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Portland is the New Phoenix (Jam 12-02) - Pinwheel Empire
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Portland is the New Phoenix (Jam 12-02)

submitted 5 years ago by in Game Recaps

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New CBA + Frugality = Moneys

So Blazer GM Paul Allen looks to have scored himself a baby Fatty Felton as well as Przybilla 2.0 in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft. Good for him. Coulda done better, coulda done worse — I’d have gone with Drummond at 6 and Best Scoring Wing Available at 11, but that’s just me. The team did manage to fill their two most glaring deficiencies with players that represent reasonable rolls of the dice, so I guess one can’t argue too long or too loud…

We forget, however, that Portland had FOUR picks in this draft, including the 10th and the 11th pick of the 2nd Round. The fact that Daddy Warbucks SOLD one instead of trading it for a couple future 2nd Rounders or snagging a role-player or using it on a Eurostash, etc., puts Paul Allen in the same category as Sacramento’s Maloofuses or millionaire banker (you can’t make this shit up!) Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns. Which is to say: pathetic.

I’m left wondering, however, if the “sale” of the pick to Brooklyn wasn’t in actual fact some sort of unreported future consideration related to the Gerald Wallace trade. That’s a conspiracy theory that I just made up but at least it has a logic to it — as opposed to the PTB expecting us to believe the unlikely scenario that one of the richest men in the world needed to pocket $3M for a solid pick in a good draft class that would have netted a player who wouldn’t have to be extended a guaranteed contract. I mean, hell, $3M isn’t enough cash to get a money-hungry Methodist youth group to scrape the barnacles off the Octopus’s bottom over their summer vacation.

 The boat. I’m talking about the boat. Sheesh…

 

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The Letter B

One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to Get Ready, and…

Well, Lillard, Leonard, Bucks for Bigbottom — that settles accounts for 3 of the 4 picks… That leaves one more Bitter Blazer Blunder to Besmirch and Bemoan. (Actually, I’m not necessarily down on that 2nd round pick, I just had to get in my quota of B-words to help Hem fulfill the contractual obligation to Pinwheel’s Main Sponsor for July. Most people know that Blazer’s Edge™ is a wholly-owned entity of a giant sports blog network and shares in a portion of the ad revenue from such national sponsors like Samsung™ and Jeep™ and McDonalds™ and Hair Club for Men.™ You may not realize that we Pinheads have sponsors of our own. Hem is on the gravy train, baby, albeit in a manner befitting the educational mission of the site. I’m not at total liberty to name names, but let’s just say that July’s sugar daddy is known in these parts as the Benevolent Benefactor of Blazer Basketball Blather.)

B. Buh. Beeeeeee… What are some things that start with B? Barton is one. You remember Barton, right?

Will Barton from the University of Memphis — the same school that current Blazer Shooting Guard Elliot Williams played for, as you may recall — is the guy picked with the 2nd Rounder that The Octopus actually used.

What, you’ve never heard of Will Barton before? No worries, me either… But being a Blazer believer, you’re no doubt interested in guesstimating the chances of the WB sticking on this Portland team, stacked as it is to the gills with players capable of finishing 22 games back of Western Conference leader San Antonio in a short season?

Let’s see what we can see…

Barton was a 2-year collegiate player who saw action in 35 games last season. In the last 7 games of his collegiate career, when the Sophomore was theoretically hitting on all cylinders, Barton averaged a shade over 10 points a game, which seems to have been enough for Barton to name himself “the best wing in the draft,” according to some dude I’ve never heard of posting some stuff on Blog-a-Bull. Don’t scoff, Blog-a-Bull is as close to reliable journalism as ESPN, et al. these days…

The quote came originally from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated’s internet division, who included B-b-b-b-barton as one of his “Top Five Underrated Draft Prospects.” That would seem to be a good sign…

Barton starts with B

Also, rather entertainingly, Amick has nicknamed  the triumphant Will “Bold Barton.” I’d have ordinarily omitted this bit of superficial trivia but Hem, always looking out for the best interests of Pinwheel’s July Sponsor, specifically asked me to pass it along to you…

Anyway, we know for sure that the kid played for a basketball factory and that he has an ego. That sounds like everybody else in the NBA. What else can we say?

