TUALATIN — A good basketball player practices his fakes, no doubt. But does he also fake his practices?
While there are no official accusations or implications here, the conflicting reports regarding Brandon Roy’s level of participation in Monday’s Blazers practice were a tad bit perplexing.
Recently diagnosed with an arthritic left knee, Roy sat out Portland’s past three games in hopes that the rest would revitalize the nettling joint.
He’d like to return to the lineup for the Blazers’ next game against New Orleans Friday, but has put no percentages on the chances of him coming back by then.
So what constituted his workout Monday? Did it move him any closer to a return in three days?
“I just did some 3-man weave. Mostly stuff with the weight room. I didn’t do much with the team. Did some shooting with the guards,” said Roy in sweat-drenched T-shirt. “I’ll talk to the doctor and hopefully he gives me clearance to practice Wednesday. And if he does that, then I’ll feel much better about Friday.”
OK. Sounds right. Roy’s clearly been in pain, doesn’t want to put any unnecessary strain on the knee, and is wisely waiting on team doctor Don Roberts’ approval for rigorous activity.
Except … how come when Blazers coach Nate McMillan was asked about Roy’s practice Monday, he said this?
“He went through most of the practice, some scrimmaging,” he said. “He went through some live. … He looked OK.”
McMillan’s description confused some reporters, who had trouble reconciling how a player still waiting for a doctor’s clearance would partake in live drills.
When pressed as to whether Roy’s workout included contact, McMillan repeated: “He got some work in.”
The ostensibly divergent stories may very well be the byproduct of misinterpretation and not deception. McMillan said Roy only went live in half-court sets, and perhaps Roy didn’t think that was enough to be considered actually practicing.
Or, is it possible Roy just wants to minimize expectations pertaining to his return and level of play upon coming back?
Back to basics
What month is it again? Late September? Early October? Nope. It’s definitely late November.
But McMillan’s practice structure Monday wouldn’t suggest that the season is that far along.
“We just went back to basics, like training camp,” McMillan said of Monday’s workout. “Shell defense, offensive movement. A practice.”
McMillan had expressed some frustration regarding his team’s ability to hold leads, suggesting its tendency to change its approach when doing so.
“We had a nine-point lead the other day (Saturday vs. Utah, which came back to beat the Blazers). OK what got you that lead? Defensively getting stops, offensively executing, and playing together,” McMillan said. “You can’t get away from that. … I think sometimes we’re trying to do too much. I think our shot selection needs to get better. I think we’re shooting quick. We want to play early or play late. Push the ball down and see if you can get something early, if not, make the defense work.”
Buzz of league
The Blazers have a few days before taking on New Orleans, but that might be necessary for a team of that caliber. Widely predicted to miss the playoffs before the season, the Hornets have marched out to a 11-2 record behind former Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams.
Surely, this is baffling, right?
“It just goes to show some of the people who try to predict what a team is going to be. Nobody knows. I think that team was picked somewhere to finish last,” McMillan said. “They’re playing good basketball. … All those guys are playing good team basketball, and they play hard. Am I surprised? No. I think that can happen throughout the league.”
Remember, the Blazers traded Jerryd Bayless to New Orleans in exchange for a future conditional first-round draft pick.
The pick is top-7 protected next year, meaning if the Hornets choose anywhere from No. 1 to No. 7 in the draft, they keep the pick. In other words, Portland is hoping for New Orleans to do poorly, but not too poorly so they can receive a reasonably high selection in the draft. At this point, the move appears to be a slight miscalculation.
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or firstname.lastname@example.org