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Tonight, the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Portland Trail Blazers for the first time this season. Of course, the twoteams have been linkedall year, first through the trade rumors that swirled around a Mike Conley for Travis Outlaw proposed swap and then because of the firestorm created when Darius Miles showed that he could still play…and play well when giventhe chance. In light of that, we decided to ask two great Blazer blogs, BustaBucket and Blazer’s Edge,some questions about their young, talented team.

 


 

3 Shades of Blue: How do you think the rebuilding effort is going to conclude in Portland ? It seems highly unlikely the team can continue to hold onto all of their young talent. So who is going to be the core and what does the team need that the non-core players could attract?

BustaBucket: You are correct about our young team. There are quite a few talented pieces but only a few core guys. At this point Roy, Aldridge, & Oden are core guys. I think sooner rather than later Jerryd Bayless will also be a core guy. That leaves a lot of one dimensional, upside players that other teams might be interested in. What we need to do is package up the Raef Lafrentz contract and one of our small forwards(outlaw or Batum) & probably Sergio Rodriguez to upgrade at small forward. Currently the possibilities include Caron Butler, Gerald Wallace, and Richard Jefferson.

Blazer’s Edge: The deep core remains the same: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden. Of those three only Aldridge has a chance of being moved at this point and that chance is very small. The next layer consists of Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, and Nicolas Batum. These are young guys with bright futures with whom the Blazers would be loathe to part. They dont fit in the deepest core yet as theyre not proven, but Portland will want to see how they develop. Joel Pryzbilla is also valuable to the Blazers in the short term because of his skill set and the need for a back-up center while Oden develops. Outside of that, pretty much anybody on the team could be considered trade bait.

Portland is in the enviable position of being able to hold on to whomever they wish. Money and desire shouldnt be issues. However there wont be room for all of these guys to develop on the same roster so the Blazers will eventually have to get around to picking and choosing.

 

Well almost certainly see moves made within the next 48 hours or by this summer at the latest. Portland will look for experienced talent that still projects to be strong in 3-4 years. Theyll trade some of their not-yet-cooked potential guys to get it.

3SoB: Memphis fans believe the Grizzlies signed Darius Miles to play. Do fans in Portland believe it was just a stunt to force the Blazers over the cap or not? Do you believe the Blazers front office has cut off Memphis as a potential trading partner in the future because of Miles?

 

BaB: Initially I think Blazer fans thought it was a dirty move to sign Miles, but he has shown that he can play so people are over that situation. The lingering anymosity has more to do with Miles’ attitude while he was in Portland and that ridiculous rule by the NBA. How can an NBA independent doctor rule his injury career ending if it wasn’t? Shouldn’t Portland be partially protected by the same league who provided the doctor?

I also don’t think it is ever a good idea to cut ties with another organization. You never know when they might have something you need.

BE: Its a complete non-issue at this point. Itll only flare up again if and when Portland initiates an appeal process to recover some of the salary cap space lost. I dont think cap considerations were completely absent from Memphis decision-making process but Darius has played enough to justify them and thats that.

I dont believe the Blazers would cut off anyone as a trading partner. Wouldnt be prudent.

3SoB: Is Oden considered a disappointment or not?

BaB: No Sir. Well, some fickle fans may say that but I think it may just be a product of how well other rookies are doing. OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Brook Lopez, etc etc. All of these young guys are just killing it so far. Greg never really had much time in college to hone his skills. He’s still learning a lot and getting better. Soon enough he’ll be averaging double doubles and no one will question him.

BE: That all depends on your perspective, I suppose. If you compare him to immediate-impact first overall picks then you have to say yes. Hes having trouble staying on the floor because of fouls, he has a lot to learn about them game, and hes not producing as Blazer fans dreamed when they heard his name announced on draft night. However if you compare him to a guy who came out of college after one year, got injured, spent a year recovering, and is now thrown into duty with no experience and a huge bullseye on his back hes actually not doing that bad. Hes already a bona fide rebounder. His defense was slowed early in the year because of the recovery weight and its slowed now because of recognition issues. Even so he eats space like no other Portland defender. His offense is progressing as well. Even in this embryonic stage he commands attention. Hes freed up Portlands shooters to go on the best three-point rampage of their collective careers. Hes unselfish and hes huge. Those are a lot of positive attributes. Were just going to have to wait a while before we see the full flowering of his potential. Personally Im more patient than disappointed. I predicted this exact eventuality over the summer in multiple posts. I also predict that in a couple years nobody will remember this early time and everybody will be plenty happy with Greg.

3SoB: Finally, there has been an unique relationship between the Grizzlies and Blazers almost from the time the team moved to Memphis . Bonzi Wells, Damon Stoudamire, Darius Miles and Lionel Hollins all had connections with Portland but ended up in Memphis . What do you think is the reason these two teams keep tripping over each other’s feet?

BaB:I don’t really see a connection per se, probably just Memphis giving certain guys another opportunity to succeed? Three out of the four you mentioned were involved in some of the bad times in Portland so their departure was much needed. Maybe one teams trash is another teams treasure? I think Memphis is getting to the point where they don’t need to give the bad players a shot, you’ve got plenty of core guys who can contribute.

BE: My dad came from a family of four with one little brother. They grew up on a farm and had no money. When my dad was done with something my grandma would patch it up and give it to the younger brother. Of course it was ragged and wrinkled by then. But then again his brother was glad to get it. Mostly.

Thats not an exact analogy for whats going on because obviously Bonzi Wells was a long-term success for the Grizzlummm, well, bad example there. But Damon Stoudamire certainlyuhhhhhMiles! Yes! Darius Miles is going to revolutionize the Memphisumyeah. That was awkward.

The take-away point here, I suppose, is that if the Grizzlies want to be good they need to stop shopping at Portlands garage sales.

Thanks to both blogs for their great answers. Be sure to head over to BustaBucket to see our answers to their questions.

 

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