He lists at 6’6″, but official heights are generally garbage. I don’t trust and I haven’t verified. Shave an inch or two off that and you’re probably reasonably safe. The length isn’t the big issue though, rather it’s the girth. One Memphis Tigers message board notes that he was the skinniest player at this season’s NBA Draft Combine, weighing in at 174# — with “several PGs in attendance who have 20 to 30 pounds on him.” Looking at the bright side, Mike Barrett will call Bold Barton “lean” and “sinewy.” Mike Rice will make bad old man jokes about Bold Barton needing to eat more cheeseburgers.

The Memphis daily newspaper notes that Bold Barton’s 631 points last season were the most ever scored by a Tiger sophomore and that he was just the ninth Tiger to rack up more than 1,000 points in two seasons. So I guess we can say that he’s a scorer. So was Allen Iverson, but he was a jackass and inefficient at it. What about Bold Barton? Time to look at some stats…

In his career Will Barton shot 47.1% from the floor, which is very good, and right at 30% from the shorter-than-the-NBA 3 point line, which strikes me as pretty sucky for a score-first Wing. The big stat for me though is one that I made up myself called Points Per Possession Used:

PPU = TOTAL POINTS SCORED / (TOTAL FGs TAKEN + .5 * TOTAL FTs TAKEN)

A PPU over 1.2 is kicking serious ass, over 1.15 is very good, most players are in the 1.0 to 1.15 range, and then there are guys like Brandon Roy 2011 and Jamal Crawford 2012…

So how did Mr. Barton do in this all important efficiency stat last year?

(ticky, clicky, tick, tick, tick, and divide and …………) 1.166

Excellent. That bodes well.

Barton hails from Baltimore (which also conveniently starts with The Letter B™) but played his last year of High School ball at the Brewster Academy of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He’s a veteran of the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoops Summit. Now you know both his collegiate major and the brand of kicks he’ll be rocking.

Will Bold Barton make the team and earn some playing time? Beats me… Anybody who pretends they know for sure if a 2nd Rounder is gonna make it in the NBA is flat out lying. Probabilities indicate that Barton probably won’t be around for long. But then again, he might.

You can simulate the randomness of outcome for a 2nd round draft pick by grabbing a die and give it a toss. If it comes up 1 he’ll be an OK NBAer and if it comes up 2 he’ll stick around for a little bit as a benchwarmer. Lemme know how it turns out.

 

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The Octopus Speaks

I’m always entertained how Mr. Wealth Has Its Privileges makes himself pseudo-available to the peasantry about this time of year. Unless The Great Oz makes himself seen periodically, he will be forgotten. And make himself seen he does — exactly twice a year.

Our 2012 NBA Draft Media Opportunity to hear Paul Allen‘s deep thought and wisdom comes in the form of a hard-hitting exclusive interview with Mike Barrett, who happens just incidentally to be one of Paul Allen’s paid employees. Yep, this is exactly like Fox News getting down and dirty with Rupert Murdoch here…

Now MB is a swell guy, I’m sure of this. I enjoy reading his blog. He’s nice. He’s intelligent. He makes a good straight man for the comedy team of Mike & Mike. Most nights, when he’s not obsessing with lost leads or complaining about questionable calls made ten minutes previously, I even like him pretty well as an announcer, although nobody is ever gonna confuse him with Joel Meyers.

But there is an exactly perfect word to describe MB’s relationship to “Mr. Allen” — obsequious. With respect to the PTB as an organization, MB has not only drank the Kool Aid™, he makes the Kool Aid™. Everything that slips from his lips is perfectly refined company line. The team has never made a questionable personnel decision, the future is always luminous, and be sure to renew those season tickets today, folks!

Can you imagine a person worse suited to conduct the Blazer nation’s Semi-Annual Media Availability with Jacques Cousteau? No journalism can result. One must thus take the attitude of black humor to the softball circus which ensues. 

Big boy journalist and friend of the column Ben Golliver has done us all a solid by transcribing and publishing MB’s incisive and riveting interview with regional leader, business genius, humanitarian, undersea explorer, and de facto Blazer General Manager Paul Allen. The full meal deal appears at Blazers Edge™ and if you haven’t seen it, well here’s your chance.

Ben summarizes MB’s questions and snips down the chat for space reasons and I will do likewise for The Octopus’s answers here. I’ll also snip it down some more to cut out the basketball-related questions in the interest of maximizing hilarity, which is what this interview is all about: 

Exciting time going forward?

Blah blah blah blah blah.

Which philanthropic gifts are you most proud of?

Blah blah blah blah blah.

Must be rewarding

Blah blah blah blah blah.

Why were you so interested in deep sea diving?

Blah blah blah blah blah.

How does the thrill compare to when you were programming Microsoft code?

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Favorite place to travel

Blah blah blah blah blah. And blah blah blah blah blah blah.

 

That’s all pretty comically insipid but as a Blazer fan it is just not quite enough in the quantity department — I remain wanting more. Lucky for y’all, this is a full featured slagging service and I’m happy to provide here the

2012 NBA Draft Media Opportunity Extended Remix with The Questions Mike Barrett Didn’t Ask and The Answers The Octopus Didn’t Give.

 

Wow, that’s a great shirt, Mr. Allen — where did you buy it?

Why thank you. One of my assistants found it at Este’s Men’s Clothing, where they’ve been clothing the most discerning gentlemen of Portland and beyond since 1952. We appreciate their support.

And those glasses, they really accent your look wonderfully and emphasize what an incredible genius you are. Do you have any insight on why you went with those particular frames?

One of the many life lessons I have learned as a person with more money than you, as I explained in the first volume of my seven part memoir, Idea Man, is that there are some mysteries of life best left unexplained.

Gosh, that’s deep — is it anything like riding around underwater in the private submarine that is part of your yacht?

It’s not a “yacht,” it’s a superyacht. And it’s not just a superyacht, it’s the world’s largest superyacht. And there are two submarines.

Wow, two submarines! I’ve always wanted to take a ride in a submarine, ever since I was a little boy in Albany. Is there any chance You’ll ever take me for a ride?

None whatsoever.

Well thank You very much anyway for considering my request, Mr. Allen. I’m wondering what’s happening on the musical front. How are plans progressing to clone DNA from your exhumed Jimi Hendrix corpse so that you can create a new guitar teacher?

We’re running into a few temporary difficulties, but we’ve invested $237 million in the project so far and Bert Kolde is heading up our research team, so it’s just a question of time before we have a triumphant experience. I don’t usually talk about Project James other than on a Need-To-Know basis, but I’m feeling loquacious today.

Well we all appreciate how willing You are to share important information like that with little people like us, Mr. Allen…

Don’t mention it.

…I mean, You’re one of the richest men in the world and yet so approachable and so forthcoming and so handsome and so smart and we’re all really honored to have You as our owner…

Don’t mention it.

…Whereas we might have had just an ordinary 8-digit multimillionaire or a low level 9-digit billionaire as an owner instead of You, but we have You and we all just want to say thank You so very much for being such an amazingly generous and friendly and thoughtful and insightful leader for all of us. All of Portland thanks You and loves You and thanks You again for all of the wonderful things You do every single day to enrich our lives with your team.

Don’t mention it.

 

Now here are the 5 questions that I would have asked:

(1)

In your interview with Mike Barrett, you go on at length about how exciting it is to evaluate private workouts of NBA hopefuls in the gym pre-draft. Why the hell are you as an owner attempting to participate in talent evaluation? Is there another owner in the entire NBA outside of Mark Cuban that has this sort of relationship with his team?

(2)

Since you are the one factor that has been a constant in Portland’s talent evaluation over the years, is it fair to say that you yourself are in some fairly large measure responsible for the long series of failed 1st round Blazer draft picks?

(3)

Does the fact that you have just turned from a 2nd Round draft pick buyer into a 2nd Round draft pick seller indicate that you are strapped for funds? What rational explanation is there for that pick not to have been used or traded?

(4)

Why did you fire Tom Penn and Kevin Pritchard? Why did you fire Rich Cho? 

(5)

What qualification does Bert Kolde have to cause you to put him in charge of finding a new General Manager for the Portland Trail Blazers?

 

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I Really Like Bill Simmons…

I realize that Bill Simmons is an acquired taste that some people find repulsive. I really like the guy — he’s smart and entertaining. My opinion, maybe not yours. You have a right as an American to be wrong. This is, after all, a world in which some folks will opt for red rope candy over real licorice or will happily spend their bickies for six cans of Budweiser instead of investing similar coin on six bottles of a nice IPA.

For those of you who don’t for whatever reason regularly follow his podcast, here’s a little snippet of draft wisdom that he recently shared:

“[OKC GM Sam] Presti told me something once. He thought the most underrated thing, how he scouts, is he would watch the guys go practice with their college teams. He would just go to a practice and watch what the guy’s work ethic was like, how he interacted with his teammates, how he listened to his coach because it’s easy to seem in a [short private] workout like you’re an awesome guy, but if you’re just in an everyday practice, a random Tuesday in January and you’re dealing with classes and you’re between games and all this stuff, he thought that was the most interesting way to look at who’s who.

“I remember the Oklahoma City practice I went to, it was just a random day in December and Durant and Westbrook were just killing themselves at this practice and they were doing back-and-forths and you could have been an alien and went in there and went, ‘Wow, these guys really care about basketball.’ I thought that was interesting.”

That strikes me as being profound and on target. Credit The Great Presti for the idea and Simmons for hearing what he was saying and remembering the lesson.

I was really hoping that the PTB would snag Austin Rivers in this draft. That dude strikes me as being hard-wired to become great at his craft — not that I’ve seen him on a random Tuesday in January. It’s just that’s the vibe that I get from him, loud and clear.

We’ll eventually see, eh?

 

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“I Don’t Want to Go on the Cart…”

My dog is going to die today. It sucks. 

Mr. Bingo Bill Smith is only 8-1/2. He was a regular jock boy, he used to fight with me every evening after dinner. It was always brutal full contract tug-o-war with unlimited biting and shoulder slaps and spanking of losers allowed. Then 3 months or so ago he stopped playing so frequently. Then he stopped altogether. He started having more and more trouble getting into my car — and I drive a Nissan™ Cube™ with no back seat, perhaps the easiest car in automotive history for a dog to get into and out of.

Then about 3 weeks ago, he couldn’t go at all. He just flopped in the front yard and watched me hop in and drive off to the grocery store. Calling that “weird” doesn’t even start to describe it — Billy has been my 24/7 shadow, goes to work with me, sleeps in my room, flops in my library when I’m typing up documents, follows me around the yard when I’m outside. The kind of dog who picks up on little cues like, say, putting on socks as an indicator that a ride in the car is forthcoming.

Vet No. 1 suspected he pulled a muscle chewing his itchy butt. That was pretty clearly wrong. Vet No. 2 suspected a serious back issue with the butt chewing possibly a triggering factor. That proved closer. We ran blood tests. Vet No. 3 did x-rays and concluded it was either a pinched nerve caused by a bone spur in a vertebrae impacting a nerve or arthritis — probably the latter. About a thousand bucks in and we had a diagnosis. It was pain meds and anti-inflammatories and hope for the best…

Day after day, Billy got worse. From walking with a limp to barely walking to not walking to not being able to crawl and getting dragged around on a blanket like a golden retriever version of Franklin D. Roosevelt. After six days of straight decline, Bing finally stabilized, but at a really low level in which there was little movement and much pain.

My wife and I never had kids so we put more emotional energy in dog ownership than many… We both agreed that alive is better than dead and as long as he was able to pee and poop and live a more or less happy life — other than not being able to stand up any more — we’d try to keep him around. Neither of us works that many hours (socialism through petty capitalism is my life goal and accomplishment) so the time situation was borderline doable. We were certainly willing to give him a summer to see if the back issue was self-correcting, as the vet thought it might be.

I Don't Want to Go on the Cart!

The other option was to spend a couple thousand more bucks for another round of diagnostics, an MRI, which might possibly, although not probably, open up some sort of surgical option, which might possibly, although not probably, fix the issue, allowing him to possibly, although not probably, rehab back into some semblance of the former dog.

Lots of tests and lots of question marks and lots of money. Welcome to the world of modern medicine.

The night of Thursday, June 28, things went south. Billy couldn’t get comfortable all night long. Neither of us slept more than a few minutes here and there. I’ve been in a sleeping bag on the floor next to him so that I could massage his hindquarters should his muscles tense up and make him cry in the night. We did that a lot.

He improved that morning, but the following night, last night, was terrible — first the panting and then then the mad scramble to the front yard with diarrhea at 1 am and then in and out of the house all night long. Crying to get in, crying to get out, crying in pain, crying to get in again. Shit on the dog, shit on his transport blanket. We both got more and more tired…

Coming off 90 minutes of sleep, max, my wife and I made the decision to call the vet to end it this morning. My parents came down the road and each brought Bing a cookie and said their goodbyes. Many tears for a good friend. The vet would be coming at noon.

Then just as my wife was saying her last tearful goodbye to head off for work at 10:00, Bing went into a seal flop to inch himself to the edge of the yard and then miraculously pulled himself to his feet like a newborn deer. No crying in pain this time, even though you could tell it hurt like hell. Then he staggered 15 steps to find a better place to layer with liquid excrement.

“I think I’ll go for a walk…”

Well, shit… Walking on his own? Now what? That was improvement, was it not? Or was it? Bing remained obviously sick, obviously losing muscle tone and withering, obviously in pain. But our 100% certainty about having made the right call to end it today suddenly looked more like a 99% deal… Now there was that 1% — what if…

Today, Saturday, the vets are open only a half day. Tomorrow is Sunday, closed, so if we were to miss the call today, we’d have to make it two more nights. AA and I hurriedly talked it over and decided to call the vet with a stay of execution.

However later this morning after more sickness and no indication that Billy would be able to sleep today or tonight or the day after, I’ve sadly changed my mind yet again and asked the vet to come to the house. I hate leaving that 1% chance on the table. Over time, in our minds, I know it’s going to grow. But it’s the right call, because that 99% would almost positively come with terrible sickness and pain.

But it’s still really sad and it really sucks and Bingo Bill really doesn’t want to go on the cart…

 

Addenda:

 

Mud Mound

Back yard in the warm summer rain,

Snot running from my nose like a Pamplona bull late for oblivion,

I slowly toss mud with my uncle’s flat-bladed shovel

And wonder when I will remember the good times again.

Corvallis, Oregon. June 30, 2012. 2:55 pm.

 

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Are You Ready for the Freeland Era?

News today that the Blazers will not be making the no-brainer decision to extend blue collar paint player J.J. Hickson a $4.4 Million qualifying offer — the necessary first step to making him a Restricted Free Agent. The market for Bigs being what it is in the NBA, Hickson is worth approximately twice that. Portland is keeping its powder dry for other players like Nic Batum, Nicolas Batum, and Nico Batum.

I was annoyed but not surprised to hear that the Blazers think flushing a 15-and-8 low post big was a good idea. Paul Allen’s decision had already been tipped during the introductory news conference of Assistant GM Neil Olshey, during which he mentioned Lamarcus Aldridge 27 times, Nic Batum 141 times, and J.J. Hickson 0 times. The writing was  on the wall and the only question was whether Portland could be as dumb as they were signaling that they were.

The answer? Why yes, yes they are.

Unless the Blazers know something I don’t know about Roy Hibbert‘s insatiable desire to take a pay cut to play for the third best team on the West coast and its obsessive-compulsive owner and  dysfunctional front office (let’s rule that out now), that means one of two things. Either the PTB are planning to (a) bring over English big man Eurostash Joel Freeland next season or (b) flush the season by coaxing a couple 44 year old 6’9″ mashers out of retirement to work for the league minimum.

While there’s no accounting for accountants, it would seem that the Freeland Era will begin sooner rather than later.

 

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My wife makes me laugh sometimes…

Complaining about the dregs of fish shreds from leftover catfood in the trap of the kitchen sink, AA says we should go into business just selling cans of the gravy stuff they mix in that cats love, skipping the fish bits altogether.

She thinks it should be marketed as Shitty Glop.™

 

 

Bingo Bill

 Bingo Bill (2003-2012)

 

Jambalaya is a weekly column by Tim Davenport about the Portland Trail Blazers and all sorts of other crap. It appears farm fresh every Monday morning.

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