Blazers face painful decision with Roy

Greg Jayne: Commentary

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PORTLAND — I wanted to write a column about . . . ow, I have a cramp . . .. the state of the Trail Blazers’ season.

You know, about how they’ve overcome . . . oops, stubbed my toe . . . a ridiculous number of injuries to make the playoffs.

About how Nate McMillan has done a great job of ... darn, paper cut ... keeping the team together through copious difficulties.

All of which would be pertinent after the Blazers gutted out a 103-95 win Monday over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a victory as satisfying in its elegance as its importance.

Because Portland played artistic basketball in the second half, rallying from an eight-point deficit and ensuring that it will avoid the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

And despite all that, I now am compelled to write in thanksgiving ... ugh, twisted an ankle ... of how the perils of sportswriting pale to those of being an NBA player. Because the Blazers apparently are cursed.

Portland pulled out Monday’s victory without the benefit of having Brandon Roy, who just happens to be a three-time All-Star and their leading scorer.

Roy suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee Sunday against the Lakers, making him the latest Blazer to suffer a serious injury this year and extending the list to the length of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

He officially is out for the final regular-season game, and is day-to-day for the playoffs.

In reality, the guess here is that he’s unlikely to play in the postseason. And maybe he shouldn’t.

Roy is headed for his third knee surgery. The right one was repaired during his junior year at the University of Washington. The left one was repaired in 2008. Now it’s the right one again.

During his four NBA seasons, he has missed 54 games.

And yet he is . . . ouch, pulled a muscle reaching for my wallet . . . the Blazers’ $82 million man.

That’s not a criticism; Portland was wise to sign Roy to a five-year max deal prior to this season. But it is an acknowledgement that the club is now forced to weigh short-term benefits against long-term goals.

What’s the best-case scenario if a diminished Roy plays in the postseason? Portland maybe pulls off an upset in the first round, builds some momentum, and pulls off a shocker in the second round to reach the conference finals.

That might be worth the risk of having Roy play. But if it happens, better beware of flying pigs.

The worst-case scenario if Roy plays is that the knee incurs more wear and tear, the kind that turns it into a chronic condition that hampers him throughout the remainder of his career. If this happens and the Blazers still lose in the first round, then the risk was not worth it.

I’m not saying what they should decide one way or another. Just pointing out the questions the front office and the coaching staff and Roy must weigh in deciding whether he’s going to play.

“It seemed like every few hours it got worse,” McMillan said about the day-long updates on Roy’s condition. “We’ll rest him and see how it goes.”

In the meantime, the Blazers can revel in a well-earned victory. One that demonstrated the kind of guts and toughness and moxie that can make a team a difficult out in the playoffs.

Portland was aggressive and relentless, and its 60 points in the paint told the story of the game. And that led to one inescapable conclusion: If a sportswriter tried to play like that, he’d blow out a hamstring.

Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail atgreg.jayne@columbian.com. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne