Normally the report card is an assessment pertaining to the Blazers’ play over a one-week span. But given the roster overhaul, what happened on the court is practically irrelevant. Is it still possible for Portland to make the playoffs? Well, stranger things have happened.
But more significantly, the Blazers made a concrete move to improve down the road.
Trading away Gerald Wallace to the Nets in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and protected first-round lottery pick may allow Portland to snag a high-quality player in the draft.
They are also well under the salary cap and may be able to go after a strong free-agent. Did they have to trade away Marcus Camby? Not necessarily. He’s 37 and has an expiring contract. But he was discontent, it is good for locker-room chemistry, and may allow Portland to develop younger players while beneficially losing (i.e. get a better pick in the draft.)
As for the firing of Nate McMillan? Well, it seemed necessary. McMillan was a two-time Coach of the Year candidate before this season — guiding a broken roster to the playoffs when most figured the Blazers would tank. He deserves acclaim for his work here, but it seemed as if he had lost the locker room.
Kaleb Canales started with the Blazers as an unpaid intern, worked as a video coordinator from 2005-2009 before being promoted to assistant coach, and now finds himself as the head coach of an NBA team — albeit temporarily.
The incessantly energetic, perpetually positive Canales is a favorite among the players and greets everyone in sight with a fist bump. Whether he will be able to chew out a player when necessary remains to be seen.
By the Numbers
12: The Blazers’ current position in the Western Conference standings.
2.5: The number of games by which Portland trails the Rockets, who sit in eighth place in the conference standings.
5: The number of Blazers who scored in double figures in Friday’s win over the Bulls — the team with the best record in the NBA.