Rip City: Everything Must Go

It was only a few months ago when the Portland Trail Blazers were in good shape. They still had Brandon Roy. Greg Oden’s return was still a possibility. Nate McMillan’s job wasn’t in jeopardy. Fans believed that Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace could turn the team around and help the Blazers make a deep playoff run. After all, they gave the Dallas Mavericks everything they wanted and more last year in the first round of the playoffs, and the Mavs went on to win the championship. Rip City was still in good shape.

But then everything seemed to fall down around the city of Portland. Brandon Roy was done. Greg Oden would need another surgery. But even with those two losses, the Blazers would still be just fine, right? Unfortunately not. Today has been an emotionally-challenging day for Portland Trail Blazers fans. First, Gerald Wallace is dealt to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a future first-round pick. Then Marcus Camby is shipped off to Houston for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and and a future second-round pick. And if that wasn’t enough, it was announced that head coach Nate McMillan had been fired.

Head coach Nate McMillan was fired in a day of Blazer upheaval

McMillan coached the Blazers to a 54-28 record in 2008-09, but for the past three years, Portland has been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. The Blazers have struggled heavily this year, losing seven of their last 10, which puts them at 20-23 on the year. Many of these losses have been abysmal, including blowout losses to the Lakers, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers and Knicks. Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton failed to live up to expectations this season and the Blazers have struggled through a number of underwhelming performances. So it appears on day of cleaning house for the Portland Trail Blazers, McMillan had to go as well. Assistant coach Caleb Kanales will take over as interim head coach.

To finish things off, Portland waived Greg Oden, who has had injury problems since he was first drafted in 2007. In that time, Oden has only played 82 games and has undergone five knee surgeries. The Blazers selected Oden ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 draft. While I feel sorry for Oden, I can understand Portland waiving him with his history of injuries.

It seems that Portland basketball is pulling an Indianapolis Colts-type move, starting over from scratch. LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum are going to be the core going forward, but Portland basically went for a clean slate, from Gerald Wallace to their head coach. And all of this without a GM! It will be interesting to see how Rip City regroups moving into the future, but one thing is for certain for now: Blazers basketball might be tough to watch for awhile.

Greg Oden was waived, finishing off a depressing day for Portland Trail Blazer fans

Trade Impact: Marcus Camby to Rockets

The Rockets and Blazers have agreed to a deal that will send Marcus Camby to Houston for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a future second-round pick.

This move is an okay one for the Rockets picking up a veteran like Camby, even though he is definitely a little washed up at this point. Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet rarely play, making them easy to give up. However, Camby is averaging 3.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg in 22 minutes per game this season. Flynn and Thabeet are averaging a combined 16.7 minutes per game this season for the Rockets.

For the Blazers, this trade does very little. Portland sent Gerald Wallace to the Nets earlier today for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a future first-round pick. Aside from the two picks, Portland’s acquisitions today have been questionable at best, bringing in a slew of bench players and minimal contributors. The only explanation is that they are looking to free up cap space and upgrade their picks for 2012’s loaded draft in order to build young talent around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

The Blazers have dealt Marcus Camby to the Rockets

Trade Impact: Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets

The Nets and Trailblazers negotiated a deal that will send Gerald Wallace to New Jersey in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round pick. The deal seems to have been made for the Nets to convince Deron Williams to stay while the Blazers look to build next year around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

The deal is a bit of a head-scratcher for the Nets, who just traded a possible future franchise player away for the 29-year-old Wallace, whose numbers have seen a steady decline over the past four seasons. Wallace is currently averaging 13.3 ppg for a struggling Blazers squad, coming nowhere near living up to the city’s expectations. However, you can see the potential for this year. A starting line up of Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez is a pretty sound starting five. Unfortunately, Lopez is not expected to return for at least three weeks and the team has considered shutting him down for the rest of the season. Perhaps Wallace playing with a quality point guard in New Jersey will help revitalize his career, but for now, this move may have hurt the Nets in the long run.

On the other side of the coin, the Blazers seem to have accepted their failures this season and are ready to look to the future by building around Aldridge and Batum. A first-round pick in a loaded 2012 draft will allow them to get a solid contributor to fill whatever role they deem most important (there are quite a few holes to fill for the Blazers at the moment). The future looks wide open for Portland, so long as they finally draft someone who won’t be injured for his entire career.

Gerald Wallace has been traded to the New Jersey Nets