The Blazers Want Their Cake and for Jerryd Bayless Not to Eat It
In our last episode, we clued you into a potential deal that would send Carlos Boozer to Chicago, Kirk Hinrich to Portland, and Tyrus Thomas to Utah, among other moving pieces. The deal was refuted by several sources, but ESPN's sticking to their guns that the deal is on the table, but has hit a snag.
That snag? The Blazers insistence on keeping a phenomenal young player so that they can ... not play him?
According to Stein and Ford (the newest cast members of Dragnet), the snag is Jerryd Bayless.It's appropriate that Bayless is in the discussion again, since most NBA folks took note of him this time last year, when he torched Summer League in Vegas. Then, after showing tremendous potential to be a star in this league, Blazers head coach Nate McMillan immediately noted that Bayless would only play if he converted to true point. Which is natural, you know for a scoring combo guard with average passing skills and phenomenal scoring abilities. And he carried out that threat in the regular season, limiting Bayless to twelve minutes. Bayless showed flashes of the same stuff he showed in Vegas, but then, as McMillan said in Vegas, they already have a shooting guard.
Now, there's a chance for freedom for Bayless. The Bulls, after letting Ben Gordon go in search of a guard who actually works within the flow of the offense (and because they didn't want to pay him the very reasonable $11 million apparently), are asking for Bayless back in the deal, and Portland says no dice.
On one hand it's good to see that Kevin Pritchard realizes the talent he has on his hands with Bayless. On the other, if newly extended coach Nate McMillan is going to continue to keep him on the bench if he doesn't conform to McMillan's pure point ideal, wouldn't it make more sense to trade him to greener pastures for someone who actually fits that ideal, like Hinrich? It's clear that the Blazers want to upgrade their point guard position, but if Bayless was unable to beat out the pedestrian Steve Blake, shouldn't they use him as an asset to secure that upgrade?
For the Bulls, a Derrick Rose - Jerryd Bayless - Jannero Pargo backcourt doesn't look half-bad. It frees them of Hinrich's contract, and would add a scorer, since Bulls fans are in a slight panic about where the points are going to come from next year. It creates some sort of hybrid combo-guard backcourt built on athleticism and explosiveness. Sure, no one can run a fluid offense, but since their backcourt last year featured Ben Gordon, not much is changing in that department.
Even if this deal is nothing but rumor with no backbone, like a fair amount of people seem to think it is, it raises questions about the Blazers' status as front office "geniuses." The Blazers have been hoarding high quality prospects, but then not giving them significant time on the floor. Rudy Fernandez? Irked about Portland's failed advances toward Hedo Turkoglu. Nicolas Batum started at small forward for God's sake. And Joel Pryzbilla is the most capable presence down low they have, yet he's constantly trying to stave off the competition from Benjamin Button. They've got so many capable options they don't really have space for all of them.
If Pritchard wants to make a splash this year as he has every other offseason, he's going to have to pull the trigger. It gets harder once you've had success, but holding on to a player you don't seem to have room for because you don't want to give away value won't get you to where you want to go. Not everybody can trade with Memphis.