Though I’ve been guilty of spending far too many minutes per day searching for negative items concerning the Toronto Raptors, said articles haven’t been tough to find. And, I suspect, the same can be said for gloomy notices about the 2005-2006 Portland Trailblazers, if their presason woes are anything to go by. From the Oregonian’s Jason Quick.
The only thing fading faster than the Trail Blazers’ hope this preseason is their perspective. First Ruben Patterson and then Zach Randolph called for roster moves last week after one humbling defeat followed another.
Patterson erupted after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, saying management needs to exchange some of the Blazers youth for experienced veterans. One game later, after a loss to Utah in which the Blazers trailed by as many as 33 points, Randolph echoed Patterson, openly suggesting the Blazers should just make a move.
After a 20-point loss on Saturday, a disgusted Patterson said he has earned the right to speak his mind, adding that the team is headed for an “embarrassing” season after Nash “ruined” a team that could win by letting veterans Damon Stoudamire, Derek Anderson, Nick Van Exel and Shareef Abdur-Rahim leave.
“Ruben’s goals aren’t necessarily the same as ours,” GM John Nash said dryly.
The Blazers’ goals, Nash argues, have been clearly defined to the fans, the players and the varying divisions of the front office: build a young team with potential to win in the future that is rich on character yet affordable to owner Paul Allen.
“Paul made all of this clear at the draft, that he is no longer willing to pay the price that veteran players command in order to sneak into the playoffs and get bounced in the first round,” Nash said. “You know, you take the core players of last year, and we were on pace to win about 30 games. It’s crazy to do that and spend $85 million on payroll.”
Nash and coach Nate McMillan are both flummoxed that so much is being made out of the Blazers’ preseason struggles, which include a 1-4 record, 34.9 percent shooting, and poor execution that is leading to 17.4 turnovers and opponents’ 47.2 percent shooting.
“This doesn’t come as a surprise to me,” Nash said. “I’ve tried to prepare people for it, recognizing that what happened at the tail end of last season is byproduct of making a decision to go with young players.”