There seemed to be some interest in a news roundup, so I thought the All Star Break would be a decent time to start checking up on what other people are thinking about the Blazers. Generally, the team is continuing to win blowouts and lose close games, and now sports a projected (pyth) record of 23-11, while the real record sits at 18-16. Problems include inconsistent play and generally terrible basketball on the road. Kerry Eggers quotes Chad Buchanan:
“We’ve been up and down,” interim general manager Chad Buchanan says. “Some nights, the guys have played well. There have been stretches where we looked like a very good team, then other stretches where we go through long spells of low energy, not getting stops and not making shots. That’s snowballed on us.
“Part of it is having some new pieces out there; part of it is we just haven’t played well at times. If you don’t bring the energy and effort every night – which can be challenging with this year’s schedule – you can be in trouble. We have to play better on a more consistent basis, especially on the road. That’s more disappointing than anything else.”
The general formula for reaching the playoffs is for a team to win 75 percent of its games at home and 50 percent on the road. In this year’s 66-game schedule, that equates to about 40 wins. The Blazers are on pace for about 35 wins, thanks in no small part to the lack of success on the road.
Help is on the way in the form of Joel Przybilla, who will hopefully bring a little toughness to the lineup. Comfort with the City of Portland and the Blazer organization were deciding factors in Przy’s decision:
The 7-foot-1 Przybilla doesn’t figure to be an impact player, not with the wear-and-tear of 11 NBA seasons, which includes two surgeries in the last 15 months to repair a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee. But if he has maintained any of the traits he displayed during his six and a half seasons in Portland (2004-2011) he should offer three skills the Blazers have lacked while sputtering to an 18-16 record: rebounding, toughness and the ability to set a good screen.
“If I signed somewhere else, I wouldn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what I would be getting myself into,” Przybilla said. “Because the way I am, I’m very simple. I like simple things in life. And for me, Portland is home, for me and my family. I feel comfortable there.”
Meanwhile, apparently Larry Miller thinks difficult circumstances require less clarity in basketball operations personnel:
“I think it has been a weird season with the lockout,” he said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to have a season and when we did get the lockout resolved, it was a quick turnaround. I think it could have been more disruptive to try and hurry up and bring [a GM] in at that point … and it just made sense from our perspective to stick with what we have and get through the season.”
“We’ve been up and down,” Miller said, reflecting on the Blazers’ season thus far. “We’ve had some really good games and we’ve played well at times and we’ve had some games where we’ve struggled. I still think we’re in a pretty good position right now. If we can get on a good roll, win a few games in a row, then we’ll be able to position ourselves right there in the mix. I feel good about what’s ahead.”
Despite being forced to undergo a third microfracture surgery at the knife of
noted hack prominent and innovative specialist Richard Steadman, Greg Oden apparently has no plans to retire:
Despite undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee — the second microfracture procedure Oden has needed on the knee in the last two years — the Trail Blazers center has no plans to retire, a source close to Oden told SI.com.
At this point, we’re into unprecedented territory. I’ve done extensive research into the history of NBA players undergoing microfracture surgery and also studied microfracture in the NFL several years ago. There are a handful of players who have had microfracture on both knees (most notably Kenyon Martin) and a handful that have had it twice on the same knee (including Matt Harpring), but I am not aware of any player having three total microfracture procedures. At some point, there’s a cumulative effect. When combined with all of Oden’s other knee injuries, it suggests he may never return to the floor.
I can’t imagine a best-case scenario where Oden is able to play before the end of the 2012-13 season, which would mean aiming for training camp in the fall of 2013. By that point, Oden would be nearly four years removed from his last NBA game, and such long absences due to injury are extremely uncommon. The closest comparison might be ’80s All-Star center Jeff Ruland, who sat out five years due to knee problems before attempting a comeback at 32. Ruland managed 24 games over two seasons before retiring for good.
Matt Harpring, a two-time microfracture patient himself, wrote about it. The rehab sounds brutal in case anybody doubts Greg’s commitment:
It’s hard to say to someone who goes through that surgery that the worst is yet to come. Looking back, though, the surgery was the easy part. Rehab is another story. It’s mentally and physically draining, the most grueling eight months imaginable.
Rehab really starts before the anesthesia wears off. I found myself in the CPM machine when I woke up. The machine moves the knee passively, flexing and extending it over and over. Eight hours a day for eight weeks are spent strapped into this machine. Gradually, I was allowed to touch my toes onto the ground, then to begin to bear weight, then to use a crutch — just to walk!
The goal in the first months of rehab is to maintain some leg strength and range of motion but be careful not to dislodge the clot that was formed. Too much stress too soon will lead to failure. But not putting enough stress on the area will result in a very weak foundation that will not hold up when activity increases.
Portland gets both a hat tip (for the Kurt Thomas signing) and a demerit (for the Raymond Felton trade) from Zach Lowe.