Blazer fans need a reality check
Yes, I know Blazer fans want Rasheed Wallace out of town. I know they're dying to see him traded.
But they need to relax. Everyone needs to chill out Ñ the media included. The hysteria created last week, based on an unsubstantiated rumor, was way over the top. It almost left me feeling sorry for Wallace Ñ if that were possible.
Not because of the trade rumors. That's part of pro sports. What bothered me was that here is a guy, whatever you think of him, who never misses a game. Who seemingly never gets hurt. Then he suffers an ankle sprain and misses just four games, and people accuse him of holding out for a new contract or of simply not wanting to play.
Folks, Amare Stoudemire just missed 18 games with an ankle sprain. It can be a serious injury. Cut the man a little slack and allow him to be injured for a week or so, OK?
And while you're at it, Portland fans, can we get to a little reality about Antawn Jamison? I know you're sick of Wallace. We all are. But take a moment to understand what you'd have been getting in return.
I asked an NBA scout last week, one I respect, to tell me what he thought of Jamison.
'Last year he played in Golden State with Danny Fortson, and it may have been the worst defensive combination at forward in the history of the NBA,' the scout said. 'Just terrible. Right now, I'd say that's probably one of the few deals out there for Portland that would make them worse on defense than they are right now.'
I asked an NBA front office executive what he thought of a Wallace-for-Jamison trade.
'Well, they've already said they want to build their team around Zach Randolph,' he said. 'And they've already made a very big mistake by publicly saying that they figure he's a 'max-out' guy. That was not smart.' ('Maxing out' a player means giving him the highest contract allowed under league rules.)
'So then you add Jamison to your team, who is already maxed out,' the executive said. 'They'd be sentencing themselves to mediocrity for years because they'd have most of their cap room tied up in two forwards who can't play defense. And I'm not sure Jamison is the right man to play with Randolph, anyway. They both need to play inside.'
The Blazers have continued to maintain that they're going to slice their payroll to near the salary cap. That plan would be tossed out the window for Jamison.
I could understand a change of policy for Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant. But Jamison's contract is horrendous. He's tied up though 2008 and will make $18.1 million in his final season. If Randolph is maxed, he'll be in that range in a few seasons, too. The cap next season is going to be about $44 million.
For some reason, the Blazers seem tempted by Jamison. Tying themselves to his contract would not only be a bad basketball move, but it would signal that they don't have the nerve to stick to their guns.
This team isn't going to win the NBA title, anyway. So why panic?