Haynes & Jaynes: Putting a Bow on Offseason
ORLANDO – I'm currently attending the National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) Convention in Florida. I attend every year. It's a great opportunity for me to improve my craft in workshops, network and fellowship.
Since I'm amongst some of the most recognizable talent in the profession, I decided to get the thoughts of some of my peers regarding the Portland Trail Blazers' offseason moves.Also, I was particularly interested in hearing if they felt this team, as constructed, is a playoff contender.
David Aldridge – National NBA writer for NBA.com
Are the Blazers a playoff team?
“They could be. Some things will have to break right for them. What they are doing is the smart thing and the right thing. They're adding to their talent. I love CJ McCollum. He played in my conference, the conference I went to school at. I saw him play 25-30 times. He's the goods. He's legit and I love the idea of him and Lillard together. That's going to be good. Robin Lopez is a solid center. I think they still need to upgrade the center position, eventually. But right now, for where they are, it's fine. They had a good offseason. Having Terry Stotts there for a second year, good continuity. I think they'll be better. I don't know if they'll make the playoffs, but they'll be better.”
Rod Boone – Brooklyn Nets beat writer for Newsday
Where does Portland rank in their division?
“I think Oklahoma City is probably the top team in that division for a number of reasons, but I think Portland is right there. Denver is obviously a top team in the division also, but Portland with the moves they've made are solid. Bringing in a guy like Robin Lopez who is under the radar, he's a nice center, gives you rebounds, plays some defense for you. Those type of moves help you out in the long term. They're not splashy moves and it's probably not what you want as a fan, but I think it'll work out. From my perspective, the Blazers are going to be right there. They have the latent to be able to compete in that division. It's just about how things unfold during the season.”
“That's a tough one. Good question. At this point, they're probably towards the bottom. But the Lakers are going to be down. The West is really tough. The Warriors are also a good team. The Blazers can be right on the cusp of a seven or eight seed. I think they can get in, I'm not saying definitely, but they're really right there.”
J.A. Adande – National NBA writer for ESPN
What did you think of their offseason moves?
“The Blazers didn't shake things up, but I think they are positioning themselves. I think right now they're trying to be a team that can shed salary and create space. I like their Thomas Robinson pickup, it really didn't cost them much. If you think about it, the Thunder were doing that for a while. They were just picking up pieces that other teams were jettisoning. I think now, the model for a lot of teams are the Houston Rockets. How Daryl Morey just accumulated assets and people wondered what he was doing and when he was going to make a move. Guess what, when he had the chance, he was able to cash in with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Portland, if they're creative with Neil Olshey, and if Paull Allen is willing to use the resources, it's going to have to be a trade. You're not going to get free agents there. They're going to have to be position themselves. They have attractive assets that they can package for a trade to get that A-list guy if they want to be truly competitive.”
“They were fighting for one last year. The team has a little more depth. We know how bad their bench was last year. I think they can compete for a playoff spot. People are saying Dallas can, I don't see why Portland can't.”
Gary Washburn – National NBA writer for Boston Globe
Thought on their new additions?
“I think they're ramping up. They're taking the slow approach to rebuilding. Obviously with Portland, you're not going to get major free agents in terms of competition with Miami, New York and Los Angeles. So I think they're doing it the right way. Thomas Robinson is a key guy. He's a dude with a high motor who has been discarded by two teams already. He has a chip on his shoulder and that's what you want. McCollum is going to work well with Damian. So they're putting together a nice team. It's going to depend on LaMarcus. He's going to have to bring his A-game. He has to stay healthy. If he can do that with Batum, I think they're a playoff team. The Western Conference is so tough. That eighth seed is going to be treacherous, but I think they have a good shot.”
Keith Pompey – Philadelphia 76ers beat writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer
You're close to Lehigh University, what will CJ McCollum transition to the league look like?
“I like McCollum. Initially, I thought he was a little too small to play off the ball. I felt he would have to play with the ball in his hands, especially playing with Damian Lillard. But the thing that I really like about him is his confidence. This is a guy that played at a small college and he'll tell you that he was ready for the NBA yesterday. I think he's a great addition. And the funny thing about this is during the pre-draft workouts, he kept talking about Damian Lillard, like that was his mentor. So I think it's great for him to be there with him as a teammate.”
Jerry Brewer – Seattle Times Columnist
How special was that I-5 rivalry featuring?
“It was tremendous. The Seattle/Portland rivalry, period, on anything is huge and intense. It's a classic rivalry of Seattle thinking it's superior to Portland and thinking Portland is a scrappy town. And in Portland, they feel like they can't be denied and they're better than Seattle in everything. From the Seattle sports fans perspective, there's been a big void from the Sonics/Blazers games. I will never forget, it didn't work out this way, but in 2007, we were seeing the Blazers adding Greg Oden with LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. They were on their way. The Sonics just got Kevin Durant. If somehow they were able to stay in Seattle, that rivalry could have been the center of the NBA. Everybody was hoping for that when they went one and two in the draft. It just never materialized.”