As Zach Randolph prepares to enter the Rose Garden for the first time since joining the circus, er, I mean the Knicks, analysts seem eager to evaluate the nuts and bolts of the Knicks/Blazers Randolph-for-Channing Frye deal.
But curiously, the question isn’t even worth asking in Portland. They’re convinced they won the deal. Blazers Nation has sworn Z-Bo off, even if they received a wallflower in exchange for a 20-and-10 guy. The Oregonian‘s comments section is littered with Blazers fans gearing up to boo Zach out of the building tonight. “Make it known that we are glad he is gone!” writes BlazersRock. “I’m going to boo him tonight and I’m so very glad he’s gone!” writes stevereno. The addition-by-subtraction perspective makes sense, right? Portland is 26-19, only six wins off of last year’s 32-win total. Randolph was on that team. He’s not around anymore, so Portland made a great deal, right?
Wrong. Shipping Randolph to the East Coast cleared the lane for Brandon Roy – that’s undeniable. Roy has emerged as one of the most talented young players in the League, and was deservingly named an All-Star. But a frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla (with Frye off the bench) pales in comparison to the best of the West. New Orleans’ pairing of David West and Tyson Chandler downed this duo in a 96-81 win on January 23rd: West and Chandler combined for 31 points and 19 boards – Aldridge and Przybilla combined for 23 points and 13 boards. Frye had a huge 0 point, 6 rebound night.
How about the Blazers’ frontline being totally outplayed on the 19th by the Magic’s, who totaled 46 points and 26 boards among Raw Lew, Dwight and Turkoglu to the 27 points, 21 rebounds of four Blazers: Aldridge, Frye, Przybilla and Webster… How about getting outrebounded 48-30 in a loss to Houston on the 25th? Zach bangs bodies and grabs boards better than anyone in Portland by almost three per night.
In two games against Orlando, Randolph has 45 points and 22 boards by himself. In two games against Houston, he has 28 points and 33 rebounds.
Perhaps the most important question is thus whether Roy and Travis Outlaw would be having such success if Randolph were still around? Roy is 22 years old now, and he’s still getting better. He hasn’t gotten that many more touches than he did last year when Z-Bo was around: he’s only taken two more shots per game – from 13.4 to 15.7 attempts per night. The kid’s just gotten better – it would have happened anywhere he played.
So, when it comes time for the playoffs, do you want a guy who is going to line up on the free throw line and watch Tim Duncan sink your dreams? Or do you want a guy who is going to work to win the game?
“Not one of us is really a legit, going-to-win-you-the-whole-game type of guy, so we need to work together,” Frye said of his Portland team recently to The New York Times.
Or do you want this guy? “I want to win,” Randolph said. “I’m coming back home. I want to play good and help my team win.”