Monday, July 03, 2006

Mystery Men

TP43 (he helpfully explained the moniker stands for "Terry Porter for Three" which I love not only for the classic reference but because it calmed my initial fears of a strange toilet paper obsession) writes:

>>What gives with Blake? I hope I'm reading too much into it but the only mention I've heard the brass give him was Nate pointing out his contract is up after next season. Beyond that, none of the amigos mentions him when talking about their core group moving forward and seemed to imply Sergio is his replacement in a year. I totally get that he's elevated his value league wide and will be more expensive to retain but don't you see him as a long term fit? He's young, he's got decent size at the 1, he D's up (can you see Bassy giving Kobe fits like Steve did late last year?), he can shoot it, and he's got a great assist to turnover ratio. These are all critical things the brass identifies as need areas and clearly these are quintessential "Nate guy" characteristics. Frankly, much as I love JJack I would say it's 50/50 that Steve continues to surprise and earns the starting job.

>>I haven't heard anybody talk about Travis since the draft. I wonder what his role is moving forward? Does management believe he can finally step into that scrappy Reuben - Viktor role with the added benefit of a quickly developing perimeter shooter's game? I'm hoping this is why they were willing to move Viktor but it seems as though he's not been mentioned as part of the core either. If they're serious about moving Darius, you would think his role will have to expand - even if they don't move Darius. <<

Both excellent points/questions, and as the ramifications of the draft shook out I too found myself wondering about the implications for these two guys. As far as I can tell the possibilities for each player run the gamut from starting to being traded, which makes for very interesting speculation.

I like your analysis of Blake, although I would de-emphasize the defensive prowess just slightly. Yes, he had a decent game against Kobe and yes he works hard on defense, but I'd still shade his overall "D" more into the category of really good (for a Blazer) than really good (period). I say this only because I've read reviews some places that sound like they're placing him at Gary Payton level, and that's just not accurate. He's not a true stopper, but he does do a good job of staying in front of his man, which is more point guard defense than we've had around here since Terry Porter (Strickland, Stoudamire, and Bassy not being known for their "D").

The acquisition of Dickau puts Blake's status in question. I know John Nash said repeatedly that a team really needs three point guards to ward against injuries, and with the new 15-man roster there's plenty of room. But that doesn't change the fact that one of those three is going to be a practice player and never see the light of day, especially since Brandon Roy takes away the possibility of one of them being a combo guard. Jack obviously won't be guy sitting. Dickau is signed for two more seasons and there's less point to putting him there...it's not like his game is going to develop more in practice as Sebastian's or Blake's might have. That could leave Blake the odd man out, at least in theory. At the very least it leaves his role confused.

Whatever position Blake ends up in, you have the same problem. Steve's deal expires after this season. If he's our third-string point guard he'll not re-sign with the club. As TP and Nate pointed out his value has already gone up, so it's questionable whether he'll make a financially practical signing for the long-term primary back-up or whether he'd see himself in that role. We'd probably have to think he was a starter to keep him--clearly a problem with the team so high on Jack.

Put another way: If he's that good we won't want to pay him because he'd either be taking time from Jack or wasting his talent on the bench. If he's not that good why bother re-signing him at all?

Blake's value to us, then, seems primarily confined to this season. And even with the new optimism this season isn't going to be a serious run at anything. It's likely management will decide that Dickau will make an acceptable backup for what we need right now, with maybe Spanish Chocolate or another alternative on the Horizon.

Brian Meehan speculated today that the door was open to trade our big-asset players, but that because of their questionable history we'd have to package other guys along with them to make moves. He said that part of the draft agenda was to open up those possibilities. The more I think about it, the more Blake seems like one of management's possible trading chips. He might be young enough, good enough, and cheap enough to be the last feather that tips the scales for somebody looking to take on Zach and/or Darius. Certainly few others on this team fit that description. At least not players with whom we'd be willing to part.

Outlaw has a lot of the same trade-attraction as Blake (young, cheap, potential) with the potential shading more towards athleticism than skill. Travis' situation isn't quite as wide-open as Blake's though because (assuming Miles is part of a deal) you have no ready-made replacement if you trade him. Any trade would have to bring back a small forward in return. I know some think that Martell may be a 3 but my feeling on that is he's a young guy just finding his way in the league and one of your best shots at being a really good player down the road. You put him in the position where he's most likely to succeed and you keep him there. Presuming you think his best position is the 2, you don't mess with his confidence and growth by switching him up at this point.

Travis showing flashes of scoring talent would be an argument that he could maybe be our starting small forward someday. Travis being a Bob Whitsitt acquisition in this new era of purging the past could point to him being moved. He will also have contract issues next season, as it's time for his qualifying offer and/or extension. If management doesn't believe in him he'll surely be moved before then. But if they do like him he can't go anywhere, which makes him a safer prospect to like at this point than Blake.

I'm more up in the air about this one, but if I had to guess I'd say that if the right deal came along the Blazers would be fine with moving Travis as part of a larger package, but unless they've already given up on him they won't feel a particular need to dump him. If he does stay this will be an audition year for him as a decent-minutes guy, much the same way last year was for Zach as team leader.

When it comes down to it I actually like Blake a little more than Outlaw but the team situation seems to indicate that Travis is the more likely of the two to stay. Obviously none of this is definitive though. Only the Blazers know what they're planning next. (Assuming, of course, that even they do.)

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

4 Comments:

Anonymous fatty said...

the following will not be
a portland trail blazer by
the beginning of the new
reinessiance in portland
miles,outlaw,blake,dixon,ha
and last but not least fatbo
also throw in skinner why
you may ask, none plays any
defense and all but outlaw
are j.nash's picks or trades
as far as outlaw goes his
b.ball i.q. does'nt ammuse
nate's so he's gone so in
07-08 aldridge,jack,martell
roy,the franchise center
with raef,sanchez,and a few
f.agent role players sprinkled
in, so for you fatbo,outlaw,
blake,dixon,and miles fans
say bye-bye and hello b.roy
l.aldridge,j.freeland,sanchez
lafrentz and the most important
piece the franchise center
happy 4th dave !!!!!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous fatty said...

1.st of all before you blazers
fans who love to nit pick my
statements i was wrong not
sanchez but sergio rodriquez
that said your awnser has been
made dave m.barrett in the
o-live blog said sergio will
sign on wednsday and be here
for training camp which means
blake is definately out the
door with dixon and outlaw
and miles and hopefully fatbo
also so, i also feel that
the blazers will trade for
an established 3 and go with
b.roy at the point with martell
or will bring martell off the
bench quickly also i feel that
randolph*blake will go together
and miles*dixon will go together
in any deal they're willing
to make, i'm very happy to see
my boy dickau back in town
and to see all these guys
potentially leaving wow what
a summer !!!!!

12:14 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yup...I was just going to comment on Barrett's assertion that Rodriguez will be in the league next year. I suspect that further nails the coffin shut on Blake.

But Skinner actually does a credible job on defense.

--Dave

12:29 PM  
Anonymous TP43 said...

Interesting stuff Dave, I'm coming around on Blake. I kind of saw him as a long term second PG because he'd be willing to accept that role and probably reasonably cheaply. With chocolate coming this year, Blake is an excellent piece of any trade. With Travis, I'm totally onboard with your assessment that I like Blake better but with the logjam he's expendable. That leaves Travis as one of only 2 "true" small forwards on the roster and with Darius seemingly on his way out, his value is further elevated. I can see Martell being developed into a 3 but I seem to remember his being pretty firm in his role as a 2. I'm rambling, but agree Blake probably goes in trade and feel they give Travis his final chance this year with more opportunity than at any time in his tenure.

12:42 PM  

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