Blazers

Coaching Changes for Portland Trail Blazers

| by Dwight Jaynes

More than you think.

First of all, I think it’s amusing that a defensive specialist, Bob Ociepka, is being added to the staff. Trust me, he’s necessary, even though Nate McMillan is supposed to also be a defensive specialist. The Blazers need huge defensive improvement if they want to do anything in the post-season. I just hope Ociepka can make an impact.

Buck Williams? He should do just fine, even though he’s not had any experience as a coach. He’s also not anyone who ever wowed anybody with his low-post offensive skills. But his work ethic and intensity are top notch and I believe it will rub off on his players.

Bernie Bickerstaff should make a good advisor to McMillan in team matters and I’m not really sure what his duties will be. Certainly, he’s not known as a great offensive mind.

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And that’s the real disappointment in these moves — that the Blazers have not added anyone known as an offensive innovator. And all indications are that the Trail Blazers are going to continue exactly as they’ve been on offense — not setting many screens, not moving the ball or moving bodies well enough to get easy baskets. Not running. Ugh.

The second unit, always important to the way McMillan plays, is shaping up as nothing but defense. It will be extremely shy of firepower but will be loaded with stoppers. It will probably need to slow the game’s tempo to a crawl.

McMillan probably just wants to keep playing like he’s always played — relying on the three-point shot to keep his team’s offensive efficiency high. Brandon Roy will continue to have the ball in his hands all the time and the other players will wait around on the perimeter, spotting up for their chance to make an open three created by a double-team on Roy.

Don’t get me started again about this. It’s a strategy that is guaranteed to wear Roy down, to not work in the playoffs and to lead to low scores. Folks, this team is trending — because of acquisitions — toward being LESS powerful on offense and not more. The biggest acquisition of the off-season has been Wesley Matthews — a defensive player. The most likely player to depart? Rudy Fernandez? And Martell Webster is already gone. Two of the team’s best outside shooters!

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Where does that lead this thing? There’s NO QUESTION in my mind that a deal must be made for a point guard who can make shots from distance. I don’t know if that’s Mo Williams — considered the most likely choice — or Jason Terry or whomever — but the only way this offensive system is going to work is for another Steve Blake to be found. Man, I can’t believe I just wrote that.

With Webster and probably Fernandez gone, how are they going to spread the floor well enough for Roy — or Greg Oden, if he’s healthy — to have room to operate? Miller would not have room to get to the basket.  This thing isn’t going to work unless there’s one more shooter on the floor. Man, right now, there’s not even another one on the roster.

I assume, as I have now for weeks, that Rudy, Jerryd Bayless and Miller would go in the deal. There’s really no point of keeping Miller if you acquire a big-minute point guard — and the team that trades a point guard always needs one in return. Joel Pryzbilla’s expiring contract could also be used in this trade.

If something like this isn’t done, you’re going to see a real offensive mess again. It’s just not going to work. And all the new coaches in the world aren’t going to be able to repair it.

I still have a hunch they’ve got the framework of a deal already done, just waiting for Rich Cho to push the button. If not, they better hope Cho can pull a rabbit out of a hat.

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