The forecast calls for pain

Many a blues song tells the story of someone sensing that his or her love affair is about to end. Fans of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team should be singing those songs these days, as the relationship between the team and Damian Lillard, one of the best players it has ever had, has taken a downturn.

After years of swearing his loyalty to Portland, Dame adopted a different tone in his recent interview to end the season – a second straight disaster of a season, in which the Blazers were not competitive and ended up once again purposely losing games to improve their position in the draft lottery. Lillard said that he is not interested in waiting out a multi-year rebuilding period with young players. He wants the team to make one or more blockbuster personnel moves now, to bring in additional star power and make a run at the league championship next year. If no such moves are made, Dame said, he and the team would have to have a "conversation" about his future.

Well, they might as well start chatting now, because there's no way it's going to happen. First of all, the team has rarely, if ever, been willing to spend the money needed to bring big talent in from elsewhere, and it doesn't seem likely to start doing that now, with the organization being run by an estate executor and quite publicly being up for sale. 

Second, it's difficult, if not impossible, to get star players to live and work in a lily white, small market like Portland. There's more money, and better urban life, and more people who look like the players, elsewhere.

But probably the biggest reason the Blazers aren't going to turn the corner soon is that, even if they were willing to spend the dough, they don't know what they're doing. The dudes in the front office couldn't build a championship team even if they tried. They're as bad as ever in picking players, and that's saying a lot. And they have as their head coach Chauncey Billups, whom Lillard wanted to play for but who has turned out to be utterly unqualified for the job.

It'll be sad to see Dame leave town on such a down note, but it would be even sadder to see him waste another year of his career trying to make something out of nothing in Portland. He's a whale of a talent and shouldn't be flailing around in a pond of mediocrity.

In the meantime, Portland pro hoops fans can still watch the Blazers in the playoffs. It's just that they're ex-Blazers, now playing meaningful minutes for teams with an actual shot at achievement. The Clippers, who may well make it to the Western Conference finals, feature Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, and Mason Plumlee. Josh Hart is tearing it up for the Knicks. 

And even creaky old Wesley Matthews is still on the floor for the Bucks. When I first heard his name called in the game over the weekend, I had to look closer at the television to see if was really him, or maybe his kid. Nope, he's still out there.

These are all talented players that Portland couldn't, or wouldn't, work with. They're in the playoffs now, and Damian Lillard is on the couch at home. Somebody is screwing up royally.


  1. 'Pond of Mediocrity' Hey I just found our new City Motto!

  2. It's such a metaphor for our city. Have something great and mismanage it into absurdity. When the Blazers go to Seattle, everyone will sneer that we never loved them anyway and Portland doesn't need the NBA. So predictable.

  3. There was a time when owners of professional teams loved the game. I guess I’m showing my age.

  4. Payton Pritchard made me a Celtics fan.

  5. Dame and the Blazers (Bert Kolde makes all the decisions behind the scenes) made a 3-year plan last year. 1) Get out of the Hell pit that Neil created and see what assets you have. 2) Make a couple of deals to bring in high-level veteran talent, 3) go for it. If they don't make deals this Summer then Dame is free to walk since they have failed to complete this plan. So we will see, but that is why Dame is more vocal now.

    1. Reactive. Wish they’d had the management talent to be proactive. But, good management talent is hard to find. It usually migrates to higher pay in bigger markets.


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