Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Portland Debacle
Marcus Dupree, Len Bias, Bo Jackson, Drazen Petrovic…the best that never were. Brandon Roy…the best that was and then wasn’t. An eighty million contract, over 5,500 points in four years, clutch shot after clutch shot, the ability to single handily dominate games…words that once described one of the rising stars of the NBA. But now the sad truth has been revealed…Roy’s knees are failing him, and there is no solution.
Roy has had knee problems throughout his five year career…and has admitted that his left knee has been drained of fluid every year he’s played in the league. His left knee needed arthroscopic surgery in 2008 while his meniscus needed to be operated on last April. But his knees aren’t getting any better…only worse. Here’s the problem: Roy has no meniscus left in his knee joints. What does that even mean? Meniscus is defined as: a disk of cartilage that serves as a cushion between the ends of bones that meet at a joint. In terms of basketball there’s nothing to absorb the pounding associated with the act of running and jumping. And the lack of meniscus is the reason Roy’s knees have had to be drained twice this season.
Blazer’s team doctor Don Roberts called it an “arthritic knee” and Roy commented that the problem is bone on bone, and it would be something he would have to deal with for the rest of his career. Gulp. That’s not something any basketball fan (never mind those poor Blazer fans) wants to hear.
It’s pretty evident if you’ve watched a few Portland games this season that Brandon Roy is not near the player he was even a year ago. Once one of the most explosive, athletic, and exciting superstars in the league…Roy has been reduced to a second and third option on the team. Whereas he used to be given the ball at the top of the key and asked to break his man down one on one-the first and best scoring option on the team-Roy now has to settle for mid-range jumpers and three-pointers…a pretty sad state for a guy who used to blow past defenders and earn his keep by getting to the line (nearly seven trips a game last year).
I’m sure Roy can continue to be an effective player in the NBA; he’s a fantastic jump shooter and hits three pointers at a decent clip…but I fear his days as a superstar/alpha dog are over. What NBA all-star relies solely on his jump shot…albeit a young, 26 year old? Portland will do everything they can to maximize Roy’s effectiveness…they’ll rest him more, he will continue to have treatment on his knee, but it’s clear to the Blazer’s he is no longer a guy who can carry their franchise.
And that’s precisely where the issue lies. Portland signed Roy to an 82 million contract extension two summers ago…13 million a year. Brandon Roy at the peak of his powers is obviously worth every cent of the 82 million, but not a Brandon Roy playing on two severely hobbled knees. The Blazers are in a very tricky spot; it was reported that over the summer, when Portland began work on signing Roy to the contract extension, that some in the organization wanted to trade him. The idea was obviously rejected at some point and they went on to extend his contract, but the evidence is there that the Blazers are well aware of the cloudy future surrounding their beloved franchise player.
It’s been almost 600 words and I’ve yet to mention the most recent injury woes in the increasingly depressing tale of 2007 number one draft pick Greg Oden. I have one question: God, what vendetta do you have against the Portland Trailblazers? Who didn’t have high hopes for Oden? A former number one overall pick…a seven footer, a guy possessing all the tools to be the league’s next dominant big man. Yet out of a possible 246 games (regular season), Oden has played in 82…and started 60. And he was off to such a promising start last year; it actually looked like things were coming together for him. Considering the success the Blazers have had without Oden in the lineup I doubt Portland will make any effort to resign him.
The Portland Trailblazers are between a rock and a hard place; a beloved franchise player is now a mere shadow of his former self with no chance of regaining his past explosiveness. Yet, he is only in the second year of an 82 million extension and is already one of Oregon’s most beloved athletes ever. The Blazers failed to make the hard choice last summer when they should have forced Roy to test the waters of restricted free agency.
The fate of a franchise rests on the hobbled knees of a fading star…and the once bright future is fading fast.
Posted by Richard Owens at 5:25 PM