had proven they had given up.
Now an unproven assistant who was a video intern with the team less than a decade ago is taking over as the interim coach.
Whaddya got, Kaleb Canales?
You’ve got youth on your side, that’s what. You’re 34. You can connect with the younger players in a way perhaps Sarge could not. And now that management has seemingly followed the lead of this team’s veterans by throwing in the towel on the season, you’ve got youth.
There is no reason to keep Raymond Felton on the court for extended periods of unproductive time any more. He is no longer being shopped as a trade asset. That time has come and gone. Felton’s time of forgiveness should be gone too. Keep him as your starter. If he has a good game – keep him on the floor, by all means. But if he has a first quarter like he did on Wednesday against the Knicks – with more turnovers than points – pull him. Let’s see what Nolan Smith can do when the game’s outcome is still in question.
McMillan only offered minutes to guys like Smith and Luke Babbitt when his team had lost. Now it looks as though this team has lost this season. So let’s see more minutes for those players.
Elliot Williams has looked like an emerging star in the minutes he’s been given. With Gerald Wallace gone and Nicolas Batum entrenched at shooting guard, hand Williams the keys to the small forward position.
Babbitt has shot the ball well lately. One of the team’s biggest voids on this team is a knockdown shooter. Maybe Babbitt can fill that niche.
Maybe Smith can distribute the ball efficiently. We don’t know because we haven’t seen it. If he doesn’t, maybe he can own up to his own shortcomings and not blame others.
Let’s see if they have any sort of future in Portland.
Or do they need to be dumped this offseason as well?
So whaddya say, Coach Kanales? At this point, what is there to lose?