3. LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers
Rip City might as well as be called R.I.P. City.
After the New York Knicks smacked them by 42 points in The Garden earlier this week, leaving Portland in a clueless mess. Shouldn’t a red flag been seen when their point guards shoot a combined 4-for-18 from the field with seven turnovers and a plus/minus of minus-42? And Linsanity had only six points (2-for-4 field goals), six dimes and six turnovers to counter.
The Blazers failed to land a marquee point guard to pair up with LaMarcus Aldridge for years to come. They were the number one squad that I argued must make a move at the trade deadline. Any team that has a beast like Aldridge must utilize all of their resources and creativity to build a legitimate contender around him. And well after the 3 p.m buzzer went off, their inability to snag a point guard wasn’t even the biggest issue this franchise has to resolve.
The fashion in which they dismantled this roster over a few hours is inexplicable and disappointing. The interesting part of their situation is that the two cats (Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford) who led a “mutiny” against Nate McMillan were salvaged as opposed to the coach. Management favored the players over a coach that’ll be the most-sought after head man in the offseason. Why? Ask Paul Allen.
What is clear, though, is these trades – specifically the potential of a bigger, impact trade – are another example of the Blazers long history of overvaluing their young cats for too long and then receiving cents for a dollar back.
In 2010, they traded Jerryd Bayless to the Hornets for a future first-round pick. However, the Blazers could’ve pushed harder in a blockbuster trade that would’ve landed them Chris Paul earlier that same year. Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla, Nicolas Batum, Bayless and a first-round pick should have been shipped to The Big Easy for CP3 and Emeka Okafor, as ESPN’s Chad Ford reported then. How and why this trade didn’t materialize is a mystery. The one trade that would’ve altered the Blazers franchise for good didn’t happen. The Brandon Roy and Greg Oden injuries wouldn’t have affected the organization to the same extent because CP and L.A. would have morphed into a duo greater than what CP has now with Earthquake Blake.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported the Celtics were offering Paul Pierce in a trade to the Blazers for unknown pieces. Why didn’t they make a counter proposal that would’ve brought back Rajon Rondo instead?
LaMarcus Aldridge is now a prisoner locked up inside the Jail Blazers, just because they can’t handle The Truth.
2. Orlando Magic
“Dwight’s indecision, desire not to be a villain has made this process a circus. THAT you can fault him for,” tweeted SI’s Chris Mannix.
“If Orlando doesn’t trade Dwight now, they’re the guy who thinks the stripper really likes them,” tweeted the National Post’s Bruce Arthur.
Both of these comments are valid and true, with the operative words being “circus” and “stripper.”
Orlando didn’t experience this level of hype and uncertainty when hosting All-Star Weekend just three weeks ago. Dwight Howard took the Orlando Magic and the city on a ride you can’t even find at Disney World. He made everyone look at their Twitter timeline every hour because he couldn’t make up his mind. The trade deadline couldn’t arrive fast enough for the Magic, but the PR disaster it left them isn’t something they can soon erase.
As the news broke that D12 was opting-in for one more year, the Magic exhaled and rejoiced that their superstar’s “loyalty” saw past the lucrative opportunities that were awaiting him this summer. Still, the mess the Magic allowed themselves to go through was completely unprofessional and excessive. Superman wanted no part in looking like Lex Luther, yet the Magic let him be their kryptonite. Yes, the Magic couldn’t control how Dwight was feeling and what he was thinking as the deadline approached. But the Magic could’ve and should’ve done a better job of handling the situation privately so it wouldn’t escalate to a trending topic.
One of the critical junctures during this saga was when the incentives agreed upon by D12 were revealed:
“The Magic have promised Howard that they will add a quality player before Thursday’s deadline and that Howard can decided the fate of both (Otis) Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season,” ESPN’s Ric Bucher said.
These astonishing revelations then impelled Van Gundy to express his thoughts during a pregame press conference: “If anybody thinks I care about that, I really don’t give a damn about getting fired. If they want to fire me to please somebody, fire me. I really don’t give a damn.”
How could the Magic have managed the situation so it wouldn’t escalate any further? By simply releasing a statement from the CEO Alex Martins: The only person(s) who have the final say on coaches and management is the Orlando Magic ownership.
These instances demonstrate the lack of trust, communication and accountability from the Magic’s behalf to appropriately defuse a high-magnitude circumstance. This is not even including how desperate they were to offer D12 the autonomy to make hiring decisions. C’mon, Kobe f@&^ing Bryant doesn’t have that kind of license with the Lakers. Phil Jackson, The Goods, and now Derek Fisher were let go before the word got back to him. That’s how much respect the Lakers have for Kobe’s input. At some point the voice and direction of a franchise should supersede the status of any great player.
Yes, the Magic bought themselves some time to try and fix their own personnel problems around Dwight Howard. But they didn’t save themselves from the perception that the circus took over the strip joint in town.