Los Angeles, Calif. – Over this two-day span, I watched the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers battle one another from a different perspective. I witnessed Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe playing side-by-side on the same team.
I know that's not anything new, but I'll explain shortly.
The Los Angeles Clippers got even by defeating the Trail Blazers 96-83 twenty four hours after losing to them 101-100 at the Rose Garden and all I could think about was what could have been if a certain General Manager gave in.
Crawford played for the Trail Blazers during that horrific 2011-12 season in which they finished 28-38. He struggled under Head Coach Nate McMillan and was forced to play out of position at the point due to Nolan Smith not being ready to handle primetime minutes.
The 13-year vet was on a two-year, $10 million deal that included an opt-out after one. Knowing Crawford would opt out of his contract and realizing it wasn't a good fit, the Trail Blazers tried desperately to land the up-and-coming standout point guard in Bledsoe, according to a league source.
Prior to the March 15 trade deadline, the Trail Blazers offered up Crawford for Bledsoe and a first round pick, the source said. They called and called until the very end.
“Yeah, I knew they (Trail Blazers) were calling for me,” Bledsoe told CSNWW.com. “They have a great fan base, but I wasn't too worried about it at the time.”
In NBA circles, Bledsoe is viewed as a potential borderline All-Star in the making. He only stands 6-1, however he's a freak of nature and at first glance, you might have thought he was a running back and not a point guard.
Crawford acknowledged that he knew the Trail Blazers were in talks with the Clippers last season, but says he didn't know his second unit backcourt mate was the player involved.
Neil Olshey was the Clippers General Manager at the time and he is the one responsible for turning down every call and every offer the Trail Blazers threw his way.
Most Trail Blazer fans say last season was possibly the worst season in the team's existence. If Bledsoe was brought over, would the season have been such a failure? If Raymond Felton turned the ball over and Coach McMillan called for Bledsoe, would that substitution have been an upgrade?
Nonetheless, you made it through that year and Olshey is now the General Manager of your favorite team.
And to make amends with you all, he drafted your franchise point guard Damian Lillard who appears to be on the cusp of being a perennial All-Star in this league in the very near future.
“Neil is a great GM,” Bledsoe said. “When I was starting out, he was always there telling me to be prepared and to stay ready. He was always in my ear about being aggressive throughout the game. He had confidence in what I could do as a player and I appreciate that to this day.”
LaMarcus Aldridge played tonight with headaches. He started getting headaches late last night. He popped a couple of Tylenols before the game. After the game, he said he was still feeling the pain.
Damian Lillard says he planted his left leg wrong in the second quarter and his left hip tightened up on him. Team Trainer Jay Jensen stretched him out shortly during a timeout and the rookie says he felt good after that.
Sasha Pavlovic (plantar fasciitis) was active today but wasn't expected to play. The reason he has sat out the last couple of practices was not due to his plantar fasciitis, but because he pulled a muscle in his left foot. He says he's feeling much better and expects to participate in practice tomorrow.
Jared Jeffries was inactive tonight due to right hip pain. He says it's been bothering him for a little while, but adds it's minor. He doesn't expect to miss any further time.