The Portland Trail Blazers have committed themselves to the dreaded middle- a team neither good enough to win a title, nor bad enough to garner a game-changing lottery pick.
How? Re-upping Brandon Roy for number one guy money.
By all accounts, Brandon Roy is a good guy who seems to have overcome the knee problems that once ailed him. Good guys don’t win titles though, great players do. And Roy is not one.
By resigning Brandon Roy to such an expensive deal the Blazers have gone from being one of the more intriguing teams in the league to just another run of the mill franchise. The past two years the team has been one of the more well-liked in the league because of all their young talent, bolstered by the selection of the affable Greg Oden and the smooth draft day trade for LaMarcus Aldridge.
Here’s the rub- none of their young talents seems to scream superstar ability. Brandon Roy appears to be a number two guy on a legit title contender, and Aldridge looks like a third wheel at best. Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw? Role players, at best. Oden? The only way he will stay on the court long enough for us to adequately judge him is if the NBA changes the foul limit rule.
This is the major thing that drives me crazy about the NBA- good teams think they can stay pat and become great teams. This works in the NFL, but not in the NBA. There are literally no champions from the modern era (1991-now) of NBA basketball who built their teams nucleus exclusively through the draft- each champion either made a huge free agent signing or large-scale trade to bolster their fortunes, with the exception of the Spurs (who, to remind you, had the “misfortune” of losing David Robinson for a year and got to add Tim Duncan to an already legitimate title contender for free).
Besides the Spurs, let’s take a look- the Bulls couldn’t win until they shipped out Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright, the Rockets needed Clyde the Glide to help Hakeem, and the Lakers only became serious after Pau Gasol fell into their laps. Those great Pistons teams that dominated the East for the better part of the decade? With the exception of Tayshaun Prince, they were all mercenaries, hired guns brought in from other teams.
So, why does this matter? Because the Blazers just spent their cap on Brandon Roy, and have doomed themselves to go the way of Drexler’s version of the Blazers- just good enough to lose.