By the numbers, Rudy Fernandez‘s second year in the NBA was pretty identical to his first. His scoring was only down one bucket per game (8.1 ppg), his shooting percentage only dropped a few digits (37.8% FG), and his rebounds, assists, steals and blocks were almost exactly the same as his rookie year, when he was a second team All-Rookie pick and impressed some folks at the Dunk Contest.
Beyond the numbers, though, Rudy’s second year was a step back. With Martell Webster (who missed all but five minutes of the ’08-09 season) healthy and playing full-time, plus the continued improvement of Nic Batum, Fernandez’s playing time dipped slightly (23 mpg), and overall he was closer to a run-of-the-mill role player than an impact player. Fernandez missed almost all of December with injuries, his buddy Sergio Rodriguez wasn’t around to toss him those backdoor alley-oops that made the highlight reel, and Portland coach Nate McMillan tinkered with Fernandez’s role, not sure if he should be a playmaker or a scorer. And in the playoffs, Rudy was invisible for the majority of the Blazers’ first-round loss to Phoenix.
Last summer, when it appeared the Blazers were going to sign Hedo Turkoglu and add yet another option at the three, there were rumors in Portland that Rudy wasn’t happy and would try to arrange it so he could go back to the Euroleague. He made it through the season seemingly without controversy, but recently Rudy let it be known officially that he’s not feeling his role.
According to The Columbian newspaper in Oregon, Blazers GM said Rudy didn’t ask for a trade in the team’s exit interviews, but the 6-foot-6, 25-year-old “expressed displeasure” with the way he’s being used.
Dealing Fernandez to another team could help the Blazers fill some gaps while clearing up a potential logjam on the wing. Webster is good enough to start and is valuable for his defense and shooting, while the long and athletic Batum is also starting SF caliber and is one of the team’s young building blocks. Brandon Roy is obviously set in stone at the two, and ideally Fernandez would back him up, with Jerryd Bayless backing up Andre Miller at point guard.
But the team could use a rebounding power forward, and with Patty Mills waiting in the wings in the backcourt and Bayless capable of playing the two, Rudy is expendable. For the right team, he could be a solid (albeit streaky) scorer off the bench that can stretch the defense and create his own shot.
Could your team use Rudy Fernandez